Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

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29 January 2005

Oh, I Hate Cables

Posted under: at 16:21

Enough said :(

I hate cables


13 January 2005

Why Still No Mac For Me

Posted under: at 20:11

A lot of my geek friends have their own Mac now: Amen, Boy, David, Dicky, Eko and maybe others too. But I insist not buying a Mac and that keeps me getting the question Why I still insist not buying even a single Mac?

  • I can do everything I need with my current desktops and notebook.
  • I just bought an expensive notebook.
  • I wouldn’t be able to do some of my daily work with a Mac (at least not effiiciently).
  • A Mac would be just a toy for me, an expensive toy, that is.
  • I already have several computers, I certainly don’t need another one now.
  • The obligatory excuse of buying a Mac (I need it for my wife/kids, oh puhleeeeze…) don’t apply to me (my wife already has her own notebook, thank you very much! and of course no kids yet)
  • There other things™ than computers

Thanks for asking :)

That said, I must confess that the new Mac Mini is tempting :).


8 January 2005

First Experience of Burning a DVD

Posted under: at 01:46

Yay! I burned a DVD for the first time. At last I can make my one month old NEC ND-3500AG to good use, creating a coaster in the process due to bad media (I hope). It took me about 8 minutes to burn 3.2 GB of data to an el-cheapo 4X DVD+R disc. All went well except for the bad media and some problem with K3B and growisofs.

Because of a change in Linux 2.6.9, a normal user can no longer burn a CD. At least using the current userspace tools. So, whenever I need to burn a CD, I used to run ‘sudo k3b’. But when invoked that way, K3B wouldn’t be able to detect growisofs. When I ran k3b using normal user, it could detect growisofs successfully but burning would fail. After several minutes fiddling and googling, it turned out that growisofs refuses to run under sudo. From growisofs man page:

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20 December 2004

My Linux on Thinkpad T41p Guide

Posted under: at 13:30

I recently bought myself a second hand IBM Thinkpad T41p 2373GEU. Only recently I managed to install a Linux distribution in it. The distribution is, of course, Gentoo Linux. The greatest thing about this notebook is that the model and its variants are used by many greatest Opensource hackers. So it is easy to find support when things are not working.

The following is what I’ve done to make this notebook works under Linux. It is Gentoo specific, but some information could also be applicable to other distributions. It is T41p specific, but the same information could be useful to owners of other IBM Thinkpad notebooks: T40, T40p, T41, T42, T42p, R40, R40e, R41, R41e, R50, R50p, R51, X40, for search engines purposes :).

Note: Some parts of this guide is outdated. Please refer to update to this document for more information.

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13 December 2004

Hosed My Disk Partition Table

Posted under: at 23:09

I managed to hose my notebook’s partition table today while I was attempting to install Fedora Core 3 in it. At first I tried using Partition Magic to resize the Windows NTFS partition. The resize process went without any problem whatsoever, and finally I was able to install Fedora Core 3 in the resulting free space. However this is where the problem came in. I was unable to use Partition Magic for the second time (I forgot to make space for the planned Gentoo installation). It simply unable to decipher the partition table with an error message I forgot to take note. The DOS version of Partition Magic also failed but with different error message.

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7 December 2004

Annoyed By Thinkpad’s Previous and Next Buttons

Posted under: at 01:26

Thinkpad’s Prev and Next button

Thinkpad’s keyboard has two buttons ‘previous’ and ‘next’ to complement cursor keys on the right side of the keyboard. This keys are supposed to bring the previous page or the next page, similar to web browser’s back and next button. But in my opinion, those keys are clearly designed to be the “inadvertenly clear three pages of unsaved textarea to annoy the hell out of the user” keys. Several times I lost my writings because I accidentally hit them when I tried to hit one of the cursor keys. I don’t think those two buttons belong with the cursor keys. I think Home-End or PgUp-PgDn would be more appropriate. Prev-Next button should be in topmost row, as with fully sized keyboard that includes them. Now I’m going to find out a way to remap those buttons to something else, something less annoying. :)


5 December 2004

Thinkpad T41p First Impression

Posted under: at 12:20

I finally got my chance to use my newly bought Thinkpad T41p for the first time. My first impression is how little it came with other than the notebook itself. Other than the notebook, it only shipped with a power cord and AC adapter, a phone cord, two Trackpoint caps, a quick setup instruction, a service and troubleshooting guide, a regulatory notice list and a carrying cases flyer. That’s all, not even a single CD. This is in contrast with my old Compaq Presario 2701 which shipped with many CDs and manual books.

