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post #3421 of 3843
Interesting that you would mention back-ups. I have used Acronis until recently. Besides the two 6 TB external drives I told you about, I also have a 2 TB external drive that I was using to store my Acronis images. About 3 or 4 months ago, I bought another 1 TB HDD and I have been cloning my XL3's HDD with that. I have considered the solid state drives because I'm paranoid and I realize that with no moving parts I'd have less of a chance for calamity, as if I haven't had any LIGHTENING STATIC eek.gif. BUT, knock on wood, I have not had HDD issues. I wonder if that static electricity from the lightening could have erased a SSD if I had one. See how paranoid I am? I'm worrying about something that I don't even have. smile.gif
post #3422 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnterFace View Post

Interesting that you would mention back-ups. I have used Acronis until recently. Besides the two 6 TB external drives I told you about, I also have a 2 TB external drive that I was using to store my Acronis images. About 3 or 4 months ago, I bought another 1 TB HDD and I have been cloning my XL3's HDD with that. I have considered the solid state drives because I'm paranoid and I realize that with no moving parts I'd have less of a chance for calamity, as if I haven't had any LIGHTENING STATIC eek.gif. BUT, knock on wood, I have not had HDD issues. I wonder if that static electricity from the lightening could have erased a SSD if I had one. See how paranoid I am? I'm worrying about something that I don't even have. smile.gif

Hi Steve. Well, that's a very interesting question. My first impulse is to answer "no", because it's NAND Flash memory, rather than magnetic. But .... I know that USB Flash Drives can be corrupted or erased if one forgets to shut it down for "safe removal" before pulling it from the USB port, so .... GOOD QUESTION?!!! eek.gif

Jeff ('rjeffb'), this one's for you. I'm punting to you because you are the NAND Flash and SSD expert..

I am presently right in the middle of downloading and updating the firmware for my pair of brand new OCZ Agility 3 SSDs which I ordered from Newegg (120GB each). I'll be installing them as a SSD 'RAID 0' array for my new system OS/BOOT and applications (replacing my current single SSD). This was discussion thread member Jeff's ('rjeffb') idea, and I'm dying to give it a try. We have had a little discussion on this thread about whether it might actually speed up the XL* so much that it will boot before one actually pushes the power button (and unplanned time travel is also a worry!) biggrin.gif
My current SSD boots my system fully in 39 to 43 seconds ... which ain't bad compared to my old pair of 'RAID 0' system HDDs which came OEM with this XL2 system.

I was going to install this new SSD 'RAID' array in another computer, but I have since learned that the absence of "TRIM" support for "RAID'ed SSDs on our older Intel chipsets isn't a problem for these new OCZ drives, because they have "garbage collection" built into the firmware which runs automatically whenever the SSD is at idle. OCZ says it is actually more effective than the Microsoft / Intel supported 'TRIM' (Well, we sha'll see ...rolleyes.gif)

Cheers!
Robert.


post #3423 of 3843
Actually, there is very little magnetic component associated with lightning. Magnetism (oh gawd here he goes again) is a component of a light wave, wih the energy cycling back and forth between the magnetic phase and the electrical phase. An electron flying through space generates a light wave and part of that is magnetic. But lightning is not actually a big pile of electrons all moving together (that would be a shock wave or more specifically a soliton) but a wave passing through the electrons with each electron only moving a little bit. So relatively little light and correspondingly little magnetism. It's just the enormous size of the discharge that creates appreciable magnetism; hell, scientists recently discovered that a really big bolt of lightning creates antimatter! So while a direct strike by lightning will indeed create a brief but fleeting burst of magnetism, certainly enough to erase a magnetic hard drive, I would hazard to guess that the more realistic risk is a) frying of the semiconductor components from localized high-gradient electrical field flux (more on that Back To The Future-sounding term in a second) and b) the demagnetizing effect of having a high-voltage charge ripple across the surface of the platter - induction heating caused by the aformentioned field flux, if it gets above a magic number called the Curie temperature, makes magnetic orientation vanish even if it was so fast as to leave no other visible signs. That's caused by heat, not magnetism. You'd have to have the strike very close by for its magnetic component to erase a hard drive; but the flux, oh boy...

...Ever wonder what the hell St. Elmo's Fire actually is? Put enough of an electrical field gradient across a given space fast enough and for a moment, it's like huge anodes and cathodes are at opposite ends. As the lighting strike approaches the volume in front of it is very rapidly switching from zero field to big honking field (the gradient) in a very short distance (the flux). That means there's a big voltage difference between the lead and just a very short distance back. It's like an energized fluorescent ballast hurtling forward at faster than Mach 1. St. Elmo's Fire *IS* a fluorescent light, with the anode and cathode the leading and surrounding extremes of the field gradient, charging up the air as it goes. Well, when my house took the strike that fried my Hush computer a few years ago, I had St. Elmo's Fire in my kitchen - 25 feet in a straight line and 50 feet worth of wiring from the point of impact. You better believe that gradient flux can heat the hell out of what it passes through but only fleetingly (the main source of heat associated with a strike is the white plasma, which doesn't MAKE things hot but rather IS hot). How hot can the gradient make things? Well, when you look at a solar flare you're seeing plasma and it's pretty hot. But what you don't see without special instruments is the flux gradient (which because in a flare you have actual material moving and not just a wave, is highly magnetic and not just electrical) which extends outwards of the flare and is in the MILLIONS of degrees. Yikes! (You don't normally see it because there very little matter outside the flare to heat up and glow.)

So: is an SSD less suceptible to the magnetic effects of lightning? Absolutely; it's not magnetized and does not depend on magnetism to work. Is it less suceptible to heat damage? Well, if the plasma touches it, no. It'll be melted. So will the computer cabinet. And your house. But if just the electrical field gradient is involved, then fleeting surface heat is less likely to damage it because there's no magnetic transition temperature because again, there's no magnetism.

