Category Archives: tech tip

Enter the SSD — Speed Redefined

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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 ;)

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uTorrent 1.9 alpha, the Saviour of Thottling ISP Users

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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.

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

Adium Unofficial Beta Brings Back MSN Personal Messages

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… and also brings back much needed daily dose of emo entertaining messages.

warning: this is an UNOFFICIAL build so if you’re using Adium for really, really important stuff (which I doubt so), don’t use it.

download it from this forum thread (scroll down and find a post by Dimmuxx, 4th post from last) or try this direct link.

credits go to Dimmuxx at Cocoaforge forums

Useful Things You Can Do on Leopard

Let’s face it, when it comes to usability, there are no other OS that could come close to Mac OS X Leopard. Here are three useful things you might not already have known you could do:

1) Use Wikipedia right off Dictionary

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Did you know that Dictionary allows you to browse Wikipedia articles? It renders them with beautiful and eye-pleasing fonts as well.

 

 
2) Search for Menu items from the Help menu

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You gotta admit that when it comes to apps that are complexly huge, sometimes you get lost when you’re trying to find a menu item that you need. Fret no more, you can search for Menu items right off the Help menu!

 

 
3) Do simple Math calculations from Spotlight

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Now you can calculate your taxes right off Spotlight. Simple, easy and effective.

What’s your favourite Leopard feature?

Adding Windows Shared Printers on Mac Using Hidden Advanced Options

Today I’ve discovered two ways to add shared Windows printers using unordinary ways. One is by accessing CUPS thru http://localhost:631 which I won’t explain in detail. Another is by accessing the hidden Advanced options when adding printers.

To access this hidden option, first go to Print & Fax in System Preferences, click the + sign at the bottom left, right click the toolbar right on top and you should see something like this:

printer1.png

Drag the Advanced icon to your toolbar and voila, there you go. Now you can almost any shared printers under the sky using this option. This is extremely useful when your Windows shared printer doesn’t appear when you try adding them.

printer2.png

To add a Windows shared printer, enter smb://IP.Address.Of.PC.Sharing.Printer/PrinterShareName as the URL and make sure Type is Windows.

One thing I note about this is it might take up to 10 seconds for the fields to un-gray so be patient. Got any questions? Feel free to post in comments.

Till the next tech tip, hope you found much use with this one!