Review: Asus X205TA

It’s not often that I post a review about a product on this blog, but on this occasion I want to showcase an item that does not have a lot of exposure on the web, nor the reviews do it justice.

I’m talking about the Asus X205TA, essentially a low cost, low weight, basic Windows laptop that does the basics. At a retail price of £179 (less with the offers it seems to attract) its price point puts it among lower end Android tablets and Chromebooks. But here the big attraction is its ability to run full versions of Windows, making it a contender as an ultra-portable daily driver.

Asus X205TA
Asus X205TA

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First Look At Windows 10

I just got my first hands on look at Windows 10, before I even start I must note that this is not going to be an in depth review of the system as I am just hopeless at writing reviews, so instead here are a quick few pointers of what I noticed.

Windows 10 Start Menu
Windows 10 Start Menu

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Upgrading RAID Disks

The time came when my 1TB drives were full, having a data clearout reclaimed a bit of free space but it was time to upgrade.

The HP Microserver I am running has four HDD bays all populated with 1TB drives in RAID 1 configuration, so to increase capacity I had to replace two of the disks. I went for two Western Digital Green 2TB disks as the 1TB variants I currently had proved reliable.

Moving the data over to a new disk would be tricky, the simplest solution would be to put the old drives into a USB caddy and plug into the server, but I had previously found that USB drives don’t like RAID. But since RAID1 means redundancy, I could tackle this another way…

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UPS Investment

From the last post, the idea of having UPS in my home may put me off forever, but to put it into context the unit had been installed before I was employed over 12 years ago, and over the past 2 years it was beeping intermittently to indicate a fault that a convenient press on any button would silence.

The post before that however had more gravitas, with my server being offline for close to a month all due to a one second power cut made me feel vulnerable to another downtime incident over something I couldn’t control. It was time to look into a Uninterruptable Power Supply to protect my server from power cuts that could knock my RAID out of sync.

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Installing WordPress on Windows Server

It’s simple, instead of the process of installing PHP, MySQL, assigning permissions and all the debugging that many of us have gone through, Microsoft has come up with WPI, or Web Platform Installer.

wpi1
WPI makes installing WordPress easy.

Amongst other web applications, WordPress is the most popular and it makes the install on Windows as simple as a few clicks.

wpi2
All done!

So far I’ve tried it on Server 2003 R2 and Server 2012 R2, both with instant success.

It’s available at: http://www.microsoft.com/web/downloads/platform.aspx

Why I hate the cloud!

Call me cynical, but I’ve always hated “the cloud”, maybe it was due to my love of personal servers that a person (me) would have complete control over. Or maybe that it was the fact that you have to essentially hand over all your data, user base, posts, comments etcetera over to a third party company that unless you comb through the terms and conditions, can do what they like with it.

My first venture into this came about before it was even called “the cloud”, I was setting up a guestbook system to work on my otherwise static only website, this meant signing up to one of those “guestbook websites” such as Html Gear, which later became part of Lycos. In those days of 2001+ my biggest bugbear was the adverts that always accompanied a free guestbook setup.

Even though the static web pages I created with links to guestbook sites have long past, I have enjoyed reminiscing the past posts on the guestbook of my creations, made possible only by looking through the backups of old websites and extracting the obscure URL from the HTML.

Alas, on my recent nostalgic trip of past websites I was met by this handy message:

So my data has gone?
So my data has gone?

Thanks I thought, my piece of data that I thought would carry me till my twilight years has been suddenly ripped from my heart. A bit dramatic, but that’s what I thought.

Travelling back to early 2001, I simply didn’t have the resource to host a guestbook locally, whether it be with hosted solutions that did not allow dynamic code (remember Geocities), or my own first home server that did not have the power to process code without time-outs.

Since then I quickly learnt to try my best at hosting forums (the then next step after guestbooks) locally on my own server, free to dispose of the data as I wish. In the years that follow I realise it may be a pain to find/write the code to display the data as it was, but I will always have that data close to me, free to read the raw database and exercise my nostalgia.

Furthermore, this event takes me back to when me and my peers used a service called MSN Groups, those of you that remember the acronym MSN assume that it is now doomed. It is, with all of our social commentary and all photos since deleted “cos it’s on MSN so we don’t need to keep our own local copy”.

Be warned, the cloud may be a quick, cheap and easy alternative to learning things properly, but rest assured the data you create WILL NOT be around forever, or even long enough for you to get bored of it.

If you run a website where you are dealing with data, guestbook, forums etc. Get your own server! Or least a service that allows you to pull all the data to a local copy.

Welcome

Welcome to the blog of James Batchelor!

This blog is here mainly to accompany my other website over at diyhomeserver.co.uk. There you have a guide to building, setting up and enjoying your own personal home server, while any updates and new tricks I learn from the net will appear here.

Apart from that, this blog will also house my usual ramblings about the world and just what I find absolutely absurd about it.

Feel free to check in, maybe you will find something interesting and new, but probably, you will work out how different we really are.