Jul 262010

I FINALLY escaped the video-game scene a few weeks ago. My xbox kicked the bucket… hard. Over some time I was able to ascertain that the cause of it’s rather catastrophic failure was a direct result of dirty power. I live in a small town where the local power is routed over questionable wiring. As a result there are a LOT of brownouts, blackouts, and power surges. Tech here drops like flies in seasons!

I finally concluded the power was to blame when two Hard drives, a NAS and my Archos all died within days of my xbox… so yeah… dirty power.

I was free though. finally able to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, boredom was kicking in hard but ultimately the end of time draining video games was close!

Then Renfeld had to go and buy another xbox… thanks man… love the replacement xbox man… now I can go back to the sole-crushing, mind-numbing, anger-enduing, anti-social video-games… I love you man… I really, really hate you… damn it… I’m going to play some firefight now…

Jul 052010

Well, I finally pulled my head out of my ass today… or should I say, MICROSOFT pulled my head out of my ass…

I woke up this morning ready for another great day of movie watching and gaming, courtesy of my xbox 360. But my day was cut short by the Red Ring Of Death (or RROD). Wht is the RROD you ask? well, on the xbox there is a circle of lights on the front used mainly to display player connections and power… but when things go wrong (and with Microsoft, things WILL go wrong) these lights turn red in an ominous partial circle indicating your XBOX is now useless.

I’m so angry right now… I don’t even want to finish this post…

basically… Microsoft sucks. I am now selling ALL my microsoft crap, I swear to never buy another Microsoft product as long as I live. Of all the products I own nothing I have worked with has been more unstable, or less reliable than microsoft. why does this company still exist with such substandard quality control?!?

Feb 022010

Once upon a time I actually LIKED my little NAS… I bought an MvixBOX some time ago, and almost immediately after unboxing the thing sucked… hard…

For starters, the status LED (used to tell when it’s safe to turn the device off or to tell you when it’s operating) was dead… no light, just dead. so I called Mvix for support… guess what? I had none… that’s right, I was informed by Mvix that my BRAND NEW NAS was out of warranty once I opened the box… what can I do? they aren’t a US based company so I’m screwed!

Next, the installation REQUIRED a windows machine… now most people out there wouldn’t see the problem… but those who know me know I USE LINUX!!! I bought the thing specifically because Mvix advertised UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY. they claimed it was compatible with Windows, Mac, and LINUX… yeah… they lied. the Problem is the initial setup, in order to literally set the device up for operation you have to install a program through a windows machine. This program is absolutely necessary because the NAS OS is located ON the hard drives provided by the end user and as stated, the app is windows-centric.

But the problems don’t end there! oh no, this crap-fest of defication just STARTS there… next off you have to deal with substandard manufacturing practices… I wish I had a camera right now… because after 6 months of usage, the NAS housing has literally fallen apart!

The problem is one of heat… the Drive housing provides a millimeter gap between the two drive bays, the problem with this is that a millimeter is not enough room for proper airflow to allow the drives to cool evenly… over short usage intervals this is not a problem, but that leads to another design flaw I’ll get to in a minute… you see after 6 months of constant operation the plastics have become brittle from heat stress… and this morning the MvixBOX literally fell apart… what was I doing you may ask? well I was sleeping when I heard a “pop” followed by a “thunk” as one side of the Mvix LITERALLY fell off!!!

Now I tried to fix my little NAS but things got worse and worse, the USB link on the front got bent to heck when I tried to reattach the side… I’m still not sure how it just FELL off when I can’t get it back on without breaking it. and on top of that when the side fell off, the power and “disable” buttons also just fell apart… and they aren’t regular momentary switches so replacing them is impossible…

and this brings me to the last–and greatest–failings of the MvixBOX. with so much weak design you would assume the NAS is designed to operate in intervals, with cool down periods… and therein lies the flaw. to power off the MvixBOX, you are supposed to press and hold the “Disable” button on the front until it beeps at you, then wait for the “status” LED to go out, THEN you can power the device off… yeah… my status LED was dead out of the box. so I had to GUESS when it was safe to turn the thing off… normally most “Integrated” OS devices, such as WRAPS, or SAN, or NAS devices the OS is stored in read only on some kind of flash rom… not the Mvix, for the Mvix it resides ON THE FRIKEN STORAGE MEDIA!!!