What about the effects of the field gradient flux on the electronics - and indeed on the memory cells themselves, since they are in reality little transitors? Well, there the prognosis isn't so good. This isn't conducted by the wiring (although it can be introduced into the wiring by linear inductance). It's an invisible field that permeates everything - imagine a pair of highly charged probes being touched to the leads of all the transistors, with those probes sweeping through at the speed of sound - and the rise in charge sweeping through at the speed of light!

So in conclusion...I'd avoid lightning, SSD or not. wink.gif
post #3424 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjeffb View Post

Actually, there is very little magnetic component associated with lightning. Magnetism (oh gawd here he goes again) is a component of a light wave, wih the energy cycling back and forth between the magnetic phase and the electrical phase. An electron flying through space generates a light wave and part of that is magnetic. But lightning is not actually a big pile of electrons all moving together (that would be a shock wave or more specifically a soliton) but a wave passing through the electrons with each electron only moving a little bit. So relatively little light and correspondingly little magnetism. It's just the enormous size of the discharge that creates appreciable magnetism; hell, scientists recently discovered that a really big bolt of lightning creates antimatter!

Coincidently, scientists have also recently confirmed what I had long suspected, that my former girlfriend creates antimatter!!! eek.gif
The result of her entering the room was very much akin to a big, loud, negatively charged electrical storm! (You could almost smell the ozone when she approached). When those storms began lasting more than the acceptable and anticipated 3 to 4 days each month -- which I had already taken the precaution of noting in advance in red on my calendar -- I had to move on to a calmer climate.



So while a direct strike by lightning will indeed create a brief but fleeting burst of magnetism, certainly enough to erase a magnetic hard drive, I would hazard to guess that the more realistic risk is a) frying of the semiconductor components from localized high-gradient electrical field flux (more on that Back To The Future-sounding term in a second) and b) the demagnetizing effect of having a high-voltage charge ripple across the surface of the platter - induction heating caused by the aformentioned field flux, if it gets above a magic number called the Curie temperature, makes magnetic orientation vanish even if it was so fast as to leave no other visible signs. That's caused by heat, not magnetism. You'd have to have the strike very close by for its magnetic component to erase a hard drive; but the flux, oh boy...

Yes, I can see how that could leave a drive just TOTALLY fluxed up!


...Ever wonder what the hell St. Elmo's Fire actually is? (I was going to say "a fairly forgettable, mid-80's coming-of-age 'B' movie", ... but I won't) Put enough of an electrical field gradient across a given space fast enough and for a moment, it's like huge anodes and cathodes are at opposite ends. As the lighting strike approaches the volume in front of it is very rapidly switching from zero field to big honking field (the gradient) in a very short distance (the flux). That means there's a big voltage difference between the lead and just a very short distance back. It's like an energized fluorescent ballast hurtling forward at faster than Mach 1. St. Elmo's Fire *IS* a fluorescent light, with the anode and cathode the leading and surrounding extremes of the field gradient, charging up the air as it goes.

It's interesting that something like that can occur without some sort of 'containment'. Does the atmoshere act in some way as a containment field?


Well, when my house took the strike that fried my Hush computer a few years ago, I had St. Elmo's Fire in my kitchen (wow, Demi Moore and Ally Sheedy in your kitchen. Nice! Oops, sorry, my mind wandered again.) - 25 feet in a straight line and 50 feet worth of wiring from the point of impact. You better believe that gradient flux can heat the hell out of what it passes through but only fleetingly (the main source of heat associated with a strike is the white plasma, which doesn't MAKE things hot but rather IS hot). How hot can the gradient make things? Well, when you look at a solar flare you're seeing plasma and it's pretty hot. But what you don't see without special instruments is the flux gradient (which because in a flare you have actual material moving and not just a wave, is highly magnetic and not just electrical) which extends outwards of the flare and is in the MILLIONS of degrees. Yikes! (You don't normally see it because there very little matter outside the flare to heat up and glow.)

A couple of local Middle School kids were killed here about a year ago on their school football field. The reports all said the lighting, which literally cooked them inside out, "came up out of the ground". And it was a relatively calm, clear day and just the beginning of what later became a storm. The news stories said both were heated internally in an instant hot enough that one of the kid's wires on his teeth braces melted like solder.

.
So: is an SSD less suceptible to the magnetic effects of lightning? Absolutely; it's not magnetized and does not depend on magnetism to work. Is it less suceptible to heat damage? Well, if the plasma touches it, no. It'll be melted. So will the computer cabinet. And your house. But if just the electrical field gradient is involved, then fleeting surface heat is less likely to damage it because there's no magnetic transition temperature because again, there's no magnetism.
What about the effects of the field gradient flux on the electronics - and indeed on the memory cells themselves, since they are in reality little transitors? Well, there the prognosis isn't so good. This isn't conducted by the wiring (although it can be introduced into the wiring by linear inductance). It's an invisible field that permeates everything - imagine a pair of highly charged probes being touched to the leads of all the transistors, with those probes sweeping through at the speed of sound - and the rise in charge sweeping through at the speed of light!
So in conclusion...I'd avoid lightning, SSD or not. wink.gif

Yes, I'd say that's the best advice I have seen in years. And ... your synopsis actually makes me feel a bit more reassured about running the SSDs. Thanks Jeff. I knew you would have an answer for us.

Cheers!
Robert.
post #3425 of 3843
Just had a scare.

I often leave my pc running for hours and last night after my pc was running (I was not using it) for around 12 hours I noticed a small circular red light came on at the right hand side of the DVD drive. I assumed it was some power saving mode I hadn't noticed previously and did not worry.

This morning my 9yo son said the computer wasn't working, I tried restarting my xl301 and turning it off by the power socket, but all I could get was a black screen!
Anyhow just tried reconnecting the leads at the back of the vaio and the computer, they all seemed fine, but suddenly my pc started again?

Anyone got any idea what the little circular red light on the right is for? or what caused it? I am worried my pc is dying eek.gif

BTW when the pc started again it did not say anything about a fatal error or nothing, it just started as if nothing had happened to it, weird!

