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Daniel B.

Daniel B.

Joined on 10/31/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 12
Most Favorable Review

Great home UPS

APC BR700G Back-UPS Pro 700VA 6-outlet Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
APC BR700G Back-UPS Pro 700VA 6-outlet Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

Pros: Nice UPS. Unlike the many datacenter-style rackmount APC UPS units I've used, this one has an informative LCD display, including information about estimated runtime on battery, volts/frequency in/out, % load and number of outage events. And unlike the LCD readouts on many gaming gadgets, this LCD display is bright enough to be readable but not so bright as to be obnoxious. I was quite surprised at how lightweight this thing was-- my wife carried it in by herself-- a far cry from the UPSes we have at work which are usually moved around by two burly men and a hand cart. I couldn't find any information about using Ubuntu with this particular APC model, but I'd had good luck with APC's stuff and Linux/OpenBSD/FreeBSD in the past (albeit with the serial cable models), so I decided to take a chance. I was expecting to at least have to install something via apt, but no-- UPS event notification worked right out of the box! An icon just appeared in my notification tray (Ubuntu 11.04).

Cons: A reviewer on Amzazon commented that his unit made a horrible high-pitched whining noise. I'm pretty sensitive to those kind of noises, so that review almost turned me off to this model. Yes, the unit makes a high-pitched whining noise. However, I think I can put concerns about this to rest-- you'd have to be within a foot of the unit to hear it, and even so, I still put it on my desk next to my tower. My machine's 12 cm fan is FAR louder. If you put this thing under your desk you'll never hear it. Also, another person commented that the battery terminals "needed to be soldered on". I'll admit that they're not the easiest things to attach-- I needed to use a pair of needle-nose pliers-- but soldering? No. I think I can safely say that that reviewer had no idea what they were doing. BTW, ALL of APC's UPS models (that I've used-- at least a dozen models) work like this.

Overall Review: In all, a great UPS. I tested it as soon as I got it, pulling the plug with my computer running. I've seen this, for real, at least a dozen times at work, but I guess it makes me kinda giddy to see it at home. It's nice to know that the next time my lame rural power cuts out because a snowflake hit a power line that my machine will safely turn itself off. One other thing-- I had forgotten that my "watts up? PRO" power meter was still plugged in, and so I have both the UPS and the power meter on the same circuit. The APC's power reading is precisely double what the "watts up? PRO" says. I suspect that they're calculating the load differently, however, it does make me wonder which one is correct.

Most Critical Review

Total junk

TRENDnet TK-801R 8-Port PS/2 Rack Mount KVM Switch
TRENDnet TK-801R 8-Port PS/2 Rack Mount KVM Switch

Pros: It functions, barely.

Cons: This KVM seemed fine at first glance, but when I connected it up to our server rack, its deficiencies became clear: * The rackmount hardware is about 3mm too narrow to actually fit into a standard threaded 19" rack. Just to make sure I wasn't doing something boneheaded, I actually opened the manual to find *their* instructions on how to do this. The person in the picture is actually attaching the brackets *backward*! I'm starting to get a feeling of poor QC here... Anyway, I only attached one side-- the other side is held in with a paperclip until I can get my dremel in here. * The VGA D-block connectors are *not compatible* with bog-standard KVM cables. The connectors on the KVM switch are female-- they should be male. So you either have to buy new cables, or go to Radio Shack and get a gender changer for your VGA plugs. * Not compatible with all keyboards. The first one I plugged in did not work.

Overall Review: Very disappointed with this KVM. Too bad I didn't buy it at NewEgg-- I'd send it back. But I bought it through another vendor. Hey, NewEgg, when are you going to get a corporate purchasing dept already?!! Also, NewEgg, a "screw" is a fastener. After you've used it, you've "screw-ed" it in. This is not an offensive word!

