Excuse the dust again…

Restoring the site again and changing some directories. You may notice broken pic links and some layout issues for a little while until I fix all the posts.

edit: ok I fixed most of the links and pics locally. NOTE: if you got broken links on other boards / sites it’s because I moved all my images into a sub folder. All the images are still there only in that sub folder. You can also just search for the articles in the search box in the top right.

Now getting ready to post new stuff.

Macbook Air 13 inch, 256gig SSD, Core i7, 4 GigRam

Got a Macbook Air to keep my iPad 2 company with an iPhone 5 on the way next month. This one I got loaded with 256Gigs of SSD and the Core i7 processor. Surprisingly my local apple store (retail store) had these in stock so I got one.

Comes in a nice little box.

Backlit keyboard.

13,3 inch gives you the standard 1440×900 resolution which on a screen this size looks nice and sharp.

Finally an SD card reader. This is huge for photographers, bloggers or anyone using SD for storage. Having the 2 USB ports (one each side) is nice also. Thunderbolt port rounds out the rest. If you hook it up to an external apple monitor that one Thunderbolt port turns into a couple extra USB, firewire, etc.. via the external monitor’s ports all funneled through that one tiny port on the macbook air.

Power port, USB, headphones and mic on the other side.

While the macbook air is a very thin computer, it has some heft / weight to it. This heft is it’s not wasted. The macbook air is VERY rigid, you can pick it up from a corner (with it open) and it does not flex or feel cheap. Very solid. Not much thicker than an iPad.

Compared to it’s bigger brother macbook pro 15 inch. I love everything about the Macbook Air. It is the future of computers. Think iPad form factor but you have a real computer (a fairly powerful one) to get work done. The only downside is the price tag which at the time of this writing ticks close to $2,000 out the door for this configuration.

Another $300 or so gives us Windows 7 64 bit, Parallels virtual desktop and a 1TB external USB drive.

I’ll give an update after I’ve used this thing for a few weeks.

New desk arrangement for the Eyefinity office

Re arranged a few machines to better accommodate the Eyefinity setup. I wanted the CPU on the table so tucked it behind one of the monitors where there was dead space. This makes for easy cable access to the back of the machine. Off to the right (out of frame) is an external hot swappable eSata drive setup.

I also wanted another Warcraft seat next to it. It’s also one of the office machines for work. A Macbook pro rounds it off at the end of the table there.

In case people were wondering they are Bush Series A desks from Everythingfurniture.com http://search.everythingofficefurniture.com/?query=bush+series+A&x=0&y=0

New PC Gaming Rig with Eyefinity 3 Monitor setup

I decided to update the game rig. I never actually posted an update on my last 2 since they were pre-made rigs (Gateway gaming PC’s). This time after some frustration with a Powerspec pre-config system I purchased, I decided to return it and custom build one.

I went to Microcenter in Tustin, CA and wanted to get everything in one place, in one day. So I went to their system builder section with a shopping cart and went to town. I didn’t want to special order items or wait for anything.

I’m also an avid World of Warcraft player and wanted to try out a 3 screen wide display for gaming. I’m a huge Nvidia fan but decided to go with an AMD / Radeon card for a slightly easier to configure Eyefinity multi screen setup.

The parts list:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 922M ATX
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600
Graphics: HIS ICEQ HD6950 2GB GD5
Motherboard: Asus P8p67 Pro R3.1 ATX (Includes Bluetooth, Firewire, USB, SATA, etc.)
Power Supply: OCZ 600W Modular Xtreme Pro
Ram: Corsair 8GB VGNBLUE D3 1600 DIM C9
OS Drive: Crucial M4, 64 GB SSD 6GB/s
Media Drive: Seagate 1TB 7200RPM SATA
Optical Drive: Sony Bulk 24X DVD/ RW
Wireless N: Trendnet N Micro TEW-648U
Multi Card / Media Reader: Kingwin KWCR-901
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium.

Monitors: Asus VE278 LED. 27 inch monitor x 3

 

My Comments on each (remember I purchased what was in stock at the store):

Case: I went with the HAF922 for what I think is a perfect sized case. Plenty of air space, yet just tall enough without being overly huge for no reason.

Processor: I could have saved money with the I5 but I will be running some apps that take advantage of what the I7 offers over it (media editing, etc). I decided on the locked version of the I7 since I’ve never really bothered to dive deep into overclocking. I’m using the factory included Intel CPU cooler / paste, etc.

Graphics: Went with the HIS ICEQ Radeon HD 6950 for price / performance. It’s not the bleeding edge fastest card, but fast enough. It can also drive up to 4 monitors in an Eyefinity setup from the one card. The card is also overclocked out of the box with what looks to be a nice cooling setup. I’m happy to report that it runs very quiet even after hours of gaming.

