computers & hardware I’m interested in

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more shelf buildin’!

Construction, Hardware

I needed something better for the office so i could add a keyboard slide underneath the main surface where I used to have the inkjet printer. It’s been years since I’ve had a color printer, which is something I’m going to be remedying sometime this year (albeit for photo printing and probably with color laser, as long as that’s still an option).

i uploaded these from my phone but never wrote the post, so this is a WEE bit behind (like a year?) but such is life.

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Car crap

Cornucopia, Hardware

I may be the auto industry’s version of a basic bitch. Rains for one day, i run out and buy new wipers for both cars.

Also, when some poor sap was trying to valet for me the other day, I noticed that my center brake light was out, so I bought a new bulb for that, too. The last lightbulb (on the top right here) lasted 15 years, so if that trend holds true, that photo holds 45 years of lighting right there.  Impressive.  Also impressive is how easy that thing is to change.  I forget sometimes that there are a handful of things in this world designed by humans for humans and it’s always nice to find them.

Anyway, my wipers really needed replacing, so I did it. I feel like I’ve been a little better recently about doing the little things like that when they need doing, because for so long it’s just been me ignoring things while the world slowly cracks apart around my ears.  So I climb out, bit by bit, back into a world where I actually do something about the things that break, about the things I can fix and, more broadly, the things that I want.  Let’s keep it up.

see? like, really, really needed replacing.

Also, my jeep had a dead battery yesterday, so I stuck the charger on it and let electrons trickle in all night. I’m about to go try to start it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good luck. I don’t wanna replace a battery. But thank god for chargers. At least I can get it started (probably) if it’s absolutely necessary.

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I need to be more careful with my things

Hardware, Rants

At some point in the last month or so, I apparently broke the filter on my main lens. Sucks, right? Yeah, we’ll, that filter was stuck today when I discovered it as I went to use my camera. I tried, and it wouldn’t budge. I used grippy rubber, and it just laughed at me. I grunted and screamed, heaved and hung my head. That filter would. Not. Fucking. Move.

More after the jump.

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Destroyer 4.0

Gaming, Hardware

For the first time in years (5+?!) I’m completely rebuilding my computer, and this is that story. I’ve decided to live-blog the process somewhat, because I take pictures with my phone as I go and it’s fun to make the updates while i wait for something or try to come to a decision.  Part way through, it turns from a live-blog to an after-action report written not from my phone, but from the finished computer, so the verb tense situation is all kinds of messy.

Fair Warning: this post is LONG. Click through with care.

After the break, I breakdown the parts and process, as well as the thought process behind this build.  Problems, pictures, commentary, ideas, asides and failures all lie ahead.

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Computer refresh (Destroyer 3.0)


Rosewill Thor CaseBelieve it or not, it’s time for Yet Another Computer Refresh and associated post.  These are really nice for me to be able to reference, so I post it for all to see and to judge. I expect to field “Why aren’t you using Intel/Nvidia, you n00b?!?” questions starting anytime now.  since these things tend to be long, I’m going to put the entire post after the fold.  There will be pictures, both ones that I took (dusty computer innards!) and press shots of components I’ve stuffed in here.

To skip the 2.0 history and jump right into this week’s build, click here.

final version
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3D Printing Madness


Test Prints

Test prints I made, including an oversized clip test

and a successful print with a too-small expansion fastener

final version

and the final version.

still some work to be done, but I think

I’ll redesign the whole thing and try another tack.

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Tilt your head 45


…and you’re completely invisible to Picasa.

It’s uncanny.

You probably have heard about my current obsession with face tagging on Picasa, and to that end, I’ve been going through all my old folders (yes, all of them), so if you’re in my pictures, there’s a good chance I’ve face tagged you.

Love it.

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Backing Up a WHS images


WHSWith the decommissioning of my old computer, I really took notice for the first time of a strange limitation in WHS – there’s no way to export an image of one of your computer’s backups to a compressed folder.

I’m officially retiring Tombstone, as you already know, and I’ll want to remove it from the “Computers & Backup” tab in the not-too-distant future because I’m a neat freak and because I hate having yellow things in my Home Network Status screen, even if I can check “ignore this issue” to get my thing back to green.

