Linus of Linus Tech Tips Exposes the Dark Inner Workings of Apple’s Repair Policies

Linus of Linus Tech Tips released an update to the iMac Pro debacle to YouTube and we now know the struggle he has been having getting parts to repair his “professional” system.

It comes out in the video that during the deconstruction of the iMac Pro the Warranty Void if Removed stickers were destroyed effectively doubling the price of the board to around $5000. He didn’t take that for an answer.

Watch the video and let us know what you think of Apple’s policies towards it’s consumers and its authorized Apple repair shops.

Meet Zero Point Module.

Meet my new gaming system, Zero Point Module (ZPM – THAT’s “ZED” PEE EM SILLY AMERICANS). Yes, I am a mad man. Not only did I build a system I certainly did not actually need, I built a, DUN DUN DUN, Intel system!

Go ahead and faint. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. The theory was always to have two systems but my other system, CAPSUPREME was re-purposed into our studio editing system and Farpoint was re-purposed into a media centre for my room. So I was left with Tantalus. Which wasn’t so bad really until lately I had been having some real problems with Windows erroring out on things and my rx480s (of which I truly love) started to really give me a hassle when installing new drivers in a crossfire configuration.

So I said to myself, “Self, if you get a good tax return you shall build a new mini-ITX system for less than $1200 and you will base it on the recently announced Ryzen 2000 series APU’s.” Naturally I agreed with myself because myself and I are reasonable people and went ahead with the plan.

Then Dan said, “Well if you’re building a system I’m going to build a system later this year to blow it outta the water. And It’s going to be AMD.”

I said, “That’s just silly. You’re the Intel guy. Are you saying I am going to have to go Intel just so our systems can fight each other to the death later this year?”

Dan said, “Yep! WAHAHAHA!”

parts

Deflated I started playing around with PC Partpicker to decide on parts. To keep this build on budget and to have money to buy parts to repair Tantalus I had to scavenge some parts from my bin. This is what I came up with:

  • CPU and Cooler
    • Intel i3-8350k
    • Corsair H115i RGB v2
  • Motherboard
    • Asus ROG Strix Z370-I Mini-ITX
  • Memory
    • G.Skill Trident Z RGB DDR4 3000MHz 2x8GB (Scavenged from Tantalus)
  • Storage
    • Samsung 850 EVO 250GB (Scavenged from bin)
    • Samsung 1TB 2.5″ 5400RPM (Scavenged from bin)
  • GPU
    • Asus Radeon RX480 8GB Reference (Scavenged from Tantalus)
  • Case
    • Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX
  • Power Supply
    • Seasonic 520W M12II Bronze Fully Modular
  • Several Sanpellegrino Aranciata bubblies (no they are not a sponsor, they’re just tasty)

So all the parts I had to buy came in roughly around $850 bucks. If I had to buy all the parts for the build it would have cost somewhere around $1600 to $1800 CAD. Thankfully that other $1000 is used in the repair of Tantalus.

The hardest part of the build was installing the water cooler. I originally planned to remove the included 200mm front fan and install the cooler there but it would not fit. So I had to install it up top. This is ok but in the case of this particular 280 rad from Corsair it fits with a only millimetre to spare. This also blocked off the exhaust for a standard depth fan and I had to order a thin profile 140mm Cryorig fan later (so you won’t see it in the pictures, sorry). If I were to build this again I would go for a 240 rad but I am happy still.

completed

One thing also to note, There is only one chassis fan header on this motherboard. The other two headers are dedicated to the cpu fan and the water pump. Technically you can use all three with fans but just a note to you thats all. Any bigger a water pump and it would not have fit in place. The universal Intel bracket is not a smart design. There should be separate brackets for LGA2011 and whatever this one is, uh, LGA1151. Because of the limited space around the CPU the water piping is resting a bit on the memory. Not very happy about this but it’s working so we continue on.

birdsnest

I do not have any benchmarks yet as when I was done building this I had to tear down my office and rebuild and since I am a truck driver and on the road all the time it’s taken a few weeks to get everything done. I will update this post with benchmarks in the near future.

Overall the building of this system was an experience. Would I build this complicated of an ITX system again for myself? No. Its a lot of hassle. What I can say though with all the hassle the system booted up perfect the first time and has been solid ever since.

perchedontantalus

I was able to initially get a 4.9GHz stable overclock on the rig but when I went to overclock the memory (which ended up at 2933MHz) the stable overclock had to drop down to 4.7GHz. Still not bad.

