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101  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 26, 2014, 01:23:27 PM
There are actually 2 primary high end OEMs for tower/desktop power supplies. Seasonic has always (as long as I've known about them anyway) been the best in terms of consistent high quality. Next was SuperFlower, who always made good top end units as well, but weren't always the most consistent with their lower tier models. Over the last few years they seem to be right up there with Seasonic across the board.


Can't speak for SuperFlower having never (knowingly) used one. The Seasonics are extremely well engineered units. But I've only deployed them in server settings. If you have rack style casings they offer a pretty full line. And their replacement price is compelling when compared to an OEM's "own" PS offerings. I like them a lot.

As far as Corsair goes, it's the intended market design principle at work. I think they're fine for non-mission critical use. I've probably bought and installed well over a hundred of them over the years and I never had a problem with one. One of my partners swears by Enermax and has much the same regard for them as I do for PCP&C. Which makes sense since they seem to be using the same base frame from what you're saying.

In the end I guess it's not super important which you choose as long as you start with an appropriately sized quality brand of PS; plug that into an appropriately sized quality sine-wave UPS (ideally a zero-switchover model); and plug that into a good quality surge suppressor/line filter. Extra points for plugging in a line conditioner after the surge suppressor if you're power is extremely cranky (or there's a civil war in progress) where you live.

That won't solve all your power problems - as you noted with with your mention of grounding issues -  which are the bane of my existence. But it should go a very long way towards happy computing.
 Cool
102  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 26, 2014, 01:09:07 PM
Unless things have changed considerably since the last time I had a UPS battery die (it's been a few years), it's almost as expensive as a new UPS.

Last I checked - it was.

The other thing is unless it's a "server grade" or data center UPS, there's probably enough electrical wear & tear on the circuit components that you'll get less than "new" performance after you replace the batteries after the originals go. I  have clients who replaced batteries in the smaller APC (Smart-UPS 1500 et al) units and discovered those batteries required replacement in fairly short order. The originals lasted about three years when not pushed too hard. The replacements wanted to be replaced in less than a year. And there was no real change in the demands put on them if the PowerChute logs are at all to be trusted.

Much like putting a new transformer in an old guitar amp, what you usually end up doing is gradually replacing everything in the circuit. Generally starting with the capacitors. Because that old amp isn't used to getting the correct voltages or current - and the other components aged with the transformer and couldn't handle it once it was replaced.

I put a stake in the ground for consumer level hardware. If the fix exceeds 50% of the original purchase price - or the unit is over three years old - I'll almost always opt to replace rather than repair. But that's me.
103  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft Word under attack. Don't open RTF files! on: March 26, 2014, 11:12:15 AM
As there is no way in hell I'm installing Office on any of the host servers.

 Grin I sure hope not!  In any IT department worthy of the name, doing so would be an awfully creative way to "tender one's resignation" wouldn't it? Cool
104  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 26, 2014, 11:04:26 AM
re: power supplies

Since we're naming names, I prefer to get a PS from PC Power & Cooling. Not cheap by any stretch. But they last through a couple of builds before you need to retire them. So they're a bargain in the long run IMHO. PCP&C supplies (especially their premium TurboCool models) will get a workstation through anything for the foreseeable future even if their price tag may induce nosebleed in about 30% of the population.

I've also had very good luck with the Corsair brand which gives you very similar specs to the PCP&C, but at a considerably lower price point.

For a home or SOHO PC I'd go with Corsair if building one today. For a serious production workstation - or a client build - I'd definitely specify a TurboCool even though it ends up getting changed (to save cash) more often than not.

 Cool
105  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 26, 2014, 08:45:56 AM
+1 w/4wd on the above.  Thmbsup

I have the most confidence in Tripp Lite's product line. I've had Belkins fail. But Tripp Lite never let me down - even in one case where there was a lightning strike. The Tripp Lite supressor itself got fried. But everything downstream in its circuit path was just fine. The Belkin across the room didn't do so well. Both it and the PC plugged into it were left inoperable.

