I wanted to write about this topic for some time now. Actually, I had an old blog that I am going to shutdown soon. I decided to carry over some of the posts that I think are going to be interesting.
One of these posts is a one that I take apart GBA games to see what’s inside them. I had the hobby of taking things apart, whatever that is. Remote Control cars, game consoles, and game carts. Later on, Game Boy Advance, and previously Game Boy Colour had carts with vibration functions. I really did like these. At the time, they were cool and fascinating. More of a technological marvel. Having a game that reacts to your actions in the game is amazing, especially for a handheld game.
Below is a great GBA game that I still own. Drill Dozer. It is a platform game in which the hero rides a drill vehicle. The play progress through the levels by driving enemies and objects. There are also various upgrades to the drill pit that the vehicle has. This allows the player to progress to even more levels.
The interesting thing is that, as you drill; the cart vibrates. As you upgrade the drill pit, the vibration increases. Sounds interesting, and personally, I thing the vibration adds more depth to the game.
Personally, If you have not played this game, go now and get it. At least download and emulator and its rom and play it. Just don’t keep the rom after 24h after downloading it as it is illegal if you don’t own the game cart. This game along with two other GBA games have this feature. The other games are Wario Twisted and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy.
Another interesting cart is the DS Rumble Pak. It was released for the Original DS. It also came bundled with Metroid Pinball. But it wasn’t that great. It added little depth. Personally, I went with a third party Rumble Pak. It was much better.
I remember playing Hotel Dusk with third party Rumble Pak. It was an excellent game and the Rumble added much to the experience.
later when the DS lite got released, they released a smaller version that would flush with it small design. It sucked as its bigger brother, the original DS version.
Aside from Hotel Dusk and Metroid Pinball, there were few games that supported the Rumble Pak on the DS, 51 to be exact according to Wikipedia. Among them is Hotel Dusk sequel, Metorid Prime hunters, Space Invaders Extreme, Tomb Raider: Underworld, among others.
Overall, I loved the concept of having a vibrating cart in a handheld video game. Sadly, Nintendo did not implement this in their 3DS handheld game console for some strange reason that I don’t know what it is. Probably battery issues, or maybe build issues with the DS. Not sure.
I wanted to write about this topic since the day I started mining myself in 2015. At this point, there are many sites you can find that talks about the subject. However, in this post I am going to talk about my experience in cryptocurrency mining. This article assumes that you heard about cryptocurrency in general.
It is one of these topics that begin to resurface recently due the surge in prices of cryptocurrency again (first surge happened in 2013).
For example, Etherium, which is one of most well known currencies, alongside bitcoin has reached 380$ per coin. Which is an insane price compared to 10 dollars few months ago. This regenerated the mining craze that started in 2013, but now more than one coin are worth mining.
The reason for the surge:
There are many reasons that made cryptocurrency in general to surge. Some reasons are political, others are awareness and acceptance. For political reasons, among them is the election of Donald Trump, and Briexit. In addition to these, the recent regulation by the Japanese government made bitcoin as a legal method of payment. This alone made bitcoin to surge.
In addition to political reasons, many people become aware of bitcoin quite simply. Many shops started to offer bitcoin as a method of payment. I plan to write a post that has most of the shops that started to accepts bitcoin as a method of payment.
Furthermore, bitcoin concept of being a free currency that is not being controlled by a single entity (in theory) away from governments has made it an ideal currency for people who want a currency that is not being affected by political decisions.
Just think about it, why would you invest in a currency that you know could lose its value for whatever reason that might happen. Bitcoin can lose some of its value due to technical issues, or political reasons. However, these factors are temporary factors. In my opinion it is going to rise even more.
So how do you get bitcoin?
You have three ways to get bitcoin. the first is to mine it. Second, is ti buy it directly from various exchanges. Last, is to mine an alternative cryptocurrency such as Etherium and exchange it with bitcoin.
Before buying a bitcoin, you need a wallet. A wallet to store all of you bitcoins. It works just like a bank account. You can send, received and view all of you transactions. To get a bitcoin wallet, go to bitcoin.com. Once you downloaded a wallet, It will start to sync its blockchain. Blockchain is like a log or a ledger that keeps track of all transactions that happen between wallets.
This could take from 1 day to fe days depends on your internet connection. Once your wallet is synced, you can go on and acquire a bitcoin. But first, you need get get an address. An address is what you need to provide people or exchanges with to get paid.
Etherium on the other hand has a cloud based wallet. Meaning that, you only need to create a wallet online and get a keystone file. Keep this keystone file secure.
