How To: A Clean install of Windows 7 in 2016

April 25th, 2016

Maybe I’m alone here, but I still have occasion to install Windows 7 from time to time. For a while, that was no big deal; Install the OS, update, update, update and you’re good to go. Lately though, the process has become far more cumbersome. Not only does the process take ages to complete, but when you’re done its always nagging you to update to Windows 10. What follows is my process for getting this done without too much hassle.

Firstly, I’ve not created anything new here. I’ve simply found a series of tools and bit of information online that helped me along the way so I’m compiling it here for my future benefit.

Step 1 – Get the OS installed. After that, if your copy of Windows 7 doesn’t including Service Pack 1, go here and download it: Install. Reboot. Service packs include a large number of updates so it’s much faster to get the service pack installed first thing after the install than it is to use Windows Update to find it and download it.

Install Centos 6 on a Non-PAE Machine

March 12th, 2015

I have a Thecus N5200 that was modified to have a VGA port. Though the machine will run a variety of current Linux distributions, I wanted it to run Centos 6. Unfortunately, the N5200 doesn’t support PAE, which Centos 6 requires.

The first major problem is that a Non-PAE machine won’t even boot the Centos installer CD/DVD. You have to find some way around that. There are several ways to get around that but they are all quite complex and time-consuming. Plus, as time goes on they work less and less. The old software needed is harder and harder to find. I instead chose to simply install Stella. It’s a Desktop focused Linux distribution that is based on Centos 6 and the 32bit version includes a Non-PAE kernel. If you’re looking to install a Centos 6 desktop, install Stella and you’re all set. It’s great. The developer did a great job keeping things compatible with Centos 6 while also adding in things like video codecs and the like.

Thecus N5200 as a Server

March 12th, 2015

Back in 2007, I bought a Thecus N5200 to use as bulk storage on my network. I’ve spent many years using and fighting with the unit but it wasn’t until my storage needs out grew the 5 SATA disks it could hold that I considering sending it off to be recycled.

It’s a pretty basic unit. From Thecus it arrived with 5 hot swap SATA disk trays and a simple web-based management interface. The interface wasn’t great at telling you exactly what the state of your disks were so I lost my data with this unit more than once. Over time though Thecus added a method to install add ons and little by little people started to write add ons for the unit and actually increased its feature set. You could get an add-on to allow you to access the unit over SSH and to set up rsync file copies to a second location. Overtime, it became very useful and it’s remained in almost constant use.

Portable Pi – Raspberry Pi with a Motorola Lapdock 100

December 17th, 2014

Having read countless accounts online from people who have taken various lapdocks and paired them with a Raspberry Pi, I thought I would give it a try myself.

I went to Ebay and purchased a Motorola Lapdock 100. It’s a small unit with a cable that comes out that back. This cable has a header with a Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI connector on it. General wisdom seems to be buying series of adapters and cables and then sort of whittling them down until they fit. I dutifully bought the necessary bits but when the Lapdock arrived it seemed much easier to just take apart that cable header instead.

What I discovered is that inside that header is simply the two cables held in place with some soft plastic. Having removed the plastic and cutting back the cable, I have two loose cables that I can use freely.

Lapdock Cable Crop

With the addition of two adapters to bring the two micro connectors up to full size, which the Raspberry Pi needs, I was off and running.

Installing X-Plane 10 on Fedora 20

July 24th, 2014

I’m a bit of an aviation buff and have been known to spend a fair few hours playing flight sims. My favorite sim these days is X-Plane, and thankfully it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. My current host for X-Plane is Fedora 20 and since there is a bit of extra effort to make it run properly, I thought I’d outline my process here.

First and foremost – This post assumes you have installed the appropriate graphics drivers and are not running whatever drivers were just included ‘in the box’, as it were. My system has an NVidia GeForce GT 640 and I use the akmod-nvidia drvivers from RPM Fusion, which works great. A quick Google search should turn up an appropriate process for your computer.

Camera Equipment Change… Again.