It ships with Windows XP operating system, IBM’s Windows XP installation is very clean. They apparently already preconfigured the OS for use with high resolution screen. So, no reconfiguration is required on my part. Unlike my old Presario, it is not cluttered by promotional icons from various ISPs and services I’ve never use, thank god! Unfortunately the taskbar is a little cluttered. Some icons have duplicated functions, for example there are two icons managing the wireless ethernet, one from Windows XP, and the other from IBM. Likewise, there are two battery indicators, one from Windows XP, the other from IBM. I’m not planning to use this with Windows XP most of the time, so that’s not a big deal with me.

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30 November 2004

Comparing Data Transfer Rate of Digital Transmission Lines Around Us

Posted under: at 02:45

The following is my compilation of various data transmission rate around us. I roughly converted values in M or Kbps to a more meaningful KB/s or MB/s, and then sorted them by transfer rate from slowest to fastest.

  • CSD: 9.6 kbps, roughly 1 KB/s
  • HSCSD 3+1: 43.2 Kbps downstream, roughly 4 KB/s
  • V.90 over telephone lines: 50 kbps downstream, roughly 5 KB/s
  • GPRS class 8: 57.6 Kbps downstream, roughly 5 KB/s
  • I2C (standard): 100 Kbps, roughly 10 KB/s
  • IrDA (typical SIR): 115800 bps, roughly 11 KB/s
  • RS-232 serial port: 115800 bps, roughly 11 KB/s
  • CDMA2000 1xRTT: 144Kbps, roughly 14 KB/s
  • ISDN BRI: 144 Kbps, roughly 14 KB/s
  • EDGE: 384 Kbps, roughly 38 KB/s
  • UMTS: 384 Kbps, roughly 38 KB/s
  • I2c (fast): 400 Kbps, roughly 40 KB/s
  • Bluetooth 1.1: 723 Kbps, roughly 70 KB/s
  • USB 1.1 (slow rate): 1.5 Mbps, roughly 150 KB/s
  • Parallel port (SPP): 150 KB/s
  • ISDN PRI T1: 1.544 Mbps, roughly 154 KB/s
  • SDSL (2 pair full-duplex): 2Mbps (under 5Km length), roughly 200 KB/s
  • ADSL (1 pair half-duplex): 2Mbps (under 5Km length), roughly 200 KB/s
  • ISDN PRI E1: 2.048 Mbps, roughly 200 KB/s
  • CDMA2000 1xEV-DO: 3.1Mbps, roughly 300 KB/s
  • VDSL (1 pair half-duplex): 3Mbps (under 5Km length), roughly 300 KB/s
  • I2c (high): 3.4 Mbps, roughly 340 KB/s
  • IrDA (typical FIR): 4 Mbps, roughly 400 KB/s
  • Ethernet: 10 Mbps, roughly 1MB/s
  • Parallel port (EPP): 1 MB/s
  • 802.11b: 11 Mbps, roughly 1.1 MB/s
  • USB 2.0 full speed: 12 Mbps, roughly 1.5 MB/s
  • Parallel port (ECP): 2 MB/s
  • E3: 34.064 Mbps, roughly 3.4 MB/s
  • T3: 44.736 Mbps, roughly 4.4 MB/s
  • Original SCSI: 5 MB/s
  • 802.11g: 54Mbps, roughly 5 MB/s
  • 802.11a: 54 Mbps, roughly 5 MB/s
  • OC-1: 51.84 Mbps, roughly 5.2 MB/s
  • FastEthernet: 100 Mbps, roughly 10MB/s
  • Fast SCSI: 10 MB/s
  • OC-3: 155.54 Mbps, roughly 15.5 MB/s
  • Original ATA: 16.7 MB/s
  • Wide SCSI: 20 MB/s
  • Ultra SCSI: 20 MB/s
  • Ultra Wide SCSI: 40 MB/s
  • ATA-33: 33MB/s
  • Ultra2 SCSI: 40 MB/s
  • Firewire 400: 400 Mbps, roughly 40 MB/s
  • OC-9: 466.56 Mbps, roughly 46.6 MB/s
  • USB 2.0 high speed: 480 Mbps, roughly 57 MB/s
  • OC-12: 622.08 Mbps, roughly 62.2 MB/s
  • ATA-66: 66 MB/s
  • Ultra2 Wide SCSI: 80 MB/s
  • Firewire 800: 800 Mbps, roughly 80 MB/s
  • OC-18: 933.12 Mbps, roughly 93.3 MB/s
  • Gigabit Ethernet: 1000 Mbps, roughly 100MB/s
  • ATA -100: 100 MB/s
  • OC-24: 1244.16 Mbps, roughly 125 MB/s
  • PCI bus: 133MB/s
  • ATA-133: 133 MB/s
  • Serial ATA: 150 MB/s
  • Ultra 3 SCSI: 160 MB/s
  • OC-36: 1866.24 Mbps, roughly 186 MB/s
  • OC-48: 2488.32 Mbps, roughly 250 MB/s
  • AGP port: 266MB/s
  • Ultra-320 SCSI: 320 MB/s
  • PCI 2.2 bus: 533 MB/s
  • AGP 2x port: 533 MB/s
  • PCI-X bus: 1066 MB/s
  • AGP 4x port: 1066 MB/s
  • PCI-X 2.0 bus: 2133 MB/s
  • AGP 8x port: 2133 MB/s
  • PCI-Express bus: 4GB/s