So yes, no matter what else you get, definitely invest in a top notch surge supressor. Make it a priority purchase.
 Cool

106  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 26, 2014, 06:03:31 AM
A properly sized unit from a reputable name such as Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, or PC Power & Cooling are all good bets. You don't need to spring for expensive 'enterprise' grade models. Units built for workstation deployment are just fine. Put a good UPS in front of them and Bob's yer uncle.

It's the no-name Asian imports that go for <$50 you want to avoid. Figure $80 and up for a good PS depending on wattage.

Quick rule of thumb: a quality power supply for a desktop is noticeably heavier than a cheap one. Bigger transformer + more solid construction = more weight.

107  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft Word under attack. Don't open RTF files! on: March 25, 2014, 07:32:54 PM
Seriously, why does everything have to behave like a portal these days?

For science! And cake!

Microsoft Office!
It works like it does because our plan
For our precious bottom line
Requires we move you online...

So it's no use crying that it's all a mistake
We'll just keep on trying, and we'll tell you "Eat cake!"
While the meters run
'neath the brave new sun
Of a world where cloud service firms thrive...

108  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft Word under attack. Don't open RTF files! on: March 25, 2014, 05:25:50 PM
Ya know...if they could just let wordprocessors process text, and email readers just read email, and not web-enable or otherwise implement all these ancillary capabilities into them...things might become less risky. Seriously, why does everything have to behave like a portal these days?
 undecided
109  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX - List of 100 Open Source Replacements for Popular Security Tools on: March 25, 2014, 05:17:31 PM
@Deo - Wow! All that from just a title? huh

I don't think I could get that logical on a bet. Grin Thmbsup
110  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: good Videos [short films] here :) on: March 25, 2014, 11:21:16 AM
@V - Pretty warped. tellme

Now that's MY kind of humor. Grin Grin Grin Thmbsup
111  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 25, 2014, 06:58:38 AM
Brian Trapp over at Linux Journal agrees with Cranioscopical, Innuendo and xtabber regarding SSDs.

Quote
Solid-State Drives: Get One Already!
Mar 18, 2014  By Brian Trapp   

 
I've been building computers since the 1990s, so I've seen a lot of new technologies work their way into the mainstream. Most were the steady, incremental improvements predicted by Moore's law, but others were game-changers, innovations that really rocketed performance forward in a surprising way. I remember booting up Quake after installing my first 3-D card—what a difference! My first boot off a solid-state drive (SSD) brought back that same feeling—wow, what a difference!

However, at a recent gathering of like-minded Linux users, I learned that many of my peers hadn't actually made the move to SSDs yet. Within that group, the primary reluctance to try a SSD boiled down to three main concerns:

  • I'm worried about their reliability; I hear they wear out.
  • I'm not sure if they work well with Linux.
  • I'm not sure an SSD really would make much of a difference on my system.

Luckily, these three concerns are based either on misunderstandings, outdated data, exaggeration or are just not correct.  <more>

Brian's article goes on to discuss SSDs primarily from the viewpoint of a Linux user. But he includes a discussion of the technology and the results of his real-world testing that should be of interest to anybody regardless of which OS they're running.

He concludes with the following remarks:

Quote
Summary

If you haven't considered an SSD, or were holding back for any of the reasons mentioned here, I hope this article prompts you to take the plunge and try one out.

For reliability, modern SSDs are performing on par with HDDs. (You need a good backup, either way.) If you were concerned about longevity, you can use data from your existing system to approximate how long a current generation MLC or TLC drive would last.

SSD support has been in place in Linux for a while, and it works well even if you just do a default installation of a major Linux distribution. TRIM support, some ext4 tweaks and monitoring via tune2fs and smartctl are there to help you maintain and monitor overall SSD health.

Finally, some real-world performance benchmarks illustrate how an SSD will boost performance for any operation that uses disk storage, but especially ones that involve many different files.

Because even OS-only budget-sized SSDs can provide significant performance gains, I hope if you've been on the fence, you'll now give one a try.

So there you have it...