This has to be the worst design flaw I have EVER seen… by putting the OS on the storage medium you create an inherent point of failure… think about a PC, if you power off the computer improperly you can destroy the boot record or the partition record. loose these and the PC is useless… in a NAS this is data suicide! ALL other “Portable” NAS devices (I am specifically referring to stand alone NAS devices designed to be portable) have the OS on a separate storage medium additionally they utilize an external cache device. most have a battery powered ram disk that manages the partition table so that in the case of power failure there is NEVER data loss. In the case of Mvix thought, there is no safeguard for improper shutdown and in MY case there is a greater LIKELIHOOD of improper shutdown AND DATA LOSS!!!

I cant wait until I get my Tax return… I am SO getting a Netgear ReadyNAS Pro.

Jan 302010

At the end of Nov ’09 or the begining of Dec the motherboard on my desktop system died on me. There was no real reason for the failure other than the fact that this was the 2nd board that Nic had given to me that had died. Since the board was dead I decided that now was as good of a time to do an upgrade as any. After consulting with Nic I decided to get the best I could afford that wasn’t one of those insane gaming rigs or rediculous servers. Once I knew what I was looking for I hit up NewEgg for some tech porn. I chose the Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD3 AM3 AMD board. I picked this one because near as I could tell it was on the bleeding edge of available tech. This board supports the new USB 3.0 which has a full duplex speed of 4.8 Gbit/s. The press has reported that boards that support this new standard are not supposed to be available until this spring! This board also supports the new SATA 3 at 6 Gb/s! This is an amazing upgrade from SATA 2 at only 3 Gb/s. The only drives I have been able to find on the mass market are in the size of 2 Tb and are only available from NewEgg with the purchase of a $3000 system. I have also seen the amazing tech demo that Micron in Boise, Id did for their new SATA 3 SSD drives! This thing was amazing! I was impressed with its speed in loading programs, pictures and programs that seemed to bogg down a standard hdd in identical systems.
Along with this new motherboard with its amazing new hardware support, I also purchased the AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core CPU. I was going to get the same thing only as a 3.0GHz, however after Nic decided to volunteer some project and Christmas $ I decided that getting the best & fastest currently available made perfect sense. This is the first time in my life that I have ever even tried to do an upgrade and get the best I could in both motherboard and cpu. The only thing I skimped on was my memory, but even with this I decided to get the best that I could afford. The OCZ Gold Edition DDR3 1066 2x4Gb that also has Cas Latency 7 and Timing 7-7-7-16. From my research the smaller the number the faster the ram does it’s job. Everything else I looked at the fastest they had was in either the 8′s or 9′s. I decided that even though it was not the fastest ram the board could support it’s Latency & Timing were enough to make up the differance.
Anyways, I’ve been running this system with no problems other than a power supply issue that had a $6 fix and a usb driver crash that may have been either a Windows 7 or Zune software issue. After a reboot, everything works just fine.

Oh, about 2 weeks later I decided to add another 4 Gb ram, so I’ve doubled the ram from what I had in my old system. The only thing I’m thinking about at this time is to upgrade my video card. I currently have an Nvidia 9800 GT w/512 mb ram. I don’t know what model but I’m considering something with an ATI chipset expecially since it’s made by AMD now!

Jan 302010

Well, it’s been around a month since I installed Windows 7 Ultimate on my server and netbook. I have totally enjoyed it! No problems, few stability issues and I’ve actually only had 1 issue. I was upgrading my Zune mp3 players firmware and all of a sudden none of my usb devices would work. I just went ahead & hit the power button on the front of my computer and it shut down like it should. When I brought it back up & was able to login everything was working correctly. The only thing I can figure is that the new USB 3.0 drivers on my new desktop system took the entire usb hub down. Beyond that one issue, no program, web page or game I’ve tried to use on this new os and computer have failed at all. I find that Windows 7 is an awesome os and I don’t mind using it at all. I’ve dabbled in Linux but I don’t know how to navigate in it well enough to do the things that I want to. When it comes to Windows though, I can find it, get it working and have it working exactly how I want it to. Windows 7 seems faster, has less crashes than XP and isn’t as much of a resource hogging whore as either XP or Vista. I know there are issues, but I’ve not experienced any except for the 1 crash.