Hardware

GPU prices are falling, and you should buy now

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[Note from Brian: I have no idea if this person is paranoid or not… Sounds a bit on the paranoid side. Still, I think it’s good advice to buy a 1080 card before Nvidia’s 11 series hits. I think it’s likely Nvidia will do it’s damnedest to keep the 1080’s price high by reducing supply… Just sayin’]

GPU prices are falling, and you should buy now on

https://search.app.goo.gl/zLBvd

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UEFI Booting Demystified

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FINALLY someone explains to my simple brain the who, what, why, when and especially HOW of UEFI booting! Thank you, Michael!

MDT 2012 Beta 1: UEFI Support – Michael Niehaus’ Windows and Office deployment ramblings – Site Home – TechNet Blogs.

The Amazing Samsung S-Pen…and The Limitations

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This morning, I had a customer ask me why the new S-Pen he purchased as a spare for his Samsung Galaxy Note wouldn’t work on his Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.

When you read this article and watch the videos contained within, you will know the reasons. The S-Pen is both beautiful and proprietary…much like most (if not all) Apple products.

You’ll find it an interesting read.

B$

Lenovo Makes Great Products, However…

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I arrived at work at 7am this morning. Got a cup of coffee… After checking email, my work queue , I decide to go online to Lenovo’s parts-ordering and quickly order a replacement keyboard for a customer’s Lenovo ThinkPad x220T

The time is 7:32am Pacific Standard Time

The website was useless…so I called the number and talked to a nice young lady in Atlanta, GA who gave me a part number and then kindly transferred me to their sales staff to purchase the part.

The sales department could not identify the part number and had no method to look up the proper part. Further, they couldn’t transfer me back to the technical support department so I redialed and when through the 4-number-pressing MAZE to get back to tech support.

I get a young man who tells me that the part number given to me is out of stock or no longer used; he had an alternate part number.  I’m currently on hold to talk to sales once again. Aaaaaaand…now the person is telling me their sales department doesn’t sell ThinkPad parts.     %&*(^%$%$(!!YTU&^$*(&##!!

The time is 1014am.  I’m now pissed.

10:49am…Cindy…finally…CINDY is going to take my plastic and let me purchase the damn keyboard…

10:52am…Purchased!!!

I’ve asked to speak with a supervisor so I can tell them that Cindy has ended my pain. She has pulled the thorn from my paw… I’ve just told Bridgette – Cindy’s supervisor – of my Three Hour Tour of horror. Bridgette tried to make it right by giving me the correct phone number (the last of the 4 phone numbers I was given in my journey through hell) and the correct parts website URL.

The URL that Bridgette gave me is useless because it bounces right back to the main Lenovo website. But the phone number is correct, it’s 800/388-7080.

BTW…if you’re interested, the correct part number for a replacement keyboard for a ThinkPad x220T (4249CTO) is 45N2141.

This is NOT an isolated incident with Lenovo service…which I believe in the US is actually still an IBM-run concern. Does this tell you why IBM is no longer the leader in anything?

All anger aside, I told Bridgette that Cindy should be commended for dealing with someone who was just a bit unhappy and she did so with grace and efficiency. One of my senior staff appreciated my giving positive feeback about Cindy. I hope it rubs-off on the other techs here.

So…now that I’ve:

  1. Checked my email.
  2. Ordered one part from Lenovo, I think I’ll go get lunch.

B$

Android vs. iOS @android @androidcentral

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This isn’t intended as a detailed comparison by any means and I want to keep this as short as possible.  These are all anecdotal notes: I have no technical knowledge of either OS, just practical experience.  Also, a lot of my observations are tainted by a few years of using iOS.  I invite you to explore Android on your own and tell me what you’ve learned.

This comparison is between:

  • Android OS 4.1.2 a.k.a, “Jelly Bean” (apparently the latest one I can get for this particular device) and
  • Apple iOS 7.0.2 (7.0.3 just came out but I haven’t applied it yet!)

The Android OS, as it plays out on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, is like espresso shots, capers and William Shatner:

Android is an Acquired Taste

So, if you are planning to move to Android because it’s the only current alternative to iOS, then prepare for a steeper-than-iOS learning curve.

