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Comment: Re:if it has a fan, you are doing it wrong (Score 1) 59

by adolf (#49144751) Attached to: Intel Updates NUC Mini PC Line With Broadwell-U, Tested and Benchmarked

Thank you for the well-reasoned reply.

I, too, remember the dark old days of PC computing...of swap meets and hamfests and "computer shows" to find deals, and toiling through the back pages of Computer Shopper to try to find a vendor who seemed worthwhile and wasn't ripping people off. Of trolling the local electronics surplus store, hoping to find a 5-pin DIN male-to-female non-coiled cable.

Where a Tseng ET4000 outperformed others because it was better at bus throughput, when it really, really mattered. Of setting IRQs, and learning the pitfalls (and successes!) of how to share them on an ISA bus.

I remember a $1900.00 10MHz XT with a CGA monitor, dual low-density floppies, a 20MB ST-225 hard drive, and a Star NX-20 9-pin monochrome tractor-fed printer. Of 8250s vs. 16450s vs. 16550s. Of the RTC in this machine being a separate card with a battery, and requiring a program that ran in autoexec. Of wondering if an NEC V10 CPU was a pin-compatible replacement for my i8088, but never having been able to get my hands on one. And of having printed, bound manuals for every. last. bit. of. hardware, included.

But I digress, which I suppose is easy enough to do. Let's get on with that case:

The good:

It looks solid. Like there's plenty of aluminum there. Like it would fit in nicely next to the exquisitely-machined billet that comprises my $8k Krell CD player (which was an unexpected gift, so don't think that owning a Krell piece means that I'm spendy).

From pictures, if it were oriented like a desktop tower, the heatsink at the top looks to be excellent for dissipating heat without forced-air cooling (lots of gaps for airflow) and heavy enough to conduct that heat to the furthest reaches. The back plate looks plenty thick enough to do much of the same tricks, which is good because that's where voltage regulators seem to like to hang out on motherboards -- radiating their own heat.

The heatpipes themselves look like overkill, which is not a bad thing in the slightest. It's exactly the right size for a mini-ITX motherboard, an SSD (or certainly mSATA), and (presumably) an optical drive. IR support looks like an option from the OEM.

The box, to be clear, is nice. From these high-points, it would make an excellent box for an HTPC, or a small home-oriented desktop that doesn't ever see modern 3D gaming.

The bad:

Obviously, it's $190. Even in the dark old ages of computing, I was spending no more than $80 on a case...and usually closer to $30 (which was worth more then, than it is now).

The concept of the Pico-PSU scares me. Here I am trying to find the best, quietest, and most-efficient Seasonic PSUs for my builds for general reliability, and this thing wants a ratty $40 buck converter fed from a sealed-up Chinese wall-wart. (Of course I could put a quality 12V supply there instead of a wall-wart, but that's got its own issues.) I don't want to be surprised to understand what failure-modes can be encountered with a Pico-PSU.

The future. You espouse that this thing, being mini-ITX, is going to be useful in the future for all of its benefits. I disagree: It's a one-trick pony. HTPC requirements are slowly creeping up (with 4k and all), but power dissipation is dropping like a stone down an open well. By the time such a build needs upgraded, we'll probably be back to passive, CPU-mounted OEM heatsinks like in the 486 days (think Cyrix's 486DX2/66 clone).

Further, the mini-ITX format is due to be eliminated RSN, according to my crystal ball, with modern SoC's and ridiculously low-powered RAM: We just won't need it anymore. How much room do we need for a CPU/APU with graphics, a couple of SO-DIMM slots, a few SATA connectors, some outboard IO, and mSATA (or whatever) for local storage? ITX is huge.

I've built silent PCs. For a long time, I had a K6-2 350 with a huge and open heatsink, running passive, in a gutted (but tall, for chimney effect) box with no removable storage, and a CF card to run Windows XP instead of a hard drive (this predates modern SSD). The fan in the PSU was unplugged.

I used it to run KX Audio on a SB Live 5.1, to perform EQ and crossover functions for my office stereo: Really, the whole OS was only there to load up (and occasionally edit) some DSP microcode...presumably, most of the machine could've been turned off at that point and it would've continued to work just fine as long as the PCI clock was intact via some hack or other so the sound card would keep its DSP alive.

It was fun building and finding parts for. It ran quite warm, 24/7, and never BSOD'd or misbehaved once. It served perfectly the job I intended it for, until I no longer needed it for that job. But it wasn't $190 -- it was $4 for the passive IDE-CF adapter, $25 for the sound card, and $30 for the CF card.

I've also build very quiet PCs, but I didn't spend much money on them. Kicking around here is a fully-functional Athlon box, from the bad-old hot Athlon days, which has a solid copper Zalman heatsink on it, with a big temperature-controlled fan, which itself is further slowed by running at 7V instead of 12V. It's enough to change the air over the heatsink, and it's certainly a measurable amount of noise, but not enough for my ears to hear at working distance. (The PSU has similar mods.)

