Formatting Disk Managment

~ The Joy of Inability To Copy Over 4GB to USB ~

… And queue sarcasm radar to shatter into a thousand shards of agony…

 


Note To Self: 
 
Always re-format idiot FAT32 format drives of all and any kind.


 

Fancy having a system that can’t transfer over 4GB! What kind of world do we live in where companies still auto-format in this way?

Probably should have checked this first, but I really didn’t realise anyone was that daft anymore.

This is apparently how USB sticks are still formatted… apparently lost in some factory in a decade now far, far away… until it’s returned to now and sold on…

I checked my other one, and yes, it’s apparently FAT32 as well.

FAT32 doesn’t allow more than 4GB to be processed at any one time. Have as many files as USB_Reformatting_exFATyou like – but they must be all under the 4GB mark. From now on, I will be auto-formatting all my USB sticks to exFAT… Both exFAT and NTFS have unlimited data transfer per file – however it is best to keep in mind that exFat can be used across the board in Mac and Linux OS machines as well, where as NTFS is dedicated only to Windows.

In fairness, it’s probably always best to check the Disk Management system  with all new USB drives, as well as HDD/SDD ones for formatting, health, etc:

 

Run: diskmgmt.msc

That way you know everything’s good to go before you put your very precious data on it.

 

Not Enough Disk Space

 

Goodbye [God-Awful] Wileyfox…

I loved my Wileyfox Storm. I really respected their stand against general mobile phone manufactures. But now they have clearly lost the plot – and in this instance a once-loyal customer too.

I literally got my Swift 2 Plus handset today (day of writing) and I can’t even get it to charge. Nor did it hold its charge either, that 50% it came with right out of the box. My PC thinks it’s malfunctioned and refuses to acknowledge it (both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports), other USB ports don’t seem to charge it, and right now it’s on barely-there life-support – holding a meagre and un-moving 3% – plugged into my PS4. Attempts to contact customer services is like hitting head on a wall – and you get the same result… nothing but a headache.

I was looking forward to using this phone. I had my Wileyfox Storm – until the screen accidentally got written off completely and it was murdered via blunt-force-trauma – and I loved it. It was perfect. I thought nothing of going back to Wileyfox and getting one of the latest handsets. Big mistake.

I have been shocked by my inability to get this one to work at all, because the battery (or maybe charger, I can’t test it because I only have this one USB C charger, that came in the box – unlikely, but possible). One might expect some issues at some point, but not right out of the box.

I have had problems contacting their customer service department, and to be honest, they don’t seem to be particularly bothered about helping at all. If they ever answer you at all, they can barely contain their nonchelance. I was quite taken aback by their absolute lack of customer service quality.

I’ve seen a few like-for-like recommendations, so I shall have to try one of those instead, and leave Wileyfox behind now. Unfortunate, because it is (… was…) a British company with good intentions and ideas… in theory, at least.

Racist Address Page & Astounding Customer Service

When I was trying to purchase a new phone, I originally wanted their Swift 2 X – only currently available through their website. It was more than the Swift 2 Plus, but then you got more.

So off I went, chucking it in the basket, all ready and looking forward to getting it. But then… it refused to acknowledge my Welsh address! Three… or four times. I tried it again, and again, and again… Nothing. It literally didn’t accept the Welsh names or spelling. Amazingly, the website itself is actually racist!

The Customer “Service” people on the Chat option were clearly trained right out of the School of Basil Fawlty. In fact, he would have been better. And funnier. These people knew less than Manuel… about anything. My dog could have done a better job. Even Jack Dee would have done a more cheerful job…

And their response to the Welsh-language problem? Oh yeh, that’s probably it, then… Astounding. Unprecedentedly Astounding…! In every worst possible sense. There are just no words. They didn’t even try to rectify it, or over-ride the system… nothing. And that was the second person I spoke to. I disconnected the first Chat conversation because they were downright rude!

A £220 sale out of the window. Just like that. I just hope they’re so very pleased with themselves… as they’re clearly heading for the cleaners, if the fact I am in the majority of people here with such an experience…

Safe Mode RIP – Alt PC Emergency Recovery Breakdown Service…

This is what happened when a driver update killed my system and I needed to fix it. 

This was the moment I found out there was no longer an F8 Safe Mode in Windows 1o…

 

 

So, at this moment in time, it seems like there’s a good change I may have broken my computer.

Well, actually… not me. NVIDIA, actually. To be presice, it was their GeForce Driver update [375.70]. It showed an error message then it stopped working properly. Then it stopped working at all.

