Archive for October, 2007

review: Shuttle SD32G2 small form factor PC

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Desktop computers aren’t getting much smaller. Whitebox PCs often still come in a full “midi” tower case, brandname department store things are usually microtowers, and then there’s a bit of a gap until you’re looking at laptops (pretty much as small as you can make a computer while still keeping it usable by ordinary humans).

There’s good reason for this. A full ATX board will give you six or seven PCI slots (or some combination of those and PCI-E), micro-ATX usually has two or three, and until recently, you often kinda needed that room to expand. Onboard sound was frequently crap, and rarely had better than two channel (stereo) output, so you’d want a decent PCI soundcard; onboard video was generally the same; and there was that tender period before onboard SATA where controller cards for that were useful.

Small form factor PCs have been around through most of this, but were never really popular. They were often cramped, full of nonstandard and irreplaceable parts, and way too expensive for what you ended up with.

Now, though, everything’s grown up a bit more, and you can get a very decent computer the size of a shoebox for not a lot more than you’d pay for one a lot bigger.

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what to do when your boot drive gets f:/’d

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Something we frequently do at work is a full backup and reinstall: image the boot drive to one of our backup drives in rotation, wipe their drive and reinstall Windows, find drivers and programs, then plug the backup drive in and copy their stuff back.

Long story short, Windows made the backup drive C:, called its actual boot drive F:, and once our drive was removed, it hung at the “Welcome” screen. It’s like someone never wearing shoes again because they broke a shoelace once. Or something. It’s just so staggeringly dumb I can’t think of a decent analogy.

Fortunately, this is the 2nd google result for “changed drive letters”. Reproduced here mainly for my own reference, and so you can remember reading about a fix if you ever come across it:

  • Run regedit (Windows key + R, “regedit”, enter)
  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
  • Rename (not modify the value of) \DosDevices\C: to Z: or something
  • Rename the actual boot drive (say F:) to C:
  • Rename the other drive back to F: or whatever
  • Pray, reboot, and pray some more

It worked for me, and that computer’s back on someone’s desk being productive.

Update 4/2/2010: I’ve come up with a new solution to this problem that seems to work consistently. Click here to go to the new blog entry I wrote to announce and explain it.

dust stalagmites…

Monday, October 8th, 2007

What do you notice about this computer?

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black and white and annoying all over

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Do you walk past an angry magpie every morning on the way to work? I do.

I’m 10-30, male, and respond aggressively to being headslapped by a coward who then glides into a tree 30 feet above my head. I was actually surprised to learn there’s ever such a thing as a warning swoop; the little bastard near me has always just gone for my head.

He’ll come after me even if I’m looking straight at him; I either have to duck every swoop or put my fists up and mock-punch the air (the latter is more fun – ever seen a bird skid mid-dive?).

There’s an easy solution – contact your local Department of Environment & Climate Change office and report where it is and what it does (they’ll ask if it’s actually hitting you or not, if it’s swooping other people too etc). I was told basically they’d pass the info on to a ranger, they’ll probably do something about it, and to wear an umbrella in the meantime. Worth a try.

Public service announcement ends.