Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Rant plus Shutup10


For those of you who use Windows 10, you might want this: ShutUp10.
It's a free app that lets you turn off all those little messages to Redmond just in case they might be spying on you watching pron or something, I don't know.  Apparently everyone is supposed to be doing things with their gadgets that they don't want anyone else to know about.
Yeah right. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE RANT

Frst, I got Netflix here in OZ specially to watch The Expanse. Then they stopped at Series 2.
Okay, so it got canned after series 3 by SYFY in the US who have now sold it to Amazon because it is such a good show and the fans raised such a hullabaloo about it. (Some of them got a plane to fly above SYFY HQ trailing a banner saying "Save the Expanse!"  Yep. )
I still can't get any more Expanse.
Then there is The Orville. Somehow I can't watch it here in Oz AT ALL.
Am I the only person who thinks this is absolute Bullshit? We live in a world where content can be purchased online for a few bucks, but somehow the few shows I actually want to watch ARE NOT AVAILABLE HERE. Instead we get SHIT like Star Trek Discovery, which I have not watched, but thanks to DOOMCOCK I know enough not to waste my time on.

Yeeessss, I could muck aroun and use a VPN service to illegally spoof my location and watch American TV directly - but WHY SHOULD I NEED TO DO THIS?
 I am prepared to PAY for these shows, it is not as if there is some terrible shortage of bandwidth that would prevent these shows from being shown here . . .  no, this is nothing more  than stupid.
NOT ONE of the streaming services here - Netflix, Stan, Fox(?) Amazon Prime - even mention either of these shows apart from Neflix still posting those same two serieses that I have already seen.  
 There is no extreme violence or pornography in these shows - nothin that censorship rules might consider dangerous . . . . . oh wait, that could be it . . . . about the only there IS in these shows is perhaps some new, intelligent ideas that might make people THINK while they are being entertained - instead of sport, soap and phoney politics that seems to contain only personal attacks and fearmongering.
PAH!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Windows 10 Software, the Post – Mac Users's Guide

this is not a complete list, it is a work in progress.
All of these work with the current version of Windows 10.
Also, please note that I don't get any money or support from the makers or vendors of the wares shown here.

A good place to look for alternatives to wares you know and like is . . . ..
I can't thank these folks enough. Just fill in the name of whatever you want an alternative software to and pop! There it is. Or to be exact, there they are.

MaComfort 

I've already mentioned this one - it makes multiple desktops work sensibly. 
Even if you never used Mac OSX it would be worth it just to have that feature.
Actually it sometimes doesn't quite work properly - but that is because I use DAZ Studio which takes a lot of computer power just to open a detailed scene. It's also not an essential feature, just a nicety: nothing stops you from having several programs running and switching between them on a single "desktop", after all. That's what CTRL-TAB is for.

Seer

This provides the "Preview" feature that I really can't go without: just pick an image or movie icon, tap he spacebar and there is your picture! 

Listary

This does what Default Folder X did on Mac OSX – namely, remember where you opened that file from and let you go straight back there. The free version of Listary does that and more. To use it, when you go to open or save, click the middle mouse button and pop! There's a menu of everything you just accessed called “recent” along with some other options I haven't even looked at yet.

WindowBlinds

Once or twice, for a brief time before Apple updated their OS again, we had OS skins on Mac, but Apple DID NOT WANT ANYONE TO SKIN THEIR OS so they killed it. Not once but repeatedly.

Over in Windowsville, folks never had that issue: they have Windowblinds and there are hundreds of themes that work with Windows, 7, 8 and 10. All of this cost me a whopping $14 AU and there are lots of free themes, and some that you can buy too, although I am very happy so far with the free ones. You can also edit the colours of any theme to your preference which is very, very useful – and I haven't even dug into all of the features yet. There is also an editor for themes that you can buy for a modest price and make your own.  
This is sooo good! 
MicroSoft doesn't seem to mind either.

