Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 | Gadgets, Insights, Linux, Tech-savvy | No Comments
Today I’d like to share a nice project that I stumbled upon: Pi-hole®: A black hole for Internet advertisements.
Basically it is a small DNS proxy that filters DNS queries based on lists of ad and tracker sites.
It’s pretty kewl, as you just set it up once and all your devices on your LAN will benefit from it.
I have been using Pi-hole (default settings/lists on Raspbian Strech) for a couple of days now without problems and a noticeable better internet browsing experience.
Give it a try and put your old Raspberry to some use!
Saturday, July 1st, 2017 | Gadgets, Language, Linux, Tech-savvy | No Comments
Maybe for podcasting, maybe streaming, maybe recording of music.
First thing that came to my mind was reading a small story for my daughter. So I plugged in the mic – which was the first “challenge”. Sometimes “pro” audio devices only work with Mac and Windoze machines, but the Røde NT-USB just worked out of the box (Linux, Fedora 25). After that I launched Audacity, saw the rec level was a bit weak, maxed out the input using the audio settings and hit record. From my POV the result was awesome. So I just kept on reading the story, only using the Audacity compressor plug-in (default settings) afterwards. Then I added a small intro/outro acoustic guitar jingle. That’s it. No-frills recording with very nice results.
Thanks Røde, you made my day 🙂
Here is the result (a 96k cbr mono mp3 mixdown). Sorry, German only 🙂 Remember, this is a one take and I have no experience doing lectures – so don’t expect too much.
Eine Meerjungfrau im Schwimmbad (Maren von Klitzing)
Der Kater mit den goldenen Pfoten (Käthe Recheis)
Source: Märchen und Kindergeschichten
I saw this random add on Facebook, some 5 piece Star Wars canvas depicting Lord Vader. Loved it. Honestly, I love personalized ads, as they show me stuff I really like.
This time I fell for a fraud. It seemed legit, I guess, there was PayPal to pay, free worldwide shipping (this should have rung a bell already) and 32.99 USD seemed a good deal.
Bought and paid October 1st.
Contacted seller November 6th.
Hi there, I am still waiting for my “STARWARS 5 PIECE CANVAS LIMITED EDITION”. Purchased at first of October.
Is there anything wrong?
Never got a reply.
Double checked the website November 16th.
Okay, seems I was to naive to trust in this bargain. Contacted PayPal, hope I will get my money back.
So, please, if the offer looks the least dodgy think twice. It can happen, even to old online veterans. When in doubt use a service like PayPal who might give you another layer of buyer protection.
Thursday, September 29th, 2016 | Gadgets, Insights, Tech-savvy | No Comments
I cannot write about this topic any more, so I let my HDMI cable tell the story.
Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 | Gadgets, Insights, Tech-savvy | 5 Comments
So Sony did not manage to solve the PS4 sounding like a hair dryer issue. I had to take it into my own hands and it became sort of like a personal crusade.
Break your warranty. Replace the thermal paste. Hate Sony.
Kill the noise – €10
My first idea was to simply buy some acoustic foam and kill the noise. As this foam works best with high frequencies I thought it might work. I put some foam in my TV stand, made sure enough air would be supplied and fired up the machine. It took maybe 20 minutes for the jet engine to set off. Even though the stand is permanently open in the back and has air vents on top it heated up and got noisier than ever. I took out piece by piece of the foam to no avail.
More air – €2
More cooling – €30
The last frontier – breaking the warranty and replacing thermal paste. – €20
Sony, I hated you so much already that I dared to open the box and break my warranty. You were not able to fix this multiple times, so I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the warranty anymore. I bought myself Arctic Silver 5 with some paste remover and surface polisher. I also got some new cooling pads. It turned out to be a good idea.
As you can see the thermal paste looks completely wasted. Not evenly spread, bubbles of locked-in air, dry. I am not a hardware pro but this looks pretty bad to me. Also, the cooling pads were rather small, also dry and put in place in a very inaccurate way. I fixed that as well.
