Friday, April 1, 2011

All you wanted to know about the Lenovo Thinkpad x120e

The x120e is Lenovo's first AMD Fusion (zacate)-based laptop. It can be configured with either an E-240 or an E-350 APU, but really, the E-350 is worth the small price premium. You can buy one from Lenovo. In the same vein as the HP DM1z blog post by Jackharvest (which has some useful info in it that applies to the the E-350 platform in general, including the x120e), I've tried to compile all the known information about the new Lenovo Thinkpad x120e here, in hopes it will help people down the line.

If you have any questions or suggestions on how to make this post better, please leave a comment!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Update: TheAnimeNetwork streaming service

Sometime last week, the Anime Network updated their streaming client. They've been working on moving a lot of their content over to Hulu, at least for non-registered users, which is actually kind of nice. It frees up more bandwidth for the paying members :).

As for the new streaming client, it seems to work much better. There's a button now within the video player to switch to HD, and it does a good job of buffering. One nice thing, at least compared to crunchyroll, is that the streams have a long timeout on them. On crunchyroll, if you start watching an episode, go away for maybe 30 minutes and come back and try to watch, it won't work -- the stream is dead, and you have to reload the page, seek to the position in the video you were at, and wait for it to buffer. I did the same thing today with TAN, and it resumed playing just fine.

They also put the rest of Hell Girl Season 3 up, so go watch it! (Hell Girl is the main reason I bought a subscription. The 3rd season is streaming free through Hulu.

Monday, February 28, 2011

TheAnimeNetwork streaming review

Over Christmas, I finally opened my copy of Hell Girl that I bought six months prior, but never had time to watch it. I was enthralled with the anime and finished it in a couple of days. But wait, it wasn't finished yet -- there were still two more seasons! I really wanted to watch them, but I didn't want to wait. So before I went for the fansub, I checked out whether it was available to steam legally. I checked Crunchyroll... negative. Funimation, who had the license for Hell Girl season 1, lost it for the rest of the seasons. Sentai filmworks picked up the license for seasons 2 and 3, so I checked out their streaming site -- The Anime Network (TAN). They had it listed, and the first two eps were free, so I checked it out... and it was good enough for me to pay for a 3 month subscription.

I use Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu for anime streaming, so I'll compare TAN to these three (and to fansubs). Right now, my personal favorite is Crunchyroll because they 1) have 720p available for many of their shows and 2) their video player works fairly decently. TAN uses an older version of JW Player, so it's decent. My main gripes with TAN's site are that 1) I can't get it to default to the high-def stream if available, 2) there are some bandwidth issues at times, 3) seeking in the video is hit or miss. TAN also hardcodes the subs for Hell Girl in a somewhat ugly DVD subtitle font. Crunchyroll's softsubs are a lot better. Given these, I'd probably give TAN a B, Crunchyroll an A-, and Funimation a B/B-.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Honda Fit Recall

About a week ago, Honda announced a recall about a "lost motion spring" that may break and cause engine problems. CNN indicates that nearly 700,000 Honda Fits worldwide may fall under the recall. A user on managed to obtain a copy of the technical service bulletin detailing the repair, but more importantly, listing the affected VIN numbers.

Honda decided to provide notice of the recall ASAP, which is good, but that didn't give them a chance to have the infrastructure in place to support the recall. Even now, their recall site hasn't been updated to list which cars are affected. Some people are freaking out about it, but as for me, I'm just driving my Fit like it's not an issue.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Computer upgrade!

After getting about 3 years out of my current computer, it started not booting intermittently. I tried to troubleshoot the problem, but ultimately, it seemed that the motherboard didn't like the cold.

I decided it was about time to upgrade. I went from a Pentium E2160 overclocked to 2.7ghz with 4gb of RAM to the following:
  • AMD Phenom II X2 560 BE, unlocked to 4 cores @ 3.3 ghz (~$100)
  • Coolermaster Hyper 212+ CPU cooler (~$30)
  • Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H with the AMD 890gx chipset (~$90 AR)
  • 8 GB of DDR3 (Corsair XMMS3 @ 1600mhz) (~$95)
  • 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (~$100 AR)
My final cost, after all the rebates, comes out to around $415. I could have saved $50 by waiting a few days for some cheaper RAM.

The system is a lot faster than my old computer, though I don't know which component it's due to. The SSD, surprisingly, hasn't amazed me with its performance yet -- perhaps it'll prove better as time goes on.

Whenever I build a new machine, I have to go through the trouble of stress testing it, even more so if I'm overclocking or unlocking cores. From searching the interwebs, I decided on a combination of the following tools:
I ran Memtest86+ overnight, then Prime95 on the small FFT test overnight, followed by an hour of OCCT and 10 runs of the Intel Burn Test.

I was also expecting to run into some trouble with Windows 7 activation, but I was able to use the key from my old computer and it activated online with no problem. (I'll probably take out 2 GB of RAM from the old computer and put WinXP on it).

A note about my case, an earlier version of this Antec case -- while it's nice to have a smallish case, the space inside is very tight. I had to take out all the hard drives and the rear fan to get the motherboard into the case. There's also no good places to run wires, other than stashing them in unused drive bays. On the good side, it is big enough to fit the Hyper 212+ cooler (though barely, there's probably half an inch from the top of the cooler to the side panel.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Synergy: Controlling two computers from one keyboard!

I've lost one of my dual monitors (I moved and it was a big bulky CRT), but now I have room on my desk for my laptop! But, with my laptop placed at a good distance for viewing, the keyboard is too far away. What to do?!

Synergy to the rescue! It's an app that allows you to share the mouse and keyboard from one computer to others, and it's cross-platform. I followed the instructions at GroovyPost:

One gotcha -- I normally use Dvorak, and if both my windows and mac machines are set to dvorak, it doesn't work properly. I have to set my mac to use the normal keyboard layout to get proper input, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter 2011 Anime Season!

Well, the new anime season is well on it's way, with a whole bunch of series already started. So far, the ones to watch are Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Gosick. There should be some noitaminA anime starting up soon which might be promising...

I also broke down and bought a 3 month subscription to the Anime Network just so I could finish watching Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl). I liked it a lot, as did psgels:

I'm sad that between Crunchyroll, Anime Network, and Funimation, nobody licensed Madoka for simulcast :(.

iPhone and Guitars

I'm looking to downsize the amount of "stuff" I have to make it easier when I have to move. Right now, I have a practice guitar amp, which, though it's not huge, still takes up space.

Since I usually practice with headphones (because I'm still learning, and I suck), I decided to go with one of the iPhone solutions. The two big ones seem to be iRig and Ampkit. The iRig hardware costs $35 on amazon, while Ampkit Link is $30. From reading reviews, the Ampkit Link has fewer problems with feedback and outputs at a higher level because it's powered. However, several reviews on Amazon have indicated that the hardware isn't that good, with bad 1/4" sockets being the primary complaint.

As soon as I sell my current amp, I'll probably buy the Ampkit Link and hope I don't get one of the bad pieces of hardware.