Review of the Acer B326HK 32″ 4k monitor


Probably too brief?

I only noticed this monitor in Verkkokauppa a couple of weeks ago and from all the reviews seemed to be a relatively good monitor at a reasonable price for the size. To my suprise (these things never happen to me) the price fell 100€ the night before I bought it. The bad part was that I actually believed reviews where they said the included DisplayPort cable was crap and to buy a new one. The TL;DR version is that the replacement cable (at 25€) didn’t really work and the one that came with the monitor did. It might be that DisplayPort is a bit twitchy, especially if the cable isn’t seated quite right. But in any case if you have a 4k monitor and the image starts blinking check the connections and try swapping the cable.

All that matters is size

All that matters is size

As for the monitor, this thing is huge. And I mean huge and it is also 4k, and it also has an IPS panel. That probably covers the essentials. Over the last few months there are now quite a few 4k monitors in the 24 – 28″ size range, but I was a bit wary of getting one mostly since Windows doesn’t really have the same level of HiDPI/Retina support that the Apple now has, plus many of them are TN panels (worse colour reproduction). I was hoping to get something bigger to even out the scaling vs small UI issues. As it turns out it probably wasn’t as big of a problem as I thought. Not that it matters since a monitor this size with this resolution (3840 x 2160) is pretty much perfect. In the end I am running it with 150% scaling in Windows 8.1 to get something resembling a reasonable size UI. For all intents and purposes I have have a giant Retina quality display without losing the benefit of size. I still fit quite bit more on the desktop than a standard 24 or 27″ screen (1920 x 1080 or 2560 x 1440) resolution. So I am very happy I didn’t settle for something smaller.

Sharp vs. blurry

Sharp browser text vs. blurry scaled iTunes

The only down side at the moment is the hit and miss support for HiDPI in Windows applications. Things like Firefox and Thunderbird are absolutely perfect, as are most of the Microsoft built in applications. Some however are not (iTunes, Spotify, and Skype for example). Lightroom is sort of HiDPI aware, but it scales some parts a bit strangely (small icons). But the upside is that you get the full resolution for the images, just like on the Mac. An application in Windows has to declare that it understands HiDPI. If it does, then it has to scale its own UI to the DPI setting you select. If it doesn’t then Windows will scale the UI for it. Unfortunately that really does just mean scaling, so instead of getting ultra-crisp text you get fuzzy, blurry text. I’m guessing that the move to Windows 10 and Universal Apps will solve most of this as Metro apps can now run in a window, and are fully HiDPI aware. In the end the traditional desktop apps will just die out. I think Microsoft also has some tweaking to do in the OS itself since when I first installed the monitor Windows decided that I needed 250% DPI scaling and drew huge icons and windows. Obviously the 32″ part never rang any bells. I still haven’t decided if I stick to 150% or go down to 125% still. I think the lower value might be a bit too small though. I prefer the cleaner fonts to tiny ones.

Bringing home the bacon

Bacon, as everyone knows, is basically meat candy. So who wouldn’t want to make their own. As it turns out it is remarkably easy to do, although getting the correct ingredients takes a little effort, especially here.

A pile of saltAlthough it technically is possible to make bacon with just ordinary salt, that isn’t how it should be done. Real bacon (as with other preserved meats) should contain a special salt—sodium nitrite. As well as preventing you from dying from food poisoning it also gives the meat the correct colour and flavour. After procrastinating for a while I eventually found somewhere that had what I was looking for and could ship here. In the end I got both a ready prepared bacon curing mix as well as the basic Prague Powder #1. I figured I’d save shipping costs and get it all at once. The Prague powder needs mixed with other salts and spices and is good if you want to start from scratch yourself.

Ready salted bellyThe rest is easy. As it turns out you don’t get true pork belly here since they don’t cut the pig like that. But you can get boneless ribs, and those are actually better. In the US it would be called back bacon and is usually meatier. And the price is a grand total of about 7€/kg.

All you do is cover the meat in a sprinkling of the prepared cure (for the mix it is about 30g/kg of meat).

Sealed for briningAnd then you stick it in a well sealed bag and put it in the fridge for a few days. For the amount I had it was about 5 days. Basically it will stew in its own juices and just needs flipped over every couple of days.