So, with some google-fu and a lot of time, I managed to mount, export and compress Tombstone’s final backup, which now sits on my desktop as a 275GB .wim file.

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Meet DESTROYER, my not-at-all absurdly-named computer


It’s January 2012, and that seems like a really good time to upgrade my workstation.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a real overhaul on my computer system.  Although I did replace my video cards about 6 months ago, the rest of the system has been plugging along for a year and a half or more.  Because of some end-of-the-year corporate spending requirements, I found myself looking at computer components on the 29th of December, and a few days later some boxes showed up at my door. Destroyer, my new Computer Go figure.

Anyway, what follows is a list of hardware because last time I wrote a post like this it was supremely helpful in terms of remembering what was in the box that sits next to me all day long when I needed to download drivers, troubleshoot problems or generally do something useful.   Sometimes posts like this are purely for me, and for that, I apologize. Tombstone, my old system, is still mostly running, although in a semi-gutted state, waiting to be re-purposed as something awesome, either a system in Andrew’s growing empire or the hub of my still-theoretical porn empire. Dunno which yet. Maybe something yet different from that.

Anyway, after the break you’ll find the components, names and some reasoning behind each piece of the puzzle.

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technology is my nemesis!


Despite what I just tweeted, I don’t think my inability to grasp a few simple tech concepts is a symptom of getting old, although maybe, upon reflection, it is.

No More AVG
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Say goodbye to AVG!


No More AVGFor years, AVG has been my antivirus scanner of choice – it was fast, didn’t bother you, and didn’t bother my computer.

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throwing away cable


CablesJust a stupid little note to show a picture of a small box of cables that I threw away yesterday while going through my computer cable box.

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apt-get install ubuntu


I’m not quite ready to ditch Win7 (but I’d like to!) on my main computer yet, but I’ve been having really good luck with Ubuntu, both as the only installation on my laptop and as a VM on my workstation.

Palm Pre
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Palm Pre woes


Palm PreJust performed an applications reset on my Pre because there was some weird issue where there was a blank application that was keeping my phone from updating some of the programs that needed upgrading.

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A tablet should be a PDA.

Like a PDA used to be, before we added a phone to it and forgot everything else that it could do.  I want my tablet to have three cameras (two on the back for stereo range finding and one in front for the things that front-facing cameras are used for), multiple radios for connectivity everywhere (I want 3G, 4G, cell, wifi, am/fm, weather band, who knows what else?), and amazing voice input.  It needs to be able to not only respond to commands, but to input text accurately.  The voice recognition software has to learn the way I speak and it has to speak back to me in natural cadences that it picks up from listening to the way people around me actually speak.  I want to be able to point it at something (a building, a field), and ask for information about it.  The new work that’s being done in augmented reality is pretty awesome, and calling that up via a voice command (especially if there’s a rangefinder on the app) would be nice, but it also has to be able to relay to me aurally the information that I’m requesting – verbal commands and output are very big for me.

This is an absurd, ranting list, and it wasn’t meant to be.  I’m sorry for that.  I just saw a piece on my reader (just found the link – it’s from Derek Kerton at Techdirt – here) about how a killer feature for the iSlate would be a dual-mode screen (e-ink and traditional). Geh.

I want so much more than that.  First and foremost would be parallel connectivity options so I can be getting the same information from the same places on multiple connections at once – think bit torrent, but for bridging (wifi, 3G, 4G, maybe traditional EDGE or whatever?) connections.  a pair of wifi radios along with 3G & 4G radios aren’t that expensive or battery-hogging, and would go a long way towards making sure my tablet never goes out of range of something.

Anyway, I’m sorry if you read all of this.  I’ll try to be more cogent in the future.

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RAID 5 issues


I have an Asus M3A79-T Deluxe motherboard on which I’m using RAID 5. Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, it ain’t.

The fucker breaks RAID almost as soon as I fix it.  The first time it happened, I didn’t think much of it because I rarely restart my computer, because I couldn’t see a non-functioning drive in Windows and because I wasn’t getting any other sorts of errors, so it was no big deal. Eventually, I changed my mind and tried to fix it.  Eventually, I fixed it.  Shortly, it was broken again.  Both times, it’s drive2 that’s “critical” and the BIOS-based editor is totally friggin’ useless.