December 4th, 2013

It seems like every year or so I rethink my photography equipment and make some changes. I’ve gone through many variations of my day-to-day photography kit but I seem to keep reducing the amount of automation present in the system.

My plan for this coming year is to spend as much time with a manual focus, mechanical camera system as I can. I am keeping my Nikon F80s, Nikon F5 and Nikon D7000 but I’ve sold off my spare Nikon N80s, and Nikon FE bodies. When the situation requires digital or highly automated film shooting I will have those bodies available, but my day-to-day system will be based on the Nikon FM.

The Nikon FM is a fully mechanical camera that Nikon built and sold between 1977 and 1982. The camera does take a battery but it powers only the metering system and does not affect the shutter operation. If you have no batteries, the camera still works normally, you’ll just need to meter your scene in some other way. In use, the camera looks very similar to and functions similarly to the Nikon FE but the FE uses the batteries both for metering and for shutter operation; When your batteries start to get low, the camera stops working properly.

Building an Inexpensive iSCSI SAN on Centos 6

August 22nd, 2013

I was recently given an HP DL360 G4 server with two 36GB SCSI disks. At first blush the system is of little use in todays tech landscape due to it’s low storage capacity and limited processor feature set. My unit has two Intel Xeon processors at 3.0Ghz without Intel’s VT technology and 4GB of RAM. It would make a good single use server for many functions and would grow in usefulness as it’s storage capacity increased. SCSI hardware has fallen out of general use in recent years and has been superseded by SAS, or Serial Attached SCSI, in much the same way that for desktop machines SATA has replaced PATA. We’ve gotten to a point where moving one stream of data really fast is more efficient than moving several streams together but at lower speed.

Image: A Job Done on The Farm

July 20th, 2012

In recent years I’ve been more and more drawn to being closer to the food I eat. I’ve been slowly building my own garden and starting to plan for my own animals to be raised for me. A few years ago I spent some time helping a friend get their garden setup and on the day captured below I had just finished rototilling a patch of ground. It has never been tilled before and had grassed planted on it for many years. It was rough going and with the elderly rototiller I had at my disposal I was completely exhausted by the whole event.

SD Farm 2009 - 009

The image was shot with a Nikon N80 and Nikon 24-50MM zoom lens. I got as close to the tiller as I could while keeping it fully in the frame and had the lens as wide as it could go. I snapped this shot on a roll of Fuji Superia 400, shot and processed at box speed. I like the shot but if I were to shoot it again, I would over expose the film by one stop. The Fuji Superia film, as I’ve learned since then, really responds well to that.

Medium Format On My Back: Weekend at the Fair

July 13th, 2012

My first chance to shoot with the Mamiya 645 on the road came a few weeks ago in the form of a local fair in the neighboring town of Kingston called ‘Kingston Days’. Quite a creative name, I know. I spent several hours there over two days with the Mamiya.

The first day there was truly the first time I shot with the Mamiya so I loaded up my photo backpack and set out. As a part of my ‘process’ for always trying to reduce the amount of gear I own, I constantly try to evaluate which items I use and which I don’t. Curiously though even before I left the house I traded my largest lens, the 210 F/4, for a second bottle of water in my photo backpack. That lens may not have a home in my kit for long. Considering I brought and never used the 150mm lens an even longer one may not prove useful to me.

Summer in New Hampshire

Choosing the Correct Camera Gear

March 13th, 2012

I am constantly trying to evaluate what camera gear I need and what camera gear I don’t. I am in the process of selling off a considerable amount of equipment and cutting back to just the gear I like and use. I don’t consider myself a collector of camera gear so selling on unused equipment is just a matter of course for me. If I find myself leaving certain pieces of gear at home or just not taking it out of my bag when I’m out shooting, it goes. I don’t want to carry gear I don’t use and I don’t want my money tied up in gear collecting dust.

That being said, I try to have enough equipment to handle more than one situation. I am targeting three separate styles of shooting but there is a lot of overlap.

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