Ready for smokingYou could stop there. But bacon wouldn’t be complete without being smoked. So next up was a gentle smoking at about 120°C until the meat reaches 65°C internally. Smoking on the gas BBQ isn’t the solution for a perfectionist, but it is definitely the most convenient and it works pretty well. In the end it took about 3 hours of smoking using a mixture of hickory and apple wood chips.

Tasty tasty baconThe result at least looked good, and it tasted pretty fine straight from the BBQ.

But the real test came the next morning.

Bacon breakfast

Next time maple syrup flavoured bacon.

A Pi all of my own

A Raspberry Pi — All the power of a 10 year old desktop in a tiny little box (box not included). And with the added enjoyment of a bare bones Linux desktop. Of course they updated it to be 6x more powerful about a month after I got mine as well.

Of course the real fun starts when you start actually building things with it. And it is already working as a basic photo frame using the TV as a display and serving pictures straight from the Linux server via a smb share.

So many things to do, so little time.

A manual update

Seems my hosting provider doesn’t support WordPress doing automatic updates :-(. Luckily they have quite clear instructions for doing a manual update, but for some reason I almost managed to bork it about 3 times in a row. Either copy doesn’t work quite the same in the hosting service or doing it late at night after a strong cider and some mind bending studying is not a good idea.

In either case it is updated and everything still works.

An increase of power

A colder feelingAfter weeks of southerly quarter winds and warm wet weather it has finally turned to the north. Just over a week ago the temperature went from +5 to -15°C in a couple of days. A little bit of a shock to the system, and also our power bill. Mid 2013 the power company installed a smart meter as is required by law now. So we went from doing the reading ourselves once a year to getting hourly readings automatically. Before we used to get monthly estimated bills that were evened out over the entire year with a correction every 12 months. That usually wasn’t in our favour though.

Now we get actual bills relating to what we really used. So I’m not looking forward to the next couple of months. It is also pretty easy to see how our heat exchange system handles the cold. And that isn’t pretty either.

Power for January

Christmas lunch in the air

As we have done several times over the last few years we went out for a Christmas buffet lunch today.

This year we went to Ravintola Haikaranpesä, which is on top of one of the many water towers around the city. This one is on top of the UFO shaped Haukilahti water tower in Espoo.

Of course one of the attractions of a place like that is the view.

A view to the east

Luckily the weather was actually quite good at the time considering there is a storm approaching. And as the afternoon got on a bit we had quite a nice sunset. Of course sunset at the moment isn’t much past 3pm :-).

Sunset to the south west

The restaurant has 360 degree wrap around windows. About the only thing missing would be that it rotates. But at least having to go outside to take pictures meant being able to walk off each course…

Windows all around

Keeping it all inside

Not a lot of success at that lately.

Last week Lilli was throwing up for a couple of days starting on Tuesday. Thursday she was still not looking so good, so a visit to the vet was required. Not much of a verdict except that she was now a bit gummed up inside after the vomiting. After some poking and prodding, none of which she appreciated much, it was home again. A few €€€ lighter and with advice to give her something to make her move and to lose a couple of kilos :-).

This week it is Mimmi’s turn. She started throwing up in the middle of the night all over the bed. She couldn’t keep anything in today either, except she was also throwing up spots of blood and generally sulking. Another visit to the vet and more poking and prodding. Mimmi was upset and Lilli was just happy it wasn’t her turn this time. Verdict this time was that she probably has the same upset belly Lilli had, cause unknown. So, some more €€€ lighter, and some medicine to settle her belly with some feeding instructions for the next few days.

The moral of the story is that dog vomit is stinky…

Hot dogs

Four PM on Saturday and Lilli is already queuing for the sauna. Unfortunately for her it isn’t even switched on yet. She is ready to go at the drop of a hat, no matter the day or time, but she definitely knows what the normal schedule is and likes to get in early.

Mimmi on the other hand seems to go just because everyone else is in there. She doesn’t stay more than a few minutes at a time, but Lilli has to be literally dragged out. She can pretty much out last both of us.

Two hot dogs