Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sprint Touch with GPS and REV A.

The walkthrough is here at PPC Geeks!

After much fear and trepidation, I went ahead and tempted fate (bricking) by hacking my Sprint Touch.

It went as planned. I had already made a backup of the system using SPB Backup. I am still working through how to restore stuff, but I did restore my contacts and calendar.

The GPS works pretty good. Here is a photo of the Touch in my office surrounded by electronic gear, picking up 2 satellites (5 right now)...zoomed out for privacy thank you.

Part of the hack involves an upgrade to WM6.1, so you have that going for you...which is nice.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Futuremark (3Dmark) scores

Using the free version of Futuremark (you cannot change the settings), here are some relative benchmarks of the systems I own.

1165 =desktop 2.2Ghz Celeron Radeon X1600 WinXP DX9 (my beater system)
1421 =M1330 2.0Ghz Core2Duo E4400 - GeForce 8400MGS - Vista DX10
1574 =M1330 (etc) with new drivers from
1866 =desktop 1.7Ghz AthlonXP - Radeon X850 - WinXP DX9 (recently deceased)
8853 =desktop 2.4Ghz Core2Duo E6700 - Radeon HD2900Pro - WinXP DX9 (my gaming rig)

What I don't know is if the 3D mark penalizes DX10 systems...when you install the software, it installs a few DX9 things...

So far the M1330 runs Team Fortress2 and Portal just fine, full resolution etc. Haven't tried Bioshock yet (note:apparently you need updated drivers to run Bioshock)...and Crysis makes even my fast gaming rig cry at the end.

M1330 arrived!

I don't go into that whole unboxing photos thing...there are websites that already do that.

But I will say that I bought a Refurbished laptop from Dell. From what I could tell, the things that were not brand new sealed were the laptop (it has a sticker underneath to prove it is not new) and the power brick. (everything came in a standard Dell laptop box)

New software, a nice new folder thing to hold the software and documentation (actual hard copy users manual), a nice new sleeve for the laptop, New BT mouse and batteries, new remote control and battery.

This M1330 replaces my C800 that I bought off ebay...this one weighs less than half as much, longer battery life, and quiet (the C800 sounded like a hairdryer when being worked).

It came with Vista Home Premium...usability is yet to be tested, but it looks sleek and so far is a nice OS to work with. That window that pops up when you install software to make sure you really mean to do that does not seem to be an annoyance, it pops up on top right away...rather than hiding underneath your windows and you wonder why it isn't going.

For networking it is very shows EVERY device on my network that has an IP address. (i.e. cameras) It also shows my media servers (a PC running ORB, and the ReadyNAS) as media servers ready to connect to WMPlayer.

I am now going to run 3DMark (Futuremark) and benchmark this baby.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Short note about laptop comparisons

While I was researching my laptop buy, I read a lot of reviews, and even the comments after the reviews.

The common problem is it becomes very difficult to get a straight comparison of light/ultraportable/etc computers.

HTC Touch cellphone (WM): +light, inexpensive; - onscreen keyboard, micro SD storage. ok battery life

iPhone(OSX): heavier, twice the price, external storage?, good battery life

The Nokia N810(Debian) same as iPhone, slightly larger, real keyboard. ok battery life

The Asus eeePC (Slackware?) much larger and heavier, same price as iPhone, looks like laptop...shorter battery life

Macbook Air (OSX). Most expensive, about the same weight as optical drive, good battery life, but internal only.

Dell M1330 (WVP). Less $ than Air. Half a # heavier than Air. Battery life between eeePC and Air. Other than that out performs air. has optical drive...external battery

Dell Vostro (WXP?). cheap, fast, heavy, ugly. other than that, about the same as the M1330

I think the point was made...there are a billion choices out there. Size, Performance, 3-D performance, battery life, Operating system, features.

It is pointless to argue which one is only matters if it is better for your purpose.

Time for a new Laptop

Every few years, it is time to get a new laptop, and donate your old one to the my case, my wife gets it.

I had been putting off the upgrade, my Dell C800 worked ok, I bought it used off ebay in early replace my old Micron(that I bought refurbished in 1997). It worked OK, but was weighed a ton...cost me 450 bucks...I subsequently bought a video card, some ram, two DVD drives, and two batteries for get almost 3.5 hours of play time out of it, and play Battlefield 1942 (total investment was around $900).

I needed a mobile computer I could throw in a suitcase, and have good battery life.

I was strongly tempted to buy the new ASUS eeePC. First I was tempted by the original version...with the possibility of many hacks to it...then the (not released yet in the US) 900 tempted me with its larger screen etc...small, I wouldn't be too sad if I broke it...slow.

But I went with the Dell M1330. I priced the new ones...with discounts, I could get a fully optioned one (with a small battery) for $1500. It was very tempting. But I took a look at the Refurbished ones at the Dell Outlet, and found exactly what I was looking for for only $1100 out the door. Best display, best video card, remote, 2gig ram, biggest battery, etc(every option I planned on getting). I will put the $400 I saved to anything I want to.

When I get it, I will post a Futuremark benchmark, to put things in perspective.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Bulging Capacitors"

This is now the third confirmed mobo I have owned that has had bad capacitors...The first one was actually covered under a recall (can't remember the maker) I still have that one in a box (P1), it was so bad the electrolyte from the caps were leaking all over the mobo.

