The new logo Microsoft uses for Windows 8

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview just went live. According to Microsoft, this is a stable public preview, not a beta.

Windows 8 Logo

I’m still in the process of downloading it, but in a presentation, Microsoft claimed a large number of changes since the Windows 8 Developer Preview last years.

Oh, and all apps in the Windows Store will be free until Windows 8 is officially released in October.

Download Links

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Visual Studio 11 Beta for Windows 8 Consumer Preview

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New Toys

I just love listening to music in bed, right before going to sleep. You can close your eyes and focus, experiencing the music like a movie and less like the background noise music is often degraded to during the day. After moving my home office to a different floor, however, my bedroom is no longer close enough to my PC to do this (I used a rather quirky solution, using a game pad to remote-control WinAmp and later shut down my PC :D).

This put me on a quest for a replacement. Because I ripped my entire CD library as FLAC and stored it on my home server (running Gentoo Linux and serving the music files as a network share via Samba), I was looking for a player that supported FLAC and, ideally, would play music from a standard network share. This is what I ultimately decided on:

Logitech Squeezebox, a black rectangular box with speakers on both sides and a green display in the middle

That’s a Logitech Squeezebox Boom.

I admit that I half expected this category of devices to not exist at all, because a “normal” person doesn’t have a home server or a PC that’s always on. And when I found something I expected some half baked showpiece hardware, but was yet again positively surprised. Read on for my personal review of this brilliant device!

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My Screen works Again :-)

Last Friday (and I only now notice it was Friday the 13th :D) my screen stopped working. I dismantled it and found some bad capacitors, then decided to do a small foto story showing my attempt to get it working again: My Screen went Dark :-(.

Today the electronics components I ordered arrived and I could finally replace those capacitors I found to be broken last time.

Picture of the top side of my 204B's power supply board with the new capacitors in place

Soldering in the new capacitors was surprisingly easy. I remember that when I did this in my childhood, I spread solder everywhere except where I wanted it to ;)

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My Screen went Dark :-(

Earlier this year, one of my monitors started behaving strangely each time it was turned on the first time for the day. The image would flicker on and off, first very slow, maybe twice a second, then faster and faster still until it displayed a permanent and stable image.

Over time, things got worse. First it would take just a few seconds, then two months later, the screen would stay black for minutes before the now familiar flickering started and the display settled. This morning, the display just remained black.

Picture of a Samsung SyncMaster 204B TFT LCD display

Some googling revealed the likely cause: bad capacitors. Between 1999 and 2007, many electronic parts were sold with bad capacitors because, at least that’s a popular story, one Taiwanese company had obtained the knowledge to build electrolytic capacitors via espionage, but the informations were incomplete and the electrolyte was missing and certain agent that prevented the hydrogen from escaping.

Whatever the reason, my TFT’s production date falls into the problematic range and symptoms are similar to things other people reported. So I went ahead and tried to take a look at the thing, documenting each step with my camera.

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Aligning an SSD on Linux

I’ve got a small home server with a software RAID-5 for storing my files. It also runs a few virtual machines and acts as a NAT router for internet access. Nothing expensive, just some Frankensteinian patchwork built from old hardware left over when I upgraded my workstation. Nevertheless, I granted it a brand new Intel X25-M SSD last week.

Photo of an Intel X25-M SSD drive, which is a metal box smaller than a CD case

Did I mention that this server is running Gentoo Linux? I thought this would be a good time to do a fresh install and get everything right that might have gone wrong the first time. Besides, installing Linux always is an interesting (and masochistic) experience, especially when your chosen distribution has no installer :)

Because getting my partitions and file systems aligned also proved to be difficult task, I thought why not make a small article out of this!

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XBox 360 Elite

For the past two years, I couldn’t test all the XNA stuff I made on a real XBox 360. Whenever something went wrong, I had to guess and diagnose from the feedback I was getting from users.

I’ve become quite good at remote-diagnosing problems. It didn’t ever take me more than 3 emails or postings in my forum exchanged with the people who discovered a bug until I had gathered enough feedback to locate a bug and fix it in my code. But that certainly isn’t how I want to get in contact with my customers when I start to sell games on XBox Live :)

Photo of a Microsoft XBox 360 Elite in black with a black wireless controller

That’s why, as of now, I’ve ordered an XBox 360 Elite, which finally has the right color: black. I just love black, I’ve got a black keyboard, black mouse, black mouse mat, my PC sits in a Lian Li PC-71 Black and my monitors are also black — erm well, at least their frames are, otherwise I’d be having a really hard time posting this blog entry, I think :D

GeForce 8800 GTS 512 O/C

My PowerColor Radeon X1950 with its supposedly ultra-silent Arctic Cooling cooler was beginning to make annoying noises. Seems like the cooler’s bearing is broken after just 14 months of usage. I tried cleaning it out, squeezing some oil where I suspect the noises to be coming from (no idea if this is a good idea :/), but it didn’t change anything.

So before I have to take another forced break from my work, I decided to upgrade to a new graphics card. Currently, the second generation GeForce 8800 GTS based on nVidia’s G92 chip is fresh in stores. The overclocked versions some manufacturers are offering are faster than the original GeForce 8800 GTX, so nVidia is not allowing production of any further overclocked G92 cards starting at the end of february.

This has caused a tremendous demand for these overclocked graphics cards. But I’m in luck: I got one of the last Asus G92 TOP cards. Those are the highest overclocked G92 graphics cards on the market *happy*

An Asus EN8800GTS TOP graphics card in front of its package

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