Tag Archives: hardware

Media centre saga continues

SAMSUNG SSDAfter much chasing, the saga of my media centre PC continues. SSD failure. Who thought that happened, ever? Well… I know it happens, theoretically. I just never thought it’d happen to me. Wonderful as these devices are I guess they’re not necessarily as durable as I thought, despite the lack of moving parts.

I have been distinctly unimpressed by Tranquil PC’s response times; despite promising to return the machine within 10 working days, they’ve had it for the best part of three weeks and I’ve had to write to the company MD to get an update on where it is. I know how long it takes to swap out a drive… so not sure what they’re doing with it.

The failure is going to prompt me to accelerate my "personal cloud" strategy and choose one of the cloud providers out there to mirror my filing system. Dropbox is too expensive for the volume of data I have (50GB music, 40GB pictures, 2GB docs etc), but given that most of that data lived on the secondary SATA drive (which I’m hoping is intact) – with luck I won’t have lost anything too substantial.

What I will invariably have to do is go through the unique displeasure of reconfiguring a Windows install from scratch, including setting up the fiddly and frustrating Windows Media Centre software to receive HD, something that took a not insignificant amount of fiddly hackery to begin with. Google Chrome being the hub of a lot of what I do, and the fact it syncs stuff, will make it marginally easier, but there are other bits and pieces that need sorting too.

Family technical support

I’ve had a few tasks since being here, including:

1. Rebuilding an old PC (I love the speed of a fresh XP install in the morning)
2. Retrieving data off a failed hard drive
3. Sorting out the wireless networking on the new FiOS net connection they have here
4. Sorting out a networking solution for my Dad’s Skype enabled Panasonic Viera TV
5. Setting up the new Logitech HD camera and Vid we got my Dad for his birthday (they’re a client but I paid full – well, Amazon – price for a matched pair) so they can talk to their grandchild in HD when we’re back in the UK. I’d use Skype but their HD certification is not very well entrenched with the manufacturers yet.
6. Setting up for remote access etc., so I can help them when things go wrong when I’m not here
7. Patching the hell out of all their software (thank you FileHippo)

It’s all gone fairly smoothly. Two points to note – first, PC Expos absolutely SUCK in Malaysia. Rammed full of people, the one way system forces you to plough your way through a massive crowd for limited satisfaction. Incredibly badly designed thoroughfare that I’m sure violated every fire and health and safety regulation there is – if such things were enforced in Malaysia.

Second, Powerlink networking really is the absolute simplest way of getting a big house online! I actually bought the kit to connect the Viera TV, which didn’t come with built in wireless and requires a Netgear wireless adapter that no-one here stocks, but it could just as easily have been used as a range extender on a Wifi network (with a second AP) etc. Impressively simple stuff from the nice people at TP-Link, who I’d not heard of a few weeks ago but now seem well entrenched, both in the UK and here, as the budget networking solution of choice. With Linksys going Cisco-upmarket and 3Com doing the HP thing, I guess a few people had to take advantage at this end of the market.

Anyway, hopefully I’m done with fixing things (just need to figure out how to configure Viera-Skype), and can continue to focus on baby, family, my lovely wife and get started with the writing. And the fitness training. Crikey, I’m trying to fit a lot in!