Motherboard: To be honest I did not have a preference here, decided to pick up the Asus P8P67 Pro R3 because it also had a bluetooth module. It was more like “this one will work” when I was in the store and threw it in the cart.

Power Supply: I didn’t want too much power since I pay the power bill, but I also did not want too little power. I was going to start with a OCZ 600watt modular and move up if I needed to. I went with a modular supply to make things a little easier to wire up in the case and no extra wire bundles. Turns out 600 watts is working out fine.

RAM: Went with what was on sale. They had 8 and 12 gig bundles.. went for the 8Gigs of the Corsair variety. Plus how can you pass up cool blue fins on dims bro.

OS Drive: Ok I had an SSD failure with OCZ so passed up on them. I am now spoiled on SSD and had to include one in this build since I wanted everything to boot fast, etc. Went with a Crucial M4, 64 GB SSD. 64 gig because I’m a cheap bastard and will just install most of my apps (and everything else) on the media drive.

Media Drive: Seagate 1TB 7200RPM it was what was on sale. Did not want to bother with a raid config so 7200RPM basline was fine.

Optical Drive: Sony bulk. Again what was there in store, cheap and it works.

Wireless N: I went with a Trendnet N micro USB that just plugs into one of the gazillion USB ports. It’s tiny and not noticeable.  This way in a pinch I can just turn on the machine within wireless range and go. I will be using the wired LAN connection of course most of the time.

Multi Card / Media Reader: All this money in a system and you CAN’T  read a card from your camera or SLR ? Forgetaboutit ! Spend 7 bucks and just install one in a bay so you can read all kinds of media.

OS: Yep purchased windows 7 yet again.

Monitors: I went with three Asus VE278 LED. 27 inchers. In the store I looked at many monitors side by side… and for the price this VE278 looked real good. As a bonus the monitor has a small bezel (eyefinity multi monitor setup) it has standard mounting holes to run a custom 3 monitor stand in the future, they have half ass speakers built in which is nice in a pinch. They include one of every common type of port available: display port, HDMI, DVI, VGA, Composite. They have PIP features which is nice. But what sold me on them was mainly the Display port and LED backlit feature and nice picture. LED backlit of course means instant on and no warming up (to match the SSD fast boot up.. hehe).

Monitors: Asus VE278 LED. 27 inch monitor x 3

Asus P8p67 Pro R3.1 ATX, Intel Core i7 2600, Corsair 8GB VGNBLUE D3 1600 DIM C9

HIS ICSQ HD6950 card w/cooler.

Cooler Master HAF 922M ATX with mobo and OCZ 600W Modular Xtreme Pro installed.

Eyefinity 3 monitor setup acting like 1 big 5760 x 1080 monitor.

Yes I’m getting a new desk, this desk is slightly too small to hold 3 monitors properly. They need to have a slightly flatter angle for my taste.

World of Warcraft on the screen. Stormwind never looked so good in Eyefinity.

So thats basically it. You can go a million different ways when building a system there is almost no right or wrong way. This is the way I decided to go with a shopping cart in a store, all items in stock, no special order, no waiting, no BS. So far it’s working great.

Price for the system, 3 monitors and cables / adapters was around $2500 or so (I think) at the time of this writing. The good news is in about 2 months all this stuff will be outdated .. yay ! :-)

 

 

OCZ Vertex 2, 120 Gig 2.5″ SSD

UPDATE: This drive failed only after 2 weeks of use. NOT ready for prime time. It was great while it lasted.

OCZ Vertex 2 – 120 Gig 2.5″ SSD OCZSSD2-2VTXE12 SATA w/SandForce SF-1222 Controller ~ $230. I decided to throw an SSD into the Toshiba M645. I needed something that would hold all the apps I use in the field, plus a few games. Turns out 120 gigs was barely enough room. I had about 30 gigs to spare for misc files (after wiping the restore partition which I didn’t need).

For those who may not know what an SSD is, it is short for “Solid State Drive” which is a storage device that has no moving parts and stores data on memory chips instead of a hard drive which has many moving parts. They have been around for many years, dropping in price enough to use them today to replace full hard drives in computers, not just the OS or boot disk. iPad’s, USB drives, some ultra portables, many mp3 players, etc.. use some type of solid state memory to store data. For a computer however, it’s a game of offering huge storage (say 80 – 500 gigs), small form factor (able to fit in a laptop), low power consumption, fast performance, cool operation, reliable performance, and at a somewhat affordable price.

