Profile for Spiff > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Spiff
Top Reviewer Ranking: 397
Helpful Votes: 580

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Spiff (Glasgow Scotland)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Graphics Card Socket FM2+ / A88X / 2x DDR3 / Max/ 64 MB / PCIe / AMD / Dual Graphics / DVI-D / 2x HDMI / MiniITX
GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Graphics Card Socket FM2+ / A88X / 2x DDR3 / Max/ 64 MB / PCIe / AMD / Dual Graphics / DVI-D / 2x HDMI / MiniITX
Price: 71.57

3.0 out of 5 stars "A Work In Progress," Mother Board, 16 July 2014
It's a great little motherboard so don't get me wrong when I slag it a little.

First I'm using it with cheap A6 FM2 3.9GHZ processor and it runs pretty good all around. However, this processor might be the reason for some of the negative feelings I have in general because I upgraded from an older Asus motherboard that used the first edition of the FM2 processor at only 3ghz and I feel that the 1gz increase with the extra cache, etc. showed little to no improvement over performance and on top of that, the old processor although a technically slower, never gave me a hickup or a headache. So perhaps it's just the crap processor that gives the bad impression and not just the board itself?

This system does seem unusually sluggish at times and I do have some top end 1800mhz performance ram.. and yes the BIOS is properly set up. You have to switch on the default memory profile to engage 1800mhz but it's easy. I have the cpu just slightly overclocked from 3.9 to 4.0ghz. When I looked into overclocking and tweaking the memory performance, I discovered that the settings were automatically set to higher timings so I just left it as is. I've checked and rechecked for something to tweak, but I find nothing. This system should have a little sparkle in it's eye, but it is for all intended purposes a bit of a dullard.

Another problem though trivial is the wi-fi cable is VERY short. It's really odd because it's actually two of those little standard DB9 plugs that each plug into their own little plug on the board? What were they thinking? One is for bluetooth and the other is wi-fi and they both share the single antena at the end, but I've had nothing but headaches with both signals. The bluetooth hates my mouse and drops the signal every 40 seconds for 8 seconds. I bought a cheap 1 bluetooth dongle at Poundland and it works like a dream.

And because the cable and areal are entirely non-standard, you won't find one on e-bay (or anywhere else for that matter). Proprietary Gigabyte technolgy perhaps? I don't know, I just know the design kinda sucks. And just try finding a way to extend the length of the cables. Simple right? Just buy a couple of 3 or 5 metre DB9 cables and extend both? It's not pretty but the problem should be solved? Nope. For some reason, extending the cables only made the connection very weak or non existenent. And these are good quality too. Expensive they were! I tried them with other hardware and they peformed fine.

I ended up switching off the wi-fi module entirely in bios and used my trusty old Awai USB modem and the Poundland Bluetooth dongle. The big selling point of this board is the wi-fi and bluetooth but both let me down.

By the way, the wi-fi/bluetooth module installed is just an ordinary full sized mini-pci card that you'd find in a laptop. Now I was thinking that I could pull out the wi-fi and perhaps use something in it's place. But the manual clearly states that the only thing this mini-pci slot can handle is indeed a wi-fi card and nothing else. Bummer!

Another negative worth mentioning. It comes marketed with this snazy cutting edge BIOS called the GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS. It's supposed to let you update your bios from within the operating system itself using some stellar no-brainer new-fangled technology. There is also an alternative snazzy way to do it with a single usb stick, while booting up. It supposed to read ordinary fat32 or ntsf formated usb sticks. Sounds dreamy huh? No more running the risk of booting up off of old dodgy dos partitioned USB sticks and manually updating.

However, although my board was marked as the very latest revision and release, the bios that it shipped with was the very first BUGGY AS ALL HELL release. It not only failed to support USB 3, but it didn't suppor the new bios updated scheme. How do I know? When I went to use it, it said, Warning, you're BIOS is too old to support this feature." Genius! But thanks for telling me though!

The old bios by the way gave me constant blue screens of death when installing Windows 7 x64. Finally after several attempts at installing and thinking something was broken (but not knowing what exactly??) I finally got windows running. Then it was a true and genuine headache and testement to mans unflinching will to achieve, that after several hours of work getting wi-fi installed and being able to connect to the internet, I was finally able to download the latest BIOS. I couldn't use an external usb modem and be sneaky about it because when I plugged the modem in to any usb port, I got a blue screen of death.

