During Black Friday and CyberMonday 2020, I didn’t find any great tech deals at Newegg. Not that they had any of the newest CPUs and GPUs launched in the last three months in stock. But I did find an old school tech deal at Amazon: a 3-for-2 deal on doorstoppers. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, many programming books were so thick that they could stop a door.
Here are the three “doorstoppers” I bought from Amazon last month.
Four months before the pandemic shutdown, I started working from home. Which meant I missed the first coronavirus case that came through the office. My work from home desk for the past year was a pair of printer tables in the corner of my dining room. I recently replaced one of the printer stands with a $75 mobile standing desk from Amazon. I’ll talk about the standing desk, the set up for my work laptop, and my first week standing while working.
This week Apple announced their new MacBook Air, Mac mini and MacBook Pro. Equipped with the new ARM-based Apple Silicon chip to replace the Intel chips. Apple Silicon will let developers create universal apps to run on iPads, iPhones, and Macs. That sounded promising until I heard the name of the new chip—the M1. That’s unfortunate. The M1 by Cyrix was an Intel chip replacement for the Socket 7 motherboard in 1996. The compatibility and performance issues were so bad that it sucked donkey balls. Will the Apple Silicon M1 be the next Cyrix M1?
Henry Cavill, who plays Superman in Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman and Justice League, and The Witcher on Netflix, posted a video on his Instagram account of him building a gaming PC. The video opens with all the parts sitting on a table. Unfortunately, the product names for all the parts were blurred out. Making it difficult to determine which parts were used in this PC build. A PC build video is incomplete without a parts list (see below). In my video, I identified the various parts in a montage.
AMD announced two weeks ago that their forthcoming B550 mainboards will work with the current Ryzen 3000 processors and the future Ryzen 4000 processors, and the Ryzen 4000 processors will work only on the 500-series mainboards.
For users of the Ryzen 3000 processor and/or the X570 mainboard, the future looks bright — if AMD continues the AM4 platform beyond 2020. The existing roadmap started in 2017 and ends this year. AMD haven’t revealed their roadmap for 2021 and beyond.
For users of the Ryzen 1000/2000 processor and/or the 300/400-series mainboard, the future looks dark. Older processor won’t run on the newer mainboards, newer processors won’t run on the older mainboards. Users are crying foul that their recent purchases are now semi-obsolete.
AMD stated that they were breaking platform compatibility because the ROM chip for the BIOS on older mainboards was too small to contain the microcode for multiple generations of processors. Without the microcode in the BIOS, the mainboard won’t recognize the processor to boot the system.
Enthusiasts — a small but very vocal user base — called BS on that specious rationalization. BIOS fragmentation began last year when the Ryzen 3000 BIOS update needed space on the now too small ROM chip. It didn’t help that AMD recommended the 400-series mainboard to users who couldn’t afford the more expensive X570 mainboard, and everyone expected to drop in a Ryzen 4000 processor when they become available later this year.
AMD backed off their initial statement and offered limited BIOS support for the Ryzen 4000 processors on the 400-series mainboard. A default BIOS that supports the existing Ryzen 1000/2000/3000 processors, and an optional “beta” BIOS that supports Ryzen 3000 and beyond (the catch being unable to downgrade the BIOS for an older processor). Not surprisingly, the 300-series mainboard won’t be getting the Ryzen 4000 BIOS update.
For those of us who went through the BIOS woes for the Athlon 200GE and 3000G last year, the Ryzen 4000 processors will probably offer the same pain to an entirely new audience that haven’t dealt with it before.
Every five years I rebuild my FreeNAS file server by replacing old hardware with new hardware. One component that I always toss out after running 24/7 for five years is the case fans. For the 2015 rebuild, I had Deepcool 120mm fans in front, NZXT 120mm fans in back and bottom, and a pair of Apevia 140mm fans at top. There’s nothing special about these fans except for the bottom fan, where air circulation is needed to avoid overheating the hard drives. The regular 120mm fan was 25mm thick and blocked the bottom drive bay. Not a problem when I only had six hard drives. For the 2020 rebuild, I added two new hard drives and needed all eight drive bays. How can I have a fan and a hard drive occupy the same space at the same time?
I’ve gotten email notifications from my FreeNAS file server that my APC ES-725 UPS has a “low battery” condition. The 12-volt battery inside the UPS was no longer outputting a constant 12 volts to provide backup power during an outage. When that happened three years ago, I ignored the emails for several months. One day the UPS stopped working and started whistling loudly. I had no choice but to unplug the UPS to stop the whistling. My choices then was the same as now: replace the battery or the entire UPS. Most of the time, it’s cheaper to replace the battery.