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—Found this guide on tonymacx86’s website after a serious crash (when will I learn). I had so much fun playing around with this I had to share. Read the rest of this entry »

—Return of the Mac!

June 19, 2012

Okay so we’re back in business. Trinity‘s roaring again. Fiddling with it after a long weekend, it turns out I was using the wrong HDMI port (doh). Once I switched to the HDMI port 1(?), below the VGA port, I was able to boot into Lion. That was a close one. The penalties of trying out the latest updates early on.  It was a serious headache reading through Toleda’s guide especially with so many recent updates and changes, but I learned quite a bit in the process. Here are Toleda’s Guides on the matter (& update). They taught me how high-definition sound is handled in OS X and how to do future edits on my own. This should come in handy when my new graphics card arrives (well first I have to choose one). HDMI audio works as before, as well as line-in (mic), line-out, headphones, and I’m told optical 7.1 surround sound, though I have nothing to test it with (yet). Read the rest of this entry »

Success! After a month of trial and error (and more error), I’ve finally found a way to reliably turn on Trinity over the internet. Wake-on-LAN—you know, that feature where your computer’s onboard ethernet adapter listens to the internet for a magic packet of data telling it to wake up your computer. Why do I want to do this? I want to access Trinity on the go and on command via LogMeIn, without running her 24/7. That wouldn’t be very green now would it? I was really close after reading a guide on lifehacker, but somehow I couldn’t crack it. I could only achieve my goal from within my own wireless network at home, not very useful when I cross the pond. It seems after a period of about thirty minutes, dormant devices disappear from the router’s ARP cache, making it invisible to magic packet bursts sent from the outside of your home network (or so I’ve read). The solution? I needed better tools.

The stock Linksys firmware of my WRT54GS2 is ok, but it lacks several advanced features, mainly WOL. TomatoUSB is free*, open source firmware, written by third parties giving you greater control of your router’s settings and capabilities. I’ve heard good things about DD-WRT, it seems to reign in popularity, but TomatoUSB is a bit simpler to install so—yea, I went with TomatoUSB. The great thing about it is there’s a WOL feature built right into the interface. Simply log into the router, click the “WOL” heading, find your machine, and click on it to wake it up. Easy peasy. It seems the trick to doing this from outside your network is setting up remote access to your router. Doing so requires knowing your external IP address, the one given to you by your ISP [You can check it at]. The other problem with that is, sometimes they change it without telling you, and if you’re not at home to spot the address change you’ll be essentially locked out. No matter, that problem has been solved.

Want to know how to do this for yourself? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

Oh RIM, ever since I jumped on the smartphone bandwagon four years ago I reveled in this wonderful new ability to get things done on-the-go. I still remember the feeling as I took my Curve 8900 home for the first time. Coming from a RAZR, it felt like I had magic at my fingertips. I mean, it had a qwerty keyboard for crying out loud. Ever the frugalist, I entrusted RIM with the task of being my sole internet provider as wi-fi wasn’t abundant (or rather I was too cheap for a faster ISP). In a pinch I could tether my Curve to Silvia for a quick email, or a light web browsing session. Sure it was slow, but I was “mobile”. Yup, Silvia and “Odie” (yes I name everything) made a great team. Then something happened.

As a tinkerer, and someone who generally likes to unlock new potential in older things, I became wrapped up in the world of beta software. Every now and then they’d add something new to appease my boredom, but nothing really wowed me. By this time I’m sure the iPhone debuted, and I found my phone spinning its wheels trying run all these newfangled apps RIM was trying to catch up with (hourglass reference). I even found myself under attack because of what phone I was wielding. Which was odd to me, I never thought of a tool as an outward expression of self. After installing beta OS after beta OS, it became clear that BlackBerry wasn’t gonna rule. At first I tried to deny it, focusing on the utilitarian and even minimalist qualities in the experience. Less is more. Less distraction, more productivity. Once I got a taste of broadband, I needed more speed. And I had hoped I could get it from RIM.

“Hope is the denial of reality” —Margaret Weis

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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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