Thats when I discovered that it was not going to be easy to update the Bios. No I had to create a windows98 DOS bootable USB stick (seriously). Lucky for me I had an old 2GB usb stick, becuase as it turns out, you cant use anything bigger. I tracked down an old utility called HPUSBDisk.exe which will let you burn a standard DOS file partition system to the usb stick or in this case, allow you to select your custom partition files. In this case, it was the system files for win98.

Well setting all that to the side for a minute;

At the end of the day, i'ts an OK system. The game perfomance isn't as good as my old outdated system. The one with "first generation" 3ghz FM2 processor. So perhaps it's just the processor and not the board.? I don't know. However, my old memory was 1300mhz and the cpu was a full 1GHZ slower. Surely it should be a tad bit better? Sadly not.

However, one last thought to give the devil his due! It does have this Ultra-Durable technology which means that it's guaranteed to work very well over a long period of time because it uses solid capacitors which last 20x longer than old chemical caps. They've come to understand that computers die from poor quality electricity and they've tackled it to some degree. So that gives me confidence. Lots of BIOS updates and it seems pretty stable and ok. I don't think a power outage is going to wreck it. It also runs really cool and quiet and the stock spu fan doesnt' make any noise. It doesn't give off the nasty computer electrical sonic vibes that pc's have done for generations now.. I like the peace and quiet and I think I'm going to stick to mini-itx for a long time. I just like it all around over traditional pc's, though they have some odd quirks.

To get almost no noise at all, I use a 160watt laptop power supply and one of those 12V Pico MINI ITX ATX Power Supply modules I found on e-bay for 12. Way better than traditional power supplies that give otu all that toxic electromagnetic noise. Goodbye traditional power supply! I highly recommend this if you appreciate silence.

One last thought. I updated the BIOS lately. I couldn't be bothered learning their new fangled improved BIOS update process they had previously dazzled me with. It seems like a headache, so I used the old skool method that I employeed with the DOS Win98 system files. I feel like the toughest nerd on campus with a set of knuckle busters. Don't mess with me!

Anyway, now that it's upgraded it can handle the latest FM2+ processor, so I'm willing to give the board the benefit of the doubt and see if it doesn't finally shine with this new processor. If it does it will be in part due to the motherboard and the very expensive top end memory I put in it. I get the feeling it's this lowly A6 FM2 processor that's holding it back. If it doesn't then I'll salvage my new processor and memory and head off in a new direction with a different brand.

BUT BE WARNED. If you plan on buying this board along with the latest FM2+ processor. You will need the very latest BIOS installed to run anyt FM2 with the "+". It just won't boot up at all and people generally complain bitterly when things just don't boot up as expected. Don't be one of those people!

Good luck and send me a message if you want to chat about this board. I'm happy to help!

65 Pcs Assorted Length Multicolored Flexible Solderless Breadboard Jumper Wires
65 Pcs Assorted Length Multicolored Flexible Solderless Breadboard Jumper Wires
Offered by Mestall (Ship from HongKong)
Price: 1.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Quality Jumper Cables!!, 15 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I find it hard to get a hold of good quality jumper cables these days. I'm not sure what the problem is but they tend to be really poor and often fall to pieces a short time after using them. These however appear to be really nice quality. Shipping was incredibly fast from overseas, arriving only a couple of days past the first estimate delivery date. I'm very happy.

On a side note; Often times when you order from China, they include some sort of Chinese novelty gift, a kind of good luck gesture which is part of Chinese culture. Here I received something very odd for which I have no explanation as to what it is exactly. It's a long stick about 5" or 6" long. It's round with a flat spot which appears to have been machine cut. On one end (the top) are two beads, the bottom one painted blue with two little dots on the front and the top bead (slightly smaller) painted white with a little face on it to appear as though it were a little person. The bottom bead appeas as though it is wearing a coat. There is a pink chord which runs from the top through both beads and comes out of the bottom bead (at the front) making it appear as though the chord are two long legs. The top part of the chord makes a little loop as though you can hang this onto something. On the bottom is the most puzzling part. It has been very carefully cut and shaped to form a tiny little spoon of sorts. It's all unusually well made as though someone has taken great care and effort to produce it.

It's very strange. I enjoyed finding this in the envelope.

