Review: WD Caviar Green 1TB

It was probably 2 years ago when I started talking about the terabyte club.  This was before 1TB drives were common (and cheap), the sweet spot for price/capacity was around 250Gb – but four of those would net you 1TB for under $500.  Considering I spent $2000 on my first 1Gb SCSI drive back in 1990 – being able to get 1000X the storage for a lot less, still makes me sit back and think wow.

I failed to properly join the terabyte club 2 years ago, I suspect that sometime in the last year or so the total sum capacity of my machines at home topped 1TB of storage – but just recently my purchase of a WD Caviar Green 1TB drive ensured that I was “in the club”.  (It also lives in my webserver, so its effectively “online”)

I had my eye on the Caviar Green series ever since I saw the Tom’s Hardware review that showed that the Green drives had real savings in power consumption.  While their power use under load is closer to typical – for the most part my server is idle (but always on).  At the larger capacities, I just don’t trust the even more power friendly laptop drives.

I watched the price canada page for the 1TB model over a couple of weeks, and once the price fell below $100 I knew it was inevitable I’d buy one.  Initially I was going to get it at PCCyber for $87.99 (the price has since dropped), but karma dictated that they were out of stock the day I was going to buy one.  I then decided to head off to Canada Computers where they had it for $84.99.  Wouldn’t you know it, when I got back from the store with my purchase in hand there was a deal for $79.99 (with free shipping).  It seems the best local price currently is $77.77.

The D945GCLF2D (dual core Atom system) that is my server has only 2 SATA ports, both which are full.  So I used the PCI to 4 port SATA card I had from a previous machine to host the new drive.  Sadly, after booting I noticed the following message(s) in the log:

Oct 24 14:47:03 lowtek kernel: [  246.357277] BUG: soft lockup – CPU#0 stuck for 11s! [kacpid:62]

Previous to this new hardware addition, my server had been up for 172 days – so it has been very reliable.  The other symptom of this was the kacpid process eating 100% CPU.   It turns out this is a known bug – and there is a work-around.  Strange how it was the addition of the PCI card which triggered the problem for me.  Simply disabling the System Fan Control in the BIOS remedied the problem, and the system seems solid once again.

Continue reading “Review: WD Caviar Green 1TB”

HP Colour Laser Printer (CP1518NI) Review

1518niSo school is coming, and that gives me an excuse to buy a new printer. Back in 2005 I was tired of feeding my inkjet printer new printer cartridges at nearly $70 a pop, so I bought a B&W Samsung Laser printer which has served us very well.  So far I’ve only had to refill it once.

Since 2005, colour laser printer prices have fallen steadily.  You can now pick up one around the $150 mark if you do a little shopping.  However, toner cartridges are still very expensive – and it almost makes sense to buy a new printer when you run out.  Of course laser printers are not immune to the same “starter” cartridge trick that is played with inkjet printers – giving you a fraction (1/2 or worse) the toner that a full refill would.

Based on my previous experience with refilling the Samsung, I was keen to get another refill compatible printer.  The Samsung CLP-135 can be found very cheaply, but the toner cartridge has a chip which prevents refills from working (this may change in the future).  The HP CP1518ni can be refilled, but requires reset chips which come as part of 0f the refill kit. (I’ll probably get my refill kit via eBay closer to when I need to refill the printer)

I purchased the CP1518ni from (free shipping over $39), unfortunately there are no more left at this price ($230) currently.  They also had the description incorrect, as it indicated that the unit came with only 1 toner (black) cartridge – the printer in fact had all 4 toners installed.  I was comfortable shopping with FS due to their easy return it to the brick and mortar store policy.

If you’re keen to pick one of these up, has them for $250, and has a similar (but not as good) sale on.  I’m a bit surprised that the US prices for the same printer are quite a bit higher (basically $400).  Rarely are Canadian prices for this type of thing better than US prices.  If you want to go cheaper, the HP CP1215 is similar but lacks the network interface and only has drivers for Windows.

Shipping was fast – ordered on Sunday, was here by Wednesday.  The printer itself is quite heavy (40lbs), and quite a bit larger (15.7 x 17.8 x 10.0 inches) than the B&W laser we have.   Setting it up was a breeze, as it is a network printer it just needed power and a net cable.  The software (driver) was Mac OSX compatible, and the printer advertises itself using Bonjour on the network.  I haven’t tried to print from Linux, but searching on the net seems to indicate it can be done without too much pain.

The first colour print was a full page photo onto regular paper.  If you haven’t seen a colour laser print out, then the best description is that it looks like a picture from the newspaper.  Jenn later printed out an activity chart (in colour) and that looked really good – and this is more typical of what I’d expect to print (think business graphics).  I’m sure school projects will end up looking sharp (and colourful).  Alison was very excited that we had a new printer, but we had to explain to her that the colour printer would not do the colouring of a B&W colouring page from the net.

Tool in Concert

Image0026-1Tool played the K-ROCK Centre in Kingston on Aug 4th.  The opening act was Tweak Bird – who managed to generate and impressive amount of sound with their 2 primary members (a 3rd joined them for a couple of songs on various ‘odd for a heavy metal band’ instruments: flute, sax).  If you want a sample of what they sounded like check out their MySpace page.

This was the 2nd time I’ve seen Tool in concert, and this was a very different experience than the last.  The 1st show I saw was in Ottawa at the Corel Centre, a much larger venue.  Also, this time we were in general admission (on the floor) vs. in seats.

The K-ROCK Centre has a concert capacity of 6500.  It was clear from the number of empty seats that this was not a sold out show, I’d guess it was somewhere under 6000 people.Image0022-1 On the left is a picture I took before the opening act – it gives you a sense of how small this venue is and how close we were to the stage (this was 3/4 of the way back from the stage).  The general (floor) crowd did get more tightly packed once Tool took the stage, but we ended up standing closer (about 1/2 between the sound board and the stage) and there wasn’t a crazy crush around us.  To be able to see a band like Tool in such a small venue was pretty amazing.

Tweak Bird was LOUD.  Tool was LOUDER.  I was glad to have my earplugs, but don’t get me wrong – I expect a concert like this to be very loud.  Feeling the bassline inside your chest is part of the experience.  Tool put on a great concert.  For more, check out these reviews of the Toronto show.