Seems to me that (a) the people who actually own an SSD love these little guys; (b) reliability doesn't seem to be as much a concern as it originally was; and (c) regardless of what you've read (or been told) SSDs are just like any other piece of hardware (i.e. YMMV.) Grin

I guess the only real way to find out is get one and see for yourself.  Cool

112  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX - List of 100 Open Source Replacements for Popular Security Tools on: March 24, 2014, 05:27:19 PM
That article loses a lot of credibility with me when it lists Microsoft Internet Explorer as a "Popular Security Tool"  tongue

@Deo - umm...the only place IE is listed is on the line where it says a particular piece of software "replaces Internet Explorer" AFAICT.  huh

Like so:

[attach]

I don't see where it calls IE a security tool...or even recommends it for anything. (Why would it possibly include it btw? IE isn't open source to begin with.) Cool
113  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: GoG planning support for Linux starting FALL 2014 on: March 24, 2014, 03:41:04 PM
Gaming stuff might get more notice if posted in the gaming forum.  Or, then again... maybe not?

I think the announcement is platform specific enough that it's more properly posted here, but I could see posting a link in gaming forum too.

However, it's generally considered bad etiquette to cross-post in a forum so... Wink
114  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone: Choosing between tiny DIY computer kits on: March 24, 2014, 12:43:07 PM
Igor Ljubuncic strikes again over at his Dedoimedo blog. Thmbsup  This time with a review of his RaspberryPi project. Read it here.

Quote
So I bought and tested a Raspberry Pi
Updated: March 21, 2014


Raspberry Pi needs no introduction, but since I can't start an article without its mandatory paragraph or two of small talk, I will introduce it. Yes, indeed. Raspberry Pi is basically a micro-computer, a single board the size of an enlarged credit card with a whole bunch of peripherals, allowing you to customize and create your own little computer. Selling points, ability to play HD video, you get my drift. Plug it in to a monitor, add a keyboard, and Bob's your uncle. Since Raspberry Pi is British, the phrase is doubly worth its place here.

Now take someone like me, a person who likes things big and sturdy, and I never custom build my own machines, but now, there's a precedent. Cheap, affordable, made for games and education, Raspberry Pi seems like an ideal opportunity to step away from the desktop and fiddle with the unknown. To wit, Dedoimedo tests the Pi. Yippie...<more>

 Cool
115  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Office 365 and Outlook on: March 24, 2014, 12:17:22 PM
I don't know if you would want to turn off the cloud link for Exchange in Outlook for O365.

MSoft gives you a hosted Exchange account on their servers. Getting a full Exchange server you don't have to maintain is a real deal worth considering AFAIC. Outlook doesn't really come into it's own until you have an Exchange backend. The really useful sharing and workgroup features all require Exchange. Problem is, Exchange is a PITA to keep in-house unless you have a full-time IT staff. And MSoft knows it. That's why you can just buy into Exchange Online for something like $5/mo if you want it. But for an additional $5 (or so) per month you can get the whole O365 deal - so it's pretty compelling offer for the people they're targeting this product line for.

Whether or not O365 remains this cheap once a larger segment of the market moves over is anybody's guess. I suspect prices will slowly creep up once the adoption ramps up. It's set up to become the next public utility. Just add "data services" to your monthly electric, phone, internet access, and heating bills folks! It's a no-brainer!

And like every utility, expect to see your rates to go up every year.
 Grin
116  DonationCoder.com Software / Circle Dock / Re: Windows 7's Taskbar....Err.....Circle Dock for the DC Programming Contest on: March 24, 2014, 12:03:46 PM
I think it's the use of the middle mouse button and the integration with the layout.

Ah...I see. I guess because I'm used to "middle-button pops-up menu under current cursor position" from my days with Smalltalk, and seeing similar actions with things like the Openbox WM in Linux, it didn't seem like that big a deal to me.

Thanks for the clarification. I had installed it sometime back and discovered didn't care for it after a very short while. Any time that happens I always worry I missed something important.

 smiley
117  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Pale Moon 4 Linux on: March 24, 2014, 11:43:48 AM
Using it for a while now - and liking it! Thmbsup

If it makes it through the week without a showstopper it'll be my new default browser for Nix. smiley
118  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 24, 2014, 11:27:54 AM
I agree they should be kept on external drives for the most part -- though it's nice to be able to store copies on a local drive too.  Redundancy is the name of the game.

