Welcome to Cor & Julie's journal

Solid State drive in my Macbook Pro (Computers)

For a long time I’ve been meaning to put an SSD in my Macbook Pro. Julie’s Thinkpad X200 already has one, but I couldn’t decide which one I wanted. The Intel X-25 was high on the list for a long time, but in the end I bought the Samsung 256GB mainly because I wanted more than the 128GB the X-25 gives me. The 2009 model of the Macbook Pro makes changing your boot drive really easy. All you do is open the battery compartment, remove 1 screw, and out comes the drive. A lot easier than previous models I’ve opened up. It took all of 5 minutes, most of which was spent removing some spacers from the old HD and putting them on the new SSD.

When I booted up, I noticed it took a lot of time for the machine to go through it’s initial BIOS/POST phase. I remembered my friend Eric had a similar problem, so I asked him how he fixed that. Turns out all you have to do is set the new drive as your startup disk in Preferences. Now it boots in less than 30 seconds, and that includes starting up a dozen or so tools.

solid state drive

Add a second harddisk to your Macbook Pro 15″ (Computers, Photography)

I never have enough harddisk space. When I travel I have at least 5 external USB disks with me. One for the images I take during the trip, a backup for that one, one with my lightroom database, a rescue disk for my laptop, and usually a disk with movies and tv series for those moments where you dont feel like doing anything else. Lately I’ve also started to take a disk with most of my originals, as fate would have it that im always asked to deliver some specific image while im traveling.

Unfortunately USB is not the fastests, and trying to run both Lightroom and my disk with originals externally has proven to be very annoying. It’s just too slow. My friend Eric Cheng runs a laptop with 2 internal disks, so I figure that would be a good option. Just add a second 500GB harddisk for my image data.

A company called MCE Technologies has a product they call the Optibay that allows you to replace your internal SuperDrive with an internal harddisk. You can either have them do it for you, or just order the parts and do it yourself. Naturally I opted for the latter and ordered a 500GB Optibay. It arrived a few days later, ready for me to install.

Read on for more info on my upgrade project.

Lenovo installs 30GB of crap on your laptop (Computers, Rants)

Julie just got a new Lenovo X200s laptop with SSD. When we got it we noticed it had only 60GB free space out of 128GB. There was a 10GB recovery partition, but that didn’t explain where all the space had gone. The C partition had a whopping 42GB of data installed, and this is supposed to be a virgin machine!

Now for the really stupid part. When I reinstalled from the recovery partition, the same system was only 13GB. Still way too much if you ask me, but better than 42GB.

Lenovo, you suck.

“Boat Surrounded by Sharks Eating Babies” (Computers, Funny)

I can hear you think…WTH?  That was my first reaction as well when I saw this in our referer/search logs. Im using Woopra for our webstats now and the things people search for are just beyond comprehension! I can highly recommend Woopra. It’s a very cool way to view your webstats, especially because you can watch it live on a world map. And yes, I know it means a third party gets my web logs.

New Toys (Computers)

I don’t really write much about geek toys, mostly because i’m really not that much into that anymore. The phase in my life where I was an early adopter is behind me, been there, done that, got all the discarded and dismantled electronic corpses to proof it. I just want things to work, work well, and not require hours of fiddling. A piece of electronics nowadays has a very short time in which to proof to me they will not be a hassle.

Lately I’ve gotten a new interest in geek toys. I can’t really explain why. I think it’s because I haven’t replaced any of my toys in years and I feel it’s time to welcome the next century. In the last few weeks I’ve bought a few new items that I thought would be interesting and I feel that’s not yet the end of it. Read on for my thoughts on these items.. More »

Keeping Busy (Computers)

Before I start roaming the streets and turn into a drug addict (obviously everyone in Amsterdam is a drug addict) I thought id keep myself busy with some small programming projects. The latest one is a small project I did for Wetpixel. I built a people finder using Google Maps, integrated with the forum. You can see forum profile information on the map.

Acer using low quality components? (Computers, Rants)

About a year ago I bought an Acer L100 core 2 duo box to function as a simple Linux desktop computer. It’s been working fine, until one morning it would not turn on anymore. When I contacted the supplier where I bought it, i was told that since it was a few days out of warranty, Acer would not repair it under warranty. Granted, I probably could not have sent it under warranty repair anyways, because I can not send one of my desktop computers in without removing the harddisk. I can not risk anyone getting a hold of any type of data related to my company.  Sending it in for out-of-warranty repairs would probably cost way too much for a box that only costs a few hundreds dollars in the first place.

So the only logical step at this point is to just try and figure out what’s broken. I asked a colleague to help me out, since Im not a hardware guru, and together we opened up the box. We immediately noticed what was wrong. One of the capacitors had expanded and opened up, oozing out electrolyte. Several years ago this was a real plague, as lots of vendors had used a faulty electrolyte formula. I’ve had lots of computers, but never had one ooze out electrolyte on a capacitor. This just doesn’t happen much anymore, as vendors should be using proper capacitors. So why is my Acer, which has never really had to work hard as i merely use it to run X with a few Xterms, blowing out capacitors. Is Acer skimping on materials? No wonder they’re so cheap.

