Two weeks ago, I finally bought myself a new laptop. The Lenovo Yoga 2 was the first ultrabook to offer all the specs I wanted at a (very) reasonable price. It’s taken me a while to properly set it up, but the Yoga is now ready to replace my trusty old Asus UL30A. The Lenovo has some pros and cons, so I thought I’d write about them.
More Lenovo Yoga 2 13 first impressions
A while ago, I backed the Rocki Kickstarter project. I think the idea of a “Chromecast for music” is great, and I love how it adds Sonos-like capabilities to – for example – your old 70’s receiver. But while the hardware is really nice (colorful, small, stable), support for many online music services is currently still in the works.
While browsing the Rocki forums, I found that playing internet radio streams – while not currently an option in the official Rocki app – is actually quite straightforward. That’s why I created a little web page that makes it easy to send the correct API call to the player. My office mate and I have been using it for a couple of weeks now, and it works.
More Stream internet radio to your Rocki wireless music player
Yesterday evening, when I got back from vacation, I found that our home internet connection and phones weren’t working. Our ISP is Ziggo, and when I called them they agreed with my initial assessment that the modem wasn’t working. They found a local retailer that could provide further service, so I went there.
I put the modem – a Ubee EVM 3200 – and its power adapter on the counter, and told them that one of the two items was probably faulty. Immediately, they said it was the power “brick”, and offered a free replacement. From what they told me, the original 12V 1A adapter was too weak for the modem, and they were failing for many customers. I got a 2A replacement, and was soon back online.
With the old adapter, my modem would seem to power on, but all the lights would come on at once, and they’d flicker slightly. Normally, the modem requires some time to power up, and the lights are steady. If your modem is acting up, you might want to call Ziggo to get the power plug replaced.
Kudos to Ziggo for handling all this very smoothly btw, and shame on Ubee for supplying the underspecced original ac adapter.
My new media PC has a 120GB Kingstong V300 solid state drive (SSD). I bought it because reviews suggested that it offered excellent performance given its low price. But it seems that since those reviews were written, Kingston has started using cheaper, and much slower components in these drives.
More Watch out when buying a Kingston V300 SSD
Actually, “building” may be overstating it a bit. The Shuttle DS437T is a “barebone” system, which means you’ll only need to add a couple of components to create a complete PC. It’s essentially a case with a motherboard. The CPU is soldered onto the motherboard, and has built-in graphics. The barebone also comes with audio, network and wifi. All you need to add is memory, storage and an operating system. But the thing that makes this barebone different from others it that it contains no moving parts. There are no cooling fans, which means you can use it to build a completely silent PC.
More Shuttle DS437T barebone: Building a silent media PC
If you buy a laptop computer under €750, chances are the wifi module used isn’t going to be very good. To get to that low price point, manufacturers need to choose cheap components over good ones. So they usually put a decent processor in, and a big hard drive, because customers ask for those kind of things. But from there on in they complete the system with bargain bin components. Most of those are integrated onto the computer’s motherboard, and impossible to replace. Fortunately however, most laptops do let you replace the wifi module. And it’s really not hard to do.
More Upgrading your laptop’s wifi might be easier than you think
Last weekend, Björn and I spoke at WordCamp Netherlands, and while preparing the presentation I figured that one of the things I was going talk about would probably work as a WordPress plugin. It’s been ages since I last released a plugin, mostly because there’s a solution out there for almost everything you can possibly run into. This specific little fix however proved to be an exception to that rule.
More New WordPress plugin: RT Filter Page List
The fourth edition of WordCamp Netherlands took place last weekend, and I had the pleasure of speaking at this wonderful event. With Björn Wijers, I talked about the intranet project we were involved in at the Dutch tax office (Belastingdienst).
More WordCamp Netherlands 2014 slides
If I remember correctly, the first wireless router I ever bought was a Linksys WRT54G. I’d had a couple of wired ones before that, and knew from experience that cheap routers can be very frustrating. Many of us now use the internet almost 24/7, and buying a sub-par router is like buying a good stereo with terrible speakers. It’s the central hub in your network, on which all other devices depend. It makes sense to get something decent.
More Linksys WRT1900AC review
If you know what Dynamic DNS (DDNS) means, you probably also know that the most popular provider of DDNS services is terminating its free plan. For years, Dyn (formerly DynDNS) has been the go-to service for anyone wanting to access their private LAN though an easy to remember (sub)domain name. I don’t use their service frequently enough to warrant moving to a paid account, so I’ve been looking for an alternative.
No-ip.com is often recommended, and is probably a great service. They say it’ll be free forever, but I guess that’s what Dyn used to say. I’d prefer something a little less commercial. That’s why I liked DuckDNS. Duck has a fun name, a slightly clumsy website, and no apparent business model. Its update clients aren’t as polished as Dyn’s, but they’re still pretty easy to set up. With the website’s help, I’ve set up a cron job on my NAS that does the updating.
You get four free domains, but there’s no paid plan. If you donate (which I certainly will), you get bumped to ten domains. Plenty for home users and small businesses. Easy, simple, fair.