It won’t boot properly. It starts, goes through the BIOS, gets to the Windows 10 blue squares, then… nothing. Doesn’t keep on booting after that. It took a while but I finally managed to get it into Safe Mode  – and boy did that take some time and doing too.

Windows 10 – SAFE MODE:

No more is there an F8 … and MS can F-***

Apparently the trick is to get to fail to boot 3 times – at this point the system finally clocks onto the fact it’s not working properly.

This is when you are given actual Troubleshooting options – the RE(covery Environment): SELECT: Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart > Select option 4 [Safe Mode] with Curser / Function Keys.

The Scouts didn’t have it wrong when they said always be prepared.

Without a Recovery Point from System Restore, or a Recovery Disk [USB], I am very limited with what I can do. So I have put whatever is portant on the OS SSD onto a USB backup drive – just in case it really does need to be reformatted – and uninstalled the NVIDIA Drivers that caused the issue.

Now… It’s Reboot Time.

Restarting now…..

OMG I’m IN!

***

Well, I can tell you the first thing I’ve done is create a restore point…

I’m going to be brave now and try that driver again. Yes. Call me an idiot. But I have to try. And I’ve tried something called a Clean Installation. I don’t know if that will help or not, though.

***

Wow… All done. Took just a few minutes… Nothing’s exploded yet so I’ll take that as a good thing.

I didn’t get that same window popup again, so I maybe in luck that I made the right choice with that Clean Installation thing (it was under Custom Installation settings).

I’ve run an extra Restart to test. All good – I got back in. However, there’s been a strange side-effect to Safe Mode: The One Drive folder is no longer recognised – although it’s still there (on a 2nd HDD). I’ve re-set it up and pointed it back to the folder it’s already inhabiting, and all I can say is it better not duplicate anything…  I think it’s just re-synching itself, though.

 

And now for the ultimate tester – playing Dragon Age: Inquisition on it … which it crashed and burned before dying on me…

Unfortunately, this isn’t kicking back in first time. I’m obviously concerned about corruption to the saved games, and I’ve requested a Repair via the Origins desktop  client. For some reason it still had difficulty actually booting, just a black screen with the little green Rift icon flashing away in the corner relentlessly.

Still naught. It looks like I may have to reinstall it. It’s possible the corruption got into it … No, actually, strangely enough I go back to shut it down, but start up the ASUS GPU Tweak II desktop client instead – and suddenly the damn thing comes to life after a good 5 minutes of just spinning on its heels. The thing is it’s taken another 5 minutes to get into the Save file, so now I’m getting quite concerned…

And it’s only taken until 2:20am to accomplish this so far … Thank you, NVIDIA.

 

 

The TW64S Next Gen Sports Wristband Pairing Nightmare

… in a nutshell.

A Nightmare of brainwork – and finally, an answer.

 

tw64-smart-watch

SPORTS ACTIVITY BRACELET WITH HEART RATE MONITORING TW64S

 

This little sports wristband, purchased from Wowcher, via Somemore.co.uk has been most troublesome to use – thanks to conflicting information and the incorrect app being suggested for it:

The biggest FYI here is that the appropriate app is not the “MovNow Plus” or “MovNow Q2”. Just in case you’re being told that too.

Nope. It’s not that one at all – and you’ll just keep getting a “Connection Failed” response if you attempt to pair it with this one.

 

The TW64S Sports Activity Bracelet

img_0853This is the newer next gen edition of the TW64, mainly identified by the Interface button being placed on the right instead of the left. The UI (User Interface – i.e. the LED display, in this case) is also a little different from the original first gen as well.

If you happen to get this item from Wowcher… I strongly suggest you find the little official instruction book that was in the box with it (not with the packaging) and read that instead.

The information – and most importantly, the app, is very different.

 

The app you need is this:

 

mistep-app-for-tw64

Mistep App (Google Play Logo)

 

Mistep is the compatible app for this product – available for iOS and Android devices (see app details for specifications on devices/OS versions).

 

The Mistep app can be located by simply scanning the QR Code in the User Manual. This User Manual should be in the box – do not use the badly-printed paper that comes in the envelope, the “MovNow Plus”/”MovNow Q2” apps:

img_0863

The QR Codes on the Official User’s Manual

 

With this app, it connects pretty flawlessly, once you have set up your iOS or Android app: img_0852

  1. Download Mistep app from relevant app store (the iPhone app will work fine with iPad [tested]) >> The app should be available by scanning the relevant QR Code on the official enclosed User Manual
  2. Turn on phone/tablet Bluetooth
  3. Go to list of Bluetooth devices available and connect the TW64 (the bluetooth device name can be found by long-pressing the side button on the right)
  4. Open the Mistep app
  5. Register your new account (or log in, if you have one) and enter the app (NB: I had a little difficulty registering a new account on the Android app – but this may not be a universal problem. When I did register a new account via iOS app, the login after was flawless)

