Sunday, December 11, 2016

HP Proliant ML10 v2 Tower Server

Newegg often put these servers on sale for less than $180, a great value if you need a desktop, either a light weight server or workstation. It is very easy to add or swap hard drives (up to 4), with the front-accessible cartridge:

However, that's pretty much its only virtue in addition to the low price. It takes several minutes to boot up the BIOS; in comparison, a normal desktop takes only few seconds. It is a pain in the ass to load an OS such as Windows Server 2008 R2 (Windows 7 alike), so here I recorded the process before I forget.

A hard drive is included, but it is under a raid that is not configured. You must download the
"HP Smart Storage Administrator" and follow these instructions to configure the raid:

Then, as mentioned in the instructions, you must download the driver of the raid controller (HP Dynamic Smart Array B120i Controller) and uncompress it to a CD/DVD or USB jump drive. After you started Windows installation, soon you'll need it:

The rest is fairly easy, and all the drivers can be downloaded here.

Three tweaks for Windows 2008 R2:

1) By default, Windows will go into recovery mode, i.e., hang there forever if nobody is around, after an abnormal shutdown or reboot (such as a crash or power outage). So be sure to run these two commands before you ship the server to a remote site:

bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled No 
bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures

2) By default, Windows asks you the reason every time you reboot, very annoying. Run gpedit.msc, disable "Dislay Shutdown Event Tracker" under Computer Configuration, Administrative Template, System.

3) If you have to use an unsigned driver, you must use Driver Signature Enforcement Overrider, a neat utility.

Once Windows and all drivers are installed, it is a solid computer, for very little money.

Three tips:

1) Before you install Windows, go into BIOS and set correctly date (and time), or your 180 days trial will expire once you correct the date in Windows.

2) Why Windows Server 2008 R2 other than Windows 7, even if I don't use it as a server?  I heard that these boxes do not like consumer OS such as Windows 7. The two look, feel and work the same, and the server seems even slimmer and smoother with no garbage installed by default.

3) Select Windows Server Standard Full, not Core, unless you know what is Core (no GUI).

Monday, November 21, 2016

A perfect mouse, vertical

Vertical mouse is a great idea, because your arm is not twisted or tortured. Well, the problem is: you cannot find a vertical mouse that is not too large. Such as this Anker, its huge size kills all its potentials.

The good news is, you can perfect it with a saw:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump won






从十六年前小布什选举开始,到欧巴马,再到昨晚,我注意到一个现象: 只要华人挺谁,谁就能当总统。能把华人都给忽悠了,其他人就更不在话下了。总是相信有灵丹妙药的华人,当然也总会盼救星。问题是这两样东西都是没有的,然后等待他们的(将)是一次比一次更深的失望。

昨晚有一件事值得庆幸: 那令人厌恶的老两口没能重回白宫。

记住今天: 八年小布什劫难的又一轮回。是的,又是八年,不管你愿不愿意。


Monday, October 24, 2016

Printers: Epson vs. Canon

Lets take Epson XP-810 and Canon MX870 or MP560 as examples.

Epson is not refill friendly

The Epson uses sponge-less cartridges. I searched hard but could find only one place where sells refillable sponge-free cartridges for Epson and that company is located in FL.

There is no resetter worth of buying. If you're lucky to find one that works, you must reset a cartridge before it reaches empty or the cartridge is game over.

This refill issue alone is a deal breaker. With canon, you can clearly see how much ink is left and refill it easily anytime, empty or not.

Epson is ink eater

Ink goes down fast, really fast! Never had such a feel in the past 10 years with Canon printers.

Last week I replaced all cartridges except the photo black:

After only few test pages:

And after I take out the BK and C cartridges and then put them back:

Once any one of the cartridges runs out, the printer won't do any work for you other than telling you to buy ink. For example, if just yellow runs out while even if you are printing pure black text, you're still screwed. Canon is never this rude.

With Epson, you have to clean all cartridges altogether even if you know exactly which color(s) really need:

With Canon, you may clean only black or other colors, in addition to all:

The rear tray of Epson is second to useless

It takes only one piece at a time; so it is only for printing a single photo or envelope:

There is a second tray above the standard cassette, but it is for small photo papers only:

With Canon, I can fill 150 sheets in both the rear tray and the bottom cassette, respectively, and pick up freely between them.

Paper Handling Sucks

If the computer is set to use letter papers (8.5x11) and you print with a filler paper (8x10.5), printing will stop with an error. With Canon, the printing will always go through fine regardless what paper you tell the computer and what paper you actually use, smaller or larger.

Furthermore, auto duplex is limited to letter size at the minimum. If you use smaller papers such as filler paper, it refuses to do auto double-side printing. Although Canon have such a limitation too (on theory), but you can still duplex with filler papers just fine as long as you fake your computer with letter size.