This one is called "Aspect":

FolderMarker

This allows you to change a folder icon to a different colour or a whole different icon from the right-click popup menu – and you'll see “Mark Folder”. This doesn't quite go as far as the Mac OS tagging system I went on about in previous posts but it sure helps a lot. The free version works fine but is limited to ten personalised icons. I got the Home Edition for $36 which has more room for icons but even the free version is perfectly usable. It is also a whole lot quicker than changing icons the standard windows way – it's there, but it's four clicks away and then you still have to find the icon and confirm it, twice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finalised performance info for you tech heads out there: I fitted a Noctua NF-A12 fan to the NH-D15S cooler to lower the max temperatures and it seems to have worked by about 5 degrees.
Now, running at 100% load, the Max temp is 75-77c with a max of 45-47 Db of fan noise from the two fans on full. I'm not so worried about the noise since I always have music playing when I am using the computer but it's there for your info.
Adding a second smaller fan to the D15S was the only way to get more air moving and it is a little bit odd since the fan that came with the D15 is a 140mm but the new one is 120 and faster – but nothing bigger would fit in the case due to the RAM height.
 

Performance figures- Blender Tests


Mac Pro
BMW               6:17        377
Classrooom   18:20        1100
Pavilion         20:00       1200

7900x
BMW              3:52        232
Classrooom   11:54        714
Pavilion        13:08        788

7980XE
BMW             2:28       148
Classrooom    7:32       452
Pavilion          9:58       598

So for all three Blender CPU tests, the time has been halved or better. 

 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The New PC

Costings

Original Cost                                                $4659
New Case FT-05B                                          $419
32inch Display                                             $1304
NH-D15S                                                       $141
Corsair HX1000i                                           $326
7980XE CPU                                               $2775
Thermal paste& BDR                                    $145
Samsung 2TB SSD                                        $890
PCIE Wifi Card                                               $79
NH-D9L                                                          $89 (for GPU, not yet fitted)
Slimline DVD Writer                                      $99
Windows 10                                                  $199

Total                                                          $10926

Recovered costs:
Sale of Mac Pro & Displays                      $2355
Case, PSU and DVD                                   $100
Core i9-7900X                                            $650

Total                                                          $3105

LESS RESALES                                       $7821

Comparison note: The iMac Pro 18 Core model with 64 GB Ram, a 2 TB SSD and Vega 56 w/ 8 GB of VRAM costs $9000 currently. I did buy some unnecessary items - the DVD and GPU cooler - that would have cut the cost even more ($200 less) , but then I'm not that poor that I need to save the money.
The non-comparable is the screen; The iMac Pro has a 5120 x 2880 screen but it's only a 27 incher. This visually is no better than the two I just sold imho: dot pitch doesn't mean anything to me at the res of modern screens, but screen size definitely does.
If you ignore the $2355 from selling the Mac Pro the prices are closer but then there is the screen thing – and nothing can equal the freedom to upgrade and the freedom to choose my own parts, or even make my own case or case mods.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Screen
I got a BenQ PD 3200U, which features 3840 x 2160 res, full 10 bit colour and at least two inputs along with a built in KVM. This all works okay buuuut. . . . . First, I got both computers connected to it and then used the “hotkey puck” controller to program it so that by touching the lit buttons on the bottom right of the screen I could switch between the two computers. That’s the good bit - well, actually you need to tap the buttons twice to get it to switch. You can get the puck to switch between displays but it takes a few clicks. I hoped to get it down to one if I can just figure it out but in the end I was not going to keep the Mac Pro so it doesn't matter. Just remember that the switching process also doesn't automatically wake the computer you want to switch to - and if it isn't getting a signal it will switch back to the active one. Get the idea?