Yup! Thmbsup

You can save time by doing an image to an internal drive - and then syncing or copying the image over to an external drive or network share - thereby getting the best of both worlds. Schedule both for overnight runs and you're ready for almost anything.

Addendum:

Spoke to my clients who I know are using SSDs (mostly in laptops FWIW) to find out how it's been working for them. Everybody (except for one) loved them and felt they were a great boost to their productivity. However, about half experienced reliability issues or needed drive replacements within 12-16 months of original installation.

I'm sure being early (or earlier) adopters of the bleeding edge contributed to the number of incidents experienced. And I'm sure these drives have seen significant improvements in their design and manufacturing in the interim. But I still don't get warm fuzzies seeing those stats in conjunction with an expensive new piece of hardware. At least not for the marginal additional benefit gained by using one. Or so it seems to me.

I certainly would like to get an SSD....but not just yet. smiley
119  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: How to tell if your cat is plotting to KILL you on: March 24, 2014, 11:23:43 AM
You don't have to wonder. You know!

They're plotting to kill all of us. All the time.

All! tellme
120  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / GoG planning support for Linux starting FALL 2014 on: March 24, 2014, 11:16:30 AM
[attach]

Linux gamers of the world rejoice! This announcement from GoG.com

Quote
GOG.com Soon On More Platforms

Good news!

No, don't duck. This is actually good news. We just wanted to announce that, after much deliberation, we've decided that one of the next steps for us is to support Linux. Now, we're not ready to launch Linux games on GOG.com just yet. We've only been working on bringing these Linux games to our service for a few months, and there's lots more to go, but we wanted to let you know what's going to be coming this fall to a digital distributor near you.

We're initially going to be launching our Linux support on GOG.com with the full GOG.com treatment for Ubuntu and Mint. That means that right now, we're hammering away at testing games on a variety of configurations, training up our teams on Linux-speak, and generally getting geared up for a big kick-off in the fall with at least 100 Linux games ready for you to play. This is, of course, going to include games that we sell which already have Linux clients, but we'll also be bringing Linux gamers a variety of classics that are, for the first time, officially supported and maintained by a storefront like ours.

 Thmbsup
121  DonationCoder.com Software / Circle Dock / Re: Windows 7's Taskbar....Err.....Circle Dock for the DC Programming Contest on: March 24, 2014, 10:06:06 AM
Just out of curiosity, what unique feature(s) does CircleDock bring to the mix beyond those of any other dock-type launcher?

It's certainly pretty. And that circular layout is quite eye catching.

But beyond the eye candy and 'cool' factor - is there anything else to recommend it?

[attach]

I don't mean for this question to be taken as criticism. It's just I can't see what the deal is with CD.

Can somebody help me out please? smiley
122  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Pale Moon 4 Linux on: March 23, 2014, 12:58:13 PM
Just installed it.

A few YouTube pages that give FF big stones on this machine are working perfectly under PaleMoon.

Very promising. Gonna have to put it through it's paces today. Thx for sharing. Thmbsup
123  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: OneNote now on Mac as well, +FREE everywhere, + Cloud service powered. on: March 23, 2014, 07:15:55 AM
I sometimes suspect my mother's father was correct. He felt that American technology reached its peak with the Model-T Ford and began going steadily downhill shortly after that. Grin
I don't know about its technology going steadily downhill shortly after that, but its ethics, national integrity and support of the Constitution certainly might have, by all reports...

I suppose it's only to be expected when you're dealing with a national schizophrenic condition brought on by the pairing of an aggressive global-mindset Executive Branch with an electorate that has a fundamentally isolationist and "live & let live" mindset. In this case, the public has unwisely walked away from what its government is doing - and the government has chosen to interpret (i.e. lie to itself) that the public's indifference (or disgust) over its behaviour is a green light to do whatever it wants. Knowing that's a lie further increases the level of aggression and paranoia on the part of this government.

And now the whole thing is feeding on itself. As the NSA/CIA debacle exposed by Snowden so clearly illustrates. When your own people are being viewed and treated as "The Enemy," something has gone seriously wrong.

