Thursday, December 30, 2010

Project HTPC

I recently bought a new TV since the old one didn't have a DVB-T receiver. Buying just the receiver was out of the question because that would leave me with an ancient TV and bad picture quality. HDMI was the only way to go so I decided to build a proper HTPC capable of HD video playback.

A year ago I found a really good deal on Travla C137 case. Now I was finally able to put it to good use. Deciding which motherboard to buy took some more research. In the end I decided to go for an ASUS AT5IONT-I since I already had two 1GB DDR3 SO-DIMM sticks lying around and the board had the best CPU/GPU combo. On top of that, I bought a Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB hard drive which fit nicely inside the case. Low power consuption and silent operation make this drive ideal for such projects. Of course a HTPC wouldn't be complete without a remote control! After some fiddling with the drivers I was able to make the old ATi Remote Wonder work and it does the job fine.

The last thing to do was to choose the OS. I was deciding between XBMC and Windows 7. A couple of my co-workers convinced me to try Win7 so I did. All I can say at the moment is "so far so good".

Photo: link

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Notebook Surgery

I recently bought a used Toshiba Satellite A210-128 (AMD Turion X2 TL-56) with a busted display panel. The replacement was bought from this eBay store and it turned out great. It took me about an hour and a half to disassemble the laptop, replace the panel and put everything back together (the disassembly instructions can be found here). I wasn't sure, if the new panel would work but all my fears vanished as soon as I pushed the power button and the Toshiba logo showed up on screen.

Note: if you happen to be looking for a solid used notebook, I have one for sale ;)

Friday, May 7, 2010

This just in...

NIB Lexmark (IBM) Model M Spacer Saver! French layout.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Red Esc, Lavender WASD

What am I talking about? Why, keycaps of course! Last month I ordered some colored keycaps and here they are: red Escape key and lavender W, A, S, D keys for IBM Model M. What do you think? Pretty nifty, eh? I borrowed the idea from Filco.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crazy About Keyboards

Just picked up another IBM Model M this weekend, bringing my keyboard count up to nine. Took me a while to clean but it looks almost like new now. Here's what I have:
- IBM Model M - YU layout, 1993
- IBM Model M - DE layout (Ambra)
- IBM Model M - US layout, 1989
- IBM Model M - YU layout, broken
- IBM Model M - YU layout, 1996
- IBM Terminal Board - YU layout
- Cherry MX1800, DE layout, MX blue
- Cherry G80, YU layout, MX blue
- NeXT Station, non-ADB, YU layout

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nikon F-- Error Mystery Solved

I recently discovered what's causing that infamous "F--" error. It happened when I grabbed the camera by the lens. The lens actually turned a bit and "F--" popped up immediately. That's when it became apparent to me that I could actually jiggle the lens by a milimeter to one side or the other thus causing an interruption in the lens contact with the body. This in turn causes the "F--" error.

So, don't grab your camera by the lens and if you do get the error, try to realign the lens so that it goes back to normal.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How not to pack things before shipping

This article is a direct consequence of many horrible packaging jobs I've witnessed in the past years as a buyer on eBay.

Why is it such a big problem for some people to make sure that the contents of the package arrive in the exect same condition as they were shipped? They are either ignorant and believe the packages are handled with care or they are cheap and simply don't give a damn. The latest example is an IBM Model M keyboard I ordered last month. Upon arrival I discovered it wasn't boxed! Instead, it was wrapped in cardboard like you'd wrap a book. Needless to say, the keyboard didn't take this very well. The result was 12 broken rivets and one broken support.

My other experience comes from underpacked PC games. Some people think it's enough to simply use a normal paper envelope and be done with it. Wrong! In 99% cases the boxes arrive damaged, corners crushed and similar. If you want to package a game properly, at least use a layer of bubble-wrap and on top of that a bubble-wrap envelope. If you really want to do it right, put the game box inside a proper padded cardboard box. Your buyers will appreciate it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's up with Gmail?

Ever since Google presented us with Buzz, Gmail has been nothing but problems. First I had trouble signing into Gtalk then incoming mail began coming in delayed. The delays often last an hour or more and it's really irritating. I was used to getting mails instantly to my Gmail account. Contacting Google didn't result in a reply. Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Soldering pt.2

Here's a little update...

I've successfully replaced all five 3300uF caps on that nForce 4 motherboard and I'm happy to report it now boots fine. I've yet to stress-test it with Prime95 but I'm confident it will do fine.

I also recieved the Blue Cube PS/2 to USB keyboard adapter. It's one of the rare adapters that work properly. The only trouble is that it's so bulky, it blocks the 2nd USB port on my laptop. You're going to have to use a short USB extension cable, if you need the other USB port. My original intention was to hack one of my Model M's so that the adapter was built-in (something like this). I'm not so sure now :)