09 December, 2011

h3x4c0m

OK. Computer-building has always been a hobby of mine. Later years have shown that high-end components don't always have to cost an arm and a leg. So I figured I'd do a build-project where I would build a hybrid workstation / VM-lab / gaming-rig, with as much computing-power as my limited budget would allow.


The following became my project-goals:
  • Build an HTPC (Home Theatre PC) with std.-dimensions for rack/stack placement.
  • Get the most powerful and technically up-to-date cpu for as little as possible, most likely an alternative to Intel (AMD).
  • Shove in, at a very minimum, at least 8GB of RAM with decent heat spreading.
  • Make due with the stock cpu-fan and add cabinet fans accordingly.
  • Use a customizable O.C.(overclocking)-motherboard for tweaking-purposes.
I figured I'd base the machine on an AMD chipset and processor because they've always been more on the cheaper end, compared to Intel, without losing too much of the competing processing-power (allthough AMD chips generate quite a lot of heat in contrast to Intel's).



The basic assembly was quite easy. Every screw and spacer needed was included with the cabinet to ensure a good fit for the MicroATX motherboard.




Installation of the components on the motherboard was also pretty straightforward. Although I forgot to lock the cpu-chip into the cradle before I fastened the cpu-fan over it :s doh!


Silverstone's starter-level cabinet "Milo" did the job I wanted it to. It was slimline and spec-standard so it fit nicely on my Denon receiver with a Pioneer DVD player and a Canal Digital PVR on top of it, all without over-heating any metal-surfaces.
System-disk. Period ;)
Only annoying thing I didn't think about was if I wanted to add a PCIx graphics card, it has to be a "low-profile" spec-card to fit in the low cabinet. But for now the embedded HDMI port on the M/B will do (I eventually added a low-end GeForce GT520 1GB GDDR3).



I could fit up to 3 hard-drives total, but I only used a 250GB Western Digital hard-drive for personal files (/home Linux partition) and a 60GB ForceGT Corsair SSD for the OS (Linux). The SSD was a definite improvement both on heavy word-load effectiveness and boot-up (it boots Debian GNU/Linux / Ubuntu Desktop / Linux Mint in less than a few seconds!)

A metal bar is used to keep the cabinet sturdy, and does an excellent job.


One thing I noticed when installing the OS after first bootup, was that all the six cores (yes ;) that's SIX cpu-cores :p) reported an individual total processing-power of a mere 800MHz! WTF!?

This couldn't be! 800MHz x 6!? At first I figured it was the Cool'n'Quiet-feature of AMDs processor-lines that throttled everything down to save power and/or cool the cpu. This was not the case.



As I read the motherboard webpage, I realized the cpu was released after the motherboard. And even though it listed the cpu as compatible, it also said it required an EFI-update to be able to take full advantage of a hexa-core processor.
Well, that figures... So, I aggravatingly downloaded the mentioned EFI binary-blob on a USB-stick, and proceeded to flash the motherboard.

After booting up the newly upgraded firmware, it listed the cpu with the correct specifications :) YAY-HOORAY! ;D

Without discrete graphics card.

With discrete graphics-card.
* Asus GeForce GT520 2GB 64-bit GDDR3 PCie-2.
I haven't really had the time to properly benchmark the performance yet. And I think I'll postpone it until I have a proper cpu cooling-system (preferably liquid-cooling, but I haven't been able to find a low-profile cooling-system that will fit the SilverStone Milo HTPC-cabinet yet).

For now, it has shown exceptional potential as a file-/web-server, daily mailer/browser, HD multimedia powerhouse and compilation workstation :] so I'm really looking forward to pushing it to the edge :D


Next project is setting up an advanced NAS box, preferrably with iSCSI-support for Virtual Machine network-storage :]


NAS-project update: http://blog.pizslacker.org/2012/02/nas-for-vmwaremediafiles.html

Discrete graphics upgrade (Sep'2014):

New (as of Sept'2014) Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 1GB 64-bit GDDR5 PCIe-2.1 discrete graphics-card
+
Supplementary (for separate iSCSI-subnet) MiniPCIe Gigabit Ethernet card

With new Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 1GB 64-bit GDDR5 PCIe-2.1 discrete graphics-card.


19 October, 2011

R.I.P. Dennis M. Ritchie

The father of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix® operating system died last week at the age of 70.