What this OCZ Vertex 2 drive brings to my laptop is blistering performance. It’s simply awesome. Everything works soooo much faster. 19 seconds to boot into windows 7. Photoshop or any other app launches in 2 seconds. Shutdowns and hibernation are much faster. Loading huge files in Dreamweaver or Office is now near instant. You can google “SSD” to see performance tests and videos showing how fast they are compared to normal HDD’s. The sandforce SF-1222 controller in this drive is pretty fast. Remember booting into windows 7 faster is one thing, but when you multiply every single HD operation, and there are many, while you work in windows the speed difference adds up and it is really noticeably faster.

Installation is very easy, make sure you created recovery discs, swap the SSD drive with your normal system HD and you are done. Then just boot from your recovery media and restore your system to the new SSD. You format and treat it like a normal HD. This is better than just ghosting your existing drive since windows 7 might see your new SSD and adjust itself accordingly. I say “might” since your system may be different than mine and may not do so. Included with the drive is a metal bracket / adapter to mount the SSD in a tower or desktop computer.

There are some tweaks you can do like disabling defrag, prefetch, superfetch, setting your bios to enable AHCI, etc.. I adjusted the software settings (defrag, pretfetch, etc) but I left the controller setting in the BIOS as is so I can swap drives without forgetting to re-set it. The TRIM feature of this SSD drive also works in normal SATA / IDE mode. Again this was just my setup, speed is fast enough for me as is.

Solid State Drives are the future, at some point every computer will have one as it’s system drive or perhaps the new hybrid drives coming out will be the norm, but if you want the fastest available for your Mac or PC (for the price) you might want to swap your HDD with an SSD, but be warned… the faster performance will spoil you and you’ll want an SSD for all your computers :-)

Toshiba M645 M645-S4118X

Decided to pick up a Toshiba M645. Price $999. The base specs are: Intel® Core™ i5-2410M, 6GB DDR3-1333 RAM, 640GB 5,400RPM Hard Drive, 14.0″ LED HD Display, Blu-ray Disc ROM and Labelflash SuperMulti DVD Drive, Memory Card Reader, Backlit Keyboard, NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 525M, 10/100 Network, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR, Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).

What I basically wanted was a small laptop that was actually capable of playing World of Warcraft on ultra settings at excellent frame rates. It also needed to be able to play other games at high or near high settings. So far this tiny sandy bridge notebook delivers. It’s the first time in a sub $1000 notebook that I’ve not felt gimped in the field when it comes to games or computing power. There is a video on youtube where a guy put an SSD into one and it screams. It gets decent battery life for what it is.

It’s no macbook air, it’s not groundbreaking in terms of looks, but its a great overall little computing powerhouse you can game on in the field. It runs cool even when gaming, backlit keyboard and the ability to turn off the trackpad is nice.

I was worried about the Core i5 since I normally only get whatever the latest processor offering is (i7 at the time of this writing) but for the price I’m impressed with it’s performance for my needs.

A true little brother to the 18 inch, desktop replacement style Toshiba X505 which is a great machine, but the X505 does not fit into my Pelican laptop overnight case :)

Hawaiian Shark Tooth Sword

This thing is bad ass:

My friends Scott, Meg and family took a trip to Hawaii with Ryan and apparently saw this and thought of me. They bought it as a gift. They were right… I love it. It was hand made and they got it from the guy that made it.  I have it up on the wall but the teeth show better on a dark background.

Red Table and Chair set

I wanted that outdoor feel indoors since we are often trapped inside the office.

I went with this this bistro set. I added 2 small trees on both sides. Looking for a napkin dispenser to complete the look. The chair and table are lightweight, fold up and can handle a decent amount of weight fairly easily (read fat asses.. haha). There was always a tall mirror in that location which was a leftover from the beauty salon that was here in the 80′s. When I purchased the building and changed the inside I left the mirror there.

Eventually I’m going with a whole dining room furniture setup in that bright looking hallway in the background there, but for the moment this red table set is cool.

Yoobao Genuine Leather iPad 2 Case

If you are like me you have probably gotten used to the iPad 1′s Apple case that was a simple fold over design that covered the front and the back of the iPad. Well now you can get it for the iPad 2:

The white stitching matches the white iPad 2. You can also see that the leather only covers the edges so you can still see there is a white iPad in there. The cover also supports sleep and wake functions of the iPad 2 (via internal magnet).

Cut outs are there for everything, mic, dock and all switches.

Love the new Apple cases, but they only cover the front of the iPad 2 and my workflow and holding of the iPad is something I’m better doing with this Yoobao case that is similar to the old iPad 1 case. They cost around $40.

iPad 2, 64 Gig, 3G

Finally updated the blog and my old ipad 1.

Went with an ipad 2, 64 gig, 3G with AT&T. I have a sprint based phone with hotspot so figure use another service provider. I heard about some minor issues with Verizon’s iPad 2′s and read about some speed differences, you are fine with either version I’m sure.