Home Theatre PC

Following an post from Jeff Atwood about his Home Theatre PC, I decided to look up the current prices of the mentioned components. Or at least the price I would have to pay, if I would like to update my, how to put it… ancient HTPC.

The old lady I call HTPC is a somewhat oldish Acer Aspire Idea 500 (no chance to find a link on the Acer pages, though) with a stunning amount of one gigabyte of Ram and an Intel Core Duo with 1666 Mhz.

This beast of a machine was state of the art when I bought it (that’s a lie) and fitted very well in my setup at the time I bought it. I could hook it up to my TV and my Logitech surround system. Everything was good.

But that all changed when the Fire-Nation attac… when the progression of media and bandwith hit in. Today my HTPC struggles with the evermore demanding tasks like Youtube above 480p or watching a stream via Watchever. Not to mention the impossible task to play a game on this thing (notable exception: Blobby Volley ).

Besides the old age of my HTPC there is a more pressing problem with this pc: It still runs Windows XP Sp3 Media Center Edition. Yes, that is a 13 Year old operating system.  Holy Crap. Five years ago the support went in the extended phase, which means from that point on, there were only security patches distributed. Not something you would expect in the household of an IT-Guy..

Anyway, with all these urgent needs to update my system I looked up the price of the Jeff Atwood HTPC (or at least my interpretation of that). And it’s quite cheap!

For around 400€ I could have a fully functioning multimedia PC with considerably more power (considerably as in: everything better) than my current HTPC. Also, in the price of 400€ is a 120Gb SSD included, which is 20Gb more of storage than the HTPC has now. And It would consume less power and probably be more silent than my current machine.

Because of the small footprint of the case and the mini-ITX board I won’t be able to extend the HTPC as easy as a Desktop PC, but that’s the case now too. But it woud fit nicely in our media rack.

So what components did I choose (based on Jeffs post)?

  • Case (Antec ISK 310-150): Would fit perfect in my media rack. A must buy. ~80€
  • MoBo (ASRock,B85M Pro4): Haswell, USB 3, HDMI… nice Choice. ~60 €
  • Ram (Two 4Gb blocks): Yeah. You need RAM. More is better, but 8Gb is enough. ~75€
  • CPU (Intel Core i3-4130): Here is my first different choice. Jeff choosed the energy saving version of this CPU, cause hsi HTPC is alway on. Mine isn’t, therefore I can save some money now (around 10€) and get more power. Which is always better. ~100€
  • SSD (Some 120Gb thingi): The HTPC has to boot fast. Therefore no HDD. Also I do have a network storage, so no need to attach tons of storage to the HTPC. ~75€

And that’s it. Jeff included the aforementioned tons of storage and another engergy saving power adapter. No need to, so we can save that.

The summed up cost for this pc is around 390€. Affordable, I would say. Let the saving begin!

Flashing my Samsung Galaxy SIII

Today I decided to flash my Samsung Galaxy SIII

I couldn’t bear the badly written “improvements” which Samsung generously added to the Android anymore. My last smartphone, a now retired HTC Desire gained much out of the Cyanogen Custom Rom, therefore I gave it a try.

Setup:

I have a Samsung Galaxy SIII (Intl) – i9300 from O2, a german mobilephone provider. My Laptop runs Windows 7 and for guidiance I use the official cyanogen Wiki for my phone.

I’m feeling adventurous today, therefore I’ll try the nightly build

First step: Save your data!

Ok, you could do it the fancy way (Titanium), or just copy all files from the phone via explorer. Remember that some Apps doesn’t save their data to file but in the database. (The only one that mattered to me was Jiffy)

Second: Download stuff

As in the wiki advised, I downloaded the Heimdall Suite 1.4 and the linked ClockwordMod Recovery and because the cyanogen server aren’t the fastest ones, I started to download my CustomRom as well. (Step 1 from the Wiki)

Third: Do scary stuff

And here comes the fun: Shut down the phone (Step 2 from the Wiki) and boot in the download mode. I let the automatic device detection of windows do its work. Afterwards I startded the zadig.exe (Step 3.1). For the records, my phone was called “Gadget Serial”

Screenshot of zadig.exe

I copied the downloaded Recovery File as mentioned in Step 4 and proceeded with Step 5.

My working commandline was

It’s worth to mention, that the wiki points out NOT to use an USB-Hub, but to connect your phone directly. I didn’t read that part…

Other than that, no problems with the following steps.

Fourth:

Luckily I had the adb tool already on my pc, so my adb push wasn’t a pain in the ass.

I added the Google Apps as well.

