Cool vs. Noise — a delicate balance in my quest for the silence of the fans. I ask myself, “just how many fans are too many before I find myself having to crank up the volume on a riveting scene of Burn Notice?” Fans do the job, but they can be annoyingly loud for the purposes of home entertainment.

One of the problems I’m having with Trinity’s fan setup is airflow optimization. There really isn’t enough space to direct air in a straight path over the components I want to keep cool, mainly the CPU. From the power supply, to the mess of wiring, air is buffeting around the case’s many obstacles. I’ve tidied things up quite a bit with wire sheathing and cable ties, but it’s still pretty messy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Soon after successfully getting Trinity up and running I was already thinking of ways to improve her. One of the things bugging me were those two front facing USB ports.
Plugging-in my keyboard and wireless mouse left me with no open ports up front for say, a quick external hard drive transfer. I noticed that the motherboard had an extra internal USB header and thought adding more ports should be a snap. While I was at it, I could throw in an SD card reader for off-loading my camera or phone. There was one problem: How would I implement it? Most SD card readers on the market come in the form of USB dongles or 3.5″ bay devices designed to fit inside the case. I was already using the one 3.5″ bay I had for the hard drive and I really hate dongles. This needed to be built-in. Read the rest of this entry »

I sort of did it before with Silvia; triple booting Ubuntu 10.04, the original Windows XP installation that came with her, and Windows 7 Enterprise just for the heck of it all on one drive. GRUB handled the selection process on startup, and after tweaking the countdown timer I was pleased with it. Doing something similar with a hackintosh on the first try was an ambitious idea (if I do say so myself), but I wanted one machine to rule them all.

I suspected that getting three of today’s major platforms to play nice together on one drive was going to be a serious headache. It would probably be much simpler to use a separate hard drive for each OS, but that would be rather boring wouldn’t it? Plus I only had one drive and, with the recent flooding in Thailand, purchasing another one was kind of out of the budget. Tony put up a guide on dual booting, but adding Ubuntu was a big question mark. Once again, lifehacker proved itself to be an invaluable resource. Read the rest of this entry »

After making such a killing sniping great prices for parts, I was understandably eager to rip the cellophane and get to work. But actually, I was holding off because I intended to do the build with my little nephew. He… had other plans so I was on my own. As I mentioned previously, I was pretty much following the parts list provided in tonymacx86’s CustoMac Mini 2011 post with one small exception, the case.

He listed the Apex MI-008, but I chose the MI-100 instead. I stuck with the same manufacturer because I didn’t want any unforeseen fitting issues and their frames were pretty much identical. I really just found the face of the MI-100 to be more pleasing. The directions that came with the case weren’t exactly crystal clear, but after some trial and error I managed to put the right screws in the right places. I have to say, making all the connections to the motherboard was a little intimidating. Most of my experience so far was with laptops. But I knew enough to ground myself and avoid bending any of the pins on the processor (It seems now they have they pins on the motherboard instead). I also had Gigabyte’s instructions, which where a little easier to follow. The first thing I noticed

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(image credit: Dennis Novak/Getty Images)

It’s quite the conundrum. You don’t have a Mac. You’re eager to install Lion on your hackintosh but it requires purchasing and installing Snow Leopard, only to then purchase and upgrade to Lion(???). Like me, you don’t want to pay for two operating systems when you’re only interested in the fresh new hotness Lion has to offer. The official OS X Lion USB Thumb Drive is $69 before tax (ouch), and like a good student of tonymacx86, you want an all-in-one bootable USB thumb drive with everything you need to set up Lion and maintain it (à la UniBeast).

I wrestled with this for a bit. I knew I wanted a “legitimate” copy of Lion for my hackintosh, as ironic as that sounds, but it just didn’t make sense buying two operating systems just to get the one I really wanted. And since all I had were Windows systems, I needed some google inspiration… Read the rest of this entry »

Drawing upon what I learned with Silvia, I was beginning to think about building my own computer. Didn’t look that hard to build, the real hard part seemed to be finding the right parts for a good price with an upgrade path. I read a few posts over on lifehacker but the price just wasn’t right, not if wanted to use new components. So I put it off until I could either find a good deal, or maybe a decent bare bones kit that met my needs right now and could be upgraded later.

Around this time I had also read a few lifehacker posts on building a hackintosh. They referenced tonymacx86, so I started reading his blog as well. I was always curious about macs. We had a Mac lab in one of my high schools, and since I grew up mainly on PCs, they just seemed odd with their single button mouse and multicolored plastic. Obviously since then Apple has blossomed quite a bit (if only I bought stock). Now macs are in vogue or some sort of personal brand statement. I was always too counter culture to buy in, and as a tinkerer, I hate when companies put measures in place to prevent me from taking a look inside or tell me to leave such things to “professionals”. How insulting. I hate that almost as much as I hate the RadioShack guy suggesting I purchase $50+ HDMI cables. Enter the CustoMac Mini 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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