Well, sorry I've been quiet for a couple of days. Allow me to explain!
Unfortunately, I'm canceling the donations project. A few days ago I started checking the numbers on it, and...it just isn't working out. In the interests of full disclosure, here's the breakdown.
I always expected there'd be an initial flurry of donations from people who were aware of my situation, then it would tail off. I was hoping the initial flurry would result in enough income to keep me going for, say, four or five months, while I developed the site to grow the audience, so there'd be more ad revenue and more donors.
Well, it won't :(. The initial flurry came to around $1,800. Eating a lot of ramen, that could possibly keep me going for a couple of months, but that's all. Since then, it's ramped down (as I expected) to about a single donation a day. Ad revenue is nothing special at the moment - it'll come to about $150-$200 a month at current rates. Adding it all up I'd be looking at an ongoing income in the hundreds of dollars a month range, which just isn't practical. Especially not working 16 hour days, which it rapidly became apparent I'd need to do to keep the project afloat.
I still think it'd work if I had the breathing room to spend several months building up the site content, but at that rate, I just don't, unfortunately. So as I initially planned it, it's not going to work.
So here's what I'm doing. I'll be contacting everyone who made a donation to offer a full refund. I will be able to get a full-time job - not ready to tell all about that yet, but at the right point, I will - so I really don't need the money any more. So unless you really REALLY want me to have it to spend on a) shiny geeky toys, b) tennis equipment or c) beer, please do take it back. I'm still incredibly grateful to everyone who donated.
For now I'm going to leave the ads up, because hey, a hundred bucks a month or so is nothing to be sniffed at. :) And they're easy enough to block. I might take 'em down in future, I really don't know.
So, after I had that sorted out in my mind a couple of days ago, I decided just to take a few days off to rest and take it easy. As I said, I'd been working 16 hour days on the project, so I could do with a break. So I haven't really done the forums or mailing list for a few days. I've been watching some TV and just relaxing. Went and saw Milk yesterday; really, really incredible film.
Since I've spent almost no money in the last couple of months since losing my job, now I know I'll be able to get another one, I actually had a bit of spare money. So I done bought me a new computer! Up till a couple of days ago I did all my work off a two-year old Lenovo laptop, which was just a bit slow on things - compilation, mainly - and couldn't drive both my monitors properly. Now, I have a beastly new setup:
Antec Sonata III case
Asus P5Q Pro motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU, running overclocked at 3GHz
Thermalright Ultima 90 heatsink with Scythe S-FLEX 120MM 1600RPM fan
G.Skill F2-8000CL5D-4GB 2x2GB DDR1066 RAM
Seagate Barracude 7200.11 500GB SATA hard disk
Galaxy GeForce 9400GT graphics card
Scythe S-FLEX 120MM 1200RPM front case fan
The whole thing came out to just over $900 after tax, which I find amazing - I remember it used to be pretty tough to build a decent system under $1,500, this thing is just screaming fast for under 2/3 of that. Intel has the new Core i7 architecture out, but that's really overpriced for what you get. And not needing a high-end video card saves money. But, still...
I'm pretty happy with the system. I've been building my own systems for a while now. The process is remarkably similar to how it was ten years ago, but the funniest change is in cooling. The first system I built had a little heatsink that was just a centimetre or so thick lump of aluminium which was held in by a couple of flimsy plastic clips on the side of the processor socket. No fan. Heck, no case fans. The only fan was in the PSU. The Ultima 90 on this system is still essentially a lump of aluminium, but it's several inches tall, consists of dozens of extremely thin fins, and installing it involves attaching a strengthening backplate through the back of the motherboard, attaching three mounting brackets to the backplate, then mounting the heatsink on the brackets using special spring-dampened screws. Then attaching a giant fan to the whole contraption with special wire clips. Yikes. And the Sonata comes with a rear fan and PSU fan, and I added a front fan too, so there's five fans in the system now (including the one on the graphics card). Does the job, though. Four cores overclocked to 3GHz in one processor package, idle at about 35 degrees and don't go past 55 or so under load. I've always liked Thermalright.
It's ridiculously fast - it can almost build OpenOffice.org in less than the time it takes to eat a three-course meal - and it's nice to have both my monitors working properly. And I'm running x86-64 for the first time! I'm planning to sell my old laptop on eBay, and probably buy a netbook to replace it. Currently tempted by a couple of the new arrivals at CES: the HP MiniNote 2140 (it definitely maxes out on usable screen and keyboard space in a small chassis) and the Sony Vaio P (which, as a former Picturebook owner, I'm just duty-bound to salivate over). I'll probably wind up not being able to resist the P. It is incredibly shiny, after all.
I also took the chance to upgrade my network infrastructure. My system sits out in the living room of our place, while the internet connection and router sit in the bedroom, so I'm on wireless, and dealing with the other systems on the network via 802.11g is just a bit sluggish. So I picked up a Linksys 310N router - basically I just picked the cheapest router I could buy locally which is a) 802.11n, b) gigabit Ethernet, and c) dd-wrt compatible. Slapped dd-wrt on it first thing then swapped it in for my old WRT54G. At first it wouldn't do DNS forwarding or static leases properly, couldn't figure out why, but it turned out that disabling DNSMasq fixed it. Shouldn't be necessary, but never mind. Picked up an off-brand 802.11n PCI card they had for $30 which claimed Linux support on the box: turns out to be an RaLink RT2760 which works with no trouble with the rt2860sta driver (RaLink's own driver) included in Mandriva.