Canon DR-C130

I borrowed a Canon DR-C130 to play around with. I’m looking for a way to scan receipts, documents, pretty much decrease my paper trail. So far I have mixed feelings about this device.

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Driver support is horrible. I’m used to seeing no Mac support but according to their website, it doesn’t even support Windows 8 either. It claims that Windows should detect it, which it does, but it doesn’t know what to do with it.

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I downloaded the Windows 7 version and that worked. Windows now recognizes the device. Next I used Adobe Acrobat X Pro 10.1.10.

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It does double-sided scanning without having to run the page twice. The quality is pretty good and at 300 DPI, it scans it at a fast rate. So for five pages, double-sided, it approximately took 15 seconds. Five page single-sided took the same amount of time. The feeder itself could be better. The paper detection needs improvements. I kept getting a lot of these.

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I had to keep adjusting the paper before it finally detected them and it started to feed. This was a big turn off for me after seeing great videos on Fujitsu scanners on Youtube. Those scanners took different size papers – wrinkled, folded, etc – and the feeder didn’t break a sweat. All of the papers fed through consistently. I was able to ignore the driver support since many of these scanners don’t support Macs anyways, but the feeder is a big deal. Not worth using if you have to constantly fix the sheets in order for it to be fed.

OCZ VTX460-25SAT3-240G

I just picked up a new OCZ VTX460-25SAT3 SSD drive. I needed more room to install games on my PC. This drive is now my E: drive on my computer. My main drive is a Sandisk SDSSDX240GG25. Both are SATA3 (6Gbps) and 240GB so I wanted to run benchmarks and compare the two. I used CrystalDiskMark v3.0.3 on Windows 8.1. I also included my results for my Western Digital WD10EAVS. This is using SATA2 (3Gbps).

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Here is my result for the Sandisk.

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Here is my result for the OCZ.

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And finally, here is what I got with the Western Digital 1TB hard drive on SATA2 (3Gbps).

I’ve been running SSD drives for a few years now and never looked back. The performance is night and day. SSDs can make an old computer feel new again (unless the CPU is really old and using the original SATA (1.5Gbps) but I’m sure you’ll feel a difference.

A note during installation. It took four restarts before Windows finally recognize the drive. My bios recognized it with no problem. From the looks of it, the drive was originally formatted with GPT – I’m guessing this is why it was difficult for Windows to detect. Here’s a screenshot of Windows when it finally recognized it.

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If you haven’t tried SSD, I definitely recommend it. Prices have been dropping steadily.

Icy Dock Flex-Fit Trio

I finally was able to use a custom bios for my HP N36L microsever. I got one from the bay. No I can use the 5th SATA port not just for the optical drive but for another hard drive. I also bought an e-SATA to SATA cable adapter so I can add another hard drive, bringing the total to 6 hard drives. Here are the parts I used.

The Icy Dock can hold a total of 3 hard drives – one 3.5” and two 2.5”. I ran out of SATA ports so I only have 6 hard drives total. I plan to run Freenas v9.x. I will post some power consumption readings and transfer speed once I get a chance. For now, here are some pics and a video.

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Above is the eSATA to SATA cable adapter. I have it run through a hole from the back, through the upper part of the case.

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Late 2013 Mac Pro

I recently got a new Late 2013 Mac Pro. So far it has been a great upgrade from my Dell T3600 at work. I took a few pics of the external and some internal.

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Good amount of ports.

  • 6x Thunderbolt 2
  • 4x USB3.0
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1x HDMI
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The outline of the ports light up as well, nice touch.

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One of the area where the ram is installed. Each area has 2x 8GB of ram for a total of 32GB running at DDR3 1866MHz. The left part on the pic shows one of the two ATI FirePro D500 3GB DDR5 video card, yes it comes with 2. The stick above the video card is the 500GB SSD hard drive. It runs off the PCI-Express.

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Above is a pic of both ATI FirePro D500 video card.

about this mac

about this mac

Here is what the system detects when powered on.

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A screenshot that shows almost all 12 threads maxed out when running Handbrake.

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The SSD is very fast. Both read and write speeds are nearly identical.

Biostar NM70I-1037U

I have finally found my replacement for my old, broken E-350 HTPC. I tried the AM1 platform with the Athlon 5350 but support was lacking so I returned it. This time I went with the Intel 1037U Celeron and so far I’m pleased with the results.

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It’s a nice motherboard design. It has more than I want for my HTPC; plenty of SATA ports, 3 types of video output ports (VGA, DVI, and HDMI), full-sized ram slots and a PCI-E slot.

