Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Is A Hexaputer Not A Hexaputer?

When it is a Pentaputer!

The electricity here is, to be kind, capricious.  A few weeks ago, I came home to discover the power had been out.  I turned my computer on, only to be greeted by a message indicating that 5 cores had been activated.

My first response was WTF?

My second thought was "Well, this just happened out of the blue, so maybe it will magically unhappen".  

That turned out to be wishful thinking.  Subsequent reboots displayed the same message.

My next thought was that perhaps by overclocking my AMD 1100T to 3.8 GHz I'd fried one of the cores.  It has been hot here.  I tried turning the multiplier (and thus the clock speed) down.....nope....still only 5 cores active.  So I set it back to 3.8GHz and thought about what to do next.

Since I built this system myself, my next thought was "That's a cheap CPU, I'll buy a new one."  Good luck with that.  Hen's teeth seem to be more abundant.

Then I discovered that the ASUS motherboard I use can, in some circumstances, rather whimsically decide to turn a core off.  Digging deeper into the BIOS I discovered that, indeed, one of the cores (core 3 actually) was off.

So I turned it back on, and rebooted......and....The Hexaputer LIVES.....OK, it wasn't quite that dramatic, but so far it seems to be holding up.

A little more research suggested that core unlocking and auto CPU activation were a bad combination for the 1100T.  It doesn't have any cores to unlock, so I turned that feature off and switched core activation to manual, all on.  We'll see how that holds up.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not looking forward to Windows 8.  When Vista came out, and I had a chance to see it in action, I declared this a 'Vista Free Zone'.  I've grown rather fond of Windows 7, it mostly behaves and generally doesn't annoy me, and though the interface was different from XP, it wasn't that big a difference.  Microsoft seems, lately, to be really into gratuitous interface changes and determined to cutoff backward compatibility.

So far, I think I'll wait for the ganja smoke to clear, folks to sober up and return to their senses, and maybe Windows 9.

The next post will talk about those two droids I've been looking for.....I'll introduce you to G-7JB and S3A4.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Google Nexus 7

Remember the slogan "I'd walk a mile for a Camel"?

I walked about 10 miles for a pack of 20 Marlborough cigarettes once.  All downhill.  Long story.  I was 14, trapped in a remote campground with my parents (this was no KOA, there was no store nearby), and my brother kept insisting he'd seen a store, 'probably just around this next corner'.  At least we were able to hitch a ride back up the hill.  And yes, I got my smokes.

Recently, I went looking for a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  There were none to be had in Halifax, so I decided to drive to New Glasgow.  By the time I got there they were sold out.  The Staples across the street didn't have any either, but they told me the Staples in the next town up the road (Antigonish) had 6.  After confirming one had been set aside for me, I hit the road once more (in for a penny).

The net result is I got my Nexus 7.  The evidence (i.e. my odometer) suggests I'd drive 452 km for a Google Nexus 7.  Yep.  It was quite the evening.

So far, I quite like it.  I've got a few free apps, and a couple low cost paid ones.  Claiming the Google Play credit was fairly simple.  I had to enter the credit card info via the tablet.  I'd entered the same card via a browser earlier, but that was insufficient.  Re-adding the same credit card had no ill effects and shook loose the $25 credit.  No problemo.

Accessories are in short supply.  For the moment I've got the Targus 7" generic case.  This has bands for the corners (which I'm not crazy about) but they're re-enforced to make them stiff, so the elastic doesn't press the power button on the upper right side. It is much better than nothing.

The only problem I've experienced to date is a line down the middle of the camera.  It wasn't there to start with, and so far shows no signs of going away.  It doesn't interfer with the face unlock functionality, and it isn't urgent, but I'll probably send it off to get it fixed at some point.

I haven't rooted this one.  Maybe I'll buy a second one and root it.  We'll see. 

I've downloaded the Android SDK at home and started playing with that.  Not too hard to get it going and the online tutorials are pretty good.

This is my first foray into the tablet world.  I didn't have a wireless router here, so I bought one of those at the same time.  Staples had the DLink DIR-825 on for $79, so I bought one of those.  It is dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) but the Nexus 7 only recognizes the 2.4GHz band.  So far, it too is working well.

I have a lot more testing to do with it, including using Skype.  More later.