Failing power supply

In April 2007, I replaced a broken power supply in my PC with a Antec SmartPower 2.0 500W Power Supply. Check my review here. A few days ago, my pc has started producing a high pitched noise. Really annoying. So, I Google a little and what do I find: Antec SmartPower 2.0 500W Power Supplies apparently have 21% failure rate. Tell tale signs include the damn thing making high pitched noise.

I have to investigate a little further but probably this means the power supply is failing after less than one and a half year. Out of warranty of course. Damn it, really annoying to have to open that case again to replace the same part. Basically, the PC is now nearly three years old and maybe I should just replace it altogether. Something quiet, fast and reliable would be nice.

In a few weeks my new Macbook Pro should arrive at work (ordered yesterday). I was planning to wait and see if I like that and if so, just upgrade to a nice Mac at home as well. Not fully convinced yet.

Feel free to recommend a decent PSU. Has to power a Nvidia 7800, 2 drives, lots of USB hardware and a amd 4400+ dualcore CPU.

Update. I ended up installing a ZALMAN ZM600-HP. Seems to have a few good reviews http://www.tweaknews.net/reviews/zm600hp/. It’s expensive, over qualified for the job and supposedly really good and quiet. Sadly the rest of my machine is still rather noisy.

Skype + Logitech USB Headset 350

After years of delaying, I’ve finally bought a headset and installed Skype. My new screenname is jillesvangurp.

The headset is a Logitech USB Headset 350. It’s a nice plug and play USB thingy that I can use next to my normal audigy 4 sound card. I.e. I can use my fine Hennheiser HD 280 Pro  for gaming, music and movies and answer the phone on my headset. I like it that way, the noise damping effect of the Sennheiser would just be weird when hearing yourself talk.

The headset installed fine in true plug and play fashion. It was recognized right away by windows as a USB headset. It’s a nice thingy with a volume control, a big mute button and a nice blue led blinking all the time.  The sound is good too and it feels quite comfortable.

Skype 3.0 is a nice piece of software as well. I had no trouble setting up a call to my friend Christian Del Rosso who has a webcam as well as a micropone. Well almost no trouble, he had some issues with the volume and it took some fiddling to figure out that in fact there was no problem with my headset.

rediculous clause

Ok, I’m considering to buy a RAID 5 external drive. If you have no clue what I mean by that, stop reading. Anyway, one of the products that seems interesting is the Lacie S1S 2TB which is a nice setup that includes four hot swappable 500GB drives.

Now here’s the catch (straight from the manual):
Caution! Do NOT attempt to replace a hard disk yourself. Removing a hard disk from a Drive Bay will void the
warranty.

Eh, excuse me? The whole point of buying a raid 5 setup is being able to fix a disk failure by replacing it with a new one without powering down the unit (which according to another quote in the same manual is an extremely bad idea in the event of disk failure). So I guess no Lacie for me (hey that rimes!).

Actually I’m looking for a simple setup that:

  • uses little power (It’s going to be inactive pretty much most of the time).
  • makes no/little noise (it’s going to be in my living room)
  • comes without drives (so I can install some myself)
  • is easy to maintain, particularly in the eventuality of drive failure
  • is easy to connect (USB 2 or gigabit ethernet).
  • allows for at least four drives (more is better)
  • supports raid 5 (I want my data to survive failure of 1 disk)
  • is reliable as hell (I several drives currently and am terrified of the day they will fail)

Tips are welcome. Right now I am seriously interested in the Synology CS-406, which gets a really good review at Tom’s hardware. The price is reasonable and it seems to meet all the listed criteria above and it comes with a whole bunch of very cool additional features.

motorola cable modem & bittorrent

I’ve blogged several times already about my problems connecting my pc to the internet:

  • Getting a cable modem was easy.
  • I mistakenly bought a Siemens wireless network USB stick. Solution don’t buy crap and use a decent brand. Currently I’m using an smc pci card; my ibm/lenovo’s laptop’s built in network card and my Nokia e70 with its wlan support.
  • The driver software going paranoid from time to time.

A remaining problem that has been annoying me for months is that my cable modem, a Motorola sbg900e, has some issues. Most of the time it works fine except when applications like bittorrent run. Then it just resets more or less continuously. Motorola apparently does not believe it is important to support their customers with useful advice or firmware updates so that basically meant no bittorrent for the past few months. Bittorrent is a resource intensive protocol and it probably represents a worse case scenario for the modem in terms of number of connections, bandwidth consumed etc.
Some googling (“motorola modem reset bittorrent”), once again, brought me a work around. It is not the first time that I find out the hard way that solving a technical problem is just a matter of providing google with the right keywords. Believe me I’ve been searching many times using the type number of my modem in the query bringing up nothing but unrelated problems and advertisement material.
Anyway, one of the people in this forum was kind enough to explain that the problem is with the number of connections that the bittorrent client tries to open simultaneously. If this exceeds a certain number, the modem firmware crashes and the modem resets (apparently earlier models just crashed and did not reset, lucky me :-). The workaround consists of telling your bittorrent client to not open too many connections at the same time. It’s no problem having say 50-100 connections open at the same time but opening them all at once is a problem. True, most bittorrent clients do not have such a setting but recent versions of my favourite one (Azureus) do have such a setting. It’s called “max simultaneous outbound connection attempts” and by default it is set to 16. You can find it under connection->advanced network settings. I find that, so far, limiting it to 8 prevents the modem from crashing.

Problem solved 🙂