I'm sure it will only get worse (much worse) before it starts getting better. At least if earlier US history is anything to go by. tellme

Sad really. "But there you have it," as Mark Twain once put it.  Wink
124  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 23, 2014, 07:04:30 AM
I think for most recent SSD drives, the controller is likely to die years before the read/write tear of the temp folders is going to make a dent. I can't find anything backing this up though, most tutorials seem to reiterate the wisdom of five years ago.

I'm looking at this more from a server perspective (since that's where my experience chiefly lies). But there's enough in common between PCs and servers that I think what applies to one pretty much applies to the other as far as hardware goes. Two articles worth looking at are here and here.

The first (from March 2014) discusses "SSD myths and legends."

Quote
SSD endurance - should you worry? - and why?

Flash wear out still presents a challenge to designers of high IOPS flash SSDs as the intrinsic effects at the cell level get worse with each new chip generation.

That's in contrast to RAM SSDs - where as long as enterprise users remember to replace their batteries periodically - the memory life is more dependent on elapsed time (classic bathtub reliability curve) and heat stresses rather than directly related to the number of R/W cycles.

Higher SSD capacity, and faster speeds come from progressively smaller cell geometries - which we used to call shrinks. In flash memory small size means less trapped charge holding the stored data values and greater sensitivity to charge leakage, charge dumping and disturbance effects from the normal processes which happen around the cell vicinity during R/W, powering up, powering down etc.

If you're a consumer you don't have to worry about the internals of endurance management - because most new SSDs are good enough (if they're used in the right applications environment).

Exceptions still do occur, however for users in the enterprise SSD market - where I still hear stories of users thinking it's perfectly normal and economic to replace burned out Intel SSDs every 6 to 12 months - instead of buying more reliable (but more expensive) SSDs - from companies like STEC.

But if you're a systems designer it's useful to know that the longevity difference between "good enough" and the best endurance architecture schemes can still be 2x, 3x or 100x - even when using the same memory.

In 2011 - new evidence started coming in from longtitudinal flash SSD research done by STEC that old, heavily written MLC cells - managed by traditional endurance schemes - tend to get slower as they get older - due to higher retry rates on reads - even though the blocks are still reported by SMART logs as "good" - and the writes do eventually succeed on retry.

In the same year - a paper by InnoDisk confirmed that whereas SLC and MLC memories have often had endurance populations within each chip which were mostly much better than guaranteed (something which SSD makers had been telling me since 2004) - the headroom / margin of goodness - in newer types of MLC is lower than in the previous MLC generations. That's why controllers which used to work well with vintage MLC need something much stronger than a tweak to deliver well behaved SSDs when co-starring with the new brat generation of naughty flash.

The second  (February 2012) is from AnandTech  Kiss and goes into the issue with their usual mind-numbing level of attention to detail.

One very interesting recommendation:

Quote
We also showed a clear relationship between performance and drive capacity/spare area. Sizing your drive appropriately for your workload is extremely important for both client and enterprise SSD deployments. On the client side we've typically advocated keeping around 20% of your drive free at all times, but for enterprise workloads with high writes you should shoot for a larger amount. How much spare area obviously depends on your workload but if you do a lot of writing, definitely don't skimp on capacity.

Some other good stuff in the article. It's confined to one brand of SSD, but since the technology is similar to what’s in other brands I think most of it should still be valid - bearing in mind this article is now 2 years old.

Dunno...I'm still a tiny bit leery of using SSDs for anything really valuable. tellme
125  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 23, 2014, 12:34:30 AM
If you're not rebooting, or are opening and closing apps constantly, I'm not sure how big a speed advantage an SSD would give you in actual use.

I'd definitely think about upping RAM (to between 8-16 Gb) before I sprung for an SSD. And if it were a desktop PC - and I had money left over after adding more RAM - I'd then spring for a faster video card.

I'm not trying to dis SSD drives. They're certainly a nice bit of kit. But I personally feel the benefits they bring to the mix are somewhat overblown. But that's probably more me and what I use a PC for. YMMV.
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