 

 

Now you’re in the device, the pairing/binding should be pretty straightforward:

  • FYI: Your TW64S Bluetooth (referenced as “BT” in the User Manual) is constantly on, so there’s no need to concern yourself about the Smart Watch Device.
  1. Turn on the Bluetooth of your phone/tablet
  2. Enter into the “Find devices” section of the relevant Bluetooth Menu and pair the TW64S with it
  3. Return to the app and go to Menu>Device (see below)
  4. In Device, use either Search for Bracelet (if already paired) or Search Equipment if this is the first time pairing (or “binding”, as it’s also referenced in regards to this process)
  5. The Bluetooth Icon will appear in the top left corner of the bracelet’s display when the device pairing is successful: This is when the app will be able to recognise the device to “bind” itself to it.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, you can hopefully enjoy your pretty new shiny gadget without any further problems.

All relevant information regarding the use of the Smart Device is on that little official User Manual that came with it in the box.

Unfortunately, I can’t really help with you with actually using it – with the the running, the jogging, the hiking, the workouts, the aching muscles afterwards…. etc.

Sorry….. !!

 

 

Cyanogen 13.1.2 – A … Storm

Handset: Wileyfox Storm

OS: Cyanogen

Version: 13.1.2

I got this new handset not so long ago, when my poor little over-used BlackBerry Z10 was failing and I was priced out of the BlackBerry market.

Unable to afford a new BlackBerry (only the Priv & Passport were available at that time) I looked for something else that wasn’t quite mainline. I found Wileyfox, and saw what their Storm had to offer.

I’ve been so far very pleased with the handset… But I am not at all happy with the OS.

Not now.

Not now they’ve killed my SD card.

Dead.

 

My PNY 64GB micro SDHC card was doing really well until the very minute the Cyanogen 13.1.2 updated was set off. Then it went through 128 modules, and spent ages with the little green android wiggling its antennae on the screen. Once relaunched, the first thing I noticed was the “Corrupted SD card”… and my blood ran cold.
 

 
I attempted to reboot. when picked up the phone, I noticed it was extremely hot to the touch, both front and back, which wasnt a good sign. Unfortunately, this did not resolve it. There was only one conclusion…

The update had killed my SD card data.

It. Was. All. Gone.

Forever.
 

I double checked it in my old Z10. That couldn’t read it either. My PC doesn’t have a card reader, and I no longer have an SD adapter (that I remember). I rather stupidly don’t have a USB reader. But I think it was made pretty clear by the BlackBerry… which has always been reliable. There was only corrupted, unreadable data on the SD card now. The update had fried the data and turned it to gibberish.

I had to start everything all over again. At least pictures and videos were immediately transferred to several cloud services. Things like music…. They all had to be imported and playlists probably recreated. Some apps might have to be redownloaded. There could be a whole bunch of other things lost on there I don’t remember… This is not good at all.

 


 

So right now, I’m pretty mad because I have to erase and (re)format my card. Everything lost. Broken. Gone. I don’t even know why… Apart from the fact I made the mistake of updating the OS.

I’m obviously very unhappy about this. I couldn’t even do an emergency backup,  because just like that it was all gone. There was no warning, and I’ve never encountered such a problem before, so it’s both infuriating and baffling. 

When I’ve gathered myself enough to deal with the trauma of being able to pull the plug, I will reformat the card and start again.

And try not to cry. Or break something…


 

 

 

 

Again I Played… Again I Lost.

Again I Played… Again I Lost.

… To. A. Machine…

I really have to get better at arguing with inanimate objects…

 

<random.rant>

 

 

Ubuntu-LogoHaving an argument with Ubuntu again.

16.04 this time.

Remind me again why I do this…??

 

Already had argument with Kubuntu and lost.

 

… Whoever said computers don’t have their own minds is sorely mistaken. And an idiot.

