Archive for the 'Review' Category

My OLPC Laptop

January 7th, 2008

I’ve spoken about the OLPC laptop before, Twice, in fact. Mine has finally arrived after much wasted time on Fedex’s part. I still prefer UPS. Fedex was supposed to deliver the OLPC on Dec 20th, I didn’t receive it until the 26th. Whoops!

Within the box you find the laptop, a power adapter, the battery, a quickstart guide and a letter from Nicholas Negroponte.


The first thing I noticed was just how small it is. For whatever reason I was expecting it to be about 50% larger. The keyboard is very small and I cannot touch type, I can only hunt and peck with my index fingers. All attempts to type normally end in me making way too many typos. It’s designed for small hands, not mine.

Update: Thecus N5200 – RAID Repair

October 2nd, 2007

Well, I have to admit: I am one lucky guy. I have been running a truly degraded RAID array since day one of my experience with the N5200. To get up to speed you may want to read my other post about the device: Thecus N5200 Review

So, today my replacement hard drive arrived for a failure I noticed recently. I took a look at the RAID and double checked the reason for the replacement. My #2 drive was showing some bad sectors and was listed as a ‘warning’. Not a failed drive but a drive on the way. Better safe then sorry I thought.

I traveled down the steps into the basement where I keep my servers and pulled out Drive 2. The N5200 freaked out with a bunch of beeps that were immediately followed by the device sending me emails screaming about how the array was dead, data was gone and that I should give up living. My first through was… ‘Wait.. What?’ I mean, isn’t the point of RAID 5 that you can loose a drive and still have all your data? I quickly popped Drive 2 back into the device and check to see if my data was still there. Thankfully it was.

Review: Jinzora Media Jukebox

September 26th, 2007

I’m always looking for better ways to access my media when I am away from the house. For a while I was using Microsoft’s streaming server because I had free access to it through a company I was working for but it was very limited. To access the music you had to be using a current version of Windows Media player which was a hassle. For the music to stream you had to actually copy the music files to the server and create a station. You basically had to create static playlists, when you wanted to add or remove a song you had log into the server to make the changes and copy the files. It was a huge hassle and bandwidth performance was pretty weak. I just stopped using it.

I have looked into a number of streaming internet radio servers that were available. There are a lot of good, open source options but at the end of the day I wasn’t looking to just stream random music. I wanted to be able to pick a track or an album and play it back.

Review: iPod touch

September 19th, 2007

Well, I bought one. I heard rumor Thursday night that there were showing up in some stores so come Friday morning like a little apple lemming I dashed down to the local and grabbed what they had. In a stroke of Apple genius, the stores were only stocked with the 16GB model at $399. Ouch!

On the eve of the device release people were confident that hacking the touch would be simple. It’s basically they same as the iPhone so it was hoped that the current iPhone hacks would need a little tweaking but everything would be all set by the end of the weekend. Boy where they wrong! Apple completely redid the security of the device and locked it down pretty well. I think it’s clear that Apple is going to be fighting modifications….

Review: 5th Generation iMac 20″

September 5th, 2007

Yeah, I bought one. No story for why, no long explanation about it. I bought it because I needed a new desktop and I don’t regret it. With the addition of this iMac I am 100% Mac now, my Macbook for portability, the Mac Pro for the recording studio and now the iMac for my general desktop use.

I will admit that adapting to using a Mac desktop has been somewhat rough. I learned to use the Macbook with no trouble at all. Using the laptop with the massive touch pad and it’s attached 13.3″ screen fit me like a glove. I like the way it works and looks. Everything in it’s place. iChat on the left, main window in the middle, then a single column of icons down the right. It’s clean and simple. Using Expose to manage the ‘main window’ section was extremely efficient for laptop use but this is not how I use my desktops.

Review: 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

August 30th, 2007

Unfortunately, one of the few camera and photography shops near me is closing. On the bright side though they are selling off everything in the store, from neon lights and shelves to lenses and camera bodies. I happened to have been in the area on Saturday so I stopped in to see what they had. I found a couple of items at decent prices. One of those items was the 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor.