After replacing the thermal paste and cooling pads the machine was running almost without any noticeable noise. It takes maybe 20 minutes for the fan to speed up to a level where I can hear it, but it is much more silent now. Tried to put the machine back into my TV stand, but that did not work, it still overheats in there. So now the PS4 is sitting below my TV stand, elevated with felt pads, cooled by a giant heatsink and its warranty broken for the final fix, good thermal paste.
I spent over €50 and quite some time to get to this point. Again, I cannot emphasis how disappointed I am with Sony and its customer care. Case closed.
Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Gadgets, Reviews, Tech-savvy | 2 Comments
The is an ongoing blog post as the issue is still not solved. I will update it from time to time to reflect the current status.
I was lucky to get a Sony Playstation 4 quite early as a present. It was the PS4 Triple Pack with Killzone Shadow Fall, inFAMOUS Second Son and Knack bundled for almost €500. So basically a pretty expensive toy that should give you a nice home entertainment experience. Well, it did not work out as expected.
As soon as I fired the machine up and installed the first update and games I realized the machine was pretty effin’ loud. Well, I had set it up inside my media cabinet (that has its back open for sufficient air flow). Nevertheless, I feared the machine to get airborne at some point so I decided to just put it on the floor next to my TV, with no surrounding parts at all. It did not solve the problem, still the fans were blowing extremely noisily (that’s subjective, I know).
The first replacement – September 8th
Looking into this issue I found quite a few complaints about the PS4’s noise level. I read rumors of insufficient thermal heat-sink paste used by Sony and people opening their boxes to fix this. Well, this would void my warranty and seemed not a good idea. So I decided to contact the Sony support. It was pretty much no hassle at all, contacted Sony, had to fill out a form, send in the box and after like a fortnight the replacement unit arrived.
I was so happy I got my PS4 back, all fixed and silent. Hooked up the box, powered it up and installed Trine 2 demo for a test run. As soon as the game started the fans once again sounded like I was mining bitcoins with my machine. The game in question is three years old and should not even itch the PS4. I was so angry and disappointed I can hardly describe it. First, I got a machine that had the exact same problem as the old one and second, I especially asked not to have the same experience as that poor forum guy who said he got 8 (!!) replacement units before the noise was bearable. No one gave a rat’s ass about my nice mail, just opened a case and send a refurbished PS4 to my door with the same issues. Sony, as your customer I already felt treated pretty inappropriately at this point.
To have a little more objective point of view I measured the noise of my running PS3 (first generation as well) and compared it to my running PS4 using an app called Sound Meter. This may not be the most accurate method, but it seemed feasible and the result is conclusive. The PS3 was running at ~60dB and the PS4 at ~70dB – which is roughly twice as loud as the PS3. I measured these numbers approx 10cm behind the machines. 60dB can be compared to a normal conversation and 70dB to busy street noise or a telephone ringing.
I complained again and got the same standard email asking for my name and such (heeeellllooo, you should already have that intel). The only thing new was a threatening sentence that I would be charged €196 in case my warranty was void. Weird. Irritating. A very bad customer’s experience. I am happy there are still no games out I really want to play so sending in the device again is just a pain, not a disaster.
The second replacement – September 30th
Today the second replacement arrived. It still has the faulty behavior. I am sooo disappointed with the PS4 and Sony in general. Fuck, I don’t know what to do any more. Right now I feel exhausted and let down, I just don’t want to keep on sending in devices. Seems I just have to live with this and tell all my friends to go Xbox.
As a customer I think this is absolutely unacceptable. Imagine buying a car with a faulty engine, you complain and get another car with the same problem. You complain again and yet get another faulty car. With the same error. Unthinkable. Case closed, but not solved. It’s absolutely sickening.
I give up – October 7th
I can’t stand to have this noisy device that always reminds me of my miserable Sony customer experience. I will try to exchange it and get a refund. There are no games yet that I want to play right now anyway. Maybe I will go SteamBox as soon as it is available. Oh no, wait, mind the early adopter’s punishment fee!