A TRUE computer pioneer, and one of the last TRUE old-school hackers.

Without Dennis, we would not have the direct and spiritual descendants based on his innovations, including: Linux, Android, Mac OS, iOS, JavaScript, C++, the genius of the Internet and a world full of computer programmers and developers.

Devs of the world owe you mr Ritchie.

Thank you for bringing the concept of "Open Systems" to the world. Without it, I would undoubtly be locked-in with a major proprietary software vendor.

Instead, I am free to use whatever I want, in any way I want, on any device I want. Thanks to open systems, open protocols, open projects and open source :)

Many thanks for your contributions Mr. Richie, forever grateful.

25 August, 2011

Happy 20th, Linux! ;D

Yes, the monolithic, POSIX-compliant operating system kernel is celebrating it's 20th anniversary today :) YAY-HOORAY!

23 August, 2011

Oracle VM VirtualBox

I use VMWare ESXi 4.0 at work when I set up new system-images or production-VMs. Which works reasonably well, but hogs a lot of resources for various tasks, even on the HP ProLiant blade-server at work :s

But I'm quite pleased about my new server-VM setup @ home :D

On my Ubuntu desktop @ home, I now mainly use Virtualbox OSE (Open-Source Edition). Simple, yet powerful and quite configurable ;D

Virtualbox was easy enough to set up, and installing Ubuntu Server on a virtual machine was fun :p taking snapshots as I went along configuring and restoring web-files and what-not. I'm really content with it :) I think it emulates very well with limited resources.

Although Oracle bought Sun Microsystems Inc., it's open-source products haven't shown any slow-downs in their progress and development, except for OpenOffice that is... But the LibreOffice project saved it from corrupting it's relationship with it's open-source community.



27 July, 2011

My "Androidification" - androidify

:p androidify for Android is a fun little app to customize a 'droid' version of yourself ;) which you can share on social media, blogs, etc. or save on your device :)


02 July, 2011

Monster PC build-time ;D


Okay, so my cousin's boyfriend bought some killer-components in the United States. He then asked me if I was interested in helping him order the remaining components to build a performance-powerhouse extraordinaire :p of course my inner g33k couldn't refuse.

He had purchased the following components so far:



I'm going to post further development of this monstrosity :p and I'm definitely going to record the first boot-up when the time comes, and post that here as well :) you can follow this post-thread with the label "monster-dualboot"
Edit 20110725: I have corrected the component-names after euph84 asked me to, I also fixed the correct manufacturer product-sheet links to correspond to the right product IDs.

23 June, 2011

WebGL VS. Silverlight



Nå må dere seriøst skjerpe dere Microsoft XD og kanskje få litt bedre orden i egen teknologi før dere kritiserer alle andres til egen fordel :p i alle fall når fordelen ikke egentlig eksisterer.

MS kritiserte sårbarheter i WebGL (Google sin web3D-satsing sammen med mange andre store IT-aktører på alternativ-markedet) for ikke så lenge siden, når det faktisk viser seg at deres egen teknologi har like kritiske (om ikke mer) sårbarheter (*lulz!*).

Jeg har ikke stort mye mot MS lenger, har rett og slett flamet nok om "M$" det siste tiåret. Men når de fortsetter med FUD og lekesandkasse-mentalitet, og allikevel påstår å være en seriøs aktør er det nok mer enn bare meg som rynker på nesen...

http://www.digi.no/872442/silverlight-har-samme-saarbarhet-som-webgl

18 May, 2011

downtime ...

www.pizslacker.org will be down for a few days due to software-upgrades.

www.pizslacker.org is once again fully operational ;)

16 May, 2011

PSN is alive again


After being down since April 17th, it was quite joyful seeing the network up and running again. I switched on my PlayStation3, downloaded the new firmware update, changed my password and synched my trophies :) still wondering about the compensation for the downtime... not that I'm expecting much though.

01 May, 2011

h4ck_

Hacker, phracker, cracker.
White-hat, grey-hat, black-hat.

Words... they're just words. And what am I? Some would call me a 'grey-hat', some would call me a 'hacker'. I am neither...

I am a hobbyist. I do what I do because I love it, not because I feel the need to prove anything.