Nice replacement motherboard

ASRock A770DE+ AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
ASRock A770DE+ AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard

Pros: My existing Biostar AM2+ motherboard's SATA controller started giving me I/O errors intermittently, so I decided that it was time for a new motherboard. My previous board had an unfortunate placement of SATA headers, which meant that with my ePCI graphics card installed, only two of the six ports were usable. This motherboard corrects that deficiency, with all of the headers tucked away in a corner. The abundance of expansion slots is nice-- I've already filled half of them. Also, the BIOS is a chip in a slot. Presumably this means that if a BIOS update bricks your board, they can send you a new BIOS (e.g., Tyan does this). Hooking this up was a piece of cake, and the board's manual was pleasantly well-written. Typically these things are terrible. I was a little hesitant about ASRock, as I've never used their stuff before, but I think I will consider them again in the future. Most importantly, this mobo works fine with Ubuntu Linux 11.04 out of the box. SOLD.

Cons: Halfway through the "caution" section in the manual, there are some preposterous claims about some of their BIOS utilities being "revolutionary". Neat, but "revolutionary"? Come on. The "instant boot" feature is also a little misleading. If I'm not mistaken, the software trades startup time for shutdown time. Essentially, the machine restarts immediately after shutdown, boots Windows, and then puts the machine into S4 sleep. When you "start up" the next time, the machine simply resumes from sleep. Yes, fast. This feature is a good idea and your OS should just implement it, but it hardly has anything to do with this particular motherboard. So if you're using Linux (like me), their instant boot software does nothing for you.

Overall Review: The idea that I can incrementally move to AM3 makes me happy.

Nice disk

Transcend 2.5" 64GB PATA MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) TS64GSSD25-M
Transcend 2.5" 64GB PATA MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) TS64GSSD25-M

Pros: Very fast disk-- it's a nice speed boost for an aging MSI MEGABOOK S260 Pentium M laptop. Actually, the machine feels more like a recent machine with this update. We use SSDs on some of our machines at work, but those machines are already so fast that the speed difference is hard to notice, but with this old laptop (running Windows and Ubuntu), the difference is very clear. My first impression is good.

Cons: Could be cheaper.

Overall Review: I know that PATA is going out of style, but it's exactly in machines with this interface where these kinds of disks will make a big difference. Hopefully PATA SSDs will be around for awhile longer.

Nice board

BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX3 A2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX3 A2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

Pros: Very nice board layout; everything fits without having to jump through any hoops, and there were no snags during installation. Board is loaded with features. I was able to replace a different motherboard in a Linux system (MSI K9VGM-V) without having to change a single thing in Linux-- it just booted right up. Boot time is much faster than the MSI. Board also comes with an excellent manual. I love the abundance of SATA ports. This board also correctly powers off in Linux (the MSI board had the annoying "feature" of identifying power off events as power failures, and thus restarting the computer-- gah!).

Cons: Minor really, especially considering the thought that went into everything else, but the rear port backplate does not fit. The holes for the sound ports were punched off-center, and thus the backplate does not fit snugly. I'll probably break out the Dremel when I'm bored some night and fix it.

Overall Review: Very happy during my first week. I also have a Windows XP partition used for gaming, but I have not had the time to sit down and try that yet. YMMV.

11/30/2008

Beautiful case

LIAN LI PC-A10B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
LIAN LI PC-A10B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: This is the nicest case I've ever owned, and having owned several Macs and another Lian-Li case, I think that says something. Every detail is carefully thought out: detents in the front door so it has that satisfying 'click' when it shuts; rubber gaskets at all possible vibration trouble spots; large diameter fans; compartmentalized heat zones; light pipe to carry the HDD and power LEDs through the front door; thumbscrew or screwless mounting of everything; rounded off aluminum edges or edges covered in plastic to avoid cuts on your hands when working inside the case; locking front door; plenty of 5.25 bays. The list goes on. And it really is nice to look at! So minimal. Anything that has that 2001 monolith look is a winner for me.

Cons: It would be nice if the side panels had a latch ala Apple or HP cases (instead of thumbscrews), but this really is a minor complaint. Also, in HP cases, you simply attach four large-headed screws into a hard disk, and they slide into a screwless HDD rack. Lian-Li's system is a bit more cumbersome, since (assuming you've affixed the HDD to the rack using a screw), you have to remove the entire rack.

Overall Review: Love the case. Really makes all my other gear look shabby! I was a little iffy about the cost before I bought this, but not anymore.