Lacking of a multi-page rear tray, manual duplex printing is not practical, - it is a big hassle to reload papers in a cassette. So forget about duplex, auto or manual, if you need to use papers smaller than letter size such as filler papers sold unbelievably cheaply - 150 pages for 10 cents by Fry's Electronics during each and every back-to-school season.

When loading paper into the cassette, it is face down for single side and auto duplex, but face up for manual duplex. What a lousy engineering.

When printing starts, the output tray slides out automatically. Nice ha? Well, they forgot a button, neither hard nor soft, for sending it back! Man, even a 30 years old CD drive has a button so you don't have to push the tray and suffer from gear roaring.

Epson software is like malware

Once installed, there is no option to uninstall, like Chinese software. It adds some background stuff running on your computer - a monitor service and two scheduled tasks that run hourly (I disabled them all):

Canon software always play nicely.

The Epson is far more compact and neat though, while Canon are all bulky and ugly. The quality of scanned images is superb - extremely sharp with accurate colors while Canon's is quite poor and never get colors right. These are the only two things attractive and pretty much all other aspects are disgusting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

LeapDroid no audio fix

Windows PC used to be the main source of entertainment, but no longer, Android now dominates. LeapDroid is a great way to bring that back to your computer and enjoy vast music and video while you work.

If you ever experience no audio from LeapDroid, here is the fix: right click on the little speak at the bottom right corner and select "Playback devices":

Click on the device you are using and click on "Properties" and then "Advanced":

Uncheck "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device:

That's it and enjoy!

Related articles:

LeapDroid, finally a practical Android on PC

Sunday, August 7, 2016

ATH-ANC33iS Noise Cancelling headphones $48.09

决定把最近买的MM 550-X退了,实在是受不了。很奇怪,夹力并不大,耳罩子也不算太小,但是只要一扣到耳朵上,就像是紧箍咒。另外降噪实在是太弱。







Monday, July 18, 2016

LeapDroid, finally a practical Android on PC

I have tried many Android emulators, but none of them could play TV Plus 2.0 - the best way for watching Chinese TV. This problem is now solved by LeapDroid, now I can watch TV on any one of my monitors, Windowed or full screen. CPU usage is only 50% or so while watching HD TV.

By default, there are two virtual machines installed to  "C:\Users\Username\Documents\Leapdroid\VMs". You may delete one of them to save about 500-800 MB space. The install file, LeapdroidVMInstaller.exe, is copied to "C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Leapdroid"; you may delete this file to save another 200MB.

[update] By default it uses too much RAM, so I modified the following line in \Documents\LeapDroid\VMs\vm1.vbox

Memory RAMSize="512" PageFusion="false"

Friday, June 10, 2016

Philips SHE3905, finally the ideal headphones

Philips read my mind: the SHE3905 and SHE3900 (without mic & remote) fixed all the issues of SHE3590.

  • Like the SHE3590, oval tip seats for comfortable fit.
  • Improved tips - more comfortable and better fit.
  • Mic and remote button (SHE3905).
  • Right-angle plug for stupid Android phones that have the jack on the top.
Sound wise my initial impression is: warmer, more refined, and firmer voice than SHE3590 with Dollartree tips. Incredible noise isolation, I almost no longer want active noise cancellation, even in a noisy car on highway. I'll try the Dollartree tips later to see if they'll also do the same magic to sound quality. If you like bass, then these new tips are already perfect and totally comfortable, no need to replace them. For SHE3590, however, I had to replace their tips, because they are too thick to be comfortable and to sound good.

As you can see in above photo, there are even some more very welcome thoughts been put into these earbuds:
  • Now you can easily see the very large and bold "L" and "R" before you insert them into the correct ears.
  • A tiny slider to tighten up the wires around your cheeks for less cable movement/noise while you move.
  • The cord is more stiff - less prone to tangle.
  • Strain reliefs off the earbuds, should be much more durable than before.
  • The buds now look and feel more high-end, thanking to the new shinning finishing, the strain reliefs and gold plated plug.
Overall, these are totally comfortable, secure (running or in bed) and audiophile-level sounding headphones that happen to be the cheapest.  About $10 - $15 from Target and Amazon. If you buy from Target, either order online and pick up in stores or let the store match its online price.

[update] After several days of listening, I have got a firm feel about the sound. I then tried the Dollartree tips on this SHE3905 and I much prefer these tips - less bass and more transparent.

[update] I noticed that the stock tips go quite deep, which result into better isolation and more bass, but not comfortable and transparent. The Dollar Tree tips correct this.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Headphones for phones

Panasonic RP-TCM125

This is the only pair of headphones I've found that are comfortable, secure and good sounding out of box. I used to hate in-ear buds (such as Etymotic ER4P), because, for them to sound good, they must go too deep into ears and fit too tight. "Secure" means they won't fall off and sound worse while you walk and run, and you can wear them in bed.