The term 'computer-hacker' originated in the 60s, though a lot of people would argue that it originated in the 80s. It didn't originate in the 80s, it was used incorrectly to give computer-criminals a public image for the non-technical masses. Breaking computer security, obtaining illegal access, stealing information, etc. Doing any of these things automatically gave you a hacker-title in the media. And it still does.

In later years, newer terms have been coined to better describe the type of computer-criminal was in question. Some of these include: cracker (criminal hacker), phracker (fraudulent cracker), black-hat (malicious cracker). None of which were actually adopted by the media at all.

My point being: things usually have more than one side to it. And most people only care about the thrilling/adventurous side, which in the media's eyes is the illegal side of it.

I'm not going to use any of these terms anymore. I'm tired of misrepresentation and faulty journalism (which happens more often than not).

Norwegian readers of my blog will probably find this article as an interesting example of where the usage of the word "hacker" is totally unwarranted. If anything, that person was (at best, by copying other people's code and re-using it without any insight of it's logic and algorithms) a "script-kiddie". Various Norwegian e-news agents have published more and more erroneous articles regarding cyber-crime, none of which actually pertain to actual "hackers", like this one. Another Norwegian tech-expert had this to say about "hacking".
I don't utilize aliases when I program and I don't sign off after deleting system logs. I sign with my real name, email address and PGP-signature in my programs/scripts, and I am a heavy log-surfer on my own systems. A so-called super-user if you will ;)

*they* use aliases when code/scripts execute malicious functions to do damage to a system, and *they* remove traces of their actions when the actions themselves prove illegal and punishable by law.

Such people are usually very angry, adolescents with something to prove to themselves and others.

(When I DO remove traces, it is ONLY to protect my own privacy, nothing more, nothing less.)

So, to voice my opinion: fuck the media and fuck the judicial system for endorsing incorrect use of computer-terms coined by competent, upstanding contributors to the computer-society.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_(term)
http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/

Some of my blog posts regarding the topic:
http://blog.pizslacker.org/2009/04/computer-illiterates-are-dangerous.html

07 April, 2011

--// Samsung Nexus S \\--

My next tech-upgrade, is the cutting edge smart-phone Samsung Nexus S.

As a collaboration between Samsung and Google, it's the next-step innovation in smart-phone technology.

My first Android-phone was the developer-phone HTC Magic ( non-Google branded B-revision ). It was a barebones Android-system without any major UI additions like HTCs newer Desire-models  (Sense UI).

From what I can gather, Nexus S is like the previous Nexus phone with updated components and firmware. Pretty much an updated developer-phone for Google's latest Android-platform: v2.3 "Gingerbread".

With an up-2-date CPU of 1GHz, codenamed "Hummingbird" ( ARM Cortex A8 ), the Nexus S is multitask-capable. Making it the most powerful Android-phone at the moment. The ARM Cortex A8 chip includes a co-processor: the PowerVR SGX 450 GPU for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 for enhanced 2D/3D mobile graphics and animation.

As a superuser, my previous phones have all lacked enough memory-capacity for my userload. The Magic had 192MB of userland-accessible memory, my current Desire-phone has 150MB userland-accessible memory.

Both Magic and Desire has expandable storage by using a microSD memory card slot. Magic can handle cards of up to 16GB capacity and Desire can handle up to 32GB capacity. The only problem with external memory storage is read/write-times while using externally stored applications, which at times would entail a lot of loading-time when using data-heavy applications. Instead of just boosting and mostly utilizing the userland-accessible memory that is incorporated into the chipset.

With the Nexus S they have eliminated these problems as the userland-accessible memory is a 15GB iNAND-partition :D It really doesn't bother me that the memory is iNAND and that it doesn't sport a microSD slot, in my experience, phones and memory cards don't always work all that well together ( mostly because microSD cards doesn't handle rapid mounting/unmounting good at all in my experience ).

I'm looking forward to getting my new smart-phone, and can't wait to play with new features and functions :p

Addition, april 23rd:

I have now been tinkering with the Samsung Nexus S for a few days, and I am one happy techie :)

It is excactly like I imagined it to be by reading the published specs online. Allthough the user-land accessible memory-partition wasn't 15GB, it was more like 14GB. And with one 1GB user-land accessible system-partition to support the restricted 1GB nternal Android-system.