This will be my main gaming rig from now on. I have finally ordered a streaming card for Tantalus so it will finally do duty as editing and streaming rig (and maybe some gaming too for fun sometimes cuz I got some new stuff for it as well which I will cover in another post). Once my office is all setup I’ll have a pretty decent podcasting/twitch setup.

poweredon1

Now my choice of power supply was fuel for the trolls on PC Partpicker. Would I change it? No. But what would you have done differently? Let me know in the comments.

Lenovo X131e – Cheap and Tough As Nails (Does That Even Make Sense?…)

I know, I know, this laptop is so old it could have grand-kids. Thing is I honestly think its a hidden gem of the tech wold. Nowadays our cheapest laptops are Chromebooks (and really not so cheap when it comes down to it in my opinion) but they are limited in what they can do. I mean sure they will perform what you need as long as you don’t need to use any other software than Google’s cloud services.

That said we are looking at an 11.6 inch AMD E2 1800 (1.7GHz) dual core powered laptop that was initially designed for the educational sector. Yeah the E2 1800 is a relatively weak processor nowadays but it’s still good enough to play some lightweight games in between tackling some email and commenting on your sister’s latest chocolate lab picture on Instagram.

While mine was successfully upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free during Microsoft’s upgrade campaign at the launch of Windows 10 I really found the computer to be sluggish. I mean it was more responsive than Windows 10 but you could tell that the E2 1800 was really at the edge of real functionality. That combined with a 5400 RPM hard drive it really moved slow. Of course slow is relative and I am comparing to my Ryzen system Tantalus equipped with an overclocked R7 1700, 32GB of memory, Samsung EVO boot OS drive and crossfire RX 480s. Yeah so we’re looking at two extremes here.

As you’ve seen with some recent posts I have been exploring the world of Linux deciding if Linux would be the way to go for this laptop. Turns out Linux makes this laptop really sing. While the E2 1800 is ancient nowadays most Linux distributions are super speedy on the older hardware. Even with the slow laptop hard drive this system runs pretty quick. Again quick is relative but believe me I can tell the difference.fedora

So the final distribution I went with is Fedora. Now I didn’t use the default desktop environment of GNOME 3. I can’t stand GNOME 3. It’s just a slow way to navigate to anything you have installed on your computer. Graphically it looks neat but if functionality suffers that a negative point in my book. After the initial installation of Fedora I went ahead and installed the MATE desktop environment. It’s slightly lighter on the notebook’s resources but still looks good doing it’s thing.

I customized the desktop a bit to be sort of a hybrid of Windows and Mac. The default setup is to have a top and bottom taskbar. The top taskbar is really more of a menu bar for your programs and your settings. It also contains the clock, status icons and quick launch icons. This is OK to me but to make it better I removed the bottom taskbar completely to give me some more screen real estate in fullscreen mode and I added what’s called the Windows Selector which is the same as seeing what programs are open on the taskbar in Windows.

See this is what is great about Linux. It’s very customize-able and because of this you can really make your computer feel your own.

At idle the CPU runs at about 5 to 10 percent which is isn’t too bad and memory usage is around 1.1GB out of my upgraded 8GB of memory. Pretty great eh?

I haven’t gamed on the system yet though as this is primarily a mobile computer to use while I am on the road. Just basic web browsing, some YouTube and of course writing these articles for redbluegreen.ca.

Linux is a far cry from yesteryear where every five minutes something would go wrong and you’d inevitably have to open a terminal window and run some obscure commands you’ve never seen before but someone says to run them on a website somewhere, operating system. Yes that was a run on sentence but I think we can all agree. At least those of us that have used Linux in the past.

This all said right now on Ebay you can buy THREE of these laptops for $280 dollars US. That’s a bargain people especially if you are looking for a tough as nails laptop that can take a few hits and doesn’t take up a lot of room in your luggage.

Linux and You

I recently wrote about how the traditional operating system is declining in the consumer market and how devices like smart phones, tablets and Chromebooks are taking a commanding lead as they are simpler and deliver a lot of functionality for a smaller price.

