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So I decided to migrate a server I built to a NAS. I did this for several reasons. (1) The case I used was not a server case, thus it had no hot-swappable drives. This was a big problem because one of my drives developed bad sectors and needed a warranty replacement. (2) I wanted/needed a device that could also be used for security cameras. Just replacing my case with one that had hot-swap bays would not satisfy that. (3) I wanted something that would make sharing my TV recordings through the network easier, something better than Plex even though I will still be using Plex. (4) And I wanted to learn more about NAS because I want to discourage my customers from using servers when all they are doing is sharing files.

So now that I determined that I needed/wanted a NAS, now I needed to determine which one to get. I still needed to run Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which meant I needed a powerful NAS that supports virtual machines. This limited me to NAS that use either Intel or AMD processors. I decided on one with the Ryzen processor because it is just as good as the Intel ones — especially with the Meltdown bug — and because I don’t need to pay extra to get something with Thunberbolt in it, seeing as that standard is about as popular as gangrene. A 6 core Ryzen will outperform a 4 core Intel with the Meltdown fix. This is why I decided on the QNap TS-x77 line of NAS.

This blog post will be a constant work-in-progress with few updates.

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This is a question I am asked from time to time: what can I do to save money on my cable television bill? Likely you have noticed your cable or satellite TV bill go up and up. What you may not realize is that the most of the price hikes are not because of the satellite or cable TV provider. Greedy cable TV providers, such as Disney and Viacom, charge a fee to rebroadcast their channel. Even though they keep finding ways to pack more and more commercials per hour, they still charge a fee per channel. This would not be so bad except that these same greedy pigs also require you to purchase their shows in packages. For example, you cannot just get the History channel and nothing else, you also have to get Discovery channel and TLC and so on. If that wasn’t bad enough, local stations that you can get free with an antenna also make the cable provider pay a fee to rebroadcast. And when the greedy pigs want more money, they play the victim and ask you to demand your cable provider to keep the channels even though the channels are going away only because your provider doesn’t want to pay them more money.

Still, despite the deck being stacked against you by channel creators, you can save money. But it does require a little bit of technical know-how. Some much more than others.

Before we begin, I strongly do recommend you get a good universal remote regardless, such as Logitech Harmony remotes. You can program these where you push a button that is labeled, for example, “Watch TV” and it turns everything on and does all the changes needed to your TV or stereo. However you decide, save up some money and get a good universal remote to make life easy.

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This is a short and sweet blog entry. Last year, I bought an all-in-one for a customer from Dell. It was dead on arrival. Three days later, a person with a Dell technician contract came out and fixed the problem. No cost. My understanding of warranties is that everything should be covered, parts and labor. Apparently, I am wrong. One of my customer’s HP computer had a bad hard drive while under warranty. A new hard drive was free, but the cost to install it was $50+tax. I couldn’t do it myself — that would void the warranty. I could have bought a better hard drive with a 5 year warranty for only $20 more. But that would void the warranty. And I am willing to bet Dell and Lenovo and Acer and … well, everyone would also charge for labor after 30 days.

So my recommendation is the hard drive or memory, don’t tell HP. Buy a better part yourself to solve the problem.

Website Fails to Load

I was trying to diagnose why a certain website failed to load for a customer. It was only a certain few websites. In Internet Explorer, nothing would load but the it acted like it was perpetually trying to load the website. In Mozilla Firefox, I received a message “the connection was reset”. In Google Chrome, the message “the connection was interrupted”.

It turns out to be a driver problem. I switched this computer’s network from the wired connection to the wireless one and the website instantly loaded. I would also recommend using tweaking.com Windows All-in-One repair and choosing every repair related to the network. Also update the problem network driver.

The official Android 4.3 build has been available for a while now, but my Galaxy S3 would never upgrade. Finally, I found several tutorials that showed me how. The most helpful was this one. I did not do a factory reset of my device because I did not want to re-install all my applications. But I followed all the other instructions and I successfully upgraded to Android 4.3.

After the upgrade process completed, I had several applications give me a “security notice”. Sometimes it would just tell me unauthorized access has been blocked and sometimes it would tell me which app it blocked. You will know which applications it does not like because you will get the “Unfortunately … has stopped” message. For me, after 2 restarts, these apps were removed.

The solution to fix the problem is to simply re-install the application. If it was not removed, uninstall yourself. After I did all that, everything worked fine.

Recently I had a problem with PDF’s in IE10. The only thing I saw when opening a PDF was the no symbol, a circle with a line through it. After looking through many posts on adobe.com and other sites, after uninstalling and reinstalling Adobe Acrobat Reader 11 several times, I finally found this message board post that fixed that fixed the problem: http://forums.adobe.com/message/5262172. That foum post referenced this page: http://superuser.com/questions/561036/unable-to-open-ie-10-in-32-bit-mode.

The answer that worked for me, and found in the links above, was to set the registry key value HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\TabProcGrowth to 1. After restarting Internet Explorer, PDF’s opened just fine.

You will also want to make sure the Adobe Reader ActiveX add-on is enabled. If the above solution does not work, then disable IE10’s protected mode under the security settings. Worst case scenario is to revert to IE9 or, ideally, use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. It is a good idea to use Firefox or Chrome anyway.

Office 2013 Is a Bad Deal

For Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 Microsoft made an edition that could be used on 3 computers. The costs was between $130 and $150, maybe $100 on sale and usually for around $140. That was a good deal and it included the two essential programs: Word and Excel.

For Office 2013, there is no edition you can use on 3 computers. If you only have one computer and will only have one computer, that is not a big deal. Despite being a huge eyesore just like Windows 8, Office 2013 does include some nice new features. But none of those features are worth upgrading too.

Why the price increase? Because Microsoft has lost touch with what made them successful. Microsoft is trying desperately to force you to give them money each year.

And that brings me to Office 365. This is the Office program by subscription. For a $99 yearly fee, you get to use Office on 5 computers and it includes 20 GB of online storage and 60 minutes of Skype international calling. In Office 365 your documents are saved by default to Microsoft’s online storage which allows you to access them anywhere. That is a nice feature (the Skype minutes are clearly something thrown in to make it seem like you are getting a better value than you are). However, in no way is that worth spending $99 a year. How many people have 5 computers?

The pricing on Office 2013 and Office 365 is bad all around. Between this decision and Windows 8, it is clear Microsoft has lost its way and needs new leadership, leadership that listens to customers instead of telling customers what they want.

Introduction

This blog really isn’t up and running yet.

The purpose of this blog is for me to write down how I fixed certain computer problems so that I can quickly reference them later. It will be a public blog that may help you too. Posts will be infrequent at best; comments will also be infrequent too. This blog is meant for my own personal reference more than anything else.