These are some quick observations:

  • The text handling is not even CLOSE to being as intuitive as iOS.
    • I imagine that competency with Android text handling comes with time and experience just like iOS.
    • That being said, the spell checking & word “guessing” is on par with, if not better than iOS.
  • I use voice to dictate a lot of what I do.  Android translates as I speak…if it were instantaneous, it would be great.  But it is NOT instantaneous.  So – I – get a lot of Shatner type – sentences – as I speak.
    • iOS, on the other hand will wait until I’m finished talking and then try to figure out what the hell I said.  In the case of Siri, I noticed that it calls out to “the mother ship” out there in Apple-land to assist…it works great when it works.  But, lose your signal: lose most of Siri’s functionality.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with a lot of junkware.  They appear DESPERATE for you to use Samsung’s chat and Samsung’s cloud and Samsung’s music and Samsung’s movies, Samsung’s  blah-blah-blah-blah.  Then on top of that there is Google’s Chat, Google’s cloud, Google’s music, ad nauseam.  This device came with more crapware 2nd only to what Lenovo puts on their laptops.
    • You must keep my remarks in context: I’m a minimalist.  One app for this function, not THREE!  I have massive ADD and I am constantly trying to minimize input so I can concentrate on getting the job done.

      Demo of the Crapware They put on these things
      Demo of the “Crapware” they put on these things
  • Facebook: the Android app temporarily locks up on me when I’m replying to a message.  It goes into some kind of text selection mode and I can’t do anything.
    • I notice that the network activity is solid during these occasions and I can only imagine that either Facebook, Google or Samsung (or all three) are compiling detailed information on me and sending it to their network to profile & target my sorry ass for the next “as seen on TV” gizmo.
  • The browser that Samsung provides blows…there is no other technical term to describe it.  However, unlike iOS, you have some browser choice, which I really appreciated.
    • A full version of Firefox was a welcome sight…it was able to use addons and the whole smash…what a treat!  Chrome and Opera were also choices.
    • Why a Google OS didn’t come standard with Chrome mystifies the hell outta me.  That had to be a Samsung thing.
    • This may also have something to do with the “OPEN” standard that Google expresses for Android.  Openware is a double-edged sword: you get a lot of great competition but it also fragments the market and makes choosing products that much harder.  The libertarian in me loves that but the lazy asshole in me is annoyed. This is why it is so easy to get sucked-in to the Apple maelstrom; once you’re on the government dole, it’s like crack and takes a lot of discipline to get your mind off of the dependence it creates.
    • Another wierd note about Monopoly: You can get apps for Android from multiple companies vs. every app for iOS having to pray to the Apple god for inclusion.  Another thing that makes it better for freedom but harder for finding apps.
    • OH…and while we’re on OS & browsers…and this is what I like about iOS…Android does not support Flash or apparently, vice-versa.  For me its Silverlight and HTML5 and Adobe can otherwise suck it.
      • Caution: My hate for Adobe stems from their LOUSY support for enterprise infrastructure – it has been HALF-ASSED for the most part and is only now getting to the point where their tools and software support IT shops.  To their credit, they must be listening to us…because its now much easier to turn off those *^&%$(&*%^ Flash updates that generate a ton of work orders to “Please Stop These Update Notices” from our customers.

So I hope these quick observations (and mini-RANTS) help….they are as incomplete and biased as you will ever see, but they come with the knowledge that having another OS on the market will always be a welcome thing.  Monopoly – government or private – destroys freedom.  And the only thing that can combat monopoly is competition.  B$

He’s Dead, Jim

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I tried TWICE to resurrect my old NVidia GTS 250 display card.  The only thing wrong was that the GPU was overheating.  So TWICE, I removed the card, took off the GPU cooling fan, cleaned off the old thermal paste and reapplied new thermal paste and cranked it back down on the GPU. And before you ask: YES…the fan was working!  lol

Sigh.  He’s Dead, Jim.

Still, the GPU would climb to 60C+ and then start flaking out.  This graphics card carried me through so many World of Warcraft adventures…I feel genuinely sad at the loss of this stalwart companion.  Eh…you get attached; what can I say?

While I was at it, I found a used CPU (yeah…USED!) from Amazon that maxed out what my old MOBO could handle and was $100 less than a new one!  I also added another 4G of memory & a solid state hard drive.  With the exception of the new/old CPU and memory, I tried to buy an SSD boot drive, graphics card & CPU heat sink that would translate over when I create my so-called “GODBOX” workstation planned for later this year.