What makes these Panasonic Ergofit buds comfortable and secure is the oval tips and the angled base:

The tips are still round, just the seats are oval. This is a good thing - you can use your favorite tips if the stock ones do not fit you.

There might be other comfortable and secure headphones like these, but they may sound horrible, such as this Nicole Miller:

If you don't need mic and remote, then get the RP-HJE125.

More photos:

Philips SHE3590

Also oval tip seats, these Philips are as comfortable and secure, but sound even better - almost perfect. Resolution, positioning, separation, dynamic and frequency ranges are all top class. There is nothing between you and the instruments - totally veil-less. Bass is extremely deep and defined and treble is sparkling. They are very revealing though, poor recordings may sound very bad on these buds.

However, they need lots of work.

As you see, the plug is straight, not right angled, not good for Android phones - most of them have the headphone jack on the top instead of the bottom like iPhone. Unfortunately, all the right-angle adapters you can buy are bulky craps, point-less:

So I had to make my own ones, "T" type for centered jacks (such as Moto E) and "L" type for sided jacks (such as LG Volt):

Philips still do not have an oval version with built-in mic and remote. One day I came across this iEdge:

Sound wise, they are garbage; but the detachable mic/remote module is nice and light and seldom to find. Also nice is the clip on the back of the module and the right-angle plug on the other end of the wire. You can plug any headphones such as SHE3590 into this module and you get right-angle and mic/remote. One stone two birds. This is how I use them together - hold the wire on to the module by its clip and hang on my neck:

Sadly, the remote button is stupidly designed and barely works; so I had to open the module with a guitar pick and insert a small piece of paper (6.3 x 6.3 x 0.36 mm) to slightly lift up the switch:

Lots of work? Not done yet. The stock tips do not fit and sound good. I came across these garbage earbuds in DollarTree:

Some of them come with three pairs of premium tips (while some are crapps, see in above photo, left vs. right), and they are perfect fit for SHE3590! When I put them on my SHE3590, my jaw dropped down to ground. Not only entirely comfortable, they also sound incredible!

The bottom line: go give them a try for just $10. You can find the Panasonic in Fry's and Amazon and the Philips in Staples and Target (Rite Aid too, but ripped off as always).

[update] Philips SHE3905, finally the ideal headphones

Listening on phone

I like Xiialive, because I can use my headphones' inline remote button to switch my favorite stations. I use V3.1.3, newer versions have trouble with the remote button. There are numerous stations including FM radio all around the world and online radio (SHOUTcast), in all languages including Chinese and Cantonese.

There is even a RadioReference plug-in that allows for listening to public radio such as police and fire etc. And you can add your own content if you know the URL. When you search for a station, set the correct directory: UberStations (local FM), SHOUTcast(online) and RadioReference (public).

You can set easily a sleep timer and wake-up alarm. There is an EQ with many presets, and bass boost and virtualizer dials.

It simply has everything you need for listening.

Like FM, not all broadcasts are the same audio quality, some are poor and some are super. Some of my favorites: - the best audio quality and the right type of jazz.
All Classical Portland - the best audio quality classic music, although only 96K.
100.7 WZLX - the best classic rock.
KRVM-FM - the best variety.
CrystalRadioBeautifulMusic - the best easy listening.
Free China Radio - Very interesting talk in Chinese.

For music saved on my phone, I use the Clean Music player. It does not have any extra fat like other players.

So, these two great players are on my phone's home page, for online and local:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Headset button mod for Nexus 6

If your headphones have a button and you press and hold this button, your Nexus 6 will activate voice search. I don't need voice search and I want to use this long-click for music control.

Edit the apq8084-taiko-tfs9890_stereo_co_Button_Jack.kl file, found under /system/usr/keylayout/:

Before: key 226    HEADSETHOOK
After: key 226    MEDIA_NEXT

Save the change and reboot.

Now use an app like the Headset Button Controller to configure the right (not left nor center) button to do what you want. Here is how I set the button:

Single click: Play/Pause
Double click: Next track
Triple click: Previous track
Quadruple click: Volume up (one step)
Long click: Volume down

Nice, now I have convenient and full control with just one button and I almost never need to touch my phone while playing music. Without this mod, I had to use quadruple alone for volume adjustment and every time I had to increase the vol from 0 by steps - quite a pain.

Note: even if your headphones have three buttons, most of them are Apple compatible and only the center one works on Android phones. After above mod, the center button appears as right button to the phone, which is why we configure the "right" button although we still use the center one (again, Android cannot see other buttons).

Three alternatives:

JAYS Headset Control
Ultimate HeadSet Controller
Headset Control Center