Oliver
post #3426 of 3843
Actually my question was concerning the large amount of static electricity associated with lightening. In my situation, I lost a lot of low voltage electronics to static electricity due to lightening. My equipment was protected by UPSs which made little difference because my home wasn't hit directly so the AC wiring went basically uneffected, but there was so much static electricity in my home due to the proximity of the lightening strike that every USB, HDMI, and Firewire port were compromised. I simply asked Robert the question that if I had SSDs would I have lost them as well.
post #3427 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigoliver View Post

Just had a scare.
I often leave my pc running for hours and last night after my pc was running (I was not using it) for around 12 hours I noticed a small circular red light came on at the right hand side of the DVD drive. I assumed it was some power saving mode I hadn't noticed previously and did not worry.
This morning my 9yo son said the computer wasn't working, I tried restarting my xl301 and turning it off by the power socket, but all I could get was a black screen!
Anyhow just tried reconnecting the leads at the back of the vaio and the computer, they all seemed fine, but suddenly my pc started again?
Anyone got any idea what the little circular red light on the right is for? or what caused it? I am worried my pc is dying eek.gif
BTW when the pc started again it did not say anything about a fatal error or nothing, it just started as if nothing had happened to it, weird!
Oliver

Hello Oliver,

Just to the right of your optical drive slot? Do you mean a light behind the transluscent black plastic panel (sort of like the LEDs behind the plastic panel to the left side of the optical drive?) Wow, that's a new one.

If you mean to the EXTREME right hand side of the front of the case, that's where the infra-red receiver for the remote commander is located, and there is a tiny red LED to the lower left hand side of that. You can actually get that little red LED to flash if you shine a flashlight (a "torch" on your side of the pond) into the infra-red receiver, and the little red LED will respond to most infra-red remote control signals by flashing. Is that the red light you are describing?

There is a utility built into Windows for checking the health of your drives (both SSD, HDD). Right-click on "Computer" in the start menu and select "Manage". The "Computer Management" utility will open. Look for "Storage" > "Disk Management", and click that.
Wait for the utility to populate the screen with your drives, and then under "Status" it will tell you if each drive is "Healthy."

If you have "Windows Update" set to do automatic updates, proxy it to see what updates were done during the hours preceding the issue.

If your drives are all healthy, you might want to 'boot into safe mode' and then do a "System Restore" to a restore point well before the issue was first noticed (yesterday?)

Let us know what you discover. Good luck!



Cheers!
Robert.

Edited by REnninga - 9/21/12 at 11:56am
post #3428 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnterFace View Post

Actually my question was concerning the large amount of static electricity associated with lightening. In my situation, I lost a lot of low voltage electronics to static electricity due to lightening. My equipment was protected by UPSs which made little difference because my home wasn't hit directly so the AC wiring went basically uneffected, but there was so much static electricity in my home due to the proximity of the lightening strike that every USB, HDMI, and Firewire port were compromised. I simply asked Robert the question that if I had SSDs would I have lost them as well.

Hi Steve. It's a great question, and I don't know the answer. But I can offer a supposition (based only on what little I know about Solid State Drives).

SSDs perform the same tasks of reading and writing data in a different manner than HDDs. A SSD has chips with flash memory (non-volatile memory) for storing data. The drive records through its flash cells, but does so by using electric charges to store data. And It holds that data indefinitely until another electric charge erases it.
So unlike HDDs, a computer can't simply overwrite old data but has to first erase it in chunks before it can write to those again (that's what "TRIM" and "Garbage Collection" utilities do in the background.)

So, ... since the process of writing and erasing a SSD is by electric charges I would have to answer your question "Yes", a SSD probably does have vulnerability to electrostatic discharge. HOW vulnerable I have no idea (but mine DID come packaged in the ubiquitous anti-static pouches. That suggests some vulnerability to me.

I guess the UP SIDE however is you're not going to erase your SSD by setting it on top of your subwoofer magnet. That counts for something, right? biggrin.gif

Anybody have a definitive answer on this one?

Cheers!
Robert.
post #3429 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by REnninga View Post

Hi Steve. It's a great question, and I don't know the answer. But I can offer a supposition (based only on what little I know about Solid State Drives).
SSDs perform the same tasks of reading and writing data in a different manner than HDDs. A SSD has chips with flash memory (non-volatile memory) for storing data. The drive records through its flash cells, but does so by using electric charges to store data. And It holds that data indefinitely until another electric charge erases it.
So unlike HDDs, a computer can't simply overwrite old data but has to first erase it in chunks before it can write to those again (that's what "TRIM" and "Garbage Collection" utilities do in the background.)
So, ... since the process of writing and erasing a SSD is by electric charges I would have to answer your question "Yes", a SSD probably does have vulnerability to electrostatic discharge. HOW vulnerable I have no idea (but mine DID come packaged in the ubiquitous anti-static pouches. That suggests some vulnerability to me.
I guess the UP SIDE however is you're not going to erase your SSD by setting it on top of your subwoofer magnet. That counts for something, right? biggrin.gif
Anybody have a definitive answer on this one?
Cheers!
Robert.

Robert that was an excellent explanation. BTW just as it was suggested I think I will just try to stay away from lightening:D. I'm disappointed though, I really would like to be able to protect my equipment. That lightening ordeal was arduous to say the least. frown.gif all in all my system is getting better though. I would most likely still have four changers and a computer that is still factory basically. I now have a super video card 8 gigabytes of RAM a terabyte hdd, and I'm down to only 2 changers and I'm working on them:D.
post #3430 of 3843
OK Jeff, you don't get out enough. smile.gif
post #3431 of 3843
Update on Win 8. I'm still getting the hang of it. Interesting that if you don't have a touch screen the keyboard comes back into play. I never used the Windows key in previous versions. It's nearly worn out now.