I watched an interesting Youtube Vid by DIY Perks where he built a silent PC by mounting everything vertically so that the airflow naturally provided cooling, and getting rid of the fans altogether. He also built a custom case for this project and in a follow-up vid, mounted a CPU cooler on a GPU also in pursuit of a quiet PC.
I won’t be going quite as far as having NO fans as I suspect that would be impossible if you want to have high power chips, but I can certainly take some of his ideas and try to make something much quieter than the current models on sale.
First, the PC I bought has a Corsair Carbide 100 case, AIO water cooler and a fan-forced GTX 1080 Ti GPU.
I will first replace the case with a Silverstone FT05B which has vertical mobo mounting and airflow – in the bottom of the case are two huge 180mm fans that I can get spinning slowly enough to be barely heard, yet they might even give enough airflow to cool everything. Well, that’s the ideal.
It also comes standard with magnetically held dust filters. (Why the hell doesn't Apple ever have dust filters on it's computers? Almost everyone else does.)
Next, I am getting rid of the liquid cooler. I don’t like them as they are unnecessarily complicated and any leakage will be very, very bad. The CPU will instead be cooled by the biggest, best cooler I can find - The Noctua NH- D15S will fit in the case. Also, I will be able to use it to test if it will fit on the GPU card as-is, or if I will need extra hardware to mount the card so that the cooler will fit in the case. Coolermaster make a mounting kit that can do this and all I need to do is chop it a bit to get the offset I need – well ,that’s the theory.
I have thought long about how to get a second GPU card in but it just doesn’t look possible with the FT05 and a whole new case seems a waste at this point: It would be better to get a more powerful GPU card first – two video cards mean a new power supply anyway. The big test is pushing the GPU and seeing if it sounds like a vacuum cleaner. I haven't quite reached that point yet. There is also rumours of a new Nvidia card coming out so maybe I will just wait until that appears and either run two which will mean no fan mods on them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update May 13 2018
Transplanting the board into the FT-05 case was easy as was replacing the PSU – the only problems I had installing new parts were with the slot loading vertical mount DVD drive. This doesn't seem to like DVDs much, it being tricky to get it to load them – it loves to split them out though. I think I will have to take it out at some stage. I also had to make a special bracket for the third SSD mounting and that worked out quite well. Now the only spinning discs are externals that I use for backup. All the other fittings were smooth and easy apart from a slight cramp when fitting the clips that hold the fan onto the radiator on one end as it is close to the wall of the case.

Today I installed the i9-7980XE and I used Thermal Grizzly metal thermal paste to keep it as cool as possible. Previously I fitted the HX1000i PSU, the idea being that it would be as quiet as possible since the fan on it doesn't even start moving until you are over about 40% load.
After fitting the 7980XE I ran a few tests to see how hot it got – Blender and DAZ renders and it all looks very good: I think the max for any core was 68c and most didn't get near that.
At idle it is at 38c which is pretty darn good.

The temp testing I did used Corsair Link 4 to tell me what the temps were because that is the only one that works for me. I also go an external DVD/Bluray drive (plus free version of Cyberlink Director, a video editor) so I loaded up the Gigabyte disc that comes with the Mobo and it said all of the goodies are installed - but they just don't show any info apart from hardware recognition so it's Corsair Link. Note also that you can't adjust the fan curves or anything from running, you need to get into the BIOS to do that. I have no idea why this problem occurs but so far I have not even tried to fiddle with the settings. Maybe later. The BIOS is easy enough to get to, there is even a one click Overclocking setting or if you are crazy enough an advanced OC area but I won't be going there, at least for now.

Having watched some YouTube vids I got the impression that the 7980XE would suck up power and generate a lot of heat, but the results so far don't seem to support that – of course, compared to the old Mac Pro which really worked its fans hard under load (and you could hear them too) the new machine is very quiet and even when running full CPU load there is surprisingly little heat coming out the top. I suspect all that hoopla about heat and needing a liquid cooler is just to sell more liquid coolers. Mind you, I have the biggest (and best?) cooler that will fit the case too.