It has come to my attention that lately one really does not need a powerful computer to do most of the things that one does. In fact my own Ryzen 7 system Tantalus is probably sitting on my desk wondering what all the other 15 cores are supposed to do while I surf the web. If course this changes when I fire up Forza Horizon 3 or any number of other games.

With this all in mind if you are building a computer that is really going to focus on browsing the internet and other sort of light tasks you really have to consider whether you want to spend the $150 to $250 CAD on Windows 10 Home or Professional when you can download Debian/Ubuntu or Fedora Linux for free.

So let me “sudo apt-get install” or “sudo dnf install” some knowledge in to your brain about the current Linux situation and why you should seriously consider Linux as your next operating system.

The first step in to the Linux environment can be a bit daunting to some as there are hundreds of flavours to choose from. In the land of Linux these are called distributions. They often are a slight customization of the Linux kernel (the stuff running in the background) but in more cases they use a highly customized desktop environment. A desktop environment is merely the graphical user interface you see when you login to your computer. If Linux does not have a desktop environment installed you only have access to the terminal command line which can be a bit of a pain. No worries though, most versions of Linux have a desktop environment installed by default (usually GNOME, KDE, or MATE).

Whoa now you say. GNOME? KDE? MATE? What language are you speaking? Well to tell the truth I don’t really know but what I can tell you is these are basically different user interfaces and again some versions of these you may like while others you may not. One of the most popular distributions today, and one you may have even heard of, is called Ubuntu. It used to use the GNOME desktop environment but with their latest editions they switched to an environment called Unity. While it certainly looks nice it has not been received well.

Here’s where things get interesting. Say you like Ubuntu but can’t stand the user interface. You’d like something more traditional with something like a start menu from Windows or something like the persistent title bar on a Mac. You can install a different desktop environment to make Ubuntu look and feel more like either of those. For instance, if you want a desktop environment similar to Windows you can install the Cinnamon or even the KDE desktop environment. Both are great choices. No they aren’t Windows but they do a pretty good job regardless. The only really good Mac desktop environment I have seen is the one included with Elementary OS which is based on Ubuntu.

I know. It still seems pretty daunting doesn’t it? I promise you it really isn’t. If you are interested in trying any of these Linux distributions out most have a live CD option that you can use. It will boot up to a temporary installation of Linux inside you RAM and let you try it out without erasing your already installed system and files. Pretty cool huh? Now a lot of people don’t have optical drives anymore and there are tools for that too. Just do a search for booting a Linux live CD from USB on Google. It will set you on the right path.

Now where Linux often fell flat in the past was with the actual installation of the operating system. Good news! Gone are the days of the non graphical user interface installation. We now have very easy to use installers. They are even good enough that if you want to keep Windows or Mac OS for any reason they will allow you to install Linux beside Windows so you can boot to either whenever you like. The installers all make it very easy if you read the instructions. I won’t lie, it’s still not as easy as installing Windows 10. That is incredibly easy now. But don’t let that discourage you.

I have, over the last half a year, been installing and trying out different distributions of Linux and I gotta say the easiest to install was Fedora. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the installer used but it’s so easy it almost feels like one forgot to do something. Debian/Ubuntu installations are almost as easy though.

I can hear you screaming your question. How is Linux to use everyday? Again, I won’t lie, it may take a little bit to get used to where things are and how to get programs but after an hour or so it really feels good. All your regular apps are here for the most part. Firefox and Chromium (Linux’s version of Google Chrome) are both easily available on software repositories to download.

O.O

Software repositories? What the heck, Jeff? You said this was easy.

Stay calm. Think of software repositories as Linux’s version of an App Store. Except everything is free. Yep, welcome to open source. Free software baby! Almost every distribution has a different name for their repository so the best thing to do is look through your menus for something like Software Manager or Software or something to that affect.

If you are willing and want to look like a script kiddy to all your friends you can bring up the dreaded TERMINAL!!! Back in the day you had to drop down to the terminal all the time to get things to work in Linux. Now it feels more like using the Command Prompt on a Windows machine. Yeah you may need to pop open a Terminal window sometimes but you don’t really need to unless you are really playing around with Linux. That said, if one wanted to install say, Libre Office on to a Debian/Ubuntu or Fedora based system you would type the following:

Debian/Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install libreoffice

Fedora

sudo dnf install libreoffice

What you are saying with the above commands are as follows:

sudo – this puts you in to a super-user/administrator mode and after you type in the rest of your command it will ask you for your username password to continue.