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The position of the ram slots are different from the 2 AMD (E-350 and AM1) configuration. This motherboard has it on the side instead of towards the front. With this configuration, it gives me more room to plug in my pico psu and route the cables more easily.

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The CPU and heatsink of the 1037U is as short as the AMD E-350. I can move my hard drive tray on all available configurations.

I installed Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with XBMC 12.3. I used a full OS instead of XBMCbuntu just in case I needed the machine to do something else later on. There are 2 users on the machine, one is mine with admin privileges, the other is for the HTPC with standard permissions. It also has no password and auto login. Once logged in, XBMC is the start up app that runs. It’s a nice setup and fast with the SSD. Here is a list of the hardware I am using.

I also posted a video on Youtube.

Striking out with AMD and AM1 platform

After a day with my new AMD Athlon 5350 and MSI AM1I motherboard, I’ve had nothing but problems. I’ve tried running Linux Mint 16 and Ubuntu 13.10 with the hopes of running XBMC. Nothing but driver related issues with the video card. I even tried with Windows 7 Professional 64bit. Also problems with the video drivers. Here’s the errors I get.

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The log file shows me

I’ve tried running the exe file as administrator and no luck. I guess it’s just way too new. I won’t be running my HTPC anytime soon. Hope a fix is released, preferably on Linux. I’ve also tried running XBMC on Windows 7 and because the driver failed to be installed, I get a GUI error. I tried XBMCBuntu and it boots off the USB but it won’t install. I’m a little disappointed. This was my first time back to AMD in a long time, as well as MSI. Not a good experience back. I’ll keep you posted on any updates.

AMD AM1 Athlon 5350 Kabini and MSI AM1I MS-7865

AMD recently released the AM1 platform. It consist of 4 new processors. My old HTPC no longer works. I think the humidifier in the room may have something to do with it. So I decided to pick up the 5350 and a MSI AM1I MS-7865 motherboard. Newegg had an extra $15 off for the combo. I wasn’t needing the most powerful of the bunch but for the price I decided to get it anyway.

The plan was to replace the broken HTPC with this one. Use the existing case, PSU, ram, and SSD. I swapped out the motherboard and cpu. The heatsink is a little taller than the old one so I had to do the cabling a little different but it worked out. On to the OS installation. Here’s where I ran into a brick wall. I wanted to use Linux Mint 16, create an HTPC user with auto-login into XBMC. Unfortunately, the video drivers are not running stable. It kept warning me that it’s running in software render mode and that my CPU may be running higher than normal. The HTPC won’t be much good if the problem is related to the video drivers. I’m sure being that it’s new, the Linux community hasn’t released an updated driver yet. I tried my luck with Ubuntu 13.10. I knew there’s a small chance it’ll be more stable since Mint didn’t work, but I tried anyway. Same results.

I gave up and will be install Windows 7 for the time being. I wanted to get it up and running sooner than later. So now for some pics and initial readings.

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It is a Mini ITX motherboard. Though small, it has full size ram slots (up to 32GB) and a full sized PCI Express 3.0 (x4). I’m not planning on using a discrete video card because my case won’t allow it, but the 5350 CPU does have a Radeon 8400. It should be more than adequate for my HTPC purposes. It also has a mini PCI-E slot, but I’m not sure if I can use a MSATA drive. Would be great if I could, to gain space inside the small case. The 2 SATA ports run at up to 6Gbps. Another note, the ram slot holding pins don’t bend on both sides. Only one side on each slot bends for ram install, so don’t force the other side to bend.

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Here’s a pic of the ports.

I’m kind of surprised that motherboards still come with PS2 ports for keyboards and mice. It has 2x USB2.0 and 2x USB3.0. The motherboard has 2x USB2.0 headers. The usual gigabit ethernet port is there. There are 3 different ways you can connect – VGA and DVI that supports up to 1900×1200 and the HDMI supports up to 4096×2160 (4K UHD) – according to MSI’s website (http://www.msi.com/product/mb/AM1I.html#?div=Detail). I wish I had a 4K display to test that out. The audio also supports up to 7.1 channels.

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Here’s how it looks with the CPU and heatsink installed. The holding pins are different as well and the 2 are set diagonally from each other.

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I wanted to take a pic of my old motherboard setup next to my new one. Here’s the video I took going over my old HTPC setup.

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As you can see, the AMD 5350 and heatsink is taller than my old E350.

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Here’s a pic of the space between the CPU heatsink fan and the HDD/SSD tray. It works, but you no longer can have 2 HDD/SSD configuration.

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The message I ran into while trying to install Linux Mint. It made my system a little unstable. I figured, I’ll just install Windows 7 for the time being and try Linux again later.