All of the “old” parts from this project were sold on eBay except for the liquid cooler. It seems nobody wanted to buy it, even when cheap. In contrast, the 7900X CPU sold in minutes – mind you, I was selling it at half price.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I know, you may well ask “Why didn't you just buy the parts you needed and build straight from that, wouldn't that have saved you money? “ Well, yes, quite possibly, but this is my first ever build and I was a lot more confident about transferring parts of a working unit as opposed to assembling parts from scratch. Call me cautious but I do remember a time when just getting the right PC parts to work together was an arcane art. I did not want to get stuck with a dead computer because of a noob error. For example, how do you install the BIOS software? When exactly on the assembly process? Do you even need to? There are many unknowns for me here. Maybe next time I build a new PC (five years time perhaps?) I will try it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
May 22 update
I tested the 7980XE and found that it sey off the heat alarm at over 70c – so I put the alarm up to 80c and all was well – according to CorsairLink4, the main CPU cores reach up to 84c under full load. Is that okay? I have looked online and can find nothing that tells me what is a “safe” temp for the 7980XE and on one site they said they had overclocked theirs and had it running stable at 100c !
I still think water cooling is BS: what you really gain is thermal mass, that is, the amount of water in the cooling loop can absorb a lot of heat until it reaches peak unlike an air cooler – but if you are running your system at full power for a long time (more than , say, two minutes) there is no gain at all compared to an air cooler – also, it is more complex and can make a big mess if it leaks.
My solution, the NH-D15S is plenty good enough, it seems 85c is no big deal to the system buuuuuuut. . . . . . I still want it as cool as possible so I bought a second fan to mount on the radiator.
I also put Conductonaut Thermal Grizzly metal compound on it when I fitted the 7980XE.
This is also fairly close to the original liquid cooler as it had two fans on it too, but mine are bigger and should be quieter too. I have tried to change the fan profile in the BIOS but somehow I could not do so. I must be missing something there. 

Last note:  there was one handy Mac system app that I miss: it remembered where you opened a file from and sent you back there when you went to save it again.  Why doesn't windows have that? It wastes so much time digging around looking for the same friggin' folder I was just in two minutes ago.  It seems so bleeding obvious, I seem to recall that one upon a time, the OS did that by default.




Sunday, May 13, 2018

DOOMCOCK RULES !

I am a lifelong Sci-fi fan but it seems that evil forces work to prevent me enjoying any good shows that might appear. The last one I actually watched and enjoyed was The Expanse which appeared on Netflix here in Oz for the first two seasons then . . . for no apparent reason they didn't bother to give me Season Three. I voted with my wallet and cancelled my $12  month because that was the ONLY show I was paying for. . . . and, well, now it seems SYFY Channel in the US has canned the whole show at the end of season three even though the ratings were fine. But don't take my word for it, check out my new Overlord of Sci Fi Reviews, Dictor Von Doomcock (and Harvey Cthulu !)


Having seen a few of his other vids now, I can only agree with him on almost everything (except conquering Earth).
Sure, the outfit is a bit rough round the edges but who cares, His analysis and critique are right on the dot.

To me, it seems that Disney has ruined every movie it has made lately. Consider Pixar, for example: they made some great movies when they started, but now they seem  to have no good ideas and the stuff they made recently I didn't even like the idea of, it just didn't grab me. Then there was Frozen which I only watched because the person I was with wanted to see it. It was just, well, the characters were ugly and although it had a couple of moments that worked, mostly it was . . . . blaaaaaaaaah. Something has gone seriously wrong in the writing and plot department over there.  Well, that's my opinion anyway.  Check out what Doomcock says about the Star Wars franchise, I'm glad I didn't waste my money on seeing it now - and he doesn't think much of the new Trek either which confirms what I read and saw from other sources, The original Trek was cheap and cheesy at times but at least they had good stories and didn't wreck things with stupid gaping plot holes.  The writers must all be aflicted with some sort of malaise. Either that or there aren't any writers.Yeah, that must be it.

I can only hope that Netflix or someone else with the power will bring The Expanse back from the dead. All I can do is hope that my own efforts result in something better than the dreck we are being afflicted with lately - but then that is a rather low standard to exceed, unfortunately.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Last thoughts about Apple and Mac Pro


Well there it is. Confirmed – Apple is working to replace all Intel chips with their own by 2020. They tried this approach before but they could not afford it – now they can, but I still think it is going to be a bad thing for high end users for these reasons:
Apple will try to shave down the processing power you use to do things with since it is cheaper for them to do so. Remember the time they made all the nice colour icons in your sidebars grey? That was a power shaving trick. Expect more of this. They will also try to make the Mac apps more the same as the iPhone and iPad since it saves them cash and puts less demand on the chips.
Apple noted recently that users don't want Mac and iPads to use the same software (I wonder why?) but I think they will try any way.