There are many sites that you can buy bitcoin from, selling bitcoin is an entirely different story. I will focus on selling in this paragraph. You can buy bitcoin from many sites, such as coinbase.com, changelly.com, coinmama.com among many others. I personally used coinmama, and changelly. You can use your credit card to buy bitcoin from these sites. For coinmama.com You can buy a small amount at the beginning without being verified. Once you reached this limit, which is 150$ worth of bitcoin at the time of writing this post, you need to get verified. Verified means that you need to submit documents that prove that you are who you say you are. You need to provide your ID or passport photocopy, your current address. This will allow you to buy up to 10,000$ worth of bitcoin. The higher you need to buy bitcoin, the more that you need to prove who you are by presenting a copy of ID, or even a video of yourself telling your name, address and holding your own ID card. This is to prevent money laundering.
You do it in person using sties such as bitcointalk.org. You can also use coinbase.com, and localbitcoin.com. Overall, selling bitcoin is not as straight forward as buying bitcoin. Especially if you live outside the US.
Not possible at this time. Well it is possible, but it is not worth it. Since there are many large entities that are mining bitcoin in huge mining farms, it is really hard to compete with them. An examine of what I am talking about, go to the following link. Link.
Personally, I would mine alternative currencies and exchange them with bitcoin. This is much easier and worth it.
You can mine Monero, Etherium, Etherium classic, bytecoin. All of these coins are still mineable and you can get rewarded handsomely for mining these. You can check an up to date value of all cryptocurrencies with this website: coinmarketcap.com.
How to start mining?
What you need first is, a computer with multiple GPUs.
You don’t even need a computer, you just need computer components. Personally, I just buy the components without even getting a housing for them.
Here is a list of what you need to get started:
1- Motherboard that has 4 or more PCI Express slots, PCI 16 is also fine.
2- A processor. Some people go for the cheapest processor they can find. Personally, I go for a decent one and use it to mine another coin that is mineable with a processor. Cryptonight (monero, bytecoin, etc) coins are example of coins that can be mined with a processor. An air cooler is also fine. But a water cooler is much better. I don’t cheap on processors. I get an i5, or i7 if I can. I used to get AMD processors.
3- A regular RAM. If you plan to use Windows, get least 4 GB of RAM. If you plan to go Linux route, 2 GB is fine.
4- A hard drive, the smallest you can find would do the job.
5- PSU, get a GOLD standard one. Don’t cheap on this own. If you plan to use a powerful GPU such as AMD R 290X, then go with EVGA 1300 W G2. If you Plan to use AMD RX 400 series then go for 850 W. I prefer EVGA, I found it to work flawlessly.
6- Mining software. I use Claymore. I found it the easiest to use and the least one to give you double. Your antiVirus might complain about. Just ignore the warning.
7- Remote desktop program to monitor and configure your mining rig remotely. I prefer to use TeamViewer.
8- Operating system. I prefer to use Windows 7. Linux is also an option. I do have some mining rigs running Linux but setting up Windows in just much easier.
9- Finally and the most important is bunch of GPUs. Get AMD cards cause they are best at mining. Amount the most picked are R9 290x, R9 290, RX 480, and RX 470. The problem with 290X is that they produce so much heat and consume a lot of energy. They consume up to 300W. This makes it much harder to construct a mining rig with 6 GPUs. RX 470 consume up to 150W.
10- If you are like me who live in a hot area, get an addition air conditioner. I got two, one works during the day, and one during the night. They take shifts. Remember that GPUs and CPUs thermal throttle the performance when it gets hot. Meaning that you will not get the optimal performance if they are not cooled enough.
Right now, I am mining Etherium with nanopool.org they are excellent and pay you Etherium in 0.2. They also offer monero, Etherium classic aside from other coins. They have a how to start guide which is very easy to use. I recommend to use them.
If you hate command line, then use minergate.com they have a GUI based miner. You can also connect to their pool with Claymore miner.
Pictures of my mining operation, not large:
That’s it. with minergate you can start mining with your laptop right away. Although that will not fetch you much. But you will get the jest of mining.
I recently purchased a UPS for my NAS and local server.
Since I power outages happen mostly when I am away from home, it is critical that I keep my network equipments alive while there is a power outage.
For this specific purpose, I picked up 2 used APC ES400 and APC ES700 UPSs from ebay. I saved a significant amount of money by picking up a battery less UPS. I also avoided having to deal with bad batteries and having to dispose of them.
I picked a bigger battery locally with 7.2AH.
It was a good decision that I picked up a bigger battery. The one that was installed was rated for 3.3AH. However, I noticed that the battery won’t fit. Although the battery compartment is big enough to accommodate 9AH battery.
After looking through the battery compartment, I found out that there are plastic prices that push the battery upward. Not sure if there are other reason than to prevent people. From buying a cheaper model and replaced the battery later with a bigger on.
I started to pull out the plastic prices one at a time. After fully removing the plastic prices, I was able to fit the battery perfectly. The process was easy if you have the right tools. I used a cable cutter, pilers, and a small cable cutter.