The second bad mobo was a EPIA M10000. It was acting flakey...random crashes etc. I had Chris at replace the Caps (Sep 06,$55). Nice work, everything done exactly as he said it would be...worked fine after that until it was stolen (Sep 07)...(truck computer)

This Soyo Dragon+ was bought in 2002. It is an Athlon mobo and the power capacitors are in a row next to the CPU. The entire row of caps (8 in a row and 1 at the end) are bulging at the top.

Hopefully it is the last one to die of bad caps.

(yes I know it is was clean a year ago)

(edit: I found that the chipset fan was sticking, so I put some WD-40 on it...I don't know if that contributed to the problem, but I am sending the mobo in anyway)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Gigabit LANs...are they?


I don't know if they are worth it yet...I have never been close to half that speed...and that was using some benchmark software (NetIQ Qcheck).

Currently (and there are a lot of factors speed...RAID5 write speed etc) Win XP says I am using 8% of the capabilities of my Gigabit Ethernet card. (Gigabit card to Gigabit switch to ReadyNAS Gigabit port)

I will caveat this by saying, I just cobbled this mess together...however...I still expected more.

I do know that the mobo that died, using the same ethernet card was faster than this the limfac may be this mobo.

Well upon further fast computer without an onboard raid...running through different wires the exact same speed...seems like the weakness may be the RAID 5 write speed of the ReadyNAS.

Is it possible to move my RAID to a different computer?

Luckily, the answer is YES.

So in my dead Soyo Dragon+, I had a Promise TX4310 SATA RAID5 PCI card. I had that card for a couple of if the card went bad, I should be able to buy another one and be back in business, two: if the mobo goes bad, I should be able to move everything onto a new mobo.

Well I am currently demonstrating the second one...When I built my most recent computer, I changed all the cases (three) to Thermaltake Tsunami cases (btw, they are nice)...they feature an easily removable 5 drive disk cage (with a big fan to cool them).

In my dead computer I mounted the 4 raid drives AND the OS drive in that disk cage...I swapped the cage out to a different computer, threw in the RAID PCI card (never unhooked any SATA wires between the PCI card and the drives) and booted.

Anyone who has played with Windows very much knows that the chances of it booting correctly (different mobo, chipset, cpu etc) were slim and none. But I did boot it off the XP install cd, got to the install menu, said "repair" and it chugged away removing and replacing. Within an hour I booted up into XP again...RAID intact...and I am now moving files from this RAID to the ReadyNAS as I type this...thats one for the good guys.

Off-site file storage

It is important to have backups...everything we seem to do now is electronically created.

I have tried sneakerlan storage (use a portable drive and carry it around with you)...actually I still do that at work, due to they fact they didn't want to store my work email on the work servers.

Sneakerlan doesn't seem to work at home for me, because I just forget to plug the drive in...and I can't just have it automatically synchronize (or maybe I can, but just don't know how).

Off-site storage always appealed to me...mostly because if a disaster devastated both my house and the off-site storage place simultaneously, I would in fact be the most unlucky person in the world.

HOWEVER, there is a giant problem with off-site storage...if you don't have a T-1 line to your desk...yup bandwidth.

At home my Cable ISP gives (ha) me incredible download speeds...not the fastest in the world, but about 10 times the download speed as my brother's DSL.

But the upload is like at 56k modem at times.

So just imagine how long it takes to back up a couple of gigs of important documents and photos (not even .mp3s or video)...yes, days.

The obvious answer is...only back up off-site once every couple of months or something, because during the 3 days it took to overall connection speed dropped off dramatically.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+

I already mentioned the dead computers...I have made backups...I have a backup system already in use for the important stuff (to my tornado proof closet) addition I recently uploaded the most important files to a hosting site I use. (yes encrypted etc).

But I still need to get my RAID back up and running...and I wanted to do this just happened earlier than I planned.

I bought this unit, because I needed a small all-in-one unit with a flashed small OS etc. I didn't want to build another large computer and install/upgrade an os.

My other backup system uses a NSLU2 from Linksys with two USB main, and one copy. It has worked mostly very well (except for the one time an outlook .pst file got corrupted and shrunk...then the backup system overwrote the correct one with the corrupted one...and made a dupe)

This unit is small enough to go into the storm closet...recognizes my APC UPSs, has built in backup software, has filesystem capability with Linux, OSX and Windows.

And a bunch of other bells and whistles you would want on a online file server.

More to follow.

There it is in the storm shelter (closet) with a NSLU2 with 2 USB HD attached. (and night you don't get scared)

BTW, a great resource for NAS reviews etc is No, I am not associated with them in any way...other than I used their reviews to help decide on a NAS.

Blew up two computers...

First one was a Soyo Dragon + that I had been using since it was new...I knew it was dying, but I put a raid on it seems the mobo voltage regulator went completely now.

I hope the raid can be transported intact to another computer and used as has a Promise PCI SATA card doing the dirty work.

The second computer has a graphics board cooling fan going out (I think) I can't easily access it yet, so I don't know for sure...but something is causing the graphics board to shut down while it is being used.

(edit: The video card issue, was due to the second fan giving out..the first one on this video card literally melted...I took one off another video card...6 months or so later the new fan needed some WD-40 on the bearing)