Specific Info for your perusal:

  • Motherboard: ASUS P5P43TD (base model) …its about 4 years old now I think.  T’was ‘Bleeding Edge’ back then.
  • Old CPU: Intel Core Duo E5200, 2.5 “Snail -a- Hertz”.  Again: a good friend but past his/her prime. (Not sure of CPU’s gender but I believe it to be male since it was not temperamental at all during it’s tenure.) <grin>
  • New CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 at 3.0GHz …not overclocking…I have too much work to do right now…no time to EFF around.  Still about 4-times faster than the E5200!
  • Memory: USED Crucial 4GB Kit (2GBx2) DDR3 1333 MT/s (PC3-10600) CL9 Unbuffered UDIMM 240-Pin bringing total RAM to 8GB. Cheapest I could find on Amazon.
  • New Solid State Drive: Crucial M500 240GB  …I put the Micron version of this drive in my wife’s i7 monster and they are at a discount now so go get ’em…they are fast and reliable!
  • Graphics Card: I intend on getting two highest-end cards and SLI-ing the sh** out of them in my future box.  In the meantime, I went for an MSI N650-2GD5/OC for just over a C-note.  Enough for me to create videos for my blog, run WoW, etc. but not so expensive as to invite the wrath of she-who-must-not-be-named.
  • CPU Cooling: After the GPU cooling fiasco, there was NO EFF-ING WAY I was going to rely on a boxed CPU cooler on a processor that burns at 95W (I have three new Intel coolers just taking up space in the garage).  I originally purchased a Cooler Master GeminII M4 via Amazon but one of the mounting brackets it came with had the wrong size (too large) holes drilled into it so I couldn’t attach it.  RMA-Baby…this is why I do business with Amazon.com …they have returns down to a flippin’ science.  Desperate for a NOW NOW NOW replacement, I went to Fry’s Electronics in Roseville, CA and purchased a Cooler Master Hyper N520.  Uh…talk about overkill, lol.  the Q9650 CPU puts out 95W…the Hyper N520 can handle up to 300W. lolol.  Sexy overkill.
    • You might also question why I purchased a Cooler Master brand product after getting BONED by them on the first cooler. Answer: Of all the coolers available at Fry’s, this one met all of what I wanted and could fit into my old Antec case.  I crossed my fingers and got lucky this time.  But I want it on the record that Cooler Master is on my “watchlist” for the time being.  If you’re Hyper N520 had not been such a beautiful beast, you would have been dead to me for your lack of Quality Control with the GeminII M4.  You are on NOTICE, Cooler Master.

Lessons Learned:

  • No matter how much you love them, people & things you love die. (All Things Must Pass).
  • All things being equal, don’t be so quick to blame, or SPEND AN EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF YOUR PRECIOUS TIME BLAMING… {wait for it} …the NVidia Display Drivers.
  • CoolerMaster CPU Coolers – in this case the CoolerMaster GeminII M4 – sometimes come with the wrong parts that render it useless.
  • Cooler Master CPU Coolers – ALL OF THEM – come with instructions that assume you install them about twice-a-week and already know how to do it right the first time.
  • I purchased an MSI replacement Graphics card on the basis of downloading their MSI Afterburner utility during the troubleshooting of my old board.
    • They put so much effort into that utility that I concluded they deserved a chance at my business.
  • Two free utilities that stood out during this upgrade:
    • MSI Afterburner
    • SpeedFan
    • They’re good enough to sell…in the case of Afterburner, it lead me to purchase an MSI graphics board.
  • Downloading free or even TRIAL utilities has become a battle of not installing what is popularly called “foistware“.  The junk that gets installed unless you very carefully navigate through the dialogs during download and then again during installation. Prominent among this crap is AVG Virus Protection/toolbar.  If I see any of their marketing people on the street I’ll kick their asses.
    • For the most part, I found the most hassle free download of utilities from filehippo.com.  Still got some foistware from filehippo…just not as much as the others.  Of course, you can always trust sourceforge.net for open source stuff without hassle…just that damn IBM advert while waiting for your download to begin.

Well…there is my experience out in the open for you to benefit upon & criticize.  There are a LOT of links in this post because there’s a lot of reference material if you want to actually understand this stuff.  I hope you all now go out and do stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with computers. <smile>

B$