 

 

 

</random.rant>

 

 

Decisons… Decisions…

Apple iPad Air 2 & Samsung Galaxy Tab 2:

Positive Vs Negatives

 

Apple Vs Samsung
Apple Positives Apple Negatives Samsung Positives Samsung Negatives
Apple Apple: Not quite the same company now Samsung It’s not Apple/ iOS
iOS Layout & GUI iOS: system is rather flawed New Android is good, GUI interesting It’s not iOS: things like iMessages missing
Apple Apps/ App Store Price Point: £529 for 64GB £449 – or £479 for max 163GB space Cannot download & read Max PC mag
Familiarity Unreliable future for excellence – empty – Inability to access Apple [Only] Apps
Excellent Quality Hardware Weight: 444g (vs. 392g) Extremely thin and light Untested & unfamilaiar ground
Simple Setup, Easy Migration of Data etc. by simply loggiing in Size: A2 slightly thicker – 6.1mm vs. 5.6mm – empty – Inability to transfer some data, apps, subscriptions, etc.
Immediate like-for-like setup, like having same iPad There has been very little innovation Something new and interesting in Android Change….
I do love iOS – empty – No problem in handling it Smaller size makes less easy to clutch
Ease, beauty & functionality of entire package A8X Tri-Core 64-bit, 2GB RAM (vs. Exynos eight-core, 3GB RAM) Octa-Core: 2x Quad Core procesors Not 64-bit hardware
Simplicity & simple elegance of iOS design & function Terrible glitches and problems and patches with each iteration Imaginitive functions & design of Lollipop & Marshmallow Android OSes Android has reputation of being chaotic, unstable & unreliable
Excellent specs & more than enough space (64GB, 2GB RAM) Fixed Space High specs, low weight Some games/apps iOS only

 

Battle Of The Brands: Apple vs. Samsung

I have a big decision to make.

One day soon, in the next few months, maybe by Christmas  (and depending on the launch of iOS 10), I will require a new tablet. But that’s not the whole story… the biggest decision is whether to stick with Apple and the iPad family or jump ship to  Samsung and Android.

To even consider breaking away from Apple, there is just one real first question… Can Samsung really compare?

There are also a couple more:

  • Is jumping ship a good thing?
  • Is transitioning easy?

So, given those questions – and unspoken other ones – I wonder just what kind of arguments each side could make:

 

The Competitors:

On the side of Apple, I give you the lovely iPad Air 2 (unless your job is a graphics designer or similar, there is no need to even think of considering iPad Pro):

 

16GB + 4G – 449.99
64GB + 4G – £529.00
  • A8X chip with 64-bit architecture (three cores clocked at 1.5 GHz)
  • M8 motion coprocessoriPad_Air_2
  • Depth: 6.1 mm (0.24 inches)
  •  Weight: 444 g
Available in: 16GB – 64GB (No external memory)
Camera: 8MP iSight camera
Video: 1080p HD video recording (30 fps)
Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV

Retina display:

  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution
  • 264 ppi

 

On the side of Samsung, I give you the Galaxy Tab S2, and at the lower end, the Galaxy Tab A:

Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ 4G £449.99

– Samsung Exynos 5433 ProcessorSamsung_Galaxy_S2_
– Quad-core x 2 (“Octa-Core”)
– 1.9 GHz / 1.3 GHz
– 3GB RAM
– 32 GB eMMC (Memory)
– 8″ Super AMOLED Screen
– 2048 x 1536 (QXGA)
– microSD card (up to 128 GB)
– 8 MP camera
– 2.1 MP webcam
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA/Flac player
Depth: 5.6mm
Weight: 392g

Samsung_Galaxy_S2

Galaxy Tab A 9.7″ 4G£239.99

– 1.2GHz Quad-Core
– 1024 x 768 (XGA) resolution
– 2 GB RAM
– 16 GB memory (10.8GB available)
– MicroSD (Up to 128GB)
– Depth: 7.5mm
Weight: 456g

 

Like vs Like:

There is one key issue here that will be a very big deciding factor: Weight. I can no longer hold my iPad (4) Retina for more than fairly short periods – I have a condition that means I can no longer hold much weight – and therefore to really use and enjoy the product

The other key issue that is just as important is: Space: My strict 16GB (shrunk to 12GB thanks to the constantly inflating sizes of iOS) space is not even half as big as what I really require to make the most of my hefty investment.

Weight and Space might be Key- but functionality is also a must. Android and iOS are as night and day in how they do things, but they’re fairly neck-and-neck when it comes to what they do. Most apps are written and available for both platforms. Both have the ability to do a heck of a lot. There’s not a lot in it when it comes to what products are available.

However, when it comes to the functionality of the two operating systems there’s much to consider… Apple is talking about bringing out iOS 10 soon, as is Android about Marshmallow 6.0. Both offer more and better functions, in very different ways.

I admit I am a fan of the clean and smart layout of iOS. I like the way it functions – and it doesn’t hurt that it is what I have been using for the last 4+ years. I also admittedly do not have a soft spot for the Android layout, and it’s more like an average desktop with far more options for customisation… something most other people really like, but I’m not much of a fan of.

