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Showing posts from April, 2015

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Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Ceiling Mount

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  Alexa, play my playlist... My goal has been to have music easily accessible while hanging out on my front patio. I'm aware of all kinds of stereo's, Bluetooth speakers/devices that could accomplish this, but I wanted something that wasn't tied to my smartphone, as well as something that wouldn't involve a major renovation (my front wall is brick). Now before people start to comment that I could have run stereo speakers in the soffit and into my house, that was already more work than I had planned as the soffit doesn't seem to be removable without using destructive force (I'm not sure how it was installed). I also wanted something that would be relatively permanent, in that I didn't want to have to charge something, or turn it on and off.  My solution was an echo dot mounted to the soffit, where my echo dot would be sheltered from the elements and provide music upon verbal command. So I turned to the world wide web for solutions, and there are a few great i

HP EX475 Home Server Upgrade Part 3

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As you can see my progress to this point has been quite the learning experience, and I stubbornly wanted to use the proprietary software created for this machine.  There are all sorts of methods to circumvent the blown LAN port, but the method I found to be easiest is to format a USB drive in FAT, then copy the HP SMI Files ( this is where I found them online ) to the root directory of the USB flash drive. Now you will need either a USB LAN or USB Wifi device with 32bit drivers !!!!! Copy the 32bit device drivers to the drivers folder of the SMI USB flash drive. Insert the SMI USB flash drive in the back bottom USB port and your LAN or Wifi device to another USB port. I was now able to boot my device and connect to it from a remote system and install the proprietary 'HP MediaSmart Server Recovery CD' Version 3. Remember to delete all partitions off the main hard drive before booting, or you will end up booting from the hard drive. The best alternative option is to i

HP EX475 Home Server Upgrade Part 2

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The next step, while waiting for parts to arrive, was to dismantle and thoroughly clean out the EX475. Physically cleaning out all the dust is easily achieved with the use of an air compressor and blower nozzle, which is my tool of choice.   Having spent a considerable amount of time on various HP Home Server forums, I've learned from many owners that these units tend to run extremely hot, especially the Northbridge chipset  (under the aluminium heatsink shown above in the center). A simple solution to cooling the Northbridge chipset is to remove the aluminium heatsink, clean off all the stock thermal transfer paste, and reapply the heatsink using a good quality thermal transfer paste. (heatsink removed picture from Tom's Hardware ) I was originally going to do just that, but a visual inspection of my Northbridge heatsink revealed it was quite crudely machined, and had ridges (as you may be able to make out below). (not my Northbridge heatsink, stock photo from

HP EX475 Home Server Upgrade Part 1

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I initially fell in love with the whole "Home Server" idea way back, when my company Cybercircuits was invited to beta test Microsoft's Windows Home Server OEM (I think it was sometime in 2005). Being an OEM operating system meant this wasn't going to be released to the public, and only computer retailers and manufacturers would have access. Seeing as I was a beta tester afforded me access, and to this day, I've been running some version of WHS. HP was one of the first companies to bring the WHS operating system to the public back in 2008, with their release of the HP EX470. I remember the first time I saw one of these units on display at a local Future Shop , I was so excited, that is until I saw the $1,000 (CDN) price tag, which wasn't in my foreseeable budget. I've always been meaning to acquire an HP Home Server ever since it's debut, however given their steep price and that HP halted production of its Home Server Line in 2010, I never imagi

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