I got this UPS to used it for my surveillance system. It wouldn’t make sense to use a surveillance system without connecting it to a power backup system. Cause the house would be vulnerable whenever there is a power failure.
The other UPS ES700 was with a battery. But it suffered from another issue which is beeping every 5 hours while blinking a read light. I looked online and found out that it does this whenever the UPS fails its self test. I found out that to fix this issue, you need to do the following:
1- turn off the UPS.
2- Turn it on while holding the power button for 10 seconds. It will start the test and you will see a blinking green light. If the light shuts off at the end, it means the battery is fine. It the light turned red, it mean the battery needs to be replaced.
All in all, you would be save a significant amount of money if you decided to go the used UPS route. I also suggest replacing the batteries if you got a used one with a battery. The chances are the battery already reaching the end of its life.
Finally decided to get myself a mechanical keyboard. I just saw one selling for 60$ on newegg.com from G.Skill, decided to try it. I got this model: G.SKILL RIPJAWS KM570 MX.
I rarely focus on keyboards. I just buy a reliable one. In my case, I had an Apple keyboard since 2008. The thin model. It kept running strong until I decided t change it now.
When I first learned about mechanical keyboards, they did not interest me. Then few months ago, I started to watch more YouTube videos about them. Until I decided to finally get one.
I am not a bit fan of multi coloured RGB computer accessories, so I picked the one with single LED light. Only with RED key lights. I picked RIP JAWS KM570. A very basic mechanical keyboard that does what is required to do.
How does it feel?
The keyboard looks retro. The feel of the keys and the size of the keyboard itself. It is huge and thick. The keys are also pop. I found my fingers surf through the keys with ease. It is also very satisfying to type on.
As a person who came from an Apple keyboard that is thin with keys that require the minimum travel, I found the mechanical keyboard a pleasant change.
Another big difference that I noticed right away is the clicking sound. Now typing on a keyboard produces a classic keyboard sound that is so amazing. Unlike my old Apple keyboard which is almost silent. I found the clicking sound of the mechanical keyboard pleasant to hear, although loud but you will get used to it and forget it when you start typing away.
Num key? yes it has one.
Personally I like my keyboards to have a num pad, I can not work on Microsoft Excel without one. I also use it with calculator App.
There is also a LED effect that this keyboard has. It has light effects. there are several modes that you can choose from. One that acts like a wave that starts from left keys to the right keys. Other modes like lighting the keys that you just pressed and then the lights fad. There are other modes too. For me, I am not interested in lighting effects. I like my keyboard to have a backlight, that is activated when I press a key for all keys. I don’t like lighting effects. I feel it is a bit gimmicky.
Yes, there keyboard is a bit lifted. I feel that it is higher than what I used before. For now, I am not feeling comfortable when I am typing for longer periods of time. I might get used to it, I might not. If I did not get used to it, I might get a hand pad that is placed before the keyboard so my hand can rest on it.
Other than that, I miss the Two USB ports that my old Apple keyboard had. This new mechanical keyboard has no USB ports. Maybe cause it is an inexpensive model? I am not sure.
Overall, Get a mechanical keyboard. Especially if you are a writer, or who loves to write on your computer, get one. You will not regret it.
Finally, I decided to invest in a UPS! I decided to put my money down on a UPS to protect my NAS and web server from power outage. Which could happen anytime. I decided to invest in Cyberpowerv model number: CP900EPFCLCD.
I decided to get a UPS after a recent power outage that made my one drive fail on my QNAP NAS. I could not access the drive until it rebuilds the RAID. In my case it was RAID 5. As you might already know, RAID 5 has distributed parity data across the drives you have. In my case, I have 5 3 Terabytes drives, thus parity data is distributed across the 5 of them. When one drive failed, the data is reconstructed from the other drives.
The rebuild could take days depends on the size of the drives. In my case, it took 16 hours, and then it went into optimisation mode which took 2~3 days.
It went into optimisation because some of block data went corrupt.
In any case, I decided to invest in a UPS. I picked CyberPower because the price was right compared to APC. However, the price is one factor, the other is the fact that it has a True Sine Wave inverter inside. It means that once the power is out, the power that comes from the battery is inverted into a power similar to the one that you get from a wall outlet.
Other cheaper UPSs use simulated sine wave (also called, modified sine wave) which looks squarish in shape. This might cause issues with some of the equipments. In my experience, modified sine wave inverter causes much heat when it runs. It also waste much energy when it runs. So I decided to just get a true sine wave UPS and have a peace of mind.
It you are planning to run a web server from home, then get a UPS. You need one to prevent your website from going down. It is also true if you are planning to host your own personal cloud storage. I do not plan to plug the monitor to the UPS. It would waste battery power. I will only plug my server and NAS. TV, printers, and my gaming consoles will not be plugged.