I've switched from Windows Home Server 2011 to Ubuntu/Amahi. I'll let you know how I get on.
post #3432 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjeffb View Post

Actually, there is very little magnetic component associated with lightning. Magnetism (oh gawd here he goes again) is a component of a light wave, wih the energy cycling back and forth between the magnetic phase and the electrical phase. An electron flying through space generates a light wave and part of that is magnetic. But lightning is not actually a big pile of electrons all moving together (that would be a shock wave or more specifically a soliton) but a wave passing through the electrons with each electron only moving a little bit. So relatively little light and correspondingly little magnetism. It's just the enormous size of the discharge that creates appreciable magnetism; hell, scientists recently discovered that a really big bolt of lightning creates antimatter! So while a direct strike by lightning will indeed create a brief but fleeting burst of magnetism, certainly enough to erase a magnetic hard drive, I would hazard to guess that the more realistic risk is a) frying of the semiconductor components from localized high-gradient electrical field flux (more on that Back To The Future-sounding term in a second) and b) the demagnetizing effect of having a high-voltage charge ripple across the surface of the platter - induction heating caused by the aformentioned field flux, if it gets above a magic number called the Curie temperature, makes magnetic orientation vanish even if it was so fast as to leave no other visible signs. That's caused by heat, not magnetism. You'd have to have the strike very close by for its magnetic component to erase a hard drive; but the flux, oh boy...
...Ever wonder what the hell St. Elmo's Fire actually is? Put enough of an electrical field gradient across a given space fast enough and for a moment, it's like huge anodes and cathodes are at opposite ends. As the lighting strike approaches the volume in front of it is very rapidly switching from zero field to big honking field (the gradient) in a very short distance (the flux). That means there's a big voltage difference between the lead and just a very short distance back. It's like an energized fluorescent ballast hurtling forward at faster than Mach 1. St. Elmo's Fire *IS* a fluorescent light, with the anode and cathode the leading and surrounding extremes of the field gradient, charging up the air as it goes. Well, when my house took the strike that fried my Hush computer a few years ago, I had St. Elmo's Fire in my kitchen - 25 feet in a straight line and 50 feet worth of wiring from the point of impact. You better believe that gradient flux can heat the hell out of what it passes through but only fleetingly (the main source of heat associated with a strike is the white plasma, which doesn't MAKE things hot but rather IS hot). How hot can the gradient make things? Well, when you look at a solar flare you're seeing plasma and it's pretty hot. But what you don't see without special instruments is the flux gradient (which because in a flare you have actual material moving and not just a wave, is highly magnetic and not just electrical) which extends outwards of the flare and is in the MILLIONS of degrees. Yikes! (You don't normally see it because there very little matter outside the flare to heat up and glow.)
So: is an SSD less suceptible to the magnetic effects of lightning? Absolutely; it's not magnetized and does not depend on magnetism to work. Is it less suceptible to heat damage? Well, if the plasma touches it, no. It'll be melted. So will the computer cabinet. And your house. But if just the electrical field gradient is involved, then fleeting surface heat is less likely to damage it because there's no magnetic transition temperature because again, there's no magnetism.
What about the effects of the field gradient flux on the electronics - and indeed on the memory cells themselves, since they are in reality little transitors? Well, there the prognosis isn't so good. This isn't conducted by the wiring (although it can be introduced into the wiring by linear inductance). It's an invisible field that permeates everything - imagine a pair of highly charged probes being touched to the leads of all the transistors, with those probes sweeping through at the speed of sound - and the rise in charge sweeping through at the speed of light!
So in conclusion...I'd avoid lightning, SSD or not. wink.gif

A few years ago lightening to out my dial-up modem. Flash, bang, thwack. Also when they switched on a new shopping centre about a mile from us it tripped all the breakers for miles around. I've now installed Surge Protection Devices at the head of the power circuits that my electronics are on.
post #3433 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnterFace View Post

Robert that was an excellent explanation. BTW just as it was suggested I think I will just try to stay away from lightening:D. I'm disappointed though, I really would like to be able to protect my equipment. That lightening ordeal was arduous to say the least. frown.gif all in all my system is getting better though. I would most likely still have four changers and a computer that is still factory basically. I now have a super video card 8 gigabytes of RAM a terabyte hdd, and I'm down to only 2 changers and I'm working on them:D.

Hello Steve,
I understand your apprehension ( or to borrow your word, "paranoia" rolleyes.gif ). Lightning destroying a significant portion of one's electronic equipment has a certain way of getting your .... attention. But frankly, everything I read suggests that modern generation SSDs are less problem prone than our standard consumer-model HDDs, and have a lower failure rate. And my new latest generation 25-nm NAND flash SSDs are rated at a 2 million hour life span ... 228+ years!!! (that's a significant improvement over the earlier generation SSDs from just a couple of years ago).

Running Intel's health check utility on my now 1-1/2 year old (much older generation) Intel SSD shows that it still has 87% of it's life remaining; which doing the math suggests it could run for another 10+ years, ....even if I weren't going to do a complete refresh reformat on that drive! (my current plan is that it is going to be my OS image/backup drive).

I think the approach to the quandary ("To SSD, or not to SSD? That is the question") suggests putting everything in perspective.

*There are tens of millions of SSDs already in use in computers.
*Lightning occurs everywhere.
*The performance improvement of SSDs over HDDs for OS-Boot-Applications drives is substantial.
*If SSDs had a significant vulnerability, we would probably have all heard about that vulnerability by now.
*If you suffer another lightning incident similar to the last, your SSD is probably going to be way down the list of your concerns.
Last but not least ...
*If you keep your OS and software installation DVDs and CDs in a safe place, and you properly image your OS and backup your data, what would the loss of a SSD really mean other than $50-$75, ... and part of a weekend?