So far my power consumption is low. I haven’t gone over 22 watts. It idles at 10-12 watts. With Windows 7 Profession 64bit running Windows Update, it’s at 15.6 watts. My temperature from the bios was at 18°C. Very low compared to my old E350.

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This screenshot was taken while installing Windows updates. I haven’t done a video but I am planning to do one soon so stay tuned.

Upgraded my 2011 MBP with Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD

Amazon recently has the Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD (MZ-7TE500BW) on sale. I decided to pick one up andupgrade the Samsung 830 256GB SSD on my 2011 MBP (MC721LL/A). The 256GB is still running great, but I just needed a larger drive. I wanted to run Windows on bootcamp. I only had 20GB useable space even after I cleaned up and removed unused items.

Fortunately, my MBP is one of the models that you can still upgrade the HDD and ram. Newer models are soldered and cannot be upgraded. You just remove the screws that hold the bottom panel and you’ll have access to the ram and HDD area. Here’s a pic.

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I used Blackmagic Disk Speed Test to get the speeds of both SSDs. Here’s the benchmark for the Samsung 830.

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Here’s the benchmark for the Samsung 840 EVO 500GB.

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Based on the benchmark, there’s over a 30% improvement. I’m very happy with the upgrade. Not only did I get a speed improvement, I also got more space for using bootcamp.

Toshiba Satellite C55-A5300 with SSD

Best Buy has been running a sale on the Toshiba Satellite C55-A5300 for $229. At one point they even had the Skull Candy headphones – the one I chose is the S6HSDZ-072. It’s a $60 value and it was free. Here are the key specs of the laptop.

  • Intel Celeron 1037U 1.8GHz (Ivy Bridge)
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz (installed in 1 of 2 slots, can be maximized to 16GB and run up to 1600HMz)
  • 500GB HDD 5400RPM
  • Intel HD Graphics (integrated and shared)
  • LAN 10/100 (not gigabit)
  • 15.6” widescreen TruBrite at 1366×768 (supports 720p content)
  • HDMI port
  • SDHC size card reader
  • Windows 8 (upgradeable to 8.1)

So the specs aren’t jawdropping but for the price it’s a very good deal. I picked one up and the first thing I did is swap out that horrendous hard drive. Running at 5400RPM and it’s not SSD makes me cringe. All my computers, except for my 2008 iMac are running on SSD. It’s hard to go back to regular HDD.

The upgrade is very easy. First, you will need to boot to the desktop. So I had to let the laptop initialize and answer a few questions. Next, I created DVD restore discs using the Toshiba Recovery Media Creator software. This is how I will get the OS onto the new hard drive. Laptops no longer come with restore discs. It’s been this way for many years now. They usually have a hidden partition on the hard drive if the computer needs to be restored. You can also order a copy of the restore discs for around $16. Or, if you’re lucky, the computer comes with software that will allow you to make your own. For this particular laptop, you can use 3x 4GB DVD-R or 16GB+ USB thumb drive. I went with the DVDs and the process took about an hour to create. Make sure you label the DVD discs so you know which goes first, second, and third. When restoring it will ask you for all 3.

Once I got the DVDs made, it’s time to open up the laptop. Ensure that it’s unplug and the battery is removed. Flip the laptop over so the bottom is up. There is a screw holding in the panel that covers both HDD and ram. After you remove the panel, you will need to remove another screw that’s holding the HDD in place. Lift up from the screw area once your remove the screw. Swap the HDD with the SSD. Close everything back up and boot off the DVD. I had a Kingston HyperX SSD 120GB lying around so I used it to play around with. With the SSD, boot up is under 15 seconds. I removed most of the Toshiba crapware and the Norton AV trial. Here are some pics I took.

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Here is an Instagram video I recorded. You can see the whole boot up process all the way to the desktop within the 15 second time limit.

Rosewill N900PCE

Newegg recently had a sale on the Rosewill N900PCE dual band wireless card. I thought I would try them out since I switched out my router to an Asus RT-N66R. The package came with everything you’ll need, even a low-profile bracket. Here’s some pics I took during my unboxing.

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Sadly the performance didn’t live up to expectations. Here are some screen shots during file transfer. The best speed I can get when I transfer to my NAS is 6.34 MB/s (around 50 Mbps).

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When connected with a wire, my speed is 53.1 MB/s (over 400 Mbps).

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My computer is 1.5 feet away from the router and no object in between the two. I’ve checked for the latest driver/software version. I’ve tried it on both Windows 7 and 8 64bit. I’ve tried it on a different PCI-E slot. All resulting in to similar results. I’m kind of bummed. I wish it would’ve been faster since the price was great. Oh well, better luck next time.