This also means that Mac software will diverge from Windows wares again as it was way back, and this will mean that many common apps will disappear.
Personally I think this is nasty:  the more Apple gets into this “walled garden” idea the less I like it. Maybe it will be more “secure” from hackers (or so some will tell us) but the price is the computing world will split.

You might not have noticed it but there were always some divisions between Mac and Windows – recently this was really shown up to me by my own webpages having dark and yellowy images on it because of the different way Apple and Microsoft define their colour spaces in the monitor controls.
I didn't see it until I got a Windows computer and tried both systems on the same screen with the same image.( see previous post here )

This sort of thing is partly handled by using software made by people independent of either OS maker – for example, Firefox as a web browser runs on all platforms so it doesn't favour either – but the more specialised Apple makes their hardware, the less other makers are even going to bother making a version just for Mac OS. If Apple moves away from Intel and (by inference) x86 architecture, they will need some serious attractions to get people to buy into it.

Apple is not, and has never been the biggest supplier of computers or OSes – although they dominate the phone market, that is something quite different. The more Apple goes toward fancier iPads rather than seriously powerful hardware, the less I want a Mac. Yes, OSX as it is now is still better in some ways that Windows 10 (see previous posts for details) and it has always been nicer to look at and easier to configure thanks to some neato apps and features (many of which came from BSD so I am told, and not Apple) – but Windows 10 is working just fine for me so far. It really is the same situation as OSX – to get it to do what I want it to do, I have to find and sometimes buy other software that gives me the features I need. Maybe I am just seeing OSX as better because I am so accustomed to it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you are wondering about the iMac Pro and how it compares to the “normal” Intel computers, check out this video: 

It turns out that the differences between Core i9 and Xeon W chips are not so great– and at the top end, in tests done by Linus Tech Tips, the Core i9 7980 XE is faster than the matching 18 core Xeon W 2195. but not by a lot. It looks to me like the differences are very small and not worth worrying about – well, apart from the prices. Makes me wonder how different they are on the Chip Fabrication line.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
I sold my Mac Pro on eBay for $2000 – but only because I threw in a monitor and didn't leave out any of the bits. It arrived at the buyer two days later but thanks to eBay I don't get the money until two weeks later. The main source of trouble was due to Auspost not dealing with objects over 22 Kg: eBay has an automatic integration with Auspost which then could not send the item and there was no other option or button to get me to a service which didn't care about said weight limit – so I went outside to another site which subcontracted StarTrack which is (as it happens) a branch of Auspost. Why didn't they just send me there from the eBay page when it was over the weight limit? I have no idea.

I really thought that the last great cheesegrater Mac would be worth more - but what would I know? Just because people list their computers at price “X” does not mean anyone will buy them at price “X”. If I wanted to sit on it for months until I got sick of waiting I could maybe have got 3 or 4 grand – but I'm just not that tight – I'm just glad it went to a good home – a printing company. 

For me, there will never be another Mac Pro. It was noisy and heavy but it was reliable and more flexible than any Mac before or since. I still find Apple's approach to cooling a bit disturbing and if you really want to know about hardware issues with Apple gear check out Louis Rossmann's Youtube channel. He fixes a lot of Macbook Pro boards and can't help pointing out the things he regularly has to deal with. No, Apple isn't perfect but I'm not saying they are any worse than other hardware makers either: all have their faulty designs and product recalls. All of them. Read the reviews before you buy folks, regardless of the brand.

One last thing: there was one Apple item that I just couldn't let go: The Apple extended keyboard. I kept mine with it's silicon rubber cover because I just could not find anything better.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 8: Transfer Complete

Okay, here is the Short Version if you just joined us, and are looking for a smooth transition from Mac to Windows:
You will need these wares - 
* MaComfort (allows various Mac key combinations in Windows PLUS Spaces clone PLUS you can change the key assignments)
* Seer (simulate Apple's Quicklook or Preview feature)
Pretty much everything else is already there in Windows 10, you just need to find it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As of now I have finally completed the move. The new machine is already much quieter than the Mac Pro, which is nice. If I went the whole way I could fit a 7980XE and beat anything Apple sells, and still have a very quiet black box, with plenty of upgrade potential. Downsides? Well, when I do huge copy operations it can get crappy and needs to be restarted . . . . but that is hardly a normal situation. Having finished the transfers, all is good.

