Enter the SSD — Speed Redefined

x25m.jpg

Last year, I told a friend that I would buy a SSD (Solid state drive – a new form of hard disk running on memory chips instead of disk platters) around mid-2009.

3 weeks ago, I did just that – but only remembered telling my friend this after purchasing my Intel X25-M SSD. So my prediction did came true (I swear I did not buy the SSD on purpose just to prove myself right!).

After receiving my Intel X25-M 160GB SSD, I hopped around like a happy geek at my office. OK.. that did not happen. But I was all excited even though I blew my last pay cheque on a mere 160GB hard disk – it cost me around 700 USD (2550 Malaysian Ringgit to be precise).

So why on earth did I blow such a huge amount of cash on this thing called the SSD? Let’s do a reality check, shall we?

According to Newegg.com,

the 160GB Intel X25-M SSD cost $619 USD

whereas the Seagate Momentus 7200RPM 2.5″ SATA is $129.99 USD

Holy f–k! Now if my math skillz still prove to be strong, what I paid for actually equates to 2 freaking TERABYTE (2000GB) of hard disk space. So why on earth did I pay the same price for only 160GB?

Folks, an SSD is no child’s play. Ask any pro’s about SSD’s, what comes to mind are two things – SPEED and RELIABILITY.

The SPEED is intense, when I say that 90% of the applications on my MacBook Pro launch instantly when I click on them, I ain’t bullshitting. Even Adobe Photoshop CS4 launches in 3 seconds, that gives you an idea how fast SSD’s are.

The way I explain the speed to my dad is: “It’s like upgrading from a scooter to a f–king bimmer!”

My VMware Fusion’s Windows XP virtual machine is now just like an app. A fresh boot’s resume is just 2 seconds, then the consequent resumes are so fast that the progress bar had no chance to appear.

All that speed, do I really need that? To most people, the price tag is just too hard to swallow and I won’t blame you, I hesitated many times before finally joining the SSD club. But let me tell you, once you go SSD – you’ll never want to use a traditional hard disk anymore.

The reliability of SSD’s is a plus point, as they run on memory chips and there are no moving parts at all. As my boss puts it: “you can now throw your laptop around with no worries”. Btw, he has two OCZ Vertex SSDs, one for his Sony Vaio Z and another one for his MacBook Pro.

Now, if I get you all excited bout SSD’s – read on.

Not all SSD’s are made equal. I have done my research for a few weeks and I have concluded that (Multi-level cell) SSD’s are ranked like this:

1) Intel X25-M (good all round performance, seems to hit top speed in almost every situations, very high IOFlops compared to competing drives, but much higher priced)

2) Samsung P128/256 , Corsair P128/256, OCZ Summit (these three are using samsung controllers, seems to have speed in between Intel and the Indilinx drives, but seems to suffer major in performance degradation but I believe this will be solved in future firmware updates)

3) OCZ Vertex (Indilinx controller, seems to be a winner in file copy tests – but falls when performing at random 4K blocks, however this is still a very good drive)

DO NOT BUY JMicron controller drives (i.e. OCZ Apex), they are utter crap. End of story.

If you have any questions regarding SSDs, don’t hesitate to post a comment here. I hope you find my post informative ;)

uTorrent 1.9 alpha, the Saviour of Thottling ISP Users

utorrent1.9.jpg

uTorrent never failed to impress me. It is by far the best BitTorrent application out there, and version 1.9 alpha has introduced something called uTP (TORRENTS ON STEROIDS UDP!1!1!!). Geeks should know what UDP and TCP mean, all I can say is, I think ISP throttles BT by doing packet inspection (DEFINITELY NOT tracker blocking as suggested by a friend of mine). UDP packets are probably impossible(?) to inspect at the moment, but who knows.

Anyway, let me try to explain in layman terms. It’s like imagine you yourself is one of the many millions or billions of packets and you are walking thru the “danger sensor” like those in the airports. The gun on you is like the signature (TCP) that tells the sensor you’re dangerous and belongs to the mafia (BitTorrent). GEDDIT? So now in this case, shit loads of mafia members packing guns can flow into the country because they have found a way to avoid being detected (uTorrent 1.9 alpha).

