Next Project – Media Server

So after I managed to upgrade to my ssd I was thinking to myself what should I make my next project.

Well after a bit of thought I had the idea of creating a media server for all my entertainment needs Music, video, photos etc

Not only would this save me hdd space but would allow easier access to all computer in the house and would reduce duplication. so I got to thinking of what I need

It needs to be small and quiet but I want the components to be normal size and I want to stick with air cooling. I need it to be quiet as it will be kept where I sleep. Oh and I want it to not cost the earth.

 

Next i listed the component parts I would need

 

Case – small but normal form factor

Processor – power but cool and cheap to run

Motherboard – cheap but with as many extras as possible prehaps a decent onboard card?

Ram at least 4 gigs

Graphics – might not be needed if onboard. saw and advert for a £15 dx11 card which may be worth looking at if can’t get an onboard

HDD – 2 x 1tb in raid at very least

Wifi card – Bit awkward to get a wired connection upstairs so may be worth a look at.

Cooling – stock fans probably wont keep it quiet enough

Operating system –  probably linux based as its free. need to look into specialty os’s

 

And that’s as far as I have got so far.

 

Now i need to just have a think about what actual parts will be needed and how powerful the system will need to be. I will want it to do some on the fly encoding to a ps3 so will need some proscing power.

 

If you have any suggestions or ideas or if you have built one or have any information that you think would be useful i would be interested to know. Leave a comment below.

 

 

SSD And My Experiance.

So I made the jump and forked out for a shiny new SSD hard drive as I was getting increasing frustrated with the amount of time that windows was taking to startup and I thought that the decrease in-game loading times would be nice.
So after doing some research on a couple of websites mainly SSDReview.com. I finally settled on the 120gb ocz Vertex 3 Which I purchased from Ebuyer.com now this ssd is sata 3 compatible and although I don’t at this time have a sata 3 port on my motherboard the price and performance the disk was showing was good and its also fully compatible with sata 2.

 

One of the Important things to rember about SSD’s contrary to more traditional hard drives is that the larger the storage capacity the faster they tend to be. There are cheaper options around with smaller capacity but the general consensus seems to be to go for no lower than 120GB.

 

Installation

Now this particular ssd is a 2.5″ drive but thankfully comes with an adaptor that allows it to fit into desktop cases. The drive just screws in to the adaptor with the screws that are provided and that adaptor is screwed into the case.

This is where I hit a slight snag.

The drive fitted into the adaptor absolutely fine as you would expect however, I have a Antec Nine Hundred Two and the screws to fit the adaptor to the case were too small for the thick walls of the drive bay. The adaptor has rather small bolt holes that have a fine thread and I was unable to find any that were over an inch long that were thin enough and had the correct thread.

I ended up screwing a couple of the screws from the inside out and for the ones that were too tight using some sandwich bag ties to make sure it was secure. Not ideal but it works and because the ties are plastic coated perfectly insulated.

That minor problem out-of-the-way the rest of the installation of the SSD went fine and it was onto installing windows and restoring backups.

 

Performance Tweaking AKA Getting The Best From The SSD

Thankfully installation of windows went pretty well as did the restoration of backups the next job on the list of things to do was to see what the windows experience score was the first run was  7.1 up from its previous 5.9 however the score was still limited by the hard drive score. So I googled to see if I could optimise the windows installation a bit more and prehaps clear some space off my already filling SSD.

I came across this Guide [Click Here]  From a forum post at this website surreystore.com

The first step was to turn on ahci mode on as i had installed windows already the first thing i had to do was to make some registry changes and then change the setting the bios Next parts were reasonably simple and consisted of;

Disabling System restore,

Disabling Drive Indexing,

Disabling Defragmentaion,

Turning off / moving  the page file to save space,

turning of hibernation again to save space,

Enabling faster booting and adjusting power settings.

Now I actually discovered that windows had actually done some of these steps itself which was nice, but I would suggest going through them anyway to check. I also skipped some of the steps listed on the website as I didn’t think that they met my requirements, for instance disabling recycle bin don’t be afraid to use your own judgements of your needs

I reran the windows experience test and received a new score of 7.3 the lowest score now being my graphics card the hard drive score had actually move to 7.4 so by just doing those steps id increased performance by .3 who knows what that actually means in real terms but an improvement is an improvement.

My final job was to move My Documents off of the SSD and onto the other Hard Drive another google search and a couple of rather complicated solutions later I actually found this [Click Here] posted by a guy called Headstrongfarm And discovered that its much easier than you would have thought. Windows does all the hard work for you all you have to do is tell it where you want to move the files too and it will move them to the folder you specify.

 

Conclusion

So overall the installation and setting up was pretty simple and problem free. Windows definitely starts faster and the computer is more responsive, Time will tell how worthwhile it was and we will see if the speed keeps up especially as the windows install gets older.

If your thinking about going the route of SSD I would definitely recommend it spend what you can afford but don’t go lower than a 120gb and as a friend of mine suggested don’t go by the specs the manufacture says go by what the benchmarks have to say a quick google search will bring up lots of review sites and most retail sites now also have a review system in place.

Good luck

 

 

 

Mac Iplayer

Ok this isnt the post that i had in mind and i certainly didnt expect to be posting again so soon but i thought this news was rather important.

I like many people love to use the bbc iplayer it is simply a great thing to have installed on your pc. When it first came out it was windows pc only its certainly moved on since then expanding on to the wii and recently officaly the playstation 3.

The bbc announced to day in a news item on there news webpage [link] that the iplayer is now available on both mac and linux operting systems.