 

 

Apple Positive vs Negatives
Apple Positives Apple Negatives
Apple Apple – Not the same company now
iOS Layout & GUI iOS – system is now flawed
Apps Price Point
Familiarity Unreliable future for excellence
Excellent Quality Hardware Weight – S2 slightly lighter
Simpler Setup, Migration of Data etc. Size – S2 slightly thinner
Ease, beauty & functionality of entire package Processor – S2 has slightly faster speed, more cores & RAM
Excellent specs & more than enough space (64GB) Fixed Space

 

iPad_Air_2(2)Whilst thinking about this list, I came to realise that trying to process the negatives were difficult – it was actually hard to think of bad things against the iPad Air 2… apart from the price and memory options. The clear £79 difference between the two, along with the option of expanding the memory by an extra 128GB does swing a lot in the S2’s favour.

 If it weren’t for these contentions, I do not think I would hesitate or think of looking elsewhere. I love my iPad and I would prefer to make a like-for-like change… but the fact nevertheless  remains that Samsung is offering far more value for money. A 128GB micro SD card can be as little as £25 – add that to the 32GB of on-board memory that the S2 has and for as little as £474.98 you have a device with 163GB of on-board memory and 3GB of RAM with an eight-core processor. It is a difficult offer to pass up when Apple is not offering a product that’s not quite on that level for an extra £55.

 

 

Tablet Specs: Table 1
Product Price Processor Speed Memory Screen Res Depth Weight
iPad Air 2 £529.00 A8X 64-bit 1.5GHz x3 Cores 64GB 2048 x 1536 6.1mm 444g
iPad Pro 9.7″ £599.00 A9X 64-bit 2.16GHz – 2.26GHz 32GB 2048 x 1536 6.1mm 444g
Galaxy Tab S2 £449.99 Quad-Core x2 1.9GHz / 1.3Ghz 32GB 2048 x 1536 5.6mm 392g
Galaxy Tab A 9.7″ £239.99 Quad-Core 1.2GHz 16GB 1024 x 768 7.5mm 456g

 

Tablet Specs: Table 2
Specs iPad Air 2 iPad Pro 9.7″ Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ Galaxy Tab A
Processor A8X 64-bit A9X 64-bit Quad-Core x 2 Quad-Core
Price £529.00 £599.00 £449.99 £239.00
Speed 1.5GHz x3 2.16GHz – 2.26GHz 1.9GHz / 1.3GHz 1.2GHz
Memory 64GB 32GB 32GB 16GB
Screen Res 2048 x 1536 Retina 2048 x 1536 Retina 2048 x 1536 S-AMOLED 1024 x 768 (XGA)
Depth 6.1mm 6.1mm 5.6mm 7.5mm
Weight 444g 444g 392g 456g

~ All prices are for the 4G (network) editions ~
 

It’s a difficult decision to make… with the fundamentals resting on whether Apple s offering enough to justify an extra £80 for less processor power, less memory [options], and more weight (even if it isn’t all that much).

I can’t really justify the iPad Pro – I do not require such power in a tablet. The iPad S2 certainly covers my needs quite easily…but put up against the Galaxy Tab S2, it seems lacking and wanting. One of those things where you are simply paying for the name. Samsung is the company trailblazing and experimenting with new tech, trying new ideas, bringing out the best things… everything Apple used to do. All Apple seems to be doing is bringing out yet another near-identical products with better processors, which are required for their new mighty and clumsy incarnations of iOS.

The swings and roundabouts will continue to move until a final decision is made… but to me it says a lot about how far Samsung has come – never before have I ever considered trading in my Apple for anything else. Or maybe it shows how the Apple has fallen. They are not the company they used to be. They used to trailblaze and try new things… and we haven’t seen anything genuinely new from them since the mighty Steve Jobs passed from us. His vision, passion, and constant search for something new is sorely missing, but it is Samsung who is taking inspiration, and they are the ones trying new things now. Will I be the one to try something new in Samsung?

I do not yet know.

 

New Build, Noobie Builder

My New Build

And finally I have it – my self-build computer all in one piece. I have now built my lovely, new handmade PC from all my components and parts. My own build. My very own baby. With everything chosen by me and put together with the help of a very capably friend (one brought in who knew what they were doing).

I harvested the optical drive (CD/DVD drive) and the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) from my old computer – there’s no point getting rid of good components. The rest I saved for and bought myself, or received as a gift. After about a year of planning, it’s now finally here.

There’s just one hitch… the HDD (a normal hard drive – the ones with the spinning disc plates – that is somewhat old… OK, pretty old… and is just basic cheap and standard-stock) that I put in was harvested from a (now-broken) pre-built computer. I had many problems with booting (or not booting, as the case may be) when trying to run my old machine… and it turns out that the Windows 7 OS on it is doesn’t work.