I followed the “Installing CyanogenMod from recovery” manual and had no problems. But I can’t stress it enough, wipe data/factory reset is realy important!

It went well for me, and in a week or so I’ll write a post about living with cyanogen 10.1

Improve energy consumption with Ubuntu and Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 (sandy bridge-chipset)

Update 2015-03-15: As Antiplex mentioned in the comments, the resources are slighlty out of date. An update is pending

I use my laptop (Lenovo Z370, with Ubuntu 11.10) a lot in the college. Unfortunatly there aren’t enough plugs in the wall for all students and I’m not willing to bring a plug board with me every time. So my approach to the problem was to improve the energy consumption of my laptop. I already had an energy plan with display dimming after two minutes and deactivate bluetooth by default (I don’t have any bluetooth gadget, so why bother).

Continue reading Improve energy consumption with Ubuntu and Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 (sandy bridge-chipset)

Ubuntu 11.10 + Lenovo Ideapad Z370

Two days ago I’ve updated Ubuntu to 11.10 and it worked well.

I started from scratch, so I won’t have to deal with “old” problems:

Here is my setup:

  • Plain vanilla Lenovo Z370
  • Harddrive was replaced by a 60 Gb Sata2 SSD
  • Ubuntu 11.10 (Desktop edition)
  • I installed the IdeaPad Driver Package (get it here) to get rid of a lot of the “Keycode 240”

On the pro side:

  • The sd-card reader works out of the f**king box!
  • The key manager works!
  • Fn + F1 = Suspend to ram!
  • Fn + F2 = Switch the Backlite off
  • Fn + F5 = Switch all wireless connections off
  • Fn + F8 = Activates Num “block”
  • Fn +F9-F12 = Media keys (Play, Stop, Next, Previous) tested in Banshee
  • Fn + Arrow left + Arrow right = Louder and quiter

On the down side:

  • Special keys 1-3 kill the deskop
  • Special keys 4-5 didn’t work
  • Frequently sended “keycode 240” interupts the standby
  • Fn functions:
  • Fn + Esc = Nothing happens (should disable the camera)
  • Fn + F4 = No function (should do …)
  • Fn + F6 = No function (should disable the touchpad)
  • Fn + Arrow Up, Arrow Down (is a little bit buggy) (Should adjust the intensity of the backlite)

Untested:

  • HDMI connection with my 23″ Monitor
  • Fn + F3 = Switch between display modes (for beamer and external displays)

Unconfirmed:

  • The new Ubuntu feels like it uses more energy (which I can’t prove right now)

New task: Get my sd-card reader working…

New task of the day: Get my sd-card reader in my laptop working. My Lenovo IdeaPad is nice and everything but sometimes there are some annoying things. Like a not working sd-card reader. There absolut no reaction on Ubuntu if I insert a sd-card… Maybe, I will find out 🙂

Update:
rmmod ehci_hcd doesn’t work
“echo “usb-storage” >> /etc/modules; modprobe usb-storage” was promising, but doesn’t work either

What do I know? My laptop has a “Realtek Semiconductor Corp.” sd-card reader.
If I insert an sd-card, dmesg will show

Update:

Wohoo, 11.10 fixes this problem! I’m able to use sd-cards! Not that I realy use them, but it’s nice to know, I could

Problems… Weird ones…

I just bought a nice and sleek Asus 23″ Display for my PC. Because of my old Hardware, I’am not able to attach it via HDMI to it. Good for me I’ve had my Lenovo IdeaPad Z370. I’ve attached it to the display and you know what? It works. Just out of the box…

… Until I decided, to change the alignment of the two displays (the Asus and the laptop one). It works fine if the big display is right of the small laptop monitor. If I choose to have the big one left of the small one, I’ve got a weird behaviour: The Asus display won’t show the lower-left part of the screen!

See the two pictures attached for details:

Bildschirmfoto1.png was captured with the external Asus display on the right, Bildschirmfoto2.png with the external Asus Display on the left. The point of disapprovement is the left black part on bildschirmfoto2.png. The black parts on the screenshots are usable for the mouse (the cursor will get rendered) but no window will get rendered. It’s the same behaviour like the black parts on the right side, where in reality is no display (because of the lower resolution on the laptop display)

My guess is, that some of the internals (x? gnome? some fancy abstraction layer?) think that there is no display. But… why?

Technical data:
Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 on 1366 x 768
Display: Asus VS247H 23,6 Inch (connected via HDMI) on 1920 x 1080
OS: Ubuntu 11.04 (Kernel 2.6.38-10)