January 2019 (Computer Upgrades / Detective Work / LibreElec / Terraria)

This is the first blog post in a series, where each month I write about what I’ve been doing with tech recently.

Note: This blog post was a draft post for six months as I was undecided whether to start the series! I’ve finally decided to publish ‘general’ monthly updates, so I edited and published this blog post.

I think this is a good opportunity for me to also blog about things that I might not otherwise blog about, such as things I don’t intend to blog about individually and even tasks that failed!

In January the following occurred:

  • I used to technology for detective work.
  • I started playing Terraria.
  • I performed computer upgrades.
  • I purchased a second Kindle Fire.
  • I failed to resurrect a faulty hard drive.
  • I started using LibreElec.

Detective work
There isn’t a lot I can share on this subject, only that I was amazed by what can be found and achieved with online resources. It is amazing the breadcrumbs of data that are available for analysis.

I had to piece together a background of a situation and I used both free and paid resources to help give insight into a situation. I really had to think outside of the box and I definitely felt like Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes at times. This work wasn’t for me, but done for somebody else.

Terraria
My wonderful girlfriend and I have both owned Terraria (via Steam) for a while, but only just started playing it and we’ve become addicted to the game.

Terraria game screenshot

We’ve been mining, building housing for villagers, fighting enemies, exploring and all sorts. It is extremely easy to lose a few hours at a time to this game.

We’ve been playing the multiplayer game on a couple computers that have Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz CPUs without any problems.

Computer upgrades
For years we’ve always had a PC hooked up to our television for gaming. Now we’ve replaced it with an old mini-tower powered by a better CPU and added a SSD, to accompany a couple of old mechanical SATA drives.

The SSD is only 64GB and I was previously using it in another computer. I don’t want to invest too much in the gaming PC. One of the mechanical drives is for Steam games and the other is for a project I plan on doing in February.

We’ve also upgraded a Dell Optiplex 380, again with a Q9400 CPU and also with a Western Digital SSD. I will blog about this more in a future post. My own computer, a HP DX7500 now has a new SSD, which is larger to support more applications.

I also have another Optiplex 380, which I use for a test bed and I’ve added a second SATA drive, to keep hard drive images for backup and restoration purposes.

Kindle Fire
I paid too much for a Kindle Fire (I already own a HDX model) that was an impulse purchase from a local charity shop. Turns out there is a touchscreen issue, but it’s still usable. I plan on trying out a few things with it, which I might blog about later this year.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Faulty hard drive
One of my ancient EIDE hard drives died and I tried and failed to repair it. I noticed some corrosion on the PCB controller, which I cleaned up with a rubber (eraser), but sadly it still didn’t work. I looked at buying a similar drive, but found the pricing too expensive. Thankfully the drive didn’t have critical data on the drive.

LibreElec
I have an old HP dx2420, which I’ve now placed in my bedroom. I originally owned two HP dx2420 PCs and placed one of the computers in the bedroom. The computer already has Windows installed and I installed a second old SATA hard drive to run LibreElec, which is a linux operating system.

This computer doesn’t get a lot of use, but I occasionally watch a DVD or iPlayer. LibreElec works with my ancient remote control, whereas Windows doesn’t. I’ve set the computer to automatically boot to the linux OS.

I’ve decided to stop upgrading this PC and will only only consider changes if a fault occurs or if hardware becomes available from another computer I own.

I’m impressed by how quickly LibreElec boots and how easy it was to configure and use.

Final thoughts
I know I run a tech blog, but it’s amazing quite how much technology I use each month and I’m glad I’ve started writing a monthly blog post about general use.

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