The third replacement – December 2nd
I tried to get my money back but the retailer said they know the problem and every box they sent in so far got repaired successfully. Well, I waitet a boasting 5 weeks to get my device back and the result made me cry. They keep on sending effed up systems that in no way are acceptable for a living room environment. See for yourself:
So now, I really give up. I cannot stand going back and forth with Sony. I will keep the device, play games with headphones or crank up the game’s volume to a degree where I cannot hear the fans any more. End of story, I guess, maybe until a new hardware revision will come out.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Activities, Gadgets, Photography, Sites | No Comments
I have recently upgraded my camping gear, so did a friend of mine, and now it’s pretty much winter proof (no more freezing while sleeping at Freak Valley‘s windy camp site!). We both wanted to test drive our stuff in the wild, so we figured a night’s out around the freezing point should do the trick. Weather forecast said it was gonna be dry with the lowest temperature around nill. Perfect!
The site was nice, mossy ground yet slightly slopy and the highway is in pretty close proximity which resulted in faint constant noise. Nevertheless the trip was awesome, we had clear skies and a few beers in the wild. I guess this wasn’t the last time, even though the occasional Brokeback Mountain jokes were on us in the office the next day. Ahh, sweet envy 😛
Thursday, November 7th, 2013 | Gadgets, Insights, Misc, Tech-savvy | No Comments
One would think that hooking up a device to a TV using a HDMI cable would automagically result in a perfect picture. Digital, 1080p full HD, state of the art, out-of-the-box. That’s not true. I recently encountered shitty display quality problems that originated from a faulty HDMI setup.
First, the problem: sometimes black was more like a gray matter, sometimes dark details simply vanished into sludge. I did hate my telly so much for its shitty display quality that I sold it for a few dimes and got myself a new one. But guess what, the problem persisted…
After more investigation on the matter I came across the fact, that there are different colour ranges in different HDMI standards and one handles the range from e.g. black to white from 0 to 255, the other from 16 to 235. This made me think. In case I had a mismatch of these standards, and let’s say my media player sends a lot of dark gray values that range from 0 to 16 and the receiver simply omits all these information and starts with pure black at 16, it’s natural my dark details got lost. Or, the other way around, my media player starts at 16 with pure black while my telly thinks that 16 already is a dark gray, as it starts with black being 0.
So, sending full range and displaying limited range will result in dark areas that are to light and light areas that are to dark.
Sending limited range and displaying full range will underexpose blacks and overexpose whites.
Here is an example (I simply altered the source and target colour ranges with Gimp):
The differences may seem subtle (or YOUR display isn’t properly calibrated), but believe me, I love to crawl in dark dungeons on my PS3 or watch horror flicks that make heavy use of the darker parts of the colour palette. My telly looked like the picture to the right all the time and it drove me to sell it for “bad black levels” (just compare the tree’s trunk in the pictures and you will see the difference). Silly me. A perfect gradient illustrates the problem even more:
Now, that I have my systems set up right I enjoy using it so much more than before. So, give setting up your expensive home cinema a try, it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of bucks on the equip and not setting it up properly.
As far as I understand the problem, as long as you have the sending and the receiving device configured the same you are good to go.
One last thought: I hate all the fancy tech shit becoming more and more “easy” to set up yet the problems that come along constantly increase. I never experienced problems with an old VCR or a Super Nintendo – that’s what I call “plug’n’play” 🙂 To set up a modern home entertainment system you need to really dig into it to do it right. Maybe I should look at it from a Dark Souls perspective. It’s a pain in the arse, but as soon as you’re done it’s very very rewarding.
Sunday, December 30th, 2012 | Gadgets, Tech-savvy | 1 Comment
My e-drum set-up took me a day (@see previous post). The (preliminary) guitar set-up less than 5 minutes. I simply had to whrock fast.
Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Gadgets, Photography, Tech-savvy | No Comments
When I am not busy working my immaterial day-job I like to fiddle with handicrafts. This time I wanted to build a platform that decouples my new e-drum set from the concrete floor for reasons of noise reduction and neighbour amity. First, it was just plywood elevated by layers of bubble wrap, but then I fancied some power outlets and light. I am pretty happy with the looks of the outcome, even though I guess it’s not significantly less noisy 😎
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