All that noted, for those who elect to stick with conventional HDDs for their OS-Boot-Applications drive, there is another easy (and free) way to step-up the performance and responsiveness of a system OS/Boot HDD. You can use the Auslogics "UltraDefrag" utility to defrag your registry and "optimize" your drive. Optimizing, in addition to optimal defragmentation, moves your OS system files to the fastest area of your drive. And yes, the improvement is noticeable. On a large capacity HDD, the optimization and defragmentation is pretty time consuming of course (several hours); but that's the sort of thing you start at bedtime and let it go through the night.

Although all of my PCs are now running SSDs (which you do not defragment, of course), I still use Auslogics "Ultra Defrag" in the background to keep all of my storage HDDs healthy and fast. It's the best free/open source defrag utility I have found, so far. The latest version (5.0.7) was released just Sept. 1.

If you, or anyone want to download a copy and give it a try, here's the link/URL:
http://ultradefrag.sourceforge.net/en/index.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjk61011 View Post

OK Jeff, you don't get out enough. smile.gif

Hello Francis,
Yes, but what would we do without Jeff? eek.gif I don't even want to think about the prospect of trying to keep my beautiful Sony running on all cylinders without the knowledge base of our resident-engineer-and-problem-solver, giving us a boost over the rough spots. I would have given up on my own XL2, LONG AGO, if not for the wise counsel of our very own 'Jersey Boy."
"ALL HAIL 'RJEFFB'! HAIL, HAIL, HAIL!!!" biggrin.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjk61011 View Post

Update on Win 8. I'm still getting the hang of it. Interesting that if you don't have a touch screen the keyboard comes back into play. I never used the Windows key in previous versions. It's nearly worn out now.
I've switched from Windows Home Server 2011 to Ubuntu/Amahi. I'll let you know how I get on.

I'm glad you are still puttering with Windows 8, Francis. You're our VGX-XL3 discussion thread 'guinea pig' (wait, ... do they even have guinea pigs in Ireland???)
I'm especially interested in reading your reports on any hardware conflicts, hiccups and incompatibilities you have found with your XL* system running Windows 8, if any. And, of course, ...does the optical drive button still not function?

What are your impressions of Media Center add-on to Windows 8; has it improved over Windows 7?[/
I]


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjk61011 View Post

A few years ago lightening to out my dial-up modem. Flash, bang, thwack. Also when they switched on a new shopping centre about a mile from us it tripped all the breakers for miles around. I've now installed Surge Protection Devices at the head of the power circuits that my electronics are on.

Gosh, I guess I have been lucky, guys. The only lightning losses I have sustained were an old 13" black and white TV almost 35 years ago. But that actually worked out ok (I got a new color TV for Christmas that year! wink.gif )

And I once lost my 'mount' while riding on my Uncle's cattle ranch in northern Oklahoma. I was right in the middle of getting the 3-year-old and very well-trained gelding to lay down in the field where we would both wait out the lightning together when a BIG, unfortunately timed flash & bang sent him at full gallop back to the stable. He arrived about an hour before I did, ...and considerably more dry than was I!!! ( Damned horse. If he hadn't already been gelded I would have done the deed that very day! )mad.gif



Cheers!
Robert.
post #3434 of 3843
As Ren said, need a bit more info about the "red light": for example, does the ring of blue change to a ring of red when certain malfunctions happen (like the ring of doom on an XBox?). Clarification please. I'm not sure anyone here has experienced it but with a bit more detail some of us might know where to look to find out.

Let's be absolutely clear on this (proof that why I don't get out enough): a surge protector protects you from voltage spikes that try to flow into your house through your wiring that are caused by lighting strikes and other things that occur at a distance. As explained in my catatonicly long post above, lighting has associated with it a high-flux electrical (and magnetic) field pushed out in front of it, moving at the speed of sound and changing at the speed of light.

When you take a piece of wire and you spin it inside of an electric field, you have a rotary generator: the field induces the electrons in the wire to move, creating an electrical current. Likewise, if you hold the wire still and you rotate the electrical field around it (either physically or by changing the field's phase), you also have a rotary generator (trivia: if you do BOTH, you have a dynamo, which is an extra-efficient generator). The faster your go, the higher the voltage created.

If you have an electric field and you move a wire through it in a straight line, the field induces the electrons in the wire to move. And if you hold the wire still and move the electric field, you also make electrons move. That would be an linear generator. Linear generators aren't very practical, because you have to keep the wire or the field moving so in practice they can only produce current for the short period of time that the electric field is moving. Like, say, the field in front of a lighting bolt. Like their rotary cousin, the voltage they produce is the result of how fast the electric field moves past the wire. Like, say, when a lightning bolt moves faster than Mach 1.

So a surge protector on your house wiring can stop the effects of a faraway strike but does nothing to stop the induction effects of a very close strike - every piece of electronic equipment becomes its own high-voltage power source. In other words: ZAP!

>It's interesting that something like that can occur without some sort of 'containment'. Does the atmoshere act in some way as a containment field?

Now that's something that I myself have puzzled over for years and never found a satisfactory answer. Not just St. Elmo's Fire (which I have seen twice, the other time was an oak tree struck before my eyes and the fire danced to and fro for a good 30 seconds, kind of like the "living sparkles" that Raiders of the Lost Ark [Arc? smile.gif] introduced and is now a standard special effect, but much more colorful and subdued) but supposedly ball lightning (which I have never seen but people I know personally have described it to me). Very dry air makes a good insulator and so I suppose air could be its own short-term containment; it certainly cannot be that the ionization is continuing because as I said the charging potential sweeps through in front of the lightning bolt and then is gone. But lighting, at least in my area, occurs when the air is very damp; in my case it was pouring down rain both times so I am at a loss to explain that. My girlfriend was in the basement at the time and I heard the circuit breakers humming and clicking, she described St. Elmo's Fire engulfing the breaker box (terrifying since she didn't know what it was). I do know that the instances where people have told me about ball lightning it was bone-dry (desert).
post #3435 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by REnninga View Post

I'm glad you are still puttering with Windows 8, Francis. You're our VGX-XL3 discussion thread 'guinea pig' (wait, ... do they even have guinea pigs in Ireland???)
I'm especially interested in reading your reports on any hardware conflicts, hiccups and incompatibilities you have found with your XL* system running Windows 8, if any. And, of course, ...does the optical drive button still not function?
What are your impressions of Media Center add-on to Windows 8; has it improved over Windows 7?[/
I]


Cheers!
Robert.