We bought a 60 cent capacitor, replaced the broken one, and my Acer is working again. So instead of spending lots of money to have a factory fault fixed by Acer, i spent 60 cents (and a home made apple pie for my colleague).  I don’t think I’ll be buying Acer anymore.

capacitor.jpg

A macboy now? (Computers)

Julie got me a new MacBook Pro for my birthday.  I’ve been thinking about getting one for a long time, so it was a nice surprise. I’ve used apple before a few years ago, when I bought a G4 Powerbook. I never really got used to it because it was missing too many small apps that are a dime a dozen on Windows.  But,  things change, so i’ll give it another go. I’ll probably do another post in a few weeks to see how things are going.

I need a new hobby (Computers, Rants)

Im really getting tired of all these computer related problems. There was a time in my life where I got a kick out of looking at insides of computers, but after a few thousand of those, I now just want things to work, and work well. I have a low tolerance for crappy hardware or software.

First, I got a new machine. It’s so new, fast and shiny, it needs Vista to run. Which it did ok for the first few hours, until i realised it didnt let me add my external 2TB sata disk, which contain all my images. I spent literally days on this crap, but in the end I gave up. I switched out my 2TB raid with Julie’s 1TB raid, and now it’s happy. And ofcourse XP has no problem with the 2TB one.  If that weren’t enough, I added 2  internal sata disks as well, which worked fine for about a day, until after one reboot they just went *POOF*, gone. They were visible in the bios, but Vista hated them or something. Maybe they were made by a competitor it didnt like. I spent a few hours on it, but I ended up reverting to a previous state of my machine which fixed the problem. How can you lose harddisks?!? That is like last century technology and Vista still doesnt get it right.

Then, Lightroom brought out version 1.3 of their awesome software. Unfortunately, instead of improving things, it made everything super slow for me. I dont really like posting in the Adobe Lightroom forums because some of the regulars there should really be kept away from other people, but I had to bite the bullet and posted my findings. A feature Adobe expanded (Camera Raw Caching) was obviously causing major slowdown on my Vista machine, and I posted pages of proof. I think they started to believe me after I posted some video of the problem, and how to make it go away (make the cache read-only). Lots of other people seem to be having slowdown problems, so I hope LR gets fixed soon.  It’s by far the best piece of software that I have used in the last few years, and I would still recommend it to anyone.

Why can’t I just have a few weeks without problems.

Dell messed up, or how to lose a day out of your life. (Computers, Rants)

Yesterday a very helpful Dell employee came to my house to replace my XPS700 motherboard with an XPS720. This was a free upgrade that Dell started to provide XPS700 owners with a better upgrade path for additional hardware. I also ordered a Quad Core CPU with it, which came with a 25% discount. Pretty cool deal.

After about an hour, the guy leaves, and it looks like I have a working system again. That is, until after another hour or so I notice a new hard disk I didnt have before. I immediately knew what happened. He had rebooted the machine without configuring the raid controller on the new board. My boot disk is actually a raid1/mirror and you need to tell the new raid controller that. Instead, it booted with 2 separate identical drives. Ofcourse, after the initial boot these 2 drives can no longer be seen as identical and I was unable to recreate the raid1 volume.

So you think.. no problem. I take the C drive and make that the first drive in a new raid1 volume. That worked. Now I had a degraded raid 1 volume which was missing its second drive. Good, i have the second drive, so now I can add the second drive and tell the raid controller to rebuild the raid volume. Right? Wrong! More »

Bought a new 2TB eSATA harddisk (Computers)

I’ve been really happy with my 1TB eSATA 2BIG drive from LaCie, so when I noticed they have a 2TB version I couldn’t resist buying it too. I’ll be using it to do all of our primary backups.

We use a 3 layer system for our digital assets (photo’s, music, video..).

  1. Our originals are on a 1TB 2BIG eSATA drive. These are networked to several other machines in case we’re working on one of them.
  2. I make automatic backups to a backup drive. As of today that’s a 2TB 2BIG eSATA drive. I also backup our music to this drive.
  3. Once every month or so I make a backup of the backup and bring that to my office. This is to prevent loss due to theft or fire, the most likely causes of image loss.

The only thing that bugs me is that under Windows XP the access to these drives on a networked computer is really slow. I can make it a bit faster by assigning a drive letter on the networked machine but it’s still slow. On the main desktop though these disks are lightning fast!

Changed to WordPress (Computers)

I changed our online journal from a home made system based on MySQL to WordPress. I have been meaning to use some kind of open source software instead of my own, but always feared I was not going to be able to fit it in our design. That fear seemed to have been unnecessary, WordPress was a breeze to install, but more important, a breeze to theme. I created a theme to fit our own design in less than a day.

It should be a lot easier now to maintain an active journal, so keep watching this space.