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Slim Jim Cluster

I've been meaning to put this up for a while. Just got this for my desk at work.

Slim Jim Cluster

Posted: May 03, 2007 @ 07:58 pm

First Vista "Crash"

For the first time since I got the Dell (about a month ago) Vista "crashed".  It didn't really crash like blue screen or anything, but everything stopped working and applications would freeze one after another.  I think it all started when connection was lost to my file server, not sure what happened but the event logs on the server didn't have anything on it.  Once that happened explorer windows started freezing, then the task bar, I tried Alt+Ctrl+Del to get the Task Manager and that froze too.  I couldn't even restart.  At then end, I had to hold down the power button to power the machine down.  After that and a restart on the file server, everything as A-OK again.

Windows 2000 just popped up a million messages saying connection was lost, I guess this is Vista's way of telling you there is a network problem.

Posted: May 01, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

Netflix Streaming Video

I finally got the "Watch Now" tab on Netflix. Looks like it's only for Internet Explorer, on Firefox it said the browser is not supported. I had to install their player, but it worked fine on Vista/IE 7. The only problem is the annoying "you don't have the right to watch this video" boxes that pops up when each video starts streaming. Why does it keep saying that and make me click two more buttons before I can watch the video? Err, reminds me of UAC. Other than that, it works great.

This service is perfect for me since it goes by the amount of time you watch instead of the length of the movie. And I like to skip around movies and watch all the good parts and the ending. So a 120 minute movie may take me 20 minutes to watch. Unfortunately, there is not much of a selection.

Posted: Apr 23, 2007 @ 02:55 pm

Vista + Large FAT32 Drive = Bad?

One big issue I forgot to point out about Vista is that it didn't recognize my two external 320GB FAT32 drives (it was formatted under Linux if that matters). My previous OS was Windows 2000, and although it couldn't format large FAT32 drives, it could read and write to it just fine. But I guess that ends with Vista (unless it's a limit for Vista Home Basic), both my drives showed up on Vista as unpartitioned free space. Since I couldn't find any info on this I ended up converting the drives to NTFS and its working fine since. Not good if I plan on using the drives on other operating systems, but I guess I can use the NAS for that.

My external 20GB FAT32 drive works fine on Vista BTW.

Posted: Apr 12, 2007 @ 07:02 pm

Vista Home Basic Is Good Enough

As I posted a few days ago, I just got a Dell and it came with Vista Home Basic. I was a little worried because I've read at a few places (online and in magazines) that Vista Home Basic is crap. I was ready to format and install XP if it was not up to the task. Well, that's just bull. After using it for a few weeks, other than the BIOS update not working (and resulting in a dead motherboard), Home Basic has been pretty good. I haven't found anything lacking, it's better than XP Home in my opinion.

There is no DVD editing software, but I have no need for that (my Philips DVP642 plays XVID). And those who must have DVD making software probably already have their own that they've been using and won't even touch the windows freebie anyway. No Areo? I put it in the same category as Active Desktop, cool for the first few days but pretty much useless. Limited network connections? I run a file server with several mapped drives and a web server, I haven't seen any problems. I really doubt many average home users out there run a file server.

Also, classic mode is your friend. I can't stand all this fancy do nothing stuff. And User Account Control is evil! It made me think my brand new 22" monitor was broken until I figured out UAC was making it blink. Off with it! And what is up with the search box in every window? I organize my files and know where things are, I don't need to search for everything. If there is a way to get rid of it, I haven't found it yet. Another thing I discovered the hard way was the right side panel in Windows Explorer isn't active when you select multiple files after using the left side panel. So I used the left panel to select a folder, then highlighted multiple files in the right panel and hit delete. It deleted the whole folder! I guess it's my fault for not reading the confirm dialog. And it was on a mapped drive, so no recycling bin. Good thing they were files I've already burnt to DVD, else I would have been pissed. There are other issues, but not major and I'll deal with them.

Vista Home Basic is good enough for me, and I consider myself a power user. My tune may change after some more time with it, but so far so good.

Posted: Apr 06, 2007 @ 06:42 pm

Dude! I got a Dell!

My computer was dying and Dell was having a sale, so after months of delays I finally broke down and purchased the E521 with AMD X2 and a 22" screen. It's a pretty good computer, very quiet. The only drag was the failed BIOS update that killed it. Yep, paper weight. I think Windows Vista allowed the BIOS to be erased, but didn't allow it to be rewritten.

Dell support was good, made no fuss about the BIOS update and setup for me to receive on-site service to replace the motherboard. It's down hill from there, it was next day service and the tech assigned to me called to schedule a window. He didn't show up. Called half an hour after the two hour window to say his car was "broken." Right, I've heard that somewhere before. He made the second appointment and replaced the board. The guy was pretty ruff with the parts and lost a screw in the computer, which I had to take out after he left. Dell support gets a satisfactory grade in my book, very good phone support with on-site service outsourced to a company with overworked techs.

(The BIOS that came with the replacement board was even older then what I had before. But everything is working fine now, so no more BIOS updates for me, at least not on a Dell.)

Update: The BIOS update that killed my motherboard is no longer on the Dell site, only previous versions are available.  Hmm...

Posted: Apr 04, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

SimpleShare 250GB NAS

I recently purchased a SimpleShare 250GB NAS from SimpleTech. It was just a little more than getting a 250GB drive with a USB enclosure, so I figured why not. This way I don't have to put it near my computer like the other USB drives. And so far so good, this thing runs linux and after some research I found OpenMSS. It appears that the Maxtor Shared Storage has the same basic hardware as the SimpleShare and there is a (not very active, but existing) community for it. After digging in their forum and reading posts from some very smart people I was able to build my own firmware and install some programs. Pretty cool stuff, but unfortunately I'm probably just going to use it as storage, but I just feel better knowing it can do much more. If anyone is interested, the v1.09 firmware I built can be downloaded here. And if you search the OpenMSS forums, you will be able to find a modified v1.07 firmware with telnet. But I prefer v1.09 because it allows the disk to spin down.

Posted: Feb 24, 2007 @ 07:39 pm

New Photos

It's been a while since the last update, I'm just lazy. But I did put up some photos from a few trips: North South Lake, Harris Lake, Vermont, Mount Snow at Vermont, and Kissena Park (it's only queens, but still a trip).

Posted: Feb 20, 2007 @ 05:47 pm

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