I thought you said Guinness pigs!

No, the hardware button doesn't work in Win 8.

I'm not getting much work done on the XL. The wife wants to watch telly. I ask you
post #3436 of 3843
Hello all,

In the spirit of sharing discoveries, no matter how trivial or untimely -- as a philisophical approach to expanding our collective XL* systems knowledge base for THE NEXT TIME that a similar issue comes up -- I think I may have stumbled across a possible answer to why Steve's ('EnterFace') HDMI audio throughput stopped working after an upgrade; and then was fixed by the installation of his new Sapphire HD6670 HDMI video/graphics card.

While tinkering in the BIOS of my XL2 today, trying to resolve a different issue, I was reminded that the "Onboard Azalia Controller" in the BIOS can get reset to "Disabled" if there is an unresolved IRQ conflict. If this happens, the HDMI throughput will be turned off.

"Azalia" is the development codename for Intel's High Definition Audio Specification, a replacement for the Audio Codec '97 (commonly known as "AC97") spec. for on-board audio.

In the BIOS it is located under the "Advanced" tab, then select "Onboard Device Configuration" to find "Onboard Azalia Controller." When "Enabled", the High Definition Audio throughput from the video/graphics card is "turned on."

Steve's installation of his new Sapphire card and its Catalyst Control Center software suite (with AMD High Definition Audio) restored, or "Enabled" this setting by default (probably by also resolving an IRQ conflict).

The BAD news is that Steve likely didn't need to buy a new video/graphics card to fix his HDMI audio throughput issue! frown.gif
The GOOD news is that Steve now has a WAY COOL new Sapphire HD6670 HDMI video/graphics card! biggrin.gif

Cheers!
Robert.
post #3437 of 3843
Great tip Ren, something worth checking whenever we change hardware and/or drivers (sound and video) and HDMI and perhaps (through default software selections) SPDIF issues crop up. Thanks.
post #3438 of 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by REnninga View Post

Hello all,
In the spirit of sharing discoveries, no matter how trivial or untimely -- as a philisophical approach to expanding our collective XL* systems knowledge base for THE NEXT TIME that a similar issue comes up -- I think I may have stumbled across a possible answer to why Steve's ('EnterFace') HDMI audio throughput stopped working after an upgrade; and then was fixed by the installation of his new Sapphire HD6670 HDMI video/graphics card.
While tinkering in the BIOS of my XL2 today, trying to resolve a different issue, I was reminded that the "Onboard Azalia Controller" in the BIOS can get reset to "Disabled" if there is an unresolved IRQ conflict. If this happens, the HDMI throughput will be turned off.
"Azalia" is the development codename for Intel's High Definition Audio Specification, a replacement for the Audio Codec '97 (commonly known as "AC97") spec. for on-board audio.
In the BIOS it is located under the "Advanced" tab, then select "Onboard Device Configuration" to find "Onboard Azalia Controller." When "Enabled", the High Definition Audio throughput from the video/graphics card is "turned on."
Steve's installation of his new Sapphire card and its Catalyst Control Center software suite (with AMD High Definition Audio) restored, or "Enabled" this setting by default (probably by also resolving an IRQ conflict).
The BAD news is that Steve likely didn't need to buy a new video/graphics card to fix his HDMI audio throughput issue! frown.gif
The GOOD news is that Steve now has a WAY COOL new Sapphire HD6670 HDMI video/graphics card! biggrin.gif
Cheers!
Robert.

Robert, I have more than that. The original video card just didn't work well, it was a pain sizing the desktop to my television, there were very few adjustments, AND my insurance company replaced that card for me after the lightening issue, Sony charged my insurance $800 for that piece of crap. This card was a hundred bucks and works magnificently!!! What a difference a few years makes. biggrin.gif Due to that issue I now have a more efficient machine with the 8 gigabytes of RAM I've just added, I wouldn't have known about that capability otherwise. As I've stated the device was stable and performing for years, until that little upgrade that sent me down this path. Believe me I would have upgrade that video card if I had known there were alternatives out there, thank you my friend. Now lets find substitutes for the motherboard and power supply. biggrin.gif
post #3439 of 3843
>Now lets find substitutes for the motherboard and power supply

I am in no mood to actually pursue this but: I had a little mini-ITX computer, about a foot tall, that I used to install Windows 2000 on an SSD (a whopping 512 >>MB<<, yes I was WAY ahead of the curve on SSDs) to run my network server on, kind of what Windows Server would eventually evolve into (I still have the microscopic 6" wide USB keyboard I used for setting network storage permissions). I wanted it to be silent when it wasn't accessing the 200GB drives that were Firewired to it so I removed the fan, but that made it way too hot.

So I bought a power distributor card and glued it inside the case, yanking out the power supply in the process. The actual real power was supplied by a medium-size power brick external to the unit. I have not researched this, but surely that could be done for an XL as well. On one hand I don't know you'd be able to completely eliminate fans on an XL because it does not have a heat-dissipating chassis (my Hush PC is a giant finned aluminum heat sink). But on the other hand surely more power for a faster MB could be made available without increasing the thermal load on the system by putting the power supply outside and just the distribution card inside.
post #3440 of 3843
This is my first post in this amazing and long living thread. I write to recommend the new low profile Radeon HD7750 as an excellent replacement of the Nvidia7600GTL graphic card in the Vaio XL machines.