It tries to start, gives the option for System Repair or start as Normal. The Normal option just sends you strait back to that same message. System Repair then goes through the motions, tries to repair from Restore Point, fails at that too, and the sends you back to the same old message again.

 

OEM Headaches

At first, I think it’s broken. But then I realise it’s because this was an “OEM” edition of Windows 7 – the one that came with the original computer – and they do not transfer from one machine to another.

In fact, they are locked to the motherboard upon installation, so if you want to continue to use it in a new computer from an old computer you’ve purchased pre-built (the ones you buy from a shop) – or from a new OEM DVD installation – you actually can’t. Not if you want to use it in a different machine with a different motherboard. Windows also has specific policies in regards to self-purchased OEM installation discs, as they were created for system-builders only – and the license for it does not cover people who install it inside a purpose-built machine for themselves (like this one).

These editions are actually for “commercial-use” only, and are “non-transferable”… which is why my harvested HDD won’t boot in my new machine.

The only answer is to get a new OS from Microsoft. Unfortunately.

 

The Build:

 

So… it turns out I have a perfectly good system after all. Apart from the fact that Microsoft makes the most ridiculous operating system ever, one that is locked down and unable to be used without giving them a hefty sum of money.

It’s not too hard to see why OS X and Linux systems are the go-to favourites for people who know better. Or those who don’t want to play games (although Linux systems are starting to catch on to this section of computing too).

But Windows is the king of the OS gang, and to play I’m going to have to get it working again – so I’m off to work out where to get a new “retail” edition, and for the best value. Not an easy task whatsoever, given they’re all really far too expensive.

 

My Very Own Self-Build

Putting the whole thing together was not the straightforward experience I hoped it would be – what it was, was a learning curve and one very fun experience. Some of it required quite a bit of problem-solving, and the motherboard instructions were clearly for those in the know. It took a bit of working out and guesswork, but we got there in the end.

Asus_Z97-A_MoboThe motherboard (colloquially known as a “Mobo”) is a beautiful one, but a little more complicated than I expected it to be – and it didn’t help that the instructions were not entirely clear to a building noob like me. It didn’t help that I didn’t realise at first the chassis (case) was (cleverly) built to hide wires inside it and couldn’t work out how certain things hooked up because of this… but I worked it out eventually and fixed it (the moral of our story is read the chassis instructions). The entire chassis is screw-less, except for installing the motherboard, and getting everything from opening the case’s sides to installing the HDD is all cleverly stuck together with clippy sections or thumbscrews.

i7-4790K_CPUThe processor was a much easier component to install, with the thermal paste already pre-applied (thank you, Intel!) and it was easy to place it inside the socket. The heatsink also went on nice and easy – thanks to the screw-less ideation of all hardware-makers, it had little plastic arms (thick and strong ones that are really robust) that clip firmly into place with the aid of a clever twisting mechanism thing. It was so much easier to manage – and far more effective – than the old way of fighting with screws to get it on… it was a joy and a relief to see how the new ones are made! The box was also so much smaller than I imagined it to be – it had just the processor, heatsink, and instruction booklet, and it was barely bigger than the small heatsink. It was small enough to just sit in my hand and the chip was, of course, even tinier, peeping out of a clear window in the lid of the box. The presentation was simple and beautiful, and once out the entire thing was just stupidly easy to install. Well done, Intel!

To keep up with the ease of installation, the graphics card popped into place nicely (having unclipped 2 of the slots in the back) and required no other work whatsoever. There was, however, plenty of room in there for bigger graphics cards, and plenty of extra power supply cables available for any that would require it. The motherboard also fully supports SLI/Crossfire (using more than one graphics card: SLI for NVIDIA & Crossfire for AMD), and the chassis is roomy, so you can at double-up with ease if you care to do so.

Corsair_Veneance_RAMThe RAM cards also went in without any issues. The pair of red Corsair Vengeance Pro cards looks stunning within this gorgeous motherboard and case, and required no more effort other than just popping them in… all 16GB of them. There’s also room for a further two cards for some serious power, and the mobo takes up to 32GB of it.

The PSU also went in easily (just had to press it in a little as the section given is nice and snug) and the cables were already nicely put together in bundled mesh, all sections quite easily identifiable by the codes on the ends of each segment. It’s sturdy, the cables are pretty, and 500W is plenty of juice for what I have right now. Perfect!