There are still major differences or issues with Windows 10 as compared to OSX:
The main one is what I call loosely usability: For example, in OSX when you go to open a DAZ file you will get a preview of all files to help choice. There really isn’t anything like it in Windows: To open files in DAZ I must find an image of the file I want in my rendered images and then find the file based on the name of that image - and that is because I have named all images based on their origin file although they are in a different folder system. Yes, I’m sure some folks will store all renders with the originating file, but I didn’t because I wanted to be able to move them to another drive if things get cramped, and I don’t want to spend time sorting files.

The Icons
I have used folder icons for many years to quickly identify specific folders or mark certain folders as special in a folder full of them. On a Mac this is quick because you can (a) quickly open the info window for a file or folder and (b) freely copy and paste icons between folders - not so for Windows however. In Windows land there is a way to change a single folder icon but it takes a lot more steps and there is no copy and paste. I hoped that I could find a small app that would do this but so far no joy.

File Transfers and folder merges
This week I found RichCopy 4, which can swiftly merge folders and has lots of options, and is free. I thought that there was some way to merge folders with just a key held down while copying, but it seemed this was not true. . . . . and then I discovered how to merge properly in Explorer ( Explorer is the windows equivalent to Finder - well, sort of ) : If you are new to Windows 10 and want to merge folders there is a setting you need to find which turns on the merge dialog – for some unknown reason it is turned off by default in Win 10. Search for “File Explorer Options” and when it appears, go to the “View” tab. Uncheck the “Hide folder merge conflicts” item. This then gives you the option to merge by overwrite or just skip, and a checkbox for “do this for all the others”.

Having now migrated my DAZ/Poser content to a 2TB SSD, there only remains the odds and ends to clean up: another 1TB SSD needs to be fitted and all the odds and ends moved onto it – the usual stuff: photos, text, artworks, music.

I had underestimated the time it would take to transfer everything from one computer to the other.
Now I am doing it by ethernet cable as opposed to copying files to an external ExFat drive then re-copying to an internal drive as I did first, but even so it is sloooooooow. Currently it is telling me the next operation will take 14 hours . . . This is direct transfer from Mac to PC, please note.
I can’t get RichCopy to see drives on the connected Mac so it’s Explorer all the way. I am not sure it would make any difference anyway. Just be warned that transferring data between Operating Systems is slow. Veeery slow. I don't think it was any faster using a USB drive either.

Multi-tasking
Well shit. It just didn't want to behave for me. . . . . but after some head scratching and mucking about, I realised what was wrong. MaComfort has the whole “Spaces” thing covered: all I had to do was give it all the rght keyboard commands to make it work and bingo, Windows now has a proper multi - desktop system like Mac OSX.
Windows has one feature I still use: when your Apps (programs) are pinned to the taskbar, you can open or hop over to them by using CMD- (number) - of course, the numbers start from the left and can't go past 9 and 0 – still, ten major apps is plenty enough for me.
I have searched and could not find any key commands or information about how to use multiple desktops in Windows – you need (a) keys to move between desktops (b) keys to move apps between desktops (because it seems sometimes windows apps move without asking) and (c) the overview - but MaComfort has all of this covered.

There are other features that make MaComfort essential for me too: First, you can quit programs with CMD- Q (or another key if you want) – somehow while I have been away from Windows world, ALT-F, X has disappeared from the lexicon of being able to quit things. To be honest, this is an extra keypress compared to what I know but worse still, I find there are some apps that don't seem to have ANY key command to quit them – and shutting down the PC also has NO key command - but MaComfort has all of this fixed, and with your choice of key commands too.

The one thing Windows 10 just doesn't seem to be able to do that OSX has is to remember the desktops and program windows between startups. I can now get close since I can assign a major app to a numbered desktop and open it with a keypress, but it does not remember what it was doing before shutdown.