I have tested with the Sapphire version of the HD7750 card but I think other manufacturers cards will work as good, maybe better. I had in fact a bit problem with bad connection of the micro-HDMI connector which is awkwardly positioned in the top left corner of the Sapphire card. The VTX3D, Powercolor, HIS and Club3D cards have full size HDMI outputs which I would prefer. I don´t know if the other manufacturers card are as silent as the Sapphire though. The noise from the GPU fan of the Sapphire is negligible compared to the noise from the power supply fan except during heavy gaming.

The HD7750 fits right into my XL201 which I previously upgraded to 2 GB RAM and a E6600 2.4GHz Dual Core processor. The only artefact I noticed is that during startup the pictures of the Vaio and Intel logos are displaced 1/3 screenwidth to the right. It only occurs when HDMI is used and only before the Radeon driver kicks in. When the Radeon driver has started everything works perfectly with my Sharp TV, both HDMI sound, hibernation and wakeup.

Since I was concerned that the power consumption of the HD7750 could be too large for the 300W supply I measured and compared the total power of the Sony Vaio XL201 with the 7600GTL and the HD7750 respectively (see below). As seen the idle power in fact dropped 12W with the new card and there was only a 10W increase in the GPU-intensive tests. I also tested games that were both CPU and GPU intensive and the total power consumption with the HD7750 was always below 155W. Hence, I think the HD7750 well fits the power budget of the 300W power supply.

Since the 7600GTL doesn´t support DirectX10 or DirectX11 I compared the performances of the cards with the old DirectX9 test 3DMark06 using Windows XP. The frame rate with the HD7750 increased with a factor of 3 to over 7 depending on the test. I also tested the HD7750 card with the DirectX10 test 3DMark Vantage using Windows 8. I got a graphics score of 9914 in default performance mode. The Windows 8 experience index for the gaming graphics increased from 3.5 to 7.3 with the new card. I am glad that the old Vaio XL machines in this way can be upgraded so that they can compete in graphic performance with the latest HTPC solutions. smile.gif

Nvidia 7600GTL
=============
Standby:5.4W
On (when idle):86W
100%CPUload:120W
GPU tests in 3DMark06:122W
3DMark06score: 2954 3DMarks
SM2.0score:1159
HDR/SM3.0score:1049
CPUscore:1962
GT1 - Return To Proxycon 9.43 FPS
GT2 - Firefly Forest 9.89 FPS
CPU1 - Red Valley 0.63 FPS
CPU2 - Red Valley 0.98 FPS
HDR1 - Canyon Flight 9.26 FPS
HDR2 - Deep Freeze 11.72 FPS
Windows 8 experience graphics:4.3
Windows 8 experience gaming:3.5

Radeon HD7750
=============
Standby:4.8W
On (when idle):74W
100%CPUload:108W
GPU tests in 3DMark06:132W
3DMark06score: 10848 3DMarks
SM2.0score:4838
HDR/SM3.0score:5920
CPUscore:2071
GT1 - Return To Proxycon 39.44 FPS
GT2 - Firefly Forest 41.19 FPS
CPU1 - Red Valley 0.66 FPS
CPU2 - Red Valley 1.05 FPS
HDR1 - Canyon Flight 68.41 FPS
HDR2 - Deep Freeze 49.99 FPS
Windows 8 experience graphics:7.3
Windows 8 experience gaming:7.3
3DMark Vantage score:P7285 3DMarks
Graphics Score: 9914
CPU Score: 4058
Edited by DickeFix - 10/15/12 at 4:56am
post #3441 of 3843
Hi there,

Hope you are all well. I have update my sig to say i'm here, and will be for (as a voyeur) until my beloved XL301 packs up.

I'm pre-empting this question - currently what are the graphics cards which are available for the XL301 (UK)? I have a NVIDIA 8500GT and suspect this is about to fail. I am currently testing (other images, drivers, etc) but would like to know whats available. I'd like something similar to my current card, HDMI & DVI - manly for XBMC.
post #3442 of 3843
I was looking at this card http://www.maplin.co.uk/asus-amd-radeon-hd-6450-1gb-graphics-card-532748??? It certainly looks like the graphic s card has gone kapoot!
post #3443 of 3843
The 6450 card exists in two versions, one with DDR3 memory and one with GDDR5 memory. Both will almost certainly work in the Vaio. The GDDR5 is twice as fast and has for instance GPU rating in 3DMark Vantage of 2181 whereas the DDR3 only reaches 1073.The DDR3 version is extremely low power with TDP of 18 W and only marginally faster than the old 7600GTL which however consumes twice the power.

Both 6450 cards are now slightly outdated since they were made with 40 nm technology. I strongly recommend the new HD 7750 instead which uses 28 nm technology (see my post above). It consumes a little bit more power than HD 6450 (TDP of 55W) but is 10 times!!! faster than HD6450 DDR3. It runs games like GTAIV at high settings without a problem (27 fps in benchtest)
post #3444 of 3843
Hi there

Thanks for the response - my need is for media - i've played like one game twice in the last 5 years!!!

I managed to source a 1GG HD6450 at a good price - was unable to find something else. This worked well - one problem and apprently the resellers Yoyotech in London suggested cannot be resolved - is the issue of the SPDIF passthrough. This is a (fairly) major requirement so that i can have sound simultaneously voa HDMI and Optical out. Yoyotech have said that manufacturers no longer make cards with SPDIF passthrough as HDMI is the standard. I'm not convinced but am unable to find (fear and inexperience a major factor) one. I have attempted to connect tto the RCA outputs and get sound through the AUX pots on the sound system but Windows 7 sees the RCA\Line 1 as High Definition device and wont allow me to set more than one default device.

So i'm somewhat upset that my card went and now I can't have optical audio out simutaneously with HDMI.
post #3445 of 3843
Hi again! I don´t use the digital or analog sound outputs of the Vaio XL201. However, I think your problem can be solved in three ways

1. If you are satisfied with analog stereo sound you can take it via the televisions analog outputs, e.g. SCART or RCA connectors. I have coupled the analog sound outputs of my TV to an external amplifier and speakers and it works well.