Ok that’s all for my lame layman story, now go download it from:

http://forum.utorrent.com/viewtopic.php?id=49813

And of course have fun.

P/S: The censored part in the screenshot has nothing to do with pornography.
PP/S: You might have noticed I’m running it virtualized, that’s right bro that’s how good it is till I had to run it in VMware.

PPP/S: If you’re wondering why I’m all excited over a mere 100k/s ‘cos that’s the shitty speed I get in a 3rd world country internet. Throttled speeds are like 10k/s and it will probably take 2 weeks to finish downloading something.

Pirate speak is now officially on Facebook!

fbpirate

ROFL! Best language evar!

Windows 7 Public Beta First Impressions

People call me a Mac fanboy, but deep down inside I still want Windows to be a great OS one day. Maybe the time has come. I went to download the public beta and installed it on my desktop. The boot time was decent, but not as quick as I thought. On my first boot, I was greeted by a fishy wallpaper:

capture

What’s with the eye-pleasing fishy wallpaper? Has Microsoft turned to feng shui this time round? Maybe it did work.

I was surprised my wireless driver wasn’t installed, this may prove troublesome to people who have no access to a dual boot installation or another PC to download the necessary drivers, or perhaps a network that allows LAN access.

Sound driver not detected as well, but that’s fine given that not many people own a Razer Barracuda AC-1. I mean, Ubuntu didn’t detect the driver anyway – and it didn’t support my audio at all the last time I tried looking for the driver (Ubuntu fans, start flaming).

After installing my wireless driver, I was pleasantly surprised that the interface for connecting to a wifi is simple just like the one on Mac’s. I don’t remember this was the case for Vista, but then again I use Vista maybe once every full moon. My only Vista installation is in my MacBook Pro that I only boot when some LAN gaming is needed.

wireless

Let me know if you see a similar list of wireless networks, maybe we can have dinner sometime.

Another thing I discovered about Windows 7 is the ability to easily do split screen for 2 different windows. I just have to move a window to the left corner and wha-la, it resizes itself to exactly half of the screen. And if you want it to occupy the whole screen and is to lazy to click on the Maximize button, you can drag it upwards and it’ll do the trick.

halfscreen

And if you haven’t noticed yet, that’s right, now the taskbar has the resemblance of a MacOS X dock. It now revolves all around icons, I love it very much. Hover over one icon and it’ll show you the windows that belong to the application. Microsoft has seriously taken usability into interface design – and not hideous “eye candy”. Kudos.

dock

Overall, I gotta say I like Windows 7 much more than Vista. In fact, this post is written live from Windows 7.

On the other hand, Vista gave me terrible first (and last) impressions, it made me want to delete it after using for a few hours and I have done this a few times even with Service Pack 1.

Have you tried Windows 7 yet? Would you?

Resize Your Boot Camp Partition in a Few Steps

As the release dates for games like Red Alert 3, Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 are nearing, I saw the urgent need to increase my boot camp partition which holds my Vista 64-bit installation.

Normally, people would need to destroy their current Windows partition and then make a fresh new installation after using Boot Camp assistant to make a new bigger partition.

However, being lazy as usual (one of my lecturers used to say “lazy is good engineering!”), I did a lil research into resizing my boot camp partition easily without much hassle.

The easiest way is to spend 25 pounds and get iPartition and let the app do the resizing for you. But, what about a more affordable way of doing it?

Enter the Winclone method. Winclone is basically just an app that makes an image of your current boot camp partition and saves it as a file that can be restored later on to a different partition. Below are the few steps you need to resize your boot camp partition using this way:

1) Download Winclone (free, donation can be made for appreciation)

winclone 1.jpg

2) Use Winclone to make an image of your boot camp, save it somewhere (i.e. Desktop or an external drive if space is an issue)

3) Launch Boot Camp assistant and restore your hard disk to its original state that has no boot camp partitions

4) Launch Boot Camp assistant again but now let it help you make a new larger (or smaller) boot camp partition

winclone 2.jpg

5) Now, use Winclone to restore the image you’ve made to the new boot camp partition

6) Done! Restart into Windows and check if all is well

That’s it, you’ve successfully resized your boot camp partition without having to destroy your Windows installation. Till the next tech tip! ;)

Feel free to post any questions or comments.