So this morning, since the Eagles aren’t on till later, I decided to fix it again.  I’d done it once, right?  The problem is that I have no idea now how I fixed it then.  I remember pain.  So I search and I search.  There’s some Intel program (doesn’t work with AMD Phenom chips – fuck), there’s some nVidia program (doesn’t work with anything but low-level integrated nVidia chipsets – what?  And who trusts a video card company with their disk management anyway?), and then I found RAIDXpert.  That’s a download link, in case you care – it was a pain in the ass to find.  RAIDXpert is some browser based thing that seems to be working on my array right now as I type.  I just logged in (logged in? You’ll need admin/admin as the username and password to log into the browser-based program that points to Localhost, FYI), mucked around, and eventually started rebuilding the array.  it’s at 15%.

I’m going to go away and come back, just to see what happens.  I have a laptop with Ubuntu to fix anyway.

It seemed to have worked, so I’ll restart and then update to let you know.

And it seems to have worked. The BIOS is reporting a RAID5 array in perfect working order and there were no issues with windows or my data.  So it’s RAIDXpert FTW.

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Don’t forget the Media Server!


It’s the holiday season and you should be listening to Christmas music at work. The best way to do that is to go to http://media.clapboard.org and navigate to the Christmas folder.  I have modern Christmas crap, classic Christmas crap, mashup Christmas crap… you name it!

That’s all.  For now.

update: I’ve done a complete backup of the server so I’m safe while I’m away, and I’ve updated the server software to run the newest and best code.  Now listing out 88GB of music spread over 17,000 songs takes as little time as it can (even though it’s still not super fast).  Let me know if you somehow don’t have an account but want one.

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Okay, so here I am, updating from the open WiFi network in the house in BelAir. Housesitting is weird – there’s nothing much that I’m responsible for, there’s no one to talk to, and the space is unfamiliar.  The upside is that it’s actually a very comfortable place (i’m not always comfortable in places this far outside of my pay grade) and there’s a pool.  I’ve managed to drag a lounger out into the sun (none permanently live in the sun, oddly) and I’m finally settled  enough to get into a routine.  I’ll be doing some writing here for sure, as well as plenty of reading.

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I like WinDirStat




It’s an old program, but it works fine on Win7, and it gives a simple, boxy view of your HDD usage.  I’ve been turning to it for a long time to help me understand my biggest offenders in the HDD-size wars.  I’ve never really been a guy who just adds more storage as I fill mine up, probably because by the time I fill my workstation HDD with stuff, it’s time to get a new computer.  It definitely helps that I have like 2ish TB in my WHS in the closet, although that’s really only doing a few hundred GB of music and movies at the moment, but that’s okay.

If I start doing more video editing eventually, that’ll take up some space (as the new HDD rips for Choice Investigations take up like 21GB), but even that will likely be just SD video most of the time.  I do want to shoot a Sizzle Reel for a reality project, but I’ll need a camera for a week and quite a few interviews to make that happen. And I know me….
Moral of the story: I’ll probably be a long time filling up the 600GB I have available to me at the moment.  The computer will likely be irrelevant before it’s time to add more storage.

Anyway, happy Tuesday.

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Tombstone, my computer



MonitorAMD Phenom II X4 920 2.8GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core ProcessorMoBo

Asus M3A79T Deluxe Motherboard (w/onboard 5.1-channel Audio)


PNY GeForce 9800GT 512MB PCI-E Video Card (Primary)

MSI GeForce 9400GT 256MB PCI-E Video Card (Secondary)RAM

HDD3x Samsung Spinpoint F1 320GB 7200 RPM w/16MB Cache arranged in RAID 5 (595GB avail. to Windows)

850-Watt RAIDMAX Modular PS

RAIDMAX Aztec Case

Windows 7 RC

24″ SCEPTRE X24WG-1080P (center)
2x 19″ Hanns-G HX191D (L&R)
19″ Generic (top)