2. If you want digital output you can try with Virtual Audio Cable. It is a virtual soundcard where you can digitally split the input signal from an application to the virtual soundcard to two output devices, in this case the HDMI and SPDIF sound cards. I have used the program for another application but think it may work also for this application.

3. If above alternatives don´t work for you, your third alternative is that you buy my 7600GTL card. It is fully working and I can sell it for 35 pounds including shipping if you are interested.
post #3446 of 3843
Hi

Thanks again

3) This is the easiest best option for me and I would be more than happy to buy - however since my original 7600 caused so many problems - in particular the HDMI switching issue - I shuder at the mere thought...

2) I have seen this and will be testing this over the next day or so. Hopefully this will produce sufficient results.

1) I also condsidered this but the TV is in a seperate room to the Vaio and I spent much of last weekend wiring, and addid a new Soundbar so this is not something I would like to do - though yes - certainly possible. The only issue here is that if the family is watching something different on the TV via another source and I want to want to watch something on the Vaio on the DVI PJ then I will have to manually change the default device in Windows to output via the optical. So yes, this is a workaround, but involves lots of wiring and is not lazy proof!

Option 2 is the most hopeful... I think i'll also think about testing Windows 8 on the Vaio just to see how it behaves - will need to read through this thread...
Edited by h4. - 10/17/12 at 8:05am
post #3447 of 3843
I had no problems with the HDMIA switching with the 7600GTL with the original Vaio driver. However, with later Nvidia drivers it didn´t work consistently and I had to sometimes switch the TV input selector forward and back. Everything worked well and reliable when I finally reverted back to the original driver and made a clean reinstall of the Intel Quick Resume Technology package. If you didn´t upgrade the Nvidia 7600GTL driver, the HDMI issue could be due to an incompatibility between your specific TV and the 7600GTL card. If your computer takes more than 10 seconds to wake up from standby, a deinstallation, restart and reinstallation of the Intel Quick Resume Technology package often helps.

I have a dual boot installation with XP and Windows 8. Windows 8 works without any major issues. An annoying thing is that I sometimes have to start the computer twice to make it go into W8. I have not tried to disable Firewire in BIOS since I need it but this may help. Another issue is that Num Lock is activated by default when I start W8. When I switch systems from XP to W8 or from W8 to XP the computer often makes a disk scan first time since it believes the disk is corrupted. This is fixed by disabling the paging file in the system settings. Another issue I have had in both XP and Windows 8 is to program the S1 button to start Windows Media Center. It brings upp the calculator instead and the Sony Action key utility couldn´t change it. This was fixed by changing the register value for the S1 key to ehshell.exe (instead of calc.exe) usng the register editor.

Lets hope the Virtual Audio Cable solves your problem smile.gif
Edited by DickeFix - 10/17/12 at 11:50am
post #3448 of 3843
Warning to anybody foolish enough to have implemented JFSA:

(Well, that's being a bit overdramatic, as you'll see)

Followers of JFSA may recall that I had an issue when I switched to Windows 7, in that Win7 was convinced that whenever Scheduler executed my Winbatch script and tried to merge a point-MC7-to-this-drive registry scrap that a virus was attacking. I solved this with a kludge - I used Winbatch's "sendkey" command to actually type the command for merging the registry key into the Start menu's Run box, thus convincing Windows that I was in fact awake at 3AM typing registry commands into a DOS box.

Worked a treat. However, it didn't really matter, as I have just realized some nine months later. I suddenly ran out of Recorded TV space. Impossible! But one drive was completely full, while the other was empty. Impossible! JFSA balances out the available space by pointing Media Center to whatever drive has the most available space every night. Except it didn't.

A bit of debugging pinpointed the problem, which I then confirmed by searching Internet discussions on the topic. Windows 7 fails to report to Winbatch the correct available disk space; anything over 2GB pegs at 2GB. Apparently Win7 changed the internal method of reporting available space. Or more likely, 64-bit Windows changes the way available space is reported and this is a consequence of going from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Windows 7.

If you are using a DOS batch file to implement JFSA then I presume it would still work, since the internal code should be transparent to the individual commands. But at least for me, JFSA is a goner until I can figure out a workaround (I hate DOS batch commands). My Winbatch dates all the way back to Windows 98 days and the latest version I found was written for Vista.
post #3449 of 3843
Well guys, I think the end is near on my XL3. I'm trying a full re-install shortly, but am beginning to think that my problems are either related to the power supply or motherboard. If the unthinkable comes to pass, does anyone know how to make the Sony Media Center Remote and Wireless Keyboard work with a new PC? Those are both good products, and I'd hate to have to go buy new.

If I do end up retiring my XL3, I'll let you guys scrap over parts from it. From all the help you've given, I owe this forum that opportunity.

Jeff
post #3450 of 3843
Hi UncleBuck12

Sorry to hear about your problems with your XL3. Maybe you have the same problem as I had with my XL201. The computer randomly hanged more and more frequently without any apparent reason. Finally it became impossible to even get it to start-up. It turned out to be the decoupling capacitors on the motherboard that had lost most of their capacitance and increased their resistance so they didn´t provide a good signal ground. It is called capacitor plague and is common for capacitors that are close to heat sources. In this case the heat comes from the graphic card and the main processor.

I desoldered the capacitors and all were more or less affected. Three capacitors were completely dead. I replaced all decoupling capacitors with 6.3V820uF electrolytic capacitors, 8 x 11.5mm 105°C that I found cheaply on eBay. It is a bit tricky to desolder the old ones since it is a multilayer circuit board but with a little desoldering experience and a good soldering iron it didn´t take many minutes. However, all PCIe cards and cables need to be detached to take out the mother board. It is good practice to take photos during disassembly to know which cable should go where and also to put all screws in a small box so they don´t disappear. One also needs to replace the old thermal paste with new (e.g. Arctic MX4) when reassembling the heatsink.

I just wanted to share my experience if you or other readers have the same symptoms. I hope you get your unit to work.
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