512MB of dedicated Mobile DDR with the PowerVR gpu really boosted the animation speed and look. Even the startup-logo is pure eye-candy :p Google-logo fading into a Nexus "X" symbol animated with colored spiral-lines, niiice! :)

I can even store all the games I've bought from Android-market without worrying about slowing the device down like I had to with the Desire. All apps are installed, all my games, utilities, etc. And I haven't even used one gigabyte completely yet :D

Yay! Woohoo! Awesomesauce! ^_^

23 February, 2011

PS3 YLOD

Not to bash Sony in any way. Or to criticize too much either.., I love their work and innovation :)

That being said: I didn't buy the first PlayStation3 revision, thankfully. A lot of friends bought both the first, and second revisions which both had their fair share of hardware and software issues.

The third one, you would have thought would be fairly stable and sufficient. And it was, after mediocre use over 4 years. But just at the end of the fourth year, mine had started making annoying noises from the BD-drivebay. At this point, the warranty was void. And after a month or two, the fan ran on constant maximum. Then, the horror. I got up one morning and pushed the power-button, it started up as usual, flashed an YLOD, shut off and blinked red. FML...



I am now a proud (yet, distraught) owner of a fourth generation PlayStation3 Slim. Yes, it is a little less powerfull than the "phat", but generally quite noiseless. I also bought a PS3 Slim horizontal cooler stand to pre-empt another YLOD incident.

I also do regular backups because of Sony's updated firmware that doesn't let you swap disks from one system revision to the other ( which worked fine on the third gen ).

I bet it will bring me hours of HD film and gaming joy. But I must admit Sony has done theirs to make it quite an awfully expensive hobby. And I'm not sure I will continue to endorse Sony if this continues to get worse in the time coming :/

02 February, 2011

DENON A/V Receiver - HDMI 1.3a



Valget falt raskt på Denon da en kamerat sa det var tilbud på low-end receiveren deres AVR-1610 i fjor. Forsterkeren er ikke en disco-brøler, leverer dog klar og konsis lyd, men jeg må innrømme at det var funksjonene som lokket meg til modellen.

AVR-1610 er definitivt budsjett-varianten av mer high-end hjemmekinosystemer laget av Denon. Men den skiller seg nokså klart fra andre receivere i samme prisklasse på de tekniske og funksjonsmessige finessene.

  • Data-styrt lydrom-korreksjon (lyd-funksjonen "Audyssey" med medfølgende mikrofon i opptil 6 måleposisjoner) som virkelig er bra utarbeidet. Det krevde litt tålmodighet å kjøre lydtest på 6 posisjoner fra alle høyttalere, men det høres i ettertid. Klang, tone og bass kjører mye bedre sammen i valgt rom enn med fabrikk-innstillingene.
  • Full støtte for HD lyd (DTS HD Master Audio + Dolby TrueHD).
  • Oppdatert Dolby Pro-Logic IIz surround for oppmiksing av stereo-kilder.
  • Oppskalering av analog video / SD til HDMI High-Def.
  • On-Screen-Display for HDMI-styring.
  • Et lass med RCA-tilkobling for analoge lydkilder (DVD, DVR, TV, CD, osv.)
  • 3 x HDMI 1.3a porter + switch + 1 HDMI 1.3a repeater, 2 x S/PDIF Opt., 1 x S/PDIF Coax.
  • D/A 24bit 96KHz - A/D  24bit 192KHz.
  • Mulighet for original iPod-tilkobling med fjernstyring.
  • Intelligent strømfordeling for alle høyttalertilkoblinger.
M.a.o. får du utrolig mye teknologi og datastyrt lyd-korreksjon for pengene. For ikke å snakke om alle digitale tilkoblinger en trenger for minst mulig støy-, ulyd-forstyrrelser på lydsignaler.

Trenger man mer kraft for å drive høyttaler-settene en har, trenger man ikke bytte ut forsterkeren, bare integrere et kraftig slutt-trinn, så kan Denon-receiveren benyttes som styrings-receiver.

Jeg har nå benyttet AVR-1610 siden Mai 2010, og er i alle fall MER enn godt nok fornøyd :) 9.5/10 poeng!


Link til produkt-side hos produsent:
http://denon.co.uk/uk/Product/Pages/Product-Detail.aspx?Catid=83742842-dc75-4090-b169-b916700fd158&SubId=43eadffa-05fc-430a-a586-b5137428cc5f&ProductId=d1116d48-4581-466c-82e9-86d0028e1079