Amazon Echo Look – Teardown

Amazon Look - Teardown - All Parts - Top - YouTube Cover - Attempt 01 - 1080p

The Echo Look I’m working on a full review-type-thing of the Look, but who really cares about that? I’m sure people will want to see the insides of it, though. The most interesting two things on it are an Intel RealSense SR300 module (minus its visible light camera), and what’s basically a full Intel PC motherboard. In fact, here are the main specs: Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (SR2KT) @ 1.44Ghz (1.91Ghz burst) 8GB Samsung eMMC Flash NAND Storage 8GB Elpida LPDDR3 RAM Broadcom 802.11ac + 802.11b/g/a/n + Bluetooth (Not sure of the version) The hardware is fantastically made and well put together, and overall is very clever considering they stuffed all of it into a diminutive cylinder! The Reassembly I did … Continue reading

ZeroFiller: Nearly Fill Up a Disk with Zeroes for Snapshot Backups

ZeroFiller - Some Source Code - Screenshot

ZeroFiller (for Windows!) This might be a relatively niche utility, but I figured I’d share it because it might help someone in the same situation. File Version Description ZeroFiller-v0.8-20171023.zip v0.8a2017-10-23 The ZeroFiller executable only (requires .NET 4.5.2) ZeroFiller-src-0.8a-20171023.zip v0.8a2017-10-23 The ZeroFiller source code (requires >= Visual Studio 2017, probably) Backups I run a lot of VMs and I’m a bit obsessed with backups. I do high-level backups (meaning files, DB data, configs, etc.), as well as low-level backups of the actual VM disk images. The raw virtual disks get snapshotted on the host system, then the snapshot’s raw data is backed up using dd, gzip, and rsync. It’s not fancy, and it basically grabs the machine in a crashed state … Continue reading

Enterprise Network Switches for the Home: Ramble feat HP Procurve 5406ZL

The HP Procurve 5406ZL and…

…a whole lot of other crap, vis a vis my opinions on used enterprise-grade networking hardware for the home (or small-ish business).

I purchased an HP Procurve 5406ZL on eBay mainly because I “need” 10GbE on my home network, which is almost recursive because it’s for editing 4K video, which I need for editing this video.

The bottom line for me is that you can’t beat the feature/price ratio when it comes to equipment like this. That is, if you can afford the resultant power bill.

Razer DeathAdder Button Swap (Left- to Right-Handed Mouse)

Razer DeathAdder Button Swap

I’m a leftie, but all my life I’ve used right-handed mouse in my left hand. I needed to replace my old Microsoft Optical Mouse, and found the DeathAdder Left-Handed Edition. It’s the perfect size and shape for me, but they did the weird thing of switching the left- and right-click buttons. It’s easy enough in most any operating system to swap the buttons in the settings. However — at least with Windows — the buttons are only changed locally. So when connecting to other hosts via Remote Desktop the buttons revert to their hardware configuration. That’s a no-go for me, but I liked the mouse so much that I decided to mod the hardware instead. Fortunately, it’s very easy to … Continue reading

Choosing a Disk Drive: HDDs, SSDs, and Then Some

This video covers almost everything you need to know about HDDs and SSDs to make an educated choice before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Well, almost everything. This video is primarily directed at the home user trying to get some additional storage, whether that be an extra drive in their workstation, a NAS, or a full file server. If you’re trying to choose between SAS drives for a large-scale datacenter installation, then you probably know this stuff already.

As I promised in the video, here’s some links to my HDD TCO worksheet from 2013 (though I may have updated it in the interim with a couple of “new” drives). Please download the Excel version and use this for any drive that you want. If you make any interesting changes or large scale updates, I’d love to see it, so please let me know!

I also added a bunch of notes so you know what I meant with all the field names.

HDD Total Cost of Ownership Worksheet (Google Sheets – View only)

HDD Total Cost of Ownership Worksheet (Excel – View and edit)

Let’s Open: Intel Mini PC G2 (from AliExpress)

This video features a review and teardown of the Intel Mini PC G2 manufactured by — uhhh — Random Chinese Company 5000.

Did it ship with tons of bloatware and malware? Is it too good to be true that it comes with a full copy of Windows 10? Are the specs worth a damn in the real world? Watch me ramble on about it to find out!

If you want to buy this cylindrical masterpiece mediocrity, a link to the original AliExpress listing is below (which may be way out of date by the time you read this). Note that this is not an endorsement and I don’t receive one penny if you do end up buying it.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/In-stock-High-Quality-Windows-10-MINI-PC-Host-32G-Memory-Bay-Trail-CR-2-4G/32596403800.html

Not every product from China is crap, but in the “Let’s Open” series I’m buying stuff that seems really good on paper, but has a whiff of the toilet about it.

FreeNAS Fibre Channel LUN Error / Timeout

FreeNAS Server - Fibre Connections (Ethernet and FC)

TL;DR I’m a bit long winded, I know. If you’re pulling your hair out, scroll right down to the solution (which of course may or may not match your actual problem). Background I’m posting this because there is very little information on Google regarding these particular error messages, and I’m hoping that this will help point you in the right direction if you’re having the same issue. I have a new FreeNAS server that’s going to be serving my home network via SMB / NFS, but I also wanted to give my dev and production environments access to its main storage pool for non-critical file systems (backup staging, test environments, etc). My TCP/IP networks (home/dev/prod/management) are rigorously firewalled off from … Continue reading

Sixteen (!) New Batteries for a 3000VA APC UPS

I recently got a good deal on a 120V 3000VA APC SURTA3000XL, a 120 pound beast of a double conversion online UPS which boasts over 30 mins of runtime at half load (and that’s still over 1000 Watts)! It didn’t come with batteries, so this video shows the process of “refurbishing” a couple of old modules with new batteries, and testing out the UPS.

The reason I was hunting down reasonably priced DCO UPS wasn’t because I’m especially concerned about poor-quality power from my wall, but because I needed a UPS that would play nice with generator power.

I’d love to be able to afford a couple of ~7500 Watt inverter style generators (one primary and one backup) to run the whole house during a power failure, but the best I can do is a pair of contractor style gensets. They’re noisy and output a mess of voltages and frequencies, but they work. Well, they didn’t work with line interactive UPSes, but they’ll work fine with something like this APC.

How to Choose the Right “4K” (UHD) Monitor – Featuring the Crossover 404K

If you want to see a man in a basement ramble on about monitors for over an hour, this is the video for you!

I cover a wide variety of monitor specification-related topics, and how they all come together with the Crossover 404K. But don’t worry, even if the 404K is obsolete by the time you find this, it should still be helpful! (Maybe.)

Crossover 404K – Unboxing and First Impressions

Here’s Part 1 in a three two part series of videos covering the Crossover 404K and off-brand Korean monitors in general.

It’s nothing fancy, but somehow I spent 20 minutes unboxing this thing. And yes, I did edit it down. So put on your best tray of popcorn, and hold onto nothing at all for this mildly unexciting voyage into a 40 inch “4K” (actually UHD) monitor.

Thanks in advance for watching, and please subscribe to make me feel better about what I’m doing with my life to catch the next videos in the series!