In the perpetual quest to upgrade/change my AV basement setup, I purchased a used Extron DXP 8×8 HDMI matrix switch. After receiving the unit and performing a factory reset, I was happy to see it worked perfectly in my setup, except for one thing. Unlike the CrossPoint Ultra I used for analog devices, the DXP had a cooling fan. The fan wasn’t loud but was noticeable when was nothing playing. The location of the switch was next to my couch which made the issue more pronounced.
The DXP uses a standard size fan: 60x25mm, 12V, 3-pin. That made an upgrade easier. I decided Noctua’s NF-A6x25 FLX would be a suitable replacement.
If you’ve ever worked on a G4 or G5 PowerMac, you may have run into the issue of finding replacement screws. Despite looking like standard PC case screws, commonly called #6-32, the screws used by Apple were metric. Being metric wasn’t in itself a bad thing. Your local home improvement store may have carried what you need in their “special hardware” section. But, no, Apple went further and used M3.5 size screws in most of their systems. You didn’t know there was a metric screw size between M3 & M4? Neither did I.
After measuring and a lot of Internet searching, I came up with a list of the most common screws used in my PowerMag G4 Quicksilver system. I have to thank an old discussion thread at Apple’s website for helping figure out what size these screws are.
I recently played around with a new Synology NAS and got the crazy idea to run Plex on the system, but from a Docker container (there may be a post about that soon). The setup process should have been simple. Most of the environment settings and port publishing were configured automatically. I just had to add a volume mapping to my media share. Except the Plex container would not start.
While looking through spindles of software, I rediscovered an old CD called the Compaq Support Software CD for Compaq Portable Products. This disc was a fantastic CD to have in the 1990-2000s when my Internet connection was a 28K dial-up service. It contained drivers, utilities, firmware, and more for Compaq’s 90s laptops in an easy-to-use web browser interface. Several members of my family and I had LTE 5000 series laptops and used the CD to reload drivers and software after OS installs.
The Support Software CD is not as important as back in the 90s. But people in the retro PC community are always searching for computer restore or driver CDs. In addition, some hardware isn’t usable without the software contained on those discs. To do my part, I have created an ISO image of the CD and uploaded it to Archive.org. My hope is it will be preserved long after I’ve forgotten about the Compaq LTE laptops and associated CDs.
While watching some YouTube videos, I got the idea, “I wish I could listen to these as a podcast while driving.” Digital Foundry’s Direct Weekly was a perfect example of this until recently (they have a podcast version now). Another good example was Hardware Unboxed’s monthly Supporter Q&As. Of course, someone already had the same idea and wrote a program called Podsync to take YouTube channels or playlists and create RSS feeds for use with your preferred podcast player. What’s even better is the setup of Podsync is simple to set up and run on your own server or cloud provider.
This past November, I got the opportunity to present at the Louisville Microsoft Users Group. The topic this time was Microsoft Endpoint Manager, where I discussed the components of Endpoint Manager and how we are using the platform at work. The interaction from the audience was fantastic, with several people asking great questions and giving comments. A recording of the talk has been uploaded to YouTube for anyone who wants to watch. The slide deck is also available below, with embedded links to several resources.
I’ve been working on this story for a while now. Both as a blog post and as a stream/YouTube video. Everything started a few months ago when I discovered my N64 Controller Pak from the late 90s had stopped working. What was the Controller Pak? It was a memory card for saving or transferring save files for Nintendo 64 games. The Controller Pak wasn’t required for all games. Some, such as Super Mario 64 using memory in the game cartridge for saves. Other games, like Turok, had no cartridge memory and entirely relied on the Controller Pak. And then others, like Perfect Dark, could use both cartridge memory or a Controller Pak.
Anyway, my Controller Pak was not working, and I knew it was time to attempt a repair. I wasn’t worried about the failure. The Controller Pak used a 3.3V coin-cell battery to keep the contents of the SRAM stored. At 20+ years old, a dead battery was a common problem for these Paks. I assumed all I needed to do was solder a new battery into the Controller Pak, and everything would be working again. A quick order to eBay, and a few days later, I had a 10x of CR2032 batteries with solder tabs. I also purchased three more official Controller Paks just in case I had issues.
Have you ever had one of those moments when clicking through Wikipedia you learn something that blew your mind? I had one of those moments in 2020. I was clicking through some pages about Top Gear games when I landed on Top Gear Rally and saw the sentence, “In 1999, the game was ported to Microsoft Windows as Boss Rally.” What? I had played Top Gear Rally on my Nintendo 64 since 1997 and never knew a PC version existed. Clicking the link to Boss Rally’s Wikipedia page revealed the original developer of TGR ported the game. I knew at that moment I had to find a copy.
I want to give a big shout-out to the online retailer The Peaceful Outcome (TPO) and their PS2 Noctua upgrade kit. If you have a PS2 with a loud fan, then this kit is perfect.
Backstory: I have owned my PS2 since Christmas 2001. The entire time the fan in the system was loud. I always assumed that was normal since I had never really listed to another PS2 in a quiet setting. Fast forward to 2019, and while walking in my neighborhood, I found a PS2 in a box that was sat out on the street for junk pickup. It was a later revision fat PS2 that lacked the firewire port. I grabbed the unit, took it home, and discovered there were no significant issues. I was surprised to learn the system was virtually silent when compared to my PS2.
Recently I was playing through the original Final Fantasy XII, and the noise of the PS2 finally got to me. Other members of the RetroRGB Discord server had talked about the fan upgrade, so I went to eBay and bought one for myself. I felt $35 for the Noctua fan, fan guard, 3d printed rear panel parts, and wiring pigtail more than reasonable, and the results were impressive. The installation took less than one hour, and my PS2 is now completely silent. Check out the before and after.
For instructions on removing the original fan from a PS2, I recommend following the guide posted at iFixit.com. The process involves completely removing the PS2 mainboard from the bottom shell to get the fan unplugged from its header.
I had planned to write this excellent article about using PowerShell to update the content locations of all the applications in an SCCM environment. At work, we moved the source files to a new file server and needed to update 350+ deployment types. Of course, there were some challenges. The biggest is Configuration Manager’s PowerShell cmdlet to get deployment types doesn’t have an explicit property to list the content location. You can still get the information from the cmdlet, but it’s located in the XML data of the object. A PowerShell script to update the content location would have required parsing that XML to get the current location and using the Set-CMDemploymentType cmdlet to update the deployment with the new location.
As usual, someone already did a better job. Nickolaj Anderson from MSEndpointMgr.com wrote a great PowerShell tool with a GUI to help find and update applications. I recommend visiting his website to learn the details.