This is a pretty basic prime lens, that is to say it does not zoom at all. It’s a very small, light weight lens and quite fast as lenses go. One equally important fact is that it is also cheap, usually around $100.

The reason I was interested in this lens is for an upcoming trip to Nashville. I’ll be attending a conference that will take place partly in a darkened sanctuary. The area where the seats are will be very dimly lit with a bit of light happening on the stage. It’s going to be an ideal time to take pictures but a horrible time to actually take pictures. Cameras, as it turns out, like light…

Review: Apple’s New .Mac Service

August 23rd, 2007

As far as I can tell .Mac (Apple’s Website describing the complete service) has been overhauled in a very big way and for the better. For a while now I’ve been aware of the .Mac service which was basically a somewhat expensive way to keep all of your macs up to date with each other. It offered a simple way to sync bookmarks, address books ect as well as offering 1GB of online storage to use between your iDisk and the IMAP email they offered.

The iDisk itself was and is a very cool system. Basically it’s a place that you can keep your files so that they are available to all of your macs. Each mac gets an iDisk icon on the desktop and you can use it like you would any other drive, drag and drop folders and files, save to it ect and anything you put into the iDisk would automatically be synced between all of the macs you have. The only problem was you had basically no space. 1GB. It was like some sort of sick joke. For $99/year (or $70/year if you signed up for the service when buying a mac) you had 1GB of space to share between your email and your iDisk. For me at least, it was not worth the money.

The Lens Hath Arrived

June 14th, 2007

I’m an amateur photographer, which I’m sure is obvious. I’m a guy in my mid-twenties that ‘discovered the joy of photography’ only about a year ago. A few months back I bought my first DSLR, the Nikon D40, and I’m very happy with it. I’ve had very good luck with the kit lens but found myself looking for a longer zoom. I’m not one to get a shot from where I’m standing in lieu of walking closer to the subject but there are times when that isn’t possible; A body or water may come in the way, or 60 rows of people in an auditorium, sometimes grabbing the zoom lens is the only way to get what I’m looking for. With that in mind I went on the hunt for a decent zoom for my camera. What I found was the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor.

Review: Honda Fit

March 22nd, 2007

Well, I’ve had 2007 Honda Fit Sport for about 4 months now and I’ve already put about 14,000 miles on it. Who knew I was doing so much driving. Overall I’m very happy with the car. The size is great, gas mileage is excellent and it’s much faster then I was expecting. I have the sport model which adds in a number of things including power everything, cruise control, fog lights better stereo yadda yadda yadda. If I’m being honest though I bought the sport model because it has cruise control. Sure, it’s nice to have the rims, the ground effects and the paddle shifters but those were not deal breakers for me. If I didn’t have cruise control I would not have a license.. so it’s worth the extra money for me.

Review: Thecus N5200

February 19th, 2007

I’ve had this device for about 6 weeks now and at this point I think I’m ready to post a fair review. The Thecus N5200 is essentially a NAS RAID box. It’s built around a Intel Celeron 600Mhz chip and runs linux. It holds 5 SATA drives up to 750GB which was is the largest available when I bought the unit (It may have been updated to support larger drives by now). Not being a glutton I installed 5 500GB drives in a RAID 5 giving me about 2TB of storage once it is all is setup. Unfortunatly one of my drives was faulty on arrival though so I had to do a bit of extra waiting before I could really start to use the unit. Once all the drives arrived I installed them and began configuring the hardware. First step was a firmware upgrade which went smoothly enough. You upload the file through the interface and then reboot it. I then built the RAID array and setup the unit up to provide both windows file sharing through Samba as well as NFS. It took about 26 hours to actually create that array using the high speed option. I as willing to wait and was expecting that so all was well. I dumped 800GB onto the device and went on my merry way.

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