Apt-get/dnf – These are the different package installer programs in Debian and Fedora. They both do essentially the same thing which is unpack the software you want to install.

Install – is just as it says. This commands the software un-packer to install the software that you specify next.

Libreoffice – that is the software you wanted to install. You can put anything behind this if you know what you are looking for. If the installation errors out that often means that either something was miss-spelled or the software you are looking for is not listed in the repository.

Now there are other commands you can run before this to make sure you get the latest software but you can discover these things on your own. That’s part of the fun of Linux. The community has gotten very large and often the solution to questions or problems are only a Google search away.

Now many people write-off gaming when it comes to Linux and when it comes to what is available on the repositories I wouldn’t blame you. That said Steam is available on Linux and there are a good amount of titles that will run on Linux. After you install Steam you can explore what is compatible in your library already and you can search for more compatible Linux titles on the Steam store.

If I haven’t scared you off yet I’d love to recommend a few different Linux distributions to try out.

Debian – This is the distribution that Ubuntu is based on. Debian tends to be more conservative in it’s approach to updates in favour of complete stability. Debian based distributions also tend to have more available software-wise on their respective repositories that other based distributions.

Fedora – This is currently my favourite distribution. Fedora tends to be the most up to date and is usually on the bleeding edge of the latest and greatest as it comes to Linux. The drawbacks are sometimes compatibility and stability suffer sometimes (though I have not had a problem). Fedora also tends to have less software in their official repository but there are ways to add more. Again a Google search is the best way to figure these things out.

ZorinOS – This is the one of the nicest looking distributions out there right now and if you are familiar with Windows this distribution will keep you happy. It is based on Ubuntu so it has all the advantages and disadvantages of Debian.

ElementaryOS – I mentioned this earlier as a great starting point for someone moving from Mac OS. This has a very similar interface and again it is based on Ubuntu so it has all the advantages and disadvantages of Debian.

So can you use the above out of the box to surf the web? Yes. Absolutely. They have all you need. You can even play some games. Linux no longer has to be relegated to your older PC (though that’s a great place for it if you want to revitalize an old piece of hardware) installing it on modern hardware can create a speedy and pleasurable experience to be sure.

Have you tried any distributions of Linux? What was your favourite? Did you have any struggles? Let me know in the comments.

Wallpaper Engine

A feature introduced with Windows Vista Ultimate Edition back in the day that I really enjoyed was the live wallpaper (DreamScene) function. I would often have the stream playing in the background and I honestly thought it took the Windows desktop to the next level. Well in Windows 7 the feature was hidden and since Windows 8 the feature was removed altogether.

Recently I stumbled upon a Steam Early Access software called Wallpaper Engine. Now we’ve seen things like this before on the internet. Programs that will change your wallpaper every so often to keep things interesting. The problem with many of those programs is that they often contain computer crippling performance bugs or are literally a skin on a virus itself. Wallpaper Engine is none of those things.

matrix

Wallpaper Engine sets out to make your desktop active like the live wallpaper in that was contained in Windows Vista but with higher resolution video and even some interactive wallpapers that can be quite interesting as well.

Looking at the application, it is relatively well thought out. The main portion of the app is dedicated to a grid section of pre-installed live and static wallpapers. Most are live thankfully. The biggest deal here is that there are nearly 800 different wallpapers live and not live (again most have a live component to them and some even have music which can be turned down in the settings) which is huge. There are wallpapers for your AMD and nVidia fanboys, Mass Effect fans, and a ton of anime stuff I have never seen before.

radeon

If I had one thing I would like to see improved is a category system so we can filter out say, the anime stuff as while I enjoy anime I am not up on all the latest stuff out there.

My favourite wallpapers so far include the standard Matrix wallpaper, a neat futuristic computer UI wallpaper and a sweet Mass Effect wallpaper from the beginning of Mass Effect 2.

me2

I am really enjoying this program. One thing to note, it’s default setting is to run at 15FPS. This is smart as it requires some real computer resources to up it to 25 or all the way to 60 as I have on my machine. In the initial setup it will only allow you to go up to 25FPS but you can change this later in the setting of the application.

If you are interested in using a unique background and have a decent enough PC pick up Wallpaper Engine on Steam. It does cost 4.49 CAD but it’s totally worth it.

ui