The first thing that was fiddly was installing the harvested hard drive… It took a while to work out the HDD needed to be installed upside down, with the pins pointing into the case, not outwards. Thanks to the (overly) effective cable-management design of the Corsair Carbide chassis, it turned out that the power cable attachment and the SATA cable slipped under the HDD section and beneath the disk drives themselves, so once plugged in the HDD would be inserted with the cables going down and inside the case when sliding it into its little pigeon-hole, all nice and tidy.

The second thing that was difficult to install was the SSD (the Samsung 850 EVO, 120 GB).

Since I had never seen this before, it was a bit of a head-scratcher and then a revelation when I realised it. It also makes life so much easier when it comes to the cable management… once you’ve worked out how it works.

 

Future Proof

I really cannot recommend these components highly enough, particularly for fellow “noobs“.

The Corsair chassis is easy to use, has loads of space in it, has a nice lot of fans, is nice and airy, and has plenty of room for installing a cooling system, and has room for 4 hard drives (HDD or SSD types) and 3 optical (DVD) drives. It’s also almost completely screw-less (and, wow, that makes a huge difference!) and has space beneath the motherboard and around the sides for cable management (slipping the cables in, so it’s all nice and tidy in there). Just read all the instructions about it first…

The Asus Z97-A motherboard has just about everything you would need: It is specifically-designed to withstand high-pressure use, such as gaming, and includes overclocking support. It has SLI & Crossfire multi-graphics card support, USB 3.0 and M.2 SATA (a new type of hard drive that looks more like a tiny card rather than a normal HDD) ports, and SATA Express (also known as SATA III/ SATA 3.2) compatible connectors.

It’s not quite the perfect build (it doesn’t have an over-clocked GTX 980 Ti graphics card in it), but it’s really pretty good and I’m happy with it. It’s future-proof (unless you count being able to upgrade to the new “next gen” Skylake system, which would require an entirely new mobo and processor… and hefty sum of money!). It has everything I require, and is compatible with upgrading to better equipment.

Ideally, I would have behemoth graphics card NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti, but the one I have is a pretty good compromise right now – but the upgrade ability is there. I would also like to install an M.2 or SSD (SATA III) hard drive for the operating system, using the current HDD that I have for storage-only (it’s what is most commonly used these days, particularly with gaming or other high-power functions like professional video editing or music production).

Future-proofing also means having Windows 10 – Microsoft will no longer offer support for any other previous system, and are going to mimic Apple and their OS X system from now on, updating their platform when required with free upgrades and versions for the Windows 10 platform alone. It’s the best model, as Apple has already proven. Is it ironic, coincidence, or deliberate that Microsoft has decided to do this with their 10 system as well..?

I don’t have a cooling system (…yet. I will see how it goes with the fans that it already has). I also do not have a monitor – but then this tiny place that I live in is rather too small for making desk-space, so the display is the TV right now… Which isn’t too bad, given it means I can play my PC games on a big screen too.

 

Reluctantly Windowed

In the end, I caved and bought a copy of Windows 8.1 to finally get it properly up and running. It’s a future-proof investment… but an investment I would not need to make if my old Windows 7 edition wasn’t locked down as an “OEM” copy, though. It would be a simple free upgrade to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, Microsoft do not offer a Windows 10 DVD or ISO (a download for installing onto a DVD or USB yourself) in exchange for the old system key for a Windows edition that came with your old computer, for a genuine OS you can’t get into because they locked it down. No… In that instance they want you to go out any buy a whole new machine, or at least a proper Windows 10 system installation DVD. Naturally.

Despite billions of dollars of profits per year, they still want your money.

Naturally.

The only way to save even a little money was to get a retail copy of Windows 8.1 (which is cheaper now) and take the free upgrade to Windows 10, instead of spending an extra £20+ to get Windows 10 retail upfront.

Thanks to my lovely new Samsung SSD, the installation went lightening-fast, and booting and rebooting are also just as snappy. It was a good investment, and having it on a separate drive also safeguards the system better: If the system becomes corrupted, you can reinstall without having to worry about your data (safely tucked away on the other HDD), and if you have any corrupted data, it won’t harm your system. It’s the most common way (and sensible) way of using system and storage data now, and I would recommend it without a doubt.

I would also highly recommend installing your system onto an SSD (small ones, like my 120GB EVO are not very expensive now), or even an M.2 (if your mobo has that option). The boot times are unimaginable if you’re used to an old HDD – they’re almost instantaneous, and it makes using a PC (or laptop) an entirely different experience.

 

Let There Be Power…

I have to admit (and have it said like a proud mother) that it looks gorgeous and I definitely made the right choices with all the components.

It took several hours and two giant pizzas, but eventually it all came to life. The motherboard fired up, all the fans started spinning, and you could hear the sweet sound of success – a fab fan-humming computer happily working away. The Z97-A even has a little button at the bottom for testing the mobo without having to turn on and boot the entire computer – and flashes little red lights against any areas with a problem, so you don’t have to randomly guess what’s wrong if it’s not working.