Make: AVR Programming: Learning to Write Software for Hardware
Make: AVR Programming: Learning to Write Software for Hardware
by Elliot Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: 28.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! Great Book!, 1 Jun 2014
If you're looking at this book, it's most likley because you've been messing about with the Arduino for a while and you're starting to feel like there might be a whole other world out there. Perhaps you've downloaded Atmel Studio and after being a bit overwhelmed have asked yourself, "how do I learn how to use this thing." Atmel doesn't spend much time catering to the novice. Thats whats I learned the "hard way."

Basically, I had to leave the world of Arduino in order to learn about using HIDUINO which lets you turn your Arduino into a class compliant midi interface. The first thing I ran into was the problem of addressing pins which are called Ports. You have Ports A, B, C, D (the Atmega like a lot of mega chips only has ports B,C and D) and these aren't adressed in the simple manner you find in the Arduino IDE. A little more complicated? Just a tad. So I went on the search for a book that would bridge the gap but only found books that were very serious and complicated. The way a lot of authors describe these Port pins is mind bending and really put me off for a good while as I sruggled to understand what they were talking about. You could say I was having a hard time getting used to how they do stuff in the real world of microcontrollers.

However, this book bridges the gap between Arduino and the rather "heavy" reality of programming in the C language. It's jam packed with easy to read information. He makes constant references to Arduino and gives you all sorts of surprising tid bits of information that will save you a lot of time and a few headaches. I think the author put a lot of work and heart into writing this. He saw there was a real need for a book like this and he went right to work making it a reality. Thanks Elliot!

I didn't know that you can actually use the Arduino IDE to program standard Non-Arduino style C language because it's basically using the same gcc compiler that you would use if you were compiling with something like Atmel Studio. There are also some other tools available (some free) that let you program C for microcontrollers.

Along the way I discovered some handy tidbits of knowledge about the Arudino IDE. It contains an old portpins.h file that needs to be updated to make it work properly if you do indeed plan on using the Arduino to do your C work. After reading this, I did a quick google regarding problems people might be having while programming C in their Arduino IDE, and sure enough I found dozens of references of people doing everything under the sun trying to figure out why Arduino is kicking back and error when they try to compile their standard C code. Or why it's compiling just fine but their chip isn't working. However I didn't see much in the way of solution.

It's a fantastic book and I'm really happy to have found it. It's not an "Idiots Guide" by any measure. You're still going to have to wrap your mind around;

"PORTB = 0b00000001; /* Turn on first LED bit/pin in PORTB */"

It's pretty complicated but I feel it's worth the work. If you're really up for it, it's really well laid out and takes some of the stress and edge off.

Karrimor Mens Bodmin Low lll Weathertite Trekking and Hiking Shoes
Karrimor Mens Bodmin Low lll Weathertite Trekking and Hiking Shoes
Price: 24.99 - 34.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Attractive With Only Some Minor Issues, 17 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are some issues with some shoe companies these days not adhearing to proper shoe size. Most of these shoes are reported to be a little bit bigger than expected. I'm a perfect size 8 foot so I can literally walk into a shop and buy shoes without trying them on. However, I'm doing that less and less because of the fore mentioned problem. I took a chance on these and I can confirm that the length inside the shoe is exact. So in that sense you can purchase your size with confidence!

The interior width feels just right too. About quarter of the shoes I ever try on feel just a little too narrow for me but these seem just perfect.

However, having said that I will say that there seems to be an aweful lot of open space around my foot. I can't get the laces to tighten up around my foot at all. If you're the kind of person who loves those heavy durty ultra thick thermal socks, then these shoes are your perfect choice. However, I generally wear common cotton sport socks which are cooler for summer. Perhaps as I break these in I will get the laces to snug up a bit more which will take some of the stress of my foot.

These are "walking" shoes so I took them for walk downtown Edinburgh. I walked about 2 or 3 miles total. They are easy to walk in as they are very light. However, I noticed that due to the amount of space inside the shoe that my feet felt pretty tired after the first mile. Perhaps that is due to the amount of movement I experienced, which resulted in the muscles in my calfs wearing out fairly quickly. I'll confess that I'm used to wearing hiking boots which provide much more support.

