Home network upgrades

After a recent conversation with a certain Austrian Otaku about Home Theater stuffs, I decided it was about time to do an update of what I’m using at home. Since my last overview, I’ve made a couple changes and upgrades through the house. Some have already been talked about (like the TV upgrade) but others haven’t. Here we go…

The biggest change of late has been that I’ve finally retired Belldandy from service. After nearly 7 years of duties ranging from gaming machine to media PC to home server, it was time for her to be sent to greener pastures. The day I parted with her was pretty emotional, though I know someone will put her to good use.

In her place, I welcome Tsukasa into my home network as the bedroom HTPC. Sporting the same case used by Konata, her beginnings were conceived when I bought an Athlon x2 7750BE from someone at the office for $20.

IMG_3416

After pairing the CPU with a Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H motherboard, 2GB of RAM, and a Lite-on Blu-ray reader, she was ready to go into service serving up movies, music, and high definition content.

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Odds, ends, and upgrades

The past few months have been pretty eventful, though nothing in terms of figure acquisitions. I am, however, expecting a couple things in the near future, including a set of Summer Uniform Lucky Star Figma (Kagami, Tsukasa, and Miyuki), Yoko Real Image ver., and a bunch of BDs and DVDs from RightStuf’s 12+ Days of Christmas sale.

Black Friday also came and went, and while I didn’t actually go out, I did score a couple interesting items. The first of which came in the week before Thanksgiving…

TV

Yes, that is a brand new DLP television in my living room. Just how big is it and how much did I pay? Keep reading…

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A few computer upgrades

It’s been a big week for figure acquisitions and computer parts! To take stock, here are just a few things that arrived…

1/4 scale Mikuru Bunny by FREEing

1/8 scale Narusegawa Naru by EPOCH

1.5TB Seagate Barracuda Hard drive

300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor

I’m still waiting on a few things, including some wireless networking equipment (finally taking the plunge and upgrading things to N) as well as this little gem. Most of the latter half of the week involved rebuilding my computer and setting up the new equipment. Photos of figures will be forthcoming, once I get in that last item.

My first order of business was to install the 1.5TB drive into my home server. It replaced one of the existing 750GB drives, bringing total storage spaces to 4.78TB:

WHS

The slight upgrade leaves me with a bit more space to store DVDs, and also frees up a drive for use in my main machine. At some point, I’ll be replacing the last 750GB drive, though I’ll likely wait for prices to drop on the 2TB drives prior to making that move. It may also let me wait until the next version of WHS is released as replacing that drive will require a server rebuild.

With the spare 750GB drive in hand, I set on my next series of upgrades. Up until now, Chikane was the last machine I had that wasn’t running the Windows 7 RTM bits. While the post-RC build was mostly fine (build 7201), it was time for me to move forward. In anticipation of the upgrade, I’d also replaced the video card with something that is still supported by ATi. Now sporting a Radeon HD4830, Chikane was ready to rock and roll.

To complete the upgrades, I went ahead and installed both the 750GB Samsung drive and the VelociRaptor. Since I already had an equivalent 750GB drive in the system already, I placed the two in a RAID0 array for a bit extra performance. The OS and programs, however, would be handled by the VelociRaptor.

Performance rating

Sadly, even though the VelociRaptor is a 10kRPM drive, it’s still the bottleneck in my system. I just can’t win! Finally, however, I come to the capstone of my upgrades for the week. Thanks to my friends at Costco, I now have a pair of Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX LCD monitors!

Lots of desktop real space

It turns out that my local store was clearing these screens out. I grabbed the last new display and the display model for $175 each. I’ll have to say though, when I first got them hooked up, it took some getting used to. I was actually feeling a bit motion sick from having to move my head around to see everything. Now that I’ve resituated my sitting position and had some time to adjust, it’s actually pretty natural. I’m just wondering how I can go back to such little real estate at work tomorrow…

Desktop wallpaper was found here. I’d also modified it to have a mirror image on the other screen, giving a nice symmetric effect.

Home media setup

Every so often, I’m asked about how I have my home entertainment center set up. Usually, I grab the nearest whiteboard and marker and then diagram it out, because it can be somewhat difficult to explain just by speaking… I think, however, I should be able to jot it down in text with the aid of some pictures!

First of all, meet Kagami, the hub of my home network…

Kagami, the WHS

Some of you may be wondering “What? That’s it? That doesn’t look like anything special…” and on appearance alone, you would be correct. Kagami is the only off-the-shelf desktop computer I own (and in fact the first one I’ve owned in many many years) and is a Dell PowerEdge SC440. The base machine cost me about $250 to purchase from Dell without an OS and I’ve pretty much left her stock. There are, however, a few major additions, namely in the area of storage. At present, Kagami carries 4 hard drives: 2 750GB Samsung Spinpoint F1s and 2 1.5TB Seagate Barracudas. Judging by the manufacturers’ capacity figures, she carries 4.25TB worth of storage space (the “real” number is actually around 4.1TB, using computer interpretation of the number of bytes in a kilobyte).

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