I went one step further: I got a new Power Supply. This is a “platinum” quality unit that has ALL of the cables plugging into the box. This is partly so that I can get custom cables made later (if I go that far). This is also part of my attempts to make the machine as quiet as possible as it has the feature that until it hits over about 40% load the fan will not even spin up.
As a side effect, it is longer than the original unit so I had to remove the drive cage for HDDs in the case to make it easier to plug in the cables – but this is a good thing: I have 3 SSDs and don't need HDDS any more, and this will improve airflow too. The only hiccup in progress here is the the case only had mountings for two SSDs – so I had to invent a mount somewhere – it's not critical since this is a desktop and SSDs can't be damaged by rattling around in the case but then I am a neatnik and loose things can cause trouble later on.

Okay, that worked fine: made an SSD mount from some plastic scrap and superglued it to the case, fitted new PSU and all is good . . . . . . . . except the DVD drive doesn't work. No idea why, only just got the power adapter for it hooked up, but I (foolishly) assumed that it would just work.
So what do I find? The drive doesn't even pull the DVDs in (It's a slotloader, only one that fits the case). Time to check the cables and plugs.
I bought Windows DVD player for $22.45 from MS to get it working. Well, it DOES work, it's just a little fickle – I'll probably learn how it works with practice. Actually I hardly need or use DVDs these days anyway- but sometimes the only way to get old data or device drivers is to have one.

Well there it is. It works well enough, it is very quiet, and it also doesn't generate the amount of heat the old computer does. I can swap out bits and mess with it any way I like, but I would not claim it was cheaper than the Mac since there really isn't any direct comparison: the parts were personally chosen and there is no single model that would come with this combination of parts on sale.
I still find myself looking to the top right corner of the screen for the time and using Mac key combinations but I'll get over that. The Mac Pro is now up on eBay for sale and I have solved all problems with running everything on Windows. There are definitely nice Mac OSX apps that I miss but nothing essential. I still have a lot of tidying up to do but that was due anyway: every yer or two you should consolidate or wipe all those files of stuff that collect.

The Mac Pro is now on eBay and all I need do now is box it up once someone buys it. 

Bye, Mac.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
"What about the New Mac Pro . . . . . . . . aren't you going to buy one of those?"

I can't resist adding a few words about what Apple is doing with their hardware. First, Apple will probably never use Nvidia GPUs again – nothing they make at the moment supports them yet the Windows world is completely dominated by them.
Yes, this was one of the reasons I switched to Windows but not the only one.

Will Apple bring out a new Mac Pro in the recently pushed back timeframe of 2019? I suspect not – they just released OSX 10.13 with support for Thunderbolt 3 cabled external GPU boxes. Of course, in typical Apple fashion this only supports AMD cards, not Nvidia.

What is the iMac Pro with an external GPU box but an otherwise named “New Mac Pro”? Using Thunderbolt enclosures for more storage, I suspect that Apple expects all those “Pro” users to be happy without the added trouble of making a new “Mac Pro” to replace the Cheesegrater Mac Pro that was at least basically flexible like a regular Pee Cee.
It seems clear to me that Apple does not want to make computers that you open (and add or change parts of) ever again: they want you to buy a new one and never, ever open the box. Buy more external boxes, cable them together, no need to do any hardware changes inside the box, riiiight?

My theory is that Apple will probably not be making a new Mac Pro at all until either they can make their own CPU chips for it or the iMac Pro gets so old that they need to replace it, as in five years plus into the future . . . . Why increase their product range unnecessarily in an area that is not a major profit centre? More phones in different colours, Yeah! More Macs? Naah, not enough monero.

All this hints to me that Apple may be moving away from compatibility with the rest of the world's systems again and I have already run into that in the past: I'll be happy not to deal with that again. Apple already has made some questionable tech decisions and I expect more in future (Touchbar anyone? or how about laptops with no touch screens? $200 stylus? All those missing ports on the new Macbooks? Dumping the magsafe power connector?) - but then it's not just about what we, the customers want - it's also about business, patents and secretive future plans. 

Bye for now, lots to do.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 7



First, a fix: Yes, you CAN get all of your mailboxes in one in Windows Mail: it’s in the settings.
(How did I not see that before?)