Also, the isnole of the shoe is very firm and not at all padded and soft. The bottom of my feet were really tired by the time I got home. As a matter of fact, everything below my knee was tired when I got home. When removing the shoe the socks seemed to be stuck like velcro to the interior and when I removed the shoe, the whole insole came out with my foot. It's ok, because it popped right back in perfectly. I think they are designed that way on purpose which means that you can exchange the interior to what ever you like. I'll be searching for something that provides greater padding and comfort. Perhaps one of those gel insoles I've seen here on amazon? There is plenty of space inside the shoe for anything.

All and all though I think these are a great deal for the price. They look better than the picture. They don't look cheap at all. The quality of the stitching is excellent and overall they are very sturdy and well made. If you were to go into the high street looking for something like this, I would suspect that you would pay 50 or 60. You won't find anything like this in ASDA or Primark or any of those other discount shops but you'll certainly pay the same. My last pair of ASDA hiking boots wore out in two months flat and they cost 34.99.

I highly recommend these!

Firetrap Mens Gents Monroe Mid Hi Tops Running Trainers Pumps Sports Shoes New
Firetrap Mens Gents Monroe Mid Hi Tops Running Trainers Pumps Sports Shoes New
Offered by Sports Direct
Price: 20.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Souls Wore Out Instantly!!!, 6 May 2014
I purchased these elsewhere on closeout. The box had them marked with an original value of 60 and I paid 30. When I tried them on in the shop they were extremely comfortable and are a lot more attractive than this picture you see here on amazon. I was looking for a shoe that would be lightweight and give me support. High tops like these are my favorite and I thought I had found a brand that I would buy again. Unfortunately, in just under 2 months (about 6 weeks or normal use) the souls on both shoes had worn through.. Just in time for the winter rain. After enduring cold wet feet for several days I had no choice but to scrape together some money to purchase new shoes. The Firetraps still looked brand new, but I just couldn't wear them. Not even on a good day because the souls are so thin that as soon as they wore through, the bottom of your foot is touching the pavement. Don't let the picture fool you into thinking the souls are really thick. They're not!! Paper thin!!!

In conclusion: I was feeling unhappy and ripped off so I sent Firetrap a complaint e-mail only to discover that their shoes are only covered under warranty if you purchase them directly online. I still had the box and the original receipt and you could see by looking at them that they still looked totally brand new. Their response was basically "too bad."

My response to them is "good riddence!!!"

Microchip Fabrication, 5th Ed.: A Practical Guide to Semiconductor Processing (Pro Engineering)
Microchip Fabrication, 5th Ed.: A Practical Guide to Semiconductor Processing (Pro Engineering)
by Peter Van Zant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 30.81

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work!, 13 April 2014
I purchased this book elsewhere. Actually found it at a thrift store for very little. I didn't know this book existed, but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I always wanted to understand the msyterious process of Semiconductor Fabrication. This book covers everything you could ever possibly want to know about the semiconductor manufacturing process and it does it in a very intelligent way. It doesn't dumb down the material yet it could be digested by an ordinary high school student interested in science. I should mention right away that it's not a "popular science," book persay. He doens't lament on Moores Law or speculate with any degree of fantasy. It's a technical book but it's very easy to read.

It starts off with a basic model of the Bohr atom and the placement of electrons and quickly goes on to unfold the mystery of why certain elements and compounds are able to "semi-conduct". You quickly realize that we only have two naturally occuring semi-conductors, Germanium and Silicon. These are known as "elemental semiconductors" because they are derived directly from the periodic table of elements and are not altered to accomplish what they do. You'll learn why we no longer use the first semiconductor we discovered "germanium" as it has no naturally occuring oxide. You'll also learn about "compound semi-conductors" which are created when we mix a variety of other elements together for a desired result. One very promising compound semi-conductor is Gallium Arsenide which runs much faster than silicon. Expensive but used for critical circuits in which speed is critical (super computers and jumo jets). And this is only the very first chapter! I thought it was brilliant! Of course, I'm a complete nerd, so adjust your "nerdo-meter" accordingly.

One last spoiler: I can't resist. Although the writer doens't sensationalize any of his writing at all, as you read, you come to realize that some near-future technologies will revolutionize the world as we know it, such as when we are finally able to produce doped-diamond semi-conducting wafers. Intergrated circuits made out of man made diamonds. So in perhaps 20 years time, you're I-phone 50 will literally be a pocket sized super computer that runs on a dimond core chip.

A brilliant book that doesn't put you off with too many mathematical symbols and diagrams! You don't need a degree in computer science. Recommended!

Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones
Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones
Price: 14.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Brilliant But Certainly Not Bad!!, 6 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased these for making music with my midi controller and sound card. First off you can't compare these to a set of high quality Roland studio headphones such as the RH-200 which I used to own a long time ago. They will run you 80 to 90. Even those Rolands aren't the best you can get. Roland makes some that are a lot better but now you're spending well over 100.

It used to be that the 80 set was the starting point for anyone looking to make music but I was certainly surprised by the quality of these as soon as I put them on. I set everything to 24bit 48khz and the resolution is excellent.

On the downside, I do hear a little bit of buzz and breakup when I play certain grand piano Vsti instruments. But it's not much and it only shows up with instruments that produce very deep bass. These particular headphones (according to other reviews) are known to produce excessive bass so I will experiment with some eq tweaking. Everything else just sounds really good.

One more negative worth a mention. Someone said that they do not hurt your ears at all. I've only ever had a few headphones in my life that don't hurt after prolonged use and these are no exception. It really depends on your ears. No company in the world can make a set of headphones that are a perfect fit for everyone and these started to make my ears a little sore after about a solid hour of use. Not bad. Perhaps they're break in with wear!

I got mine for 15 shipped and I can tell you that I've spent 20 years buying a variety of headphones (always on the look out for a bargain) and these are indeed a great bargain.

Update: 10th of March 2014. Several days later: I've had these now for several days and I thought I'd come back and give a small update. The headphones actually did "break in" believe it or not and no longer hurt my ears. I did bend them a couple of times to take some of the excess tension of the band. Be careful you don't break them! I've been listening to some old albums that I love such as Brian Eno's Music for Airports and some other electronica. These old analog albums are the hardest for a set of "modern" headphones to handle as they were made long before the days of digital recording technology. I really love these headphones and I highly recommend anyone on a budget who's looking for great sound reproduction!

TP-Link TL-ANT2405C 2.4GHz 5dbi Indoor Omni-Directional Antenna
TP-Link TL-ANT2405C 2.4GHz 5dbi Indoor Omni-Directional Antenna
Price: 4.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!, 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great antena. I was getting ready to buy another one when I saw that it was only sold as an amazon "add-on" and I didn't have anything else I needed. :-(

This antenna brings in signals better than any antenna I've used at this size. It's amazing. If you've having trouble with keeping connections and have the dreaded 1 bar, 2 bar, dropout this should be the first purchase you make. I've taken it with me to Europe and when I see that the hotel wi-fi is only giving me 1 bar, I pull this out and you're guaranteed to increase it to 4 or 5 bars instantly.

Totally recommended!!!

Samsung M8 500GB 2.5" 9.5mm SATA 6Gps Internal Hard Drive -PS3/PS4 Compatible
Samsung M8 500GB 2.5" 9.5mm SATA 6Gps Internal Hard Drive -PS3/PS4 Compatible
Offered by Sonnics
Price: 33.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Low Noise/Heat Drive, 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great low noise and low heat drive. It worked great in my HP 11.6" notebook computer. I had a drive in there that generated a lot of heat which suggested to me that it wasn't very "green." The hard drive uses up most of the battery in your laptop so if you can afford one, get an SSD if you can. This drive however extended the battery life to over 6 hours from just 3 or 4. The old drive vibrated annoying as well and this one is silent and vibration free.

I highly recommend it!

Rolson Tools 60335 Heavy Duty Helping Hand with 60mm Magnifying Glass
Rolson Tools 60335 Heavy Duty Helping Hand with 60mm Magnifying Glass
Offered by Electro World
Price: 2.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Clunky Old Design, 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's cheap enough and the magnifying glass is ok quality. This device is intended more for hobbyists doing jewelry or even perhaps tying fly fishing hooks? Not good for electronics pcb work at all.

It has an old design that is flawed. A 10 year old kid with experience with a cheap mechano set can upgrade this instantly to function better. They use big "fly nuts" that constnatly require tightening up as they instantly go loose when ever you move the arms around. I fixed this instantly with an ordinary washer. Doh! Later when I had some time I replaced the big clunky obtuse fly nuts with ordinray nuts and used a locking washer. I tightened everything to exactly where I want it and thats how it remains. It look much nicer.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10