Moto G 2015 (3rd Gen) vs. 2013 (1st Gen)

Since mid-2014 I’ve owned a mobile phone: a Motorola Moto G 2013 (1st Generation model). When shopping for a phone (since the last time I owned a mobile was in 2002 or thereabouts), the requirements were pretty simple: low-cost (I cannot justify spending US$600), worked with T-Mobile (i.e. used GSM), and was something I could buy immediately (vs. buying it through the carrier + paying monthly charges). My friend Liz recommended the Moto G.

In May 2014 I purchased the 16GB GSM model from Amazon for US$199.95, and I’ve been mostly happy with it (my biggest complaint has been the selfie camera brightness bug introduced in KitKat 4.4.3, which still exists even as of Lollipop 5.1). I was also a Motorola beta tester of Lollipop (I had a lot of UI-related complaints, some of which got rectified, others didn’t).

However, odds are the Moto G 2013 won’t get Marshmallow 6.0 (another example of Google and vendors focused excessively on their cash cow of forcing people to buy new phones just to get software updates), and I had begun to encounter several applications which really didn’t perform very well. And that selfie camera bug really pissed me off (yup, I’m OCD about bugs).

I began looking for a replacement phone with the same requirements as before, and of course was introduced to the Moto G 2015 (3rd Generation model). The 8GB model was US$179.99, while the 16GB model was US$219.99. The 2015 model included a microSD slot (the 2013 model doesn’t have one), and after doing some research I found that with Marshmallow you’d be able to use your microSD card for system space/storage; it didn’t make much sense to me to spend US$40 to get 8GB of space when I could spend US$14 and get a high-end 32GB microSD card. After reading several reviews of the 2015 model, I ended up purchasing the 8GB version from Amazon. The first one I received actually had dead pixels and a touch screen that seemed non-responsive about 20% of the time (more on that in a moment), so I got a replacement (which had no dead pixels).

Below are the reasons why I’ve chosen to return the 2015 model and stick with my 2013. This is literally the only “review” of this sort — specifically giving a negative opinion rather than a positive — that I could find, so apparently I’m in the minority.

Continue reading

Candy 25 cabinets — hell on Earth

I’m the not-so-proud owner of an SNK Candy 25 arcade cabinet. Why not-so-proud? I’ll get to that. But first, some history and education.

Foremost: I am not talking about the Neo Candy 25 cabinet. Despite the similar name and similar look, they’re actually quite different (the Neo is a lot easier to work on, especially if having to work on anything relating to the coin mechanisms).

Continue reading

Instructions for building TomatoUSB Toastman RT-N firmwares

Back in September/October I had the “pleasure” of dealing with trying to build TomatoUSB (specifically Toastman’s RT-N releases) on a Linux system I have (thank god for VMware Workstation!). I was given all sorts of reference materials from folks on the linksysinfo.org forum, except I kept running into all sorts of problems. I tried other Linux distributions, other releases of the same distribution, etc. and the failures all seemed to differ.

I figured it would be worthwhile to document exactly how I got the firmware to build and what the necessary steps are as of the date of this blog post.

Continue reading

Hard disk drive heights and polypropylene storage containers

Given how many hard disks I tend to have, I recently decided to purchase some anti-static polypropylene foam containers to store my drives.

Common retail outlets (Amazon and others) were selling these containers (which would hold between 10 and 24 disks) but for crazy prices: US$100, US$130, and US$150. And some other retail vendors want US$425.

The price was simply too steep; I wasn’t needing something brand new, used would be fine. So I turned to the one place where stuff like this tends to end up being sold for reasonable prices: eBay.

Continue reading

Examining the WD10EFRX

Today I received a WD10EFRX, otherwise known as the 1TB model of Western Digital’s new Caviar Red drives…

The colour red, for me, is associated with two things: stop/halt signs and blood — two things which should definitely not be associated with a mechanical hard disk. :-) I say that in jest, but still…

The new Red drives boast “full NAS compatibility” or “NASware”. This is just more marketing buzzword-speak for something that does not need such segregation. A hard disk should work in any system and not induce problems or inhibit I/O) while providing features that the WD Caviar Green drives have (lower temperatures, “IntelliPark”, etc.), but still providing good throughput (not as great as the WD Caviar Black, but supposedly better than the Green). It’s very important to remember that companies like Western Digital created this delineation in the first place, so it’s very ironic (and depressing) that they’ve now begun to market models of hard disks that “solve these problems” when they themselves created the problem to begin with. Phrased differently: MHDDs used to work in anything you put them in (desktops, servers, etc.), with zero repercussions or issues, and it was the MHDD manufacturers themselves who created these firmware-level “features” (issues). It’s almost like the drives of today are being advertised/marketed with the assumption that those of us who were alive 13 years ago would hopefully have forgotten about how hard disks used to Just Work(tm). Well, I’m one of many who hasn’t forgotten.

Anyway, I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these drives since they were announced, because I wanted to see feature-wise and behaviour-wise if these drives behaved better than the Green drives (you can read my “review” of present-day Green drives and how firmware-level features in them that do nothing other than frustrate and cause major problems).

Specifically, I wanted to examine the following things:

  1. Platter count and reliability
  2. What ATA-level and firmware features the drive supported, and which features were enabled (or disabled) by default
  3. If the infamous Load Cycle Count (LCC) issue existed on these drives
  4. Very quick performance testing (I am not OCD over benchmarks)

So let’s get to it!

Continue reading

Asus Xonar DG driver bugs on Windows XP

EDIT: Interestingly enough — and I did report this to Asus — this issue went away after a system reboot. The nature of the problem still implies a driver-level bug, but why a reboot would fix it is still unknown. I’m still looking to figure out if there’s a way to reproduce it consistently/reliably so that Asus can track down the source of the problem and fix it permanently.

EDIT: I should also point out that CCP of EVE Online fame confirms a bug with the “GX” feature of these cards (and it affects all OSes, not just XP). I ran into this as well since I was an EVE player at the time. The workaround for that bug is to disable the GX feature in the Asus control panel — but for the bug discussed below, there does not appear to be a workaround aside from rebooting.

About a week ago I replaced use of my crappy Realtek ALC889 (Azalia) on-board audio with an actual sound card — more specifically, the Asus Xonar DG. This card is deemed “one of the best” by the general Internet community for gaming and general audio use, plus it’s inexpensive (US$25).

It didn’t take me long to start finding bugs in its drivers.

Continue reading