The new version of the iPlayer has been written with Adobe’s AIR technology which aims to make it possible to create applications that can be downloaded to your computer, rather than just embedded in browser web pages as is possible with the widely used Flash software.

Those who want to try the new version can get a trial version from the Labs section of the iPlayer site.

A beta version of the BBC iPlayer Desktop that uses the Adobe AIR technology was made available on 18 December with a finished version likely to be released in February 2009.

I certainly will be checking out the linux version and i hope that it will be just as good as the pc one.

check out the bbc iplayer Here

If you do try out the new versions of the iplayer tell me how it goes in the comments below.

The Creature Feature

Ea today officaly released the creature creator tool for maxis coming game spore and i like many have downloaded it and been having a play around. Already a search around youtube and im sure many of the other video and video game sites will bring you up many many weird and wonderful creature that would never have a chance in the real world.

The tool it self is so easy to use it hurts everything is pretty much self explanatory and things can be molded like virtual playdought you start of with I a ball of well I guess flesh with a backbone which you can twist and turn and pull it into pretty much any shape you could want you add things like eyes legs feet weapons mouth and you have yourself a basic creature.

My first creature created with the creature creator
is shown in this video

It probably took 10 mins at most. Now Im using the trial version which as you would imagine has fewer parts and colour’s etc the full version is available but I don’t like the ea downloader thing but even with fewer part there is a ton of options available and i can see me tinkering around for some time with it.

Its really easy to create videos and send them to youtube as its all built into the program you are also able to create animated avatars and still pictures

Animated Avatar created in Spore Creature Creater

For the second creature i made i decided to make something as tall as i could and ended up with treeasorus which looks like a sort of dinasour stick insect.

A few other creatures from around the web. [well, okay youtube ¬_¬]

If you want to have a play you can download the program from EA Here

Link to your creation in the comments I would love to see what you come up with.

Same goes for any that you happen to come across too.

Vista Thanks But No Thanks!

I saw This story from the BBC pop into my RSS aggregator today and it reminds me why I am still running all my machines on XP.

vista.jpg

I would have thought that Microsoft would have learnt by now that this sort of thing does themselves no favours at all. It not only makes them look bad in the public eye it cant help there image with the developers that make the software that’s affected.

I am very security conscious when it comes to my computers and do tend to update my software regularly but if I was running vista I would in light of this give service pack 1 a miss for some time. Lets face it, its going to be filled with more bugs than it fixes even if you discount this news. I just don’t think that the hassle it has the potential to cause is worth it for new features and a more secure environment. How It could be said to increase security when it makes a whole load of third party security suites stop working I don’t know.

This is the list of some of the named software that’s affected sadly the list isn’t all inclusive.

BitDefender AV
Fujitsu Shock Sensor
Jiangmin KV Antivirus 10
Jiangmin KV Antivirus 2008
Trend Micro Internet Security
Zone Alarm Security Suite
Iron Speed Designer
Xheo Licensing
Free Allegiance
NYT Reader
Rising Personal Firewall
Novell ZCM Agent

So nothing that’s used by very many people then. [ A big welcome to my friend sarcasm please]

For some reason the part of the story that annoys me the most perhaps because I am not a vista user is this

“Microsoft warned that its list was not “comprehensive” and asked people to get in touch with the maker of any affected software to fix problems”

I think its a damn cheek that after breaking things that they seem to expect everyone else to do the hard work.

Think I will be sticking with xp for a little while yet.

UPDATE

Fixed some very silly mistakes and gave the post a title and some tags as I stupidly forgot. I blame staying up till 3am and I’m sticking to it.

The Death of HDDVD

Well it looks like the war of the formats has finally finished as of today. The bbc is reporting that toshiba one of major backers is dropping out. [BBC Article]

Toshiba have stated that they will stop production of HDDVD players and recorders so that they can concentrate there efforts in other areas. However they will still supply retailers with players and recorders till the end of march this year and will continue to give technical support to the millions of people that have gone with HDDVD. The death of HDDVD has been on the cards for sometime now with many of the larger movie studios supporting blueray and an ever decreasing presence at retail with major chains like Walmart either removing there HDDVD stock completely or Focusing more on the Bluray format.

Sony’s decision too include a bluray player in there gaming console the playstation 3 also gave blueray a huge advantage what ever the HDDVD camp also supported by Microsoft would like people to have believed.

I for one am glad that this war is over and not just because I am a playstation owner (although it helps :P) It makes things a lot easier for consumers and retailers, Don’t get me wrong in some respects the format war was a good thing. Competition is good as it means cheaper prices and more choice for the consumer and you can be certain that if there was only one of the formats Prices would not have reached the level they are now for a long time.

What i hope now is that the remainder of the film studios still supporting HDDVD will make a swift move to blueray And that prices for bluray players and films will continue to fall and not stagnate.

Oh and some buying advice for those that after seeing this news and wanting to buy a Bluray player. I really would suggest that you buy the playstation 3. Even if your not interested in the games or anything else It is by far one of the best bluray players on the market and is certainly the cheapest on the market.

Piclens

Every now and then when I am bored I visit a little addon website for my browser of choice Firefox. It is a great site full of many useful and useless things https://addons.mozilla.org

I go there when I’m bored to see what new stuff people have been making see if there is any new ideas or new takes on old ideas. Sometimes i find things that are superb and install them immediately.

One such extension I came across the other day is Piclens.

It works with various websites like flickr and basically creates a full screen slideshow of the pictures the video explains better than I can.

Good news for non firefox users to chances are that there is a version available for you as versions are also available for Internet Explorer and Macs.