Since the server is accessible from remotely, I can just shut it down remotely when I learn that there is a power outage at home.
The other important thing to be aware of is getting another UPS for your home internet connection. You don’t want your computer to stay on without being able to reach it. Especially if you plan to run a server from home.
The UPS comes with a USB cable, telephone cable, power cable, and a UPS cable. Plus the Unit itself. I expected the unit to be huge, but to my surprise, it turned out to be small.
I decided to invest in extra cables. Since computers and other devices uses regular cables, do yourself a favour and invest in some extra cables. I decided to get extra UPS cables, plus I got many other kinds of cables for devices that I plan to plug into the UPS.
I got the following:
1- C 14 to C7
2- C 14 to C 5
3- C 14 to C 13
Overall, I am satisfied with the purchase. The quality is good. It does its job. It has a small LCD that displays current load, how long will it last, and other figures.
I do have a Mac Mini 2010 that I use for my home theater setup. Things were excellent and I was happy user of my Mini. Until I upgraded from MacOS El Captitan to Sierra.
Things went down hell for the Mini. It become a bit slow and the audio jack stopped pushing optical audio signal. My toshlink stopped working all of sudden. Audio through HDMI works fine. But I want to use optical audio since this Mini is connected to my sound system setup.
I googled and found few suggestions that I tried.
The first one is to use a wooden toothpick. Just push the metal pieces that hold the 3.5 jack. According to the sources, the metal pieces might be stuck. Did not work for me. Nothing was stuck.
Another suggested solution was to reset the SMC chip when you start up your Mac by holding option + command + p + r before the apple logo appears. Did not work for me. It fixed nothing.
The third suggested solution was to go to utility folder inside applications. Start up midi application and changed the sampling rate to something lower tha 44.00 Hz. Did not do it for me too.
Once I ran out of suggested fixes, I decided to use the HDMI and just live with it. But I did not like it. Since using the TV speakers is not good compared to using the speakers of a sound system.
So I prepared a Linux ubuntu USB and booted my Mac with it. The I pushed the audio through the jack and it worked. So it seems it is a MacOS serria issue of removed driver.
The last step that I took was to revert back to Trusty el captitan. This was step was not difficult. All I had to do was erase the hdd through Mac recovery tools. Start up Mac with option button pressed. Then startup disk utility and erase the OS disk.
The you need to prepare a bootable USB stick with El Capitan image. You can obtain the image from apple App Store by going to recent purchases. You will find it there.
Just download it and make sure it is inside your application folder.
The go to terminal and use the following command, just make sure to change the bold “untitled” with the name of your USB drive.
garden Roof garden is one of these projects that not just fun, but a great learning opportunity as well.
I attempted my roof garden project in a hope to cut on my grocery bill. But it turned out to be a fun project. Now, gardening become a hobby of mine.
One of the benefit of having a roof garden is that, it gets more than 8 hours of direct sun light. It is also an off limit place for kids.
I started with two rows of pots that I bought from Ikea and planted few vegetables seeds. Few days passed and I started to see plants growing. I kept watering them whenever I had time. This become a choir so I decided to install a automatic watering system. I used a small submersible water pump that I got from Amazon, and small hose that pass through the pots. I used wooden sticks and planted them in each of the pots.
I punctured the hose above each pot and knotted the end of the hose. Water will pass through the hose and stop at the knot and then escape through the punctures. I forgot to mention that the water pump runs on solar panel and a timer. I documented how I did it on a previous post.
Then, I faced two issues. Water runs out fast so I needed to find a way to refill the water reservoir automatically. Another issue is that, plants grows fast and then stop. I later found out that the pots that I am using are relatively small. Nutrients run out fast from smaller pots.
The decided to expand the project and add more rows of pots. I bout 20 pots, and grouped them into 2 groups. Each group consist of 10 pots divided into 2 rows. Each groups has 5 pots in a row and a water reservoir. Each eater reservoir has a water pump. This time, I decided to go with larger pots.
As for the automatic refilling of water reservoirs, I decided to use the main water tank that my house has to get water from. I used a simple garden water hose and made a hole through the water tank. Then I passed the hose through the hole and started to siphon the water from the tank. Because of gravity, water would flow through the hose and into the water reservoir. This hose goes to each water reservoir and fill it. I then installed a float valve to prevent the water from over filling the water reservoir. It worked flawlessley.
After this, I cut the garden hose and installed a T connection so that I can take the water to the other water reservoirs.
Since cutting my grocery bill was my main goal out of this project, I decided to only plant eidable plants. Do I planted tomatos, potatos, garlic, onion and watermelon.
It’s been over 2 months and a half now and I started to pick up tomatos. And I am starting to see other plants growing as well.
If think everyone should have a small garden in their house. It’s fun and great learning experience.