Uptime on that box was measured in years, not weeks or months. I never did figure out why it locked up once or twice in its life -- maybe non-ECC RAM. *shrug*

I like silent, or at least very quiet. I've listed a couple of extreme examples here of what I've personally put together, and I can go on for a dozen more paragraphs about audio gear that I've quieted down. But none of this PC-quieting required a $190 box.

And these days, $190 buys a lot of excellent USB/HDMI extension gear and cabling. You can put an adequate used laptop/desktop in a closet or basement, thus silencing it, and run the HDMI output to wherever. Add USB (some good extenders do both) and an external DVD or BD drive, and you've got all the connectivity you need.

Or: Just run a VM on a bigger/better machine somewhere else and do the same thing.

In terms of total dollars and cents: My next build for myself is going to be based on a hypervisor, not a hardware platform. It will be a little noisy, but not loud, and that will be OK. It will be the silent HTPC for my HT (because it will be located remotely), it will be my gaming rig on my desk, it will be my fileserver, and it will be my lab for playing with all manner of geekery. And it will do all of these things all at once, at all times, and still be cheaper than building both a proper desktop and a silent HTPC.

And it will be totally generalized.

When upgrades happen, I'll just replace the board/CPU/RAM, move the video cards over (or buy new), and power it back on.

And it still won't have a $190 box.

Comment: Re:Old School Kermit (Score 1) 425

by adolf (#49144459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem

But USB SATA/IDE adapters are dirt cheap, and are very handy devices to have kicking around. This article reminded me that I need a new one (I own two, but can't find either of them since the last move).

If everyone had one of these that were ever interested in doing things like this, such questions wouldn't happen.

Or geek art: Buy a (cheap!) used PCMCIA ethernet adapter for the old box. Transfer the stuff using Windows and said adapter with an XP machine as an intermediary, and done. (7 doesn't include IPX or Netbios, and 3.11 doesn't include SMB over TCP/IP, but XP can do both.)

After that, re-purpose the old computer. Put an old copy of Slackware on the old laptop, install ncurses, and use the demo clock that ncurses includes. (Bonus points for also using NTP to make it an accurate clock, and for swapping the spinning hard drive for a CF card and a dirt-cheap 44-pin 2.5" IDE adapter.) Hang it on the wall. Use it for twitter feeds. (It uses very little power, especially without spinning rust -- these were the days of "heatsink? for what?")

Comment: Re:Two things (Score 1) 128

by adolf (#49134969) Attached to: Inventors Revolutionize Beekeeping

1. I like to make my own things. I can buy quality organic sauerkraut imported from Poland and made with two ingredients (cabbage, salt) for close to the same price -- and far less labor -- than if making it myself. But I'm learning to make it myself, anyway, for my own selfish and simple pleasure.

1.5. Not everything is about profit. Corporations are beholden to maximize shareholder value; I am beholden only to my own whims.

2. You should get a Nobel prize for your amazing theories on fluid dynamics. (See also: Maple syrup. How do they do it?)

3. It doesn't matter what you "see." It matters if it is functional or not. I don't know if it is, and you don't know if it is. Neither of us have had our hands on this device, much less used one for a season or three.

I've been here a long time, so obviously I certainly haven't read TFA and only briefly skimmed TFS, but I sure can recognize FUD as I see it in #49134319 from user 3612467.

Now get off my lawn.

Comment: Re:IMO, as a beekeeper... (Score 1) 128

by adolf (#49134895) Attached to: Inventors Revolutionize Beekeeping

In a strange future where I can have a small hive that keeps my garden pollinated and provides me with the most local of local honey, and so do lots of other people near me, then: Why not?

You also get to sell the hardware, a starter population, any ongoing bee-keeping supplies, and get paid (hourly) to advise and possibly sort out any problems you encounter while on-site.

Personally, where I am, the market allows me to charge individuals no more than about $50 per hour to work on their PCs, so that's what I charge. If they're nearby and schedules don't conflict, I'll make housecalls without a trip charge.

And yes, I'll drive a few miles to your house and inspect/tend to your PC for $50. What's the difference?

(And if $50 isn't enough, what is?)

Comment: Re:if it has a fan, you are doing it wrong (Score 1) 59

by adolf (#49134383) Attached to: Intel Updates NUC Mini PC Line With Broadwell-U, Tested and Benchmarked

search for streacom fc8 as the case. then, stay under 65w (to be safe) and you can be fully fanless.

for htpc use, there is NO reason to ever have a fan, again. even the i3 has a 35w chip that works just fine for movies and desktop stuff.