Solution to Windows Vista’s Wireless Spikes

So I have been toying around with Vista 64-bit on my new MacBook Pro. Using it mainly for weekend LAN parties. But one thing that annoys me the most about Vista is that it tends to have a lag spike every minute or so. My hero in DotA was literally doing a break dance every minute.

Having done a lil bit of research into this matter, I have finally found a solution. A lil app called WLAN Optimizer has solved my problem. What it basically does is disable Vista’s periodical (every 60 seconds to be precise) wireless network scan that was causing the lag spikes.

I recommend that you have this app running in the background and have it run automatically on startup if you use Vista for online gaming. Good luck and may the latency be with you.

Download WLAN Optimizer

So… How Good Is The New MacBook Pro?

Apple - MacBook Pro.jpg

Really, really good.

For the first time my palms sweat not because of the heat, but the excitement and the intense feeling of using this sexy beast.

One of the major differences between this and my old 1st gen MBP is the display. It’s now LED back lit, which means much brighter display. I also noticed that the colors are more… colorful? They don’t look pale and half-dead like my old MBP’s display. I suspect the display is not using a TN panel, but rather a MVA or PVA panel (TN panels are usually the cheapest panels, 22″ LCD screens that are priced around 250 AUD uses this kind of panel).

Two graphics cards. Yes, TWO! But why you ask? First, I very much welcome Apple’s decision to use Nvidia’s platform for their MacBooks. Nvidia’s chipset is a lil unconventional, in the sense that it’s kind of like a hybrid chipset that has a GPU (or rather graphics processor) in there as well. The good thing is, you can switch between the integrated 9600M GT GPU and the 9400M GPU. If you’re just surfing the web, doing emails, or rather flirting with your fling, then 9400M is the way to go. It gives you an extra 45mins to 1 hour of battery life when not plugged into the charger. Also, another thing I noticed is, it runs much cooler too (could just be a placebo effect, lol).

I expect Apple to harnest the power of the other unused GPU in the next Mac OS, Snow Leopard where the technology called OpenCL will come to play. OpenCL is pretty much like CUDA where it allows programs to harnest the processing power of the GPU to do “number crunching”. So basically, the GPU is like an extra “processor”. I read that there’s this security research company that used CUDA to decrypt wireless passwords. They claimed that using CUDA sped up the process by 100 times. Now, that’s impressive.

Another thing is Hybrid SLI. Those of you hardcore gamers out there should know what SLI or Crossfire is. It basically allows you to combine 2 or more graphics cards to pump up more Crysis FPS. Hybrid SLI is just the same, but it combines both the integrated GPU (such as the 9400M) and the dedicated GPU (9600M GT). Right now, Apple doesn’t support this but it might come as a firmware or software update in the near future. Fingers crossed!

Chiclet keyboard. Mmm, I love it. It makes typing much more enjoyable.

Magnetic latch? F**k yeah! Cool factor++ (Hi Vince)

All ports moved to the left side. Good, now I can plug in all my peripherals and none of the cables will interfere with my mouse whenever I’m gaming (At one point I was actually looking for a 90 degree angle firewire 400 cable, lol).

No FW400 port? Damn, spent 16 bucks to buy a 6 to 9 pin cable.

MiniDisplay port? F**K! 50 bucks to get the god damn cable that allows me to use external display, and 150 bucks for a cable that lets me use a 30 inch or larger display if I plan to do so. No good!

No Toslink support anymore. Boo, no optical connection to my z-5500. But iPhone 3G headset support is pretty cool, now both the mic and headphones can be used without splitting into 2 separate ports.

Speaker holes are INCREDIBLY SMALL. No seriously, you will believe me when you look at the real thing. I guess it helps to prevent bits of food or junk to fall inside the laptop.

And finally… Prices for MacBooks increased by like 300 bucks for Aussie stores? WTF? And I thought I was gonna get a bargain by using my Malaysian credit card… :P

What do you guys think of the new MacBooks?

P/S: Oh btw, I’m currently looking for a job here down under. Hit me up if you know someone hiring for IT. ;)