Any correction? Anything else to add to this list?

Update: addition from Ronny and Jay.

Update: added several 3G technologies


28 October 2004

Going To Reinstall My PVR

Posted under: at 00:30

WinTV-PVR 250

After trying real hard to find time to reinstall my PVR, I think I will just reinstall it now. Finally I will be able to put those Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 Nugi brought me several weeks ago to good use. I could have just install the new hardware without reinstalling all the software from scratch, but I think I’ve made a mistake in my choice of filesystem. Right now it is using ext3fs, however I found it very slow when deleting big files which are very common in PVR system. That makes switching channel very very slow. Now I’m going to reinstall the whole thing using XFS. I hope that will make my PVR perform better when switching channels.

The operating system will still be Gentoo Linux, and the PVR software will be MythTV. So, there would be no TV watching for me for at least one day. Installing Gentoo from scratch is not exactly a swift process. :)


21 October 2004

My T41p Has Arrived

Posted under: at 19:50

Thinkpad T41p

My T41p (snatched from eBay just a week ago) has just arrived. I still won’t be able to play with it until next month, but at least it is now in my wife’s good hands. That’s a major relief to me because there’s always a chance that the deal was a fraud.

The goods reportedly arrived in good condition. However my wife had to pick it up at post office herself because she wan’t aware they were coming when they tried to deliver it a day before. The package was delivered from Stanford, so we suspect somebody there probably get a staff or student discount when getting this. The notebook itself is in excellent condition. It probably has been removed from its packaging once and quickly repackaged again, but there are no evidence that the notebook has been used before. The hard drive was empty. When turning the machine on for the first time, it promptly installed the dreaded Windows XP from its predesktop partition.

When I tried to check its warranty status from IBM’s web site, it stated that the warranty will expire at 2007-08-09. So, I can assume the machine was registered at 2004-08-09. Now is only two months after registration date, and probably two months of non-use. I think I can live with that. The one thing missing from the machine was the promised additional 512MB of memory. However, the seller has agreed to deliver it in separate shipment.

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16 October 2004

I Need A New Keyboard

Posted under: at 15:45


My current keyboard has started acting funny. My Left Shift and Enter keys frequently don’t respond when I hit them. I’ve been pretty disappointed with this Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard. It worked OK only for first few months. After that, it requires considerable more force to push down the key, writing a lengthy document could tire my fingers easily. I like the older Microsoft Natural Elite Keyboard much better. But what I really miss is my old Logitech split keyboard which I can’t remember the exact model.

Why Microsoft and Logitech keyboards? Because I like split models very much, and it is hard to find those nowadays. Even Logitech has discontinued most of its split models, I can only find one model on their web site. Furthermore the only split model is wireless and bundled with a mouse. I don’t like wireless (I don’t feel like replacing batteries after a few months), and I already have a mouse. So, now I’m left with Microsoft again as the only option. There are other vendors like Belkin, but I’ve never gotten to see this one yet. If there are no better models, I think I’ll just give up and experiment with non-split keyboards this time.

Anyone dares to recommend me a nice keyboard? :)


14 October 2004

Won a Notebook!

Posted under: at 00:25

IBM T41p

I just won an IBM Thinkpad T41p model 2373GEU on eBay for $2025! A bit more expensive than what I had hoped before. I was hoping to get it within 1800-1900 range, but it’s still a good deal since the seller claimed it is brand new, not refurbished. And also considering the model is no longer produced, and the replacement T42p is way out of my reach. To top it all off, the seller even upgraded the memory to 1024 MB. Not a bad deal in my opinion. However winning on eBay is only the beginning, now is the scariest part. I hope the whole deal is not fraudulent. And if it is not fraudulent, it is better to be in same condition stated in the auction listing. I really don’t want to waste precious 2 grands for nothing.