The BIOS (“Basic Input/Output System“) of the motherboard launched without any trouble (it’s DEL or F2 for this particular one) and it had some lovely in-built software to make specifically configuring it nice and easy (only required if you’re going to need some extra-specific settings, though).

Everything works just fine… so I can’t really complain. Well, I can. Just a little. Microsoft did make me have to buy a whole new OS for this thing, which was entirely unfair of them.

(Forcing people into getting a new one when they have a perfectly good one already, by locking them down, is a farcical way of obtaining even more money than they already have for no good reason other than corporate greed.)

 

Overview:

This was quite an illuminating journey and a lovely little tech adventure. Now that my baby is up and running, I’m really impressed with everything that I’ve chosen – the quality of the components and they way they play well together is impressive.

I’m most impressed by the difference the SSD has made to how the system runs, and I’m happy I now have my data and games saved and installed on a different drive altogether (also allowing more space to be used more effectively). I have tested it on older games and newer games (Skyrim, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon Age II, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, The Elder Scrolls Online, and a few other games). I’m slightly impeded in seeing just how good it can be, since I’m playing them on the TV, which is just a basic 1080 HD screen. With the better monitors running at 2560×1440 (just under Apple’s “Retina” standard of 2880×1800, which I am used to when playing on the MacBook), there are much better graphics and better quality of visuals to be had. That is where a lot of the power goes, and where the graphics card(s), processor, and RAM get to work hard and show off a bit.

Now I’ve done it – successfully – I hope I won’t have to do it again for sometime. Just adding or updating specific components as and when should be absolutely no trouble whatsoever, too. My year of preparation, learning, reading, and researching has paid off, and now I’m more knowledgeable and better equipped to understand how these things work.

I may have wanted to do this a long time ago, but it’s better late than never. And I’m very happy I have now done so.

 

Now peace and gaming at last!

 

Spooky Say Relax!

 

PS4 Palaver

Newest project: Getting the (abundance of) screenshots and videos off my PS4 and onto my new USB external Hard Drive.

The thing is, it wasn’t supposed to be a project.

It was supposed to be a simple plug-and-play easy transfer. But, of course, nothing is that easy – oh, no! No, everything must always, without fail, be difficult and testing to the point of throwing oneself off a cliff onto very sharp and pointy rocks below, just because it’s more fun than dealing with the ridiculous problems that you’re faced with.

 

Problematic

The first mistake was not checking formatting. Naturally.

Unfortunately, tech-land has quite kindly (…ahem) bestowed upon us numerous formatting options, including: NTFS [Windows NT File System], FAT [File Allocation Table]/FAT32, exFAT (is is FAT optimised for flash drives), Mac OS Extended (there are 4 types of these), and then there’s also “Free Space” [aka: no format].

The external drive I acquired was a Samsung M3 Slimline Portable 1TB HDD. I thought it would be easy enough to just plug in the USB to the PS4 and get everything copied on.

But not so fast… Nothing is just that simple. After being told that it was in the wrong format, I plugged the HDD into the Macbook to see what it actually was. It transpired it was defaulted to NTFS… which was fair enough, except that only works with Windows PCs. So then I was off on a hunt to find out precisely what PS4 did accept as a format standard.

Surprisingly, it took quite a lot of  hunting down. I finally found it, in their online “manual”… hidden quite deftly, too. Apparently it accepts FAT and exFAT formats.

 

Transference

Using the OS X Disk Utility, I separated the Samsung hard drive into 2 parts, about 50% each, both exFAT (then it’s compatible with everything). Then I plugged it back into the PS4.

And… success! Finally.

The screenshots went pretty easily – they don’t take up too much room (less than 1GB). But the videos… well, there were a tad more of them. A lot more. 275GB more, to be exact.

Copying them across was a little more… lengthy. It worked. But despite the 3.0 USB ports  on the console and the 3.0 Samsung HDD, it still took about 2 hours to transfer them across. It may have even been a little longer than that… although that’s still better than the “10 hours” it first estimated when it started! And in all fairness, nearly 300GB of stuff in a couple of hours is pretty impressive given what a 2.0 USB/HDD combo would have taken (and maybe what that “10 hours” was based on…).

Now I have solved this little problem, I’m quite happy with what hardware I have – the M3 drive was easy to format on the Macbook, and the PS4 did quite a nifty job of copying everything on (I’m pretty sure 275GB transfer takes longer than 2(ish) hours without the help of USB 3.0).