This weekend, I fitted the Wifi card and tried to install the DVD drive. The Wifi was easy: I thought that I would put the DVD drive in then use it to install the Wifi driver (which came on a DVD) - but there were problems with this.
The Wifi worked perfectly - tested to 11 Mb/sec,  same as the Mac Pro.

Motherboard matters

Well that was interesting. I did a couple of long renders (using both CPU and GPU) then the keyboard got stuck and produced a string of 2’s – and there is a temp sensor (No.8) that was reading 63 C – except that I cannot find any reference to which thermal sensors are which in the mobo manual. How can I figure out where the sensor is if it isn’t mentioned there?

What I have from the paperwork is a list of temperature sensors – they total 8 but I only have names for five:
CPU
VRM MOS
PCIEX16_1 and 2
X299 PCH (platform controller Hub)

There are 3 along the lefthand side unnamed – I don’t know what they are sensing so how can I decide what got hot and to cool them or not? At a guess, one of them is the one that got hot – and maybe it deals with USB inputs (hence the key failure?) . . . but there is nothing that tells me that.
There are also sockets to connect two external temp probes (EC Temp 1 &2).

 This shows the temp sensors as yellow dots. I have named the ones I recognise.

SpeedFan: I tried SpeedFan but it does not recognise the board and gets no temp sensors from it – so it is probably too old for X299 boards.
There is still the BIOS control that comes with the board for the fan controls.

I am putting off fitting the cooler on the GPU card. I think maybe I will either get a second card or a newer one . . . not yet though. First I need to finish up this stage, including transferring all of the content data onto a nice big 2TB SSD that should arrive next week.

The DVD Drive
The slot loading DVD drive did not turn out to be a smooth installation. First there was some difficulty lining up the drive and the slot in the case provided for it, and then there is the problem of the power cable: it is old style (molex) while the mobo has newer SATA style power plugs. I need an adapter – and I also need some custom plastic plate to fix the drive in the correct place.
Although the DVD drive and the case are sold by the same company they didn’t quite fit together: the two tiny screws that attach the drive into the bracket have slots and even when tight they didn’t actually fix it because there was a large gap under it. I measured it at 2.5 mm and then made two packers to fit from plastic. I also drilled a hole in the bracket to fit a cable tie for the cables as they must curl around 180 degrees due to the plug design.
The DVD drive fitted with the cables bent and tied.


This brings me to the whole cable issue.
The worst lump is the SATA power cables- they string four or more plugs on the same cable and those things are a pest, they don’t fold flat nicely and I have yet to find any alternative. Why can’t I get, for example, a SATA power cable with only two plugs on it? I want to make the cables tidy and keep the airflow as clear as possible – maybe I will need to make a whole set of custom cables.

This brings me to the next stage: The PSU has sockets for the GPU and SATA power but the main cables are fixed. If I got a newer PSU it would have ALL the cables in sockets thus allowing complete custom cabling. 
So off I went to Cablemod . . . well, it is expensive. Yup. They look great, you can specify the exact length of cables, connectors, covering, colour etc. but for a price.

The Cablemod cables                          $US

ATX – 2x4 pin 12v power or EPS       9.90
24pin Main power plug                     24.90
6 pin PCIe                                         19.90
Dual 6 pin PCIe                                19.90
8 pin PCIe                                        19.90
Dual 8 pin PCIe                               24.90
Sata Power 1 plug                           15.90
Sata Power 2 plug                           19.90
Sata Power 3 plug                           22.90
Sata Power 4 plug                           24.90

Planned cable requirements:
ATX                                                                 9.90
Main                                                               24.90
single and dual 6 and 8 pin PCIE                   84.60
Sata Power:
Total of 4 devices -
2 SSDs – Main drive & Main Content drive 19.90
1 DVD drive                                                  15.90
1 HDD – music and all other oddments        15.90
TOTAL                                                        171.10

Converted to $AU                                       222.20
er, maybe I’ll just put that off . . . . . 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One final thing: I just watched a vid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeMVvty5b0g) that tells of all the changes between the book Altered Carbon and the Netflix show.  Well, okay it has been a while since I read it - there were big changes, but then there were reasons too. It also hinted that maybe the other books in the series might be coming to the small screen soon . . I hope!