At $190 for the case alone, I can think of at least a hundred reasons not to build a fanless box.

Comment: Re:Cash is so much better. (Score 1) 185

by adolf (#49115857) Attached to: Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay

Speed depends on the gear that the merchant has, and the process that the consumer uses.

At Kroger, my debit-based magstripe credit card transactions happen nearly instantly -- less than a second -- and I don't have to sign anything if it's under $50.

It goes like this: Swipe card, begin to think about putting it back in my wallet, and the receipt printer goes *whoosh* with a flurry of thermal paper. Put card in wallet, and the clerk is handing my receipt to me by the time my wallet is away.

It takes longer than that less-than-a-second to physically open and close the til to be able to handle cash, let alone actually transact with it.

And if I've got my wits about me, it's even faster: Before the items are even done being rung up, I've generally already got my credit card swiped and selected and put away.

Same with the phone and Google Wallet, at the few places that actually accept it near me: I've generally already done the tap-to-pay thing before the clerk is done ringing things up.


Comment: Re: Why would any novice (Score 1) 57

by adolf (#49085501) Attached to: Flaw In Netgear Wi-Fi Routers Exposes Admin Password, WLAN Details

Hmm. You know, I've never had an old, proper WRT54G/S (or the current GL model) die from heat death. I've got dozens of them scattered around. Radios get weak or strange after awhile (electron migration of somesuch), and maaaaybe I remember some swollen filter caps on one (which got repaired), but I don't consider any of that heat-death (and it's not like bad caps weren't ridiculously common for a time from almost every manufacturer of almost anything).

I've had the power supplies dive on me, which is problematic. I find that the old linear supplies are far more reliable than the new switch-mode ones, so I tend to install them with overkill power supplies. (Asus, my current go-to cheap router-wifi-box maker, is no better when it comes to just plain garbage for wall-warts.)

The modded GS I have, I did attach a heatsink to the CPU because I was overclocking it for fun. But that doesn't count. :)

By early routers that didn't route, I mean the BEFSR-whatever-it-was style of garbage that reared its ugly head back when I was still using a *nix PC for routing at home. Grossly inadequate and broken, like a SCSI adapter that never quite works right (even with active termination, new cabling, and the goat blood). Or a client of mine that had a fancy metal-boxed Linksys wired router with many ports and some sort of VPN functionality: It was wonky from day 1, from the complaints. I replaced it with a random (but non-Linksys) switch and a WRT54GL running Tomato, and never had to troubleshoot that side of things ever again.

By switches that suck, I mean blocking 10/100 switches sold for a premium in the day of cheap non-blocking 100mbps with auto MDI/MDI-X. A then-cow-orker bought a bunch of them and scattered them in the field, and they all got replaced with something (anything!) different within a year or two.

Comment: Re: Why would any novice (Score 1, Flamebait) 57

by adolf (#49075119) Attached to: Flaw In Netgear Wi-Fi Routers Exposes Admin Password, WLAN Details

Hasn't that always been the case?

They struck gold with the WRT54G and WRT54GS (I still have a modded GS as a spare). But everything before or since has been garbage.

Their nics are garbage, their switches always suck, and their early routers largely didn't route.

Just sayin'.

Comment: Re:Why would any novice (Score 5, Interesting) 57

by adolf (#49074231) Attached to: Flaw In Netgear Wi-Fi Routers Exposes Admin Password, WLAN Details

DD-WRT seems so splintered: A million different builds, of a million different versions, for a million different things.

For comparison, Tomato is more monolithic. When a new version is prepared for release, all of the different builds are updated to that version. The builds themselves are genericized as much as possible: All old Broadcom-based MIPS routers (think WRT54G) get the MIPSR1 release, for instance.

For everything else, there's OpenWRT.

For my own purposes, I'm sticking with Asus routers. It seems like solid kit, and they sell the same hardware for years and years without the sneakiness that Linksys and Netgear do with routinely completely changing the underlying hardware while keeping the same model number.

(Oh, and Belkin has owned Linksys for almost 2 years now.)

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 291

by adolf (#49056879) Attached to: Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code?


I didn't learn much math in school, but I caught up on everything I needed as an adult -- as I needed it.

I didn't learn any programming in school, but I caught up on everything I needed as an adult -- as I needed it.

I know as much math -- and programming -- as I need to always accomplish the things that I'm trying to do, whether calculating volume displacements, de-rating wiring, or hacking up a strange combination of awk, sed, and perl to homogenize a random dataset into some higher-level program that expects it to be formatted -- just so -- in CSV.

Problem solved, I then move on to the next challenge....learning as I go.

Mostly what I learned as a kid was how to learn. The rest? An academic would say I fly by the seat of my pants, while my friends, associates, and employers respect my ability to solve arbitrary new problems accurately and quickly.

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann