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Why are you blaming YouTube? it’s not YouTube’s fault!

No Youtube

This is what my 12-year-old son asked me after I informed him that I have blocked YouTube on his laptop. Obviously, I have not just arbitrarily blocked YouTube, there are reasons why I have revoked his access to YouTube. As parents, we have to monitor our children’s Internet access and take appropriate action.

My reasons are; for years, my son has been accessing YouTube any way he can, including sneaking a tablet into his bedroom at night and watching YouTube videos until 2 to 4 am, copying audio onto his mp3 player and listening during the night, resulting in him not wanting to get up for school the next day.

I have expressed to him that I don’t like or want him to watch game streams due to the language used in these streams, which includes sexually oriented, sexist, homophobic and racist commentary. Despite this, he continues to watch these sort of videos for hours on end, going out of his way to hide his actions.

He will sit in the corner of the sofa against the wall with earbuds in and noise isolating headphones on, and whenever I approach him, he frantically closes browser windows. Obviously, this makes me suspicious, so I try to log into his Google account and find he changed the password to cover his tracks. And as he would need to know the existing password, he must have spied my password when I typed it.

Since I have told my son that YouTube is blocked, he hasn’t wanted to touch his laptop, which is a clear indication of what he was doing. I just hope that he doesn’t believe in and support these sort of racist, sexist, homophobic views. I also believe that he has created a second Google account as there is no history since January in the account I set up for him and he knows I monitor the account I set up.

My son changed the Windows password on his laptop as well, where there was no password set. He also discovered the Windows 10 bug which allows him to bypass the standard account limitation of not allowing for installation of new software by hitting cancel when it asks for the administrative password.

At this time, I have regained control of his Google account by recovering the password to my Email address and set a new password as he clearly knows the previous password. I guess he thinks he is being smart working around our monitoring efforts, but I work in IT and know the systems better than he does. All he is achieving is getting himself in trouble for not playing by the rules we set out for him.

He served a computer, video game and Internet ban last week because he had downloaded the offensive game stream audio to his mp3 player and was listening when he should be sleeping. When I asked him for his mp3 player as I wanted to check what was on it, he did a factory reset to hide his actions. Of course, the wife and I knew what he did, in fact, my wife called it while he was resetting the mp3 player.

Going back to the title of this blog post, I said to him that I am not blaming Google or YouTube, I am blaming him, he is the one taking the actions, YouTube is just a platform, YouTube does not make him take the actions he takes. I truly wish I could trust him to obey our rules, but his actions over the past 2 – 3 years have proven that we cannot allow him to have free and unmonitored access to the Internet.


Review: Logitech C920 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

Logitech C20 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

For many years, I’ve been using a cheap no-name webcam and headset bought from eBay for $10. To be honest, it worked just fine, my Skype friends could see me and hear me just fine, but I felt it was time to step up my VOIP technology game and I did this with Logitech’s C920 Webcam & H600 wireless headset.

Starting with the C920 webcam, which features a high definition 1080p camera with a built-in stereo microphone which sits very securely on top of my 34-inch curved ultrawide monitor thanks to its grippy rubber backing and adjusts up and down for the perfect positioning. The lens is of all glass construction and offers a wide 16:9 field of view with great color balance and clarity using full auto exposure mode.

However, the stereo microphone does not match the quality of the video. It’s adequate for the people on the other end to hear and understand you, but it seemed a little muffled to me when recording the sound locally. I didn’t realize the C920 had audio capture, so I can’t ding it for the muffled audio from the built in mic, so it’s a nice added bonus should you want to have more than one person in front of the camera.

Installation could not be any easier, plug in the USB cable into any available USB port and Windows 10 finds the device, automatically installs the basic drivers and you are ready to go. After the driver installed, I simply fired up Skype and immediately had video presented to me. Rather shockingly, the quality highlighted what an ugly f**ker I really am, I looked better on the old no-name cheapo 800×600 webcam.

You can download software from Logitech which expands functionality including local video recording, face tracking, motion detection plus pan, tilt and zoom controls. I don’t need these added features so I didn’t bother to install the software package so I won’t comment on how well this software performs.

Moving onto the Logitech H600 wireless headset, again, installation was a doddle, simply plug in the USB dongle, flip the switch on the headset to the on position and Windows 10 installed the driver software. However, I would offer this advice, use a front panel USB port for the dongle as I found the signal to be weak, breaking up when moving more than six-to-eight feet from my PC using a rear panel USB port.

Sound quality is excellent, the microphone sounds clear and crisp with plenty of volume to be heard at the other end of the Skype call. Headphone quality is also clear, although lacks real low down thump and super crisp highs when testing with music. This can be forgiven as the H600 was specifically designed for VOIP calls where those frequencies are not important, that said, audio is pleasant and easy on the ears.

As a convenience, Logitech has included a mute button and volume up/down buttons on the right headphone, although using them can be annoying to the other person on the Skype call as the clicks travel down the boom mic and into the other person’s ear, which must be highly annoying for them.

The range is decent, I can walk to all extremes of my 1400 SQ.FT home without losing signal through up to 3 walls. My office and computer is centrally located in my home which obviously helps with that, but I can get up to 25-30 feet away without issue, the signal only dropped out after going beyond the firewall of the garage which is understandable and I am unlikely to be holding a conversation in a roasting hot garage.

Battery life on the H600 headset is excellent for most users, unless you are a hardcore Skype user. I don’t know the exact battery life, but I have had five-hour conversations with friends on Skype and the battery was still going strong, still showing a green LED, meaning there is at least 30 minutes of talk time remaining. Even if battery life is low, you can use the 5 foot USB cable to power and charge your H600.

However, there are a couple of issues, at least on my computer setup. When initially switching on the headset, it will not make a connection with the receiver/transmitter until I unplug the USB dongle and plug it back in again. The second issue is the open nature of the microphone boom, in my office, I need to have a fan running as it gets incredibly hot during the summer, and the wind noise is very apparent.

However, the solution is very simple, I pulled the wind/pop shield off my old headset and placed it on the Logitech boom, problem solved. If you don’t have a wind/pop shield, they are readily available online for less than $10 for a pack of five. That said, it would have been nice for Logitech to include this.

In conclusion, the C920 / H600 combo is amazing for video calling through Skype, the webcam is crystal clear and the headset allows you to hear your chat partner clearly and vice-versa and the freedom being wireless gives you is astonishing after previously being tied to a six-foot cord. If there is a downside, it’ll be the price, combined, this combo costs $150, which for some might be too much for VOIP/video calling.


Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2017

Sebastian Vettel Wins Monaco Grand Prix 2017

This weekend was F1’s “jewel in the crown”, the Monaco GP. My personal belief is that Monaco is hopelessly out of date, no overtaking, position changes are strategic only and bonafide overtakes often end in disaster with the Armco being so close. And today’s race was no different, all position changes were through pit stop strategy and the few attempted on track overtakes ended in contact and retirement.

The start yielded just one overtake, Lewis Hamilton on Stoffel Vandoorne, there was a little wheel to wheel contact between the Red Bulls and Perez sustained front wing damage which forced him to replace it on lap 18, dropping him back from 7th to 16th place. Button and Wehrlein races almost ended in the pits as Sauber released Wehrlein into the path of Button, forcing the Briton to take avoiding action.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed to not only leapfrog his teammate, Max Verstappen, but also the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to move into the final podium spot. The Australian managed this feat by pumping in several fastest laps before stopping for the required change of tire compound. Max Verstappen’s reaction over the team radio was not for the easily offended, “what a beep, beep disaster”.

The lead of the race did change on lap 40, in what many, including myself, expected to happen, the old switcheroo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. I fully expected this to happen as soon as I saw Raikkonen had qualified on pole. Raikkonen was pitted on lap 35 while Vettel was allowed to continue for another five laps before pitting allowing the German to return to the track ahead of Raikkonen.

By pitting Raikkonen first, a whole five laps earlier than Vettel;, Ferrari knew that Vettel would be faster with Raikkonen needing to warm his tires for a couple of laps to get them up to operating temperature. If you want even more evidence, just take a look at the Thunder face of Raikkonen on the podium.

Jenson Button put an exclamation point on his F1 career by making an ambitious lunge down the inside of Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, going into the tunnel, tipping the German’s Sauber onto its side. Button, himself made it to the end of the tunnel before darting down the escape road with broken suspension.

Not to be outdone, Sergio Perez made a crazy lunge down the inside of Danill Kvyat for 9th place at La Rascasse, resulting in retirement for Kvyat and another stop for Perez, dropping him out of the points.

So, my final thoughts, it was a typical Monaco Grand Prix, position change by pit lane strategy. Vettel won the race, he claims that there were no team orders, but the manner in which he gained the lead has to be questioned, given the known quantity of slow warm up of fresh tires. Regardless, there is now a 25 point gap between Vettel and Hamilton in the world drivers championship after the Briton’s 7th place finish.

Monaco Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:44:44.340
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +3.145
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +3.745
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +5.517
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +6.199
6. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +12.038
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +15.801
8. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +18.150
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +19.445
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +21.443

MHP Insurance Of San Diego, CA

MHP Insurance

After my wife was made redundant back in late February 2017, she needed to obtain new medical insurance as her workplace insurance had expired. She did a search on Google for medical insurance and one of those hyphenated SEO domains popped up, which she clicked and completed a web form. Literally, no more than a few seconds passed before she received a call from Geoff at MHP insurance.

During the initial call, Geoff gave us a quote of $158.78/mo that would automatically be deducted from our bank account. I insisted on using a credit card as using a credit card offers a certain amount of protection that using a bank draft does not. The initial payment was $178.78 including the “sign up” fee.

Later that day, I get a number of Emails from the Healthcare Marketplace asking for proof of income. As I did not personally set up this insurance through the marketplace, I didn’t have a way to submit this information, so I called up the Marketplace and acquired control of the account and I find that the income that Geoff had inputted was $3,000 lower than I actually earn, so I went ahead and corrected that.

This instantly removed my kids from the plan as the Healthcare.gov website deemed that I don’t make enough money for my kids to be on the same policy, and that Medicaid will be in contact, However, I know for a fact that I make too much to qualify for Medicaid, we went through the same BS during 2016 and my kids went uninsured for four months. This is a well-established bug in the healthcare.gov website.

My next call I make is to Geoff at MHP Insurance, who explains that once I took control of the Healthcare Marketplace account, he could no longer help us. So we had him create a new application and I sent him my paystubs so he could submit them on our behalf. Everything seemed to be fine for about five weeks, then we get a bill from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas for $142.01, which is $88 more than last month.

I sent an Email to Geoff, asking why we are receiving a bill from BCBS when we were sold a package with automatic recurring payments. Geoff’s response simply said that once the policy is set up, we are responsible for making payments. This is NOT what we were told when we signed on the virtual dotted line. Our overall policy cost would end up being $246.78 with payments to both BCBS and Chesapeake.

At this point I want no further dealings with MHP Insurance, I feel that we have been deceived into buying supplemental insurance from Chesapeake. I went to the Chesapeake website and immediately canceled the policy as we really don’t need the supplemental insurance, especially when the overall cost has risen by $88, we only agreed to the supplemental insurance because we thought we were getting a deal.

I’m more than happy to pay Blue Cross, Blue Shield the $142/mo for insurance for my wife and kids, but I cannot afford to pay the extra $88 being on a single income at this time, money is super-tight right now.

To be clear, I’m not telling anyone not to use MHP Insurance, I am simply expressing our experience of dealing with them, you can make your own mind up. However, I would recommend not using third parties to set up Healthcare Marketplace accounts as you don’t have full control over your insurance.


Review: Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero

I recently built myself a new rig for work and at the heart of this new build is an Asus Republic Of Gamers Crosshair VI Hero motherboard. I went for the Crosshair VI because of Asus’ regular BIOS updates for the new Ryzen Platform and the ROG series of boards overclocking pedigree. After owning and using the ROG Crosshair board for 2 1/2 weeks, the following are my thoughts and views on the Crosshair VI Hero.

Physically, the Crosshair VI Hero is; in my opinion, the best looking AM4 motherboard on the market today with it’s black, silver and gray color scheme and RGB lighting on the VRM heatsink and chipset, making the Crosshair VI a motherboard for just about any build. I also like the I/O panel cover and backplate, which creates a very clean and polished look, aesthetics are not everything, but it doesn’t hurt.

Connectivity is second to none with eight USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0 and both Type A and Type C USB 3.1, gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 audio outputs plus digital optical out on the back panel. Internal connections include USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 headers, eight SATA III 6GBPS connectors, six total 4-pin fan headers, CPU, CPU_OPT, AIO_PUMP, CHA_FAN1, CHA_FAN2 and CHA_FAN3, plus W-PUMP header for custom loops. The final connector is a M.2 socket for M.2 Solid State Drives, which remains unutilized in my rig.

I paired a Ryzen 1800X with the Crosshair VI Hero and overclocking was a breeze, the Crosshair UEFI has an easy overclock setting for 4GHZ on all cores, however, I changed the voltage to 1.35v, auto setting was getting up there towards 1.5v, which is way too high, AMD recommends no more than 1.45v and I manually set my Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000Mhz RAM to 2667Mhz. As of BIOS v1201, I am unable to up the RAM speed to 2966MHZ, it refuses to POST at 2966Mhz, but works absolutely fine at 2667Mhz.

I ran Prime95 for 8 hours and it remained stable running 4GHZ @ 1.35v and temperature never exceeded 68°C in Ryzen Master. The BIOS temperature reported 85°C, however, we know that AMD elected to create a +20°C offset, meaning the BIOS is reporting a 20°C higher temperature than the actual temperature, which is very annoying as my AIO fans ramp up to 2000rpm due to the temperature offset.

Back to internal connectivity, there are some annoyances, such as only a single USB 2.0 header. I have to choose between connecting my front panel USB 2.0 or Corsair Link cable from my H110i, I elected to use the header for the front panel. The second annoyance is the positioning of the USB 3.0 header at the bottom of the board. Given the nature of internal USB 3.0 cables, it comes straight out and interferes with the SSD mount in my NZXT H440. I am disappointed that Asus did not include a right side 90° connector.

The Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero supports Crossfire through the motherboard, no Crossfire/SLI bridge required on the latest AMD GPU’s. I installed an Asus ROG RX580 OC Edition in the top PCI-E slot running at 16x. If two GPU’s are used, the top PCI-E slot is slowed to 8x, that’s 8x on both PCI-E slot 1 and 2.

A little convenience that many motherboard makers omit is a front panel block. This simple block allows you to connect your front panel connectors to the block outside of the case and then install the front panel block to the motherboard. This is a massive timesaver, I always struggle to connect the front panel connectors one by one, trying to read the tiny print on the board, more manufacturers should do this.

So overall, I really like the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, it looks good, has RGB lighting, almost all the connectivity you could ever need, as long as you only need a single USB 2.0 header. The Crosshair UEFI makes overclocking super easy with presets built in, and more options than you know what to do with, unless you are an overclocking genius, which I am not in any way, shape or form.


ASUS ROG Crosshair VI, AMD Ryzen 1800X, STRIX RX580 Build

BEAST Evolved

A few weeks back, I wrote about upgrading my PC to something newer; and this is the story of my journey with this new computer build, spoiler: It was not as straight forward as I’d have thought and liked!

Let’s start with the build; due to case design restrictions, I had to make compromises and even mod my 8-pin CPU power cable to make it work. The biggest problem I had was installing the 280mm Corsair H110i due to the NZXT H440’s top radiator/fan mounts not being offset. I had to cut away the 8-pin CPU cable shrink wrap to expose the thinner cables to make it fit without interfering with the radiator fans.

The secondary issue was installing the USB 3.0 cable to the header, which I guess is as much as a problem with the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard’s placement of the USB 3.0 header. The cable, like all cases’ USB 3.0 internal cables comes straight out, no L shape connector to make life easier for builders. The issue arose due to the SSD mount directly in front of the Crosshair’s USB 3.0 header.

I made it work by sacrificing cable management neatness with the cable slightly fouling the SSD caddy. You would have thought that being a premium motherboard, the ROG Crosshair VI would have had a right side 90° USB 3.0 header like the SATA connectors, which leaves me feeling cheated a little, especially when looking at B350 motherboards that are $100 cheaper having a 90° USB 3.0 header.

The third issue is that the installed rear case fan stops you from installing the H110i’s liquid tubes at the rear of the case, meaning that you have to remove the topmost 3.5-inch hard disk caddy. This, however, is not an issue as I intended to remove the 3.5-inch caddies to increase air flow from the front case fans.

Additionally, the H440’s built-in PWM fan hub does not work for the included 3-pin fans, the hub is supposed to convert PWM signals from the motherboard into voltage signals for the included 3-pin fans, however, it does not work at all. The included NZXT branded fans run at 100% consistently, if I connect a PWM fan to the 4-pin out, I can control that fan from 0 – 2000rpm, but the NZXT fans remain at 100%.

The manual states I should use the CPU or CPU_OPT headers and connect the CPU fan to the 4-pin header on the fan hub. I am not willing to do that as I like my CPU fans to be on their own header, to be notified of a failure in addition to speed control. I connected the PWM fan hub to CHA_FAN2, which provides the same signals as the CPU and CPU_OPT headers using CPU temperatures for speed control.

After the build problems, the Windows experience was also not the greatest when using AMD’s built in RAID controller for RAID 0 on my two 480GB ADATA SSD’s, which made Windows ‘pause’ for anywhere between 30 and 90 seconds before resuming as normal, which is incredibly infuriating while I work! Not to mention the extra 25 – 30 seconds that the RAID drivers add to the overall system boot time.

Just getting the RAID array recognized by the Windows installer was a real pain, I downloaded the AMD RAID drivers from the Asus Crosshair VI support page and none of those downloaded drivers worked. I ended up downloading the RAID drivers from an MSI X370 motherboard support page, which worked perfectly first time. Clearly, Asus dropped the ball on this one, guess they thought no-one would run RAID.

After a little over a week, my computer started to refuse to shut down. It would get to the point where the PC would normally turn off after shutting down Windows and nothing, nada… at least for five minutes, then it would reboot, regardless of whether I click shut down, restart or sleep. I thought it was related to the 1107 BIOS update for the motherboard, but it turned out to be unrelated, I never found the cause.

And I don’t care what the issue was as I wanted to start over with Windows on a single SSD, after living with the randomly ‘pausing’ Windows 10. I reinstalled Windows 10 after having some bizarre issues with my USB thumb drive unmounting itself half way through creating the Windows 10 USB media. And immediately, the computer booted into Windows 10 in 30 seconds including passing POST.

So, performance, it’s faster than my previous machine, which features an AMD FX8350 / 270X, which served me well for the last five years. I haven’t done any benchmarking, I have played Metro Last Light, which was pegged at 60fps as I set frame limiting in the AMD Wattman software. I have to say that for the most part, in general Windows use, the perception is that it’s no faster than the FX8350 system.

The 8 core, 16 thread CPU power comes when doing more processor intensive tasks, duh, obviously. I have noticed a significant improvement in speed while using Lightroom, specifically importing, zooming in and out, making exposure changes in the develop module and exporting. I guess I could run SETI@home and churn out 100+ units a day if I wanted to hear the H110i’s fans maxing out at 2,000rpm (very loud).

So, the bottom line, this PC (BEAST Evolved) was bought for future software releases, hopefully, the release of Ryzen will make software and game developers consider writing for more than four core CPU’s, which is the standard right now, thanks to Intel, no competition means no innovation in technology.

FINAL SPECS

NZXT H440 (Black) Case
Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU (OC’ed to 4GHZ @ 1.325v)
Corsair H110i Liquid Cooler
Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000 RAM (@2666Mhz)
Asus ROG Strix RX580 OC Edition GPU (@1360Mhz)
ADATA 480GB Premier SP550 SSD (x2)
Corsair RM750X Power Supply


Allegedly, I Am “Rude”

This Friday, I received an Email accusing me of not doing the work I was requested to do by one of the company’s regional managers. The regional manager claims that I was given specific verbiage to use by the property manager she oversees. To which, I responded with evidence, i.e. the Email sent from the property manager on 5/2, which the regional manager cited in her accusation, proving she is wrong.

It was requested that I create a link to an award the property had won, which I did, in bold text underneath the main blurb, despite their claims that I did not, of course, I have evidence to the contrary. There’s more, the regional manager didn’t like the wording I used, claiming I failed to use the wording that was provided to me by said manager. The few words that were included were also in my marketing.

My response to this was to request that the manager provides me with specific verbiage that I can copy and paste into the website in future marketing correspondence. The regional manager doubled down on her accusations, in which she cited the Email from the property manager on 5/2 and also carbon copied the company’s vice president into the Email, in what I see as a clear troublemaking attempt, this is when I replied to both regional manager and vice president with the evidence to disprove her accusations.

This Saturday morning, I receive an Email from the regional manager stating the following “You missed the mark. I’m tired of you treating people on my team so rudely”. At this point, I Emailed the two vice presidents and explained what is going on, including the full Email thread. I pride myself on being able to work with anyone, however, I will not tolerate being accused of wrongdoing when I am innocent.

I even went back to the Email that the regional manager cited and checked, I thought that maybe I was incorrect and that I had made a mistake. But, no, that was not the case, I remembered correctly and I am indeed innocent of all charges levied against me. However, I am not going to continue a tit-for-tat argument through Email, the vice presidents can deal with it, I’m too busy to deal with such childishness.

I admit that I am very direct in my communications, I am a busy person, I manage marketing for nearly 50 properties, so I don’t have time for pleasantries; if property managers are so thin skinned that they take everything as an attack, I don’t know what to tell them. Other managers, including managers that this particular regional manager oversees, have no complaints about my communication with them.

I make mistakes, I am only human and humans are fallible. There has been plenty of occasions where I either made a typo or misunderstood what was being asked of me. In those cases, I held my hands up and corrected my mistake. I have absolutely no issue with admitting I am wrong, but will not accept blame for something I did not do, I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence like anyone would.


Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix 2017

Bottas Celebrates Winning Russian GP 2017

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix brought us a new race winner, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claims his maiden win on his 81st attempt while his 3-time world champion teammate languished in 4th place. However, it was a generally dull race only spiced up by a late challenge for the win from pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren’s woes continue with Fernando Alonso not even taking the start, stopping at the entry to the pitlane at the end of the formation lap, which in turn triggered a second formation lap while Alonso’s McLaren was recovered to the pits. You can see Alonso’s disillusionment and “couldn’t give two f**ks” mood, by saying “I’ll watch the race, eat ice cream and wait for my plane” in a post-retirement interview.

Bottas made an amazing start to move past the two Ferrari’s in front of him to lead the race going into turn 2, Lewis Hamilton made a decent start to get alongside Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari but seemed to back out of the challenge as turn 2 loomed. Max Verstappen made his trademark lightning start to move up from seventh on the grid to fifth and challenged Hamilton and Raikkonen for third in the run to turn 2.

Racing was called off almost immediately because the safety car was deployed to recover the cars of Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer who collided at turn 2. Grosjean dived down the inside of Palmer going into the corner, the two made contact and as Palmer tried to recover, he appeared to lose the rear end of his car and speared into Grosjean, ending both the drivers’ races after just two corners.

Shortly after the restart, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo radioed to the pits that his right rear brake is on fire, which caused him to coast back to the pits to retire his car. This triggered the Red Bull pit wall to radio the sister car of Max Verstappen telling him to push his brake balance forward as far as he could to avoid a similar situation with rear brake failure, which worked as Verstappen finished the race in fifth place.

Then, I (figuratively) fell asleep for an hour as the racing was so dull, absolutely zero change of position outside of pitstops. Which ultimately came back to the same running order after every driver had stopped with the exception of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who stayed out on his ultra soft tires for 40 laps while running in sixth place, resulting in the German driver finishing in a solid eighth place where he started.

Things got spicier after the only round of pit stops, Vettel stayed out an extra eight laps over Bottas on his initial set of ultra soft tires, which allowed the German to close to within 0.8 seconds of the Finn, but it was to be Bottas’ day, claiming his first F1 win, putting his 3-time world champion teammate, Hamilton in the shade on this day. which is great for F1, four races in and we’ve had three different race winners.

Financially challenged Force India are definitely “punching above their weight” finishing the race with both cars well up in the points in sixth and seventh, Sergio Perez winning the inter-team battle with Esteban Ocon. Williams’ Felipe Massa ended up finishing down three places from where he started in ninth place, while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz claimed the final points paying position of the race.

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix will not be a race we’ll remember for anything other than Bottas’ first race win in F1. The race was incredibly processional with, well, I don’t remember a single successful on track overtake outside of the few overtakes from the start to turn 2. The race was a damp squib as cars had a hard time following another due to overheating because of the dirty air coming from the leading car.


Review: NZXT H440 New Edition (2015)

NZXT H440 New Edition (2015)

The NZXT H440 New Edition, released in 2015 as the name suggests is an evolved version of the original H440 and retains the power supply cover and drive back cover to hide your cables with the bonus of an 8-way PWM fan hub attached to the back panel, it’s a nice addition, however, it does have it’s problems.

The exterior of the case I purchased is matt black and feels very high-quality, other color combinations are available if you don’t like the all black stealth look. I chose the acrylic window option of the case to show off my new hardware, laden with RGB lighting. Every panel can be pulled off and has sound deadening foam padding on the inside which does somewhat limit cable space behind the motherboard tray.

Exterior connectivity includes microphone and headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 connectors on the top panel with white illuminated power button and recessed reset switch. On the back of the case, there is a switch to toggle the rear I/O LEDs and illuminated NZXT logo on the power supply shroud.

Inside the case is space for mini-ITX, micro-ATX and ATX motherboards with grommeted pass through to the back of the motherboard tray and an un-grommeted pass through to the power supply basement. There are two 2.5 inch SSD sleds that mount to the top of the power supply cover and secure using thumbscrews plus five 3.5 in mechanical drives sleds at the front of the case behind the vertical shroud.

Cooling is provided by four pre-installed fans, 3 x NZXT branded 120mm fans at the front and a single 140mm NZXT branded fan at the rear. To my ear, they are near silent in operation when the panels are installed. You’d think airflow would be restricted given the solid front, top and side panels, but the case is designed to channel air through the right side of the front panel and out the left side of the top panel.

There is support for a 120, 140, 240, 280 and 360mm radiator with a single set of fans at the top or a 120, 140, 240, 280 or 360mm radiator in the front with push/pull fans after removing the 3.5-inch drive sleds. I have a Corsair H110i mounted in the top, however, mounting with the water tubes towards the front of the case means that you have to remove the top sled and only 4 of the 6 screws can be used. It’s not possible to install the H110i with the tubes at the rear of the case because of the rear 140mm case fan.

There is an additional problem with top mounting 280mm radiators as the mounting holes are centered and not offset to the left a little. If you have a sleeved 8-pin power connector, it’s likely to interfere with the radiator fans. I had to cut away the shrink wrap from my Corsair RM750X 8-pin connector to expose an extra inch of thinner cables inside to install the radiator so the 8-pin cable did not foul the fans.

The included PWM fan control hub is from my perspective of very limited use. Even connected to a 4-pin chassis fan header, I have no control of the fan speed and get no speed readout from the fans themselves as they are 3-pin fans. The manual suggests that I connect everything including my radiator fans to the hub and plug the PWM cable from the hub into my CPU fan header. This is not something I like to do, I prefer to have my CPU fans plugged into the CPU and CPU_OPT fan headers for independent control.

Another odd thing in the year 2015 when this case was released is that the fan hub is powered by a 4-pin Molex connector. Luckily the Corsair RM750X power supply I purchased has a modular cable for Molex included, not all power supplies include Molex power. Frankly, it’s another cable inside the case that I could have done without as there are half dozen spare SATA power connectors already in the case.

Overall, I like the case, from above, you can see there are some issues, however, there are workarounds to these issues. I would recommend this case to anyone wanting to build a system and be able to hide all those messy cables behind shrouded panels. Apart from the minor quibbles listed above, I love this case, it feels very tactile and solid and looks good to boot. What more could you ask for, some people might say 5.25 inch drive bay for a BluRay/DVD drive? but optical drives are really a thing of the past in 2017.


PC Upgrade Time

Asus Upgrades

My current computer build is starting to not meet my professional needs anymore, so I have bought a whole new computer system with a view to recycling this current computer as a dedicated PLEX media server. It’s still a good machine overall, AMD FX8350, 32GB DDR3 1866, but the newer versions of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are chugging with 24-megapixel RAW images off my DSLR camera.

I want a high-end photo editing/video creation system for my work plus some occasional gaming, and right now the best bang for your buck CPU wise is the AMD RYZEN 1800X, 8-core, 16 thread monster, which should handle my high-resolution photography workload with ease. According to reviews, the 1800X is equal to Intel’s $1,000+ i7 6900K for just $469.99 on Newegg at the time of purchase.

On previous builds, I always skimped on motherboards, but not this time, I invested in an Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero, which is considered to be the best overclocking board for Ryzen, which is great as I intend to overclock the 1800X to 4GHz on all cores, never mind the stock single core boost to 4Ghz.

To keep the Ryzen 1800X chilled, I have bought a Corsair H110i 280mm AIO, this is my first foray into water cooling. I’m not ready to jump into custom loop water cooling at this time, so the Corsair closed loop cooler is my preference as it is the only AIO that is compatible with AM4 sockets out of the box.

Video card duty will be handled by the Asus ROG Strix RX-580 8GB Gaming OC Edition, which is a middle of the road GPU, which suits me perfectly as I am a middle of the road gamer. I could have spent much more and bought a Nvidia GTX 1080ti, however, that would be a waste of an amazing GPU, I play mostly older games on a semi-frequent basis, this build is aimed squarely at productivity work, not gaming.

I am sticking with 32GB of RAM, this time it will be the Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 3000Mhz in two 16GB sticks, which will allow me to upgrade to 64GB at a later date should the need arise. I have also decided on all solid state storage in this build, ordering 2 x 480GB ADATA Premier SP550 SSD’s, which should be enough storage for my needs right now, I might even RAID 0 the drives for extra speed.

Finally, the build will all be contained within the NZXT H440 Mid Tower Case with side-window in matt black with a Corsair RM750X 80 plus gold certified power supply keeping the system juiced up, I can’t see me needing more than 750w as I don’t intend to crossfire GPU’s even if the motherboard is capable.

I could have saved $10 and bought the H440 with a solid side panel, however, given that the AIO water cooler, graphics card and motherboard all have RGB LED’s all over them, it would be nice to see those. However, I am not going crazy and installing case LED strips to illuminate the inside of the case as it will be sat a small platform on the floor so I won’t really see it, but… once I see it, I might change my mind!

This build came to a total of $1,894.77 including delivery, which is by far the most expensive build I have ever created (and actually bought), but with all SSD storage, 8 core, 16 thread CPU and 32GB of DDR4 3000 Mhz RAM, this should be a beast of a computer to see me through the next 4 – 5 years.