Random thoughts.... [Tech Edition]

Matt2000

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More photography but nobody goes there now, Topaz Labs have some big discounts on their software. If @MacGuffin still came here I'm sure he could vouch for their Video Enhance AI software as I can and the DeNoise managed to work incredible magic on some tiny scanned photos for me.

I'm not associated with them of course but I'd be happy for them to pay me for this honest promotion. 😐

https://topazlabs.com/shop/

Edit: This also works with one of the many 15% codes present online.

In addition, Amazon (in the UK at least) are selling a 1 year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps at a price that works out to be 40% cheaper than the subscription. Adobe support kindly ended my 'annual renewal' contract early with no fee and helped me apply this in a way that means I don't lose out but save about £240 over the year. It pays for the Topaz software with money left over.
 
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leviathan

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So after I've bought the new SSD, I've now gone and installed it, and since this is a fresh new drive and my current Win10 installation was getting on quite a few years of age (I believe it started out life as a fairly early Win7 setup, and survived upgrades to 8, 8.1 and 10 in succession)... I decided to install a fresh OS on this one, and since Win11 is out and about, why not go for that, I thought.

As expected, this didn't go anywhere near as smoothly as I planned... Here's about how my evening went:

- Preparations made beforehand, a few days ago: activated TFP2 in the BIOS, and created a Win11 installer USB using the official Microsoft tool. Also let the compatibility check tool run, and confirm I'm good to go (important...).
- Shut down the PC, unplugged everything, opened her up. Put the M.2 SSD in the slot, marvelled at how tiny it is in comparison to everything else in there, even the RAM sticks are way larger, not speaking of 2.5" SATA drives and other stuff.

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-25 at 18.58.26.jpeg

- Removed some dust from the fans :) It was actually much less dusty than I expected, this case hasn't been open for a long while - I guess the regular robot vacuum runs do help keep the overall dust amount in the room down quite well.

- Unplugged the old system SSD. Had to look quite closely with a flashlight even which one it is, since I have 3x 2.5" SSDs in there at the moment, and they're all Samsungs :D Thankfully the 830 has an older casing design than the slightly newer 750 EVO and 860 EVO, so I could make it out and unplug, without physically removing it from the case for now.

- Plugged in the prepared Win11 installer USB and fired her back up. Installer booted right up... only to say "Windows 11 cannot be installed on this computer". No further details, no info what it didn't like, error code, nothing. Great.

- Googled. Fairly quickly figured out I not only needed to enable TFP2, but also Secure Boot in the BIOS. Rebooted in there, spent good 10-15 minutes navigating menus looking for the exact sequence to do this (which ended up being something like "go to the boot menu, disable CFP and enable UEFI only, reboot, go to a completely different menu that has nothing with 'boot' in the name to find actual secure boot, try to enable it only to get an error in the face, google the error, switch secure boot mode to Custom, populate default keys, reboot again, enable secure boot" - perfectly straightforward, as you can see -.-).

- Ran the installer again, it's happy now and let me make very few choices before chugging away. Took all of ~3 minutes to copy files and do its thing before rebooting, and to my excitement booting straight from the new drive to continue the install. "Getting devices ready" and some other messages also chugged past within a few seconds, before the screen settled on "Getting ready..."... and sat there.

- For over an hour.

- At which point I decided this is not just taking too long but is actually frozen up, and rebooted it. Ofc it then said "unexpected reboot, please restart the installation". Which I then did a few times, trying all the recommended tricks online to deal with the issue - mainly unplugging all USB devices and network, and trying a different USB stick as the installation media. Which all did precisely nothing.

- After my Google-fu reached its limit, tried messaging a couple friends for help. One of them relayed a tale of installing Win10 on an M.2 drive a while back, which also had similar issues, and necessitated a BIOS update before it could work... hmm, this I didn't think about, especially not after the USB installer ran fine and the thing actually booted from the SSD afterwards. Still, let's look at the MSI website what they might have for my board.

- Well, isn't this just spiffy. This may just be our culprit here, my current BIOS is pretty recent, but not 2-months-ago recent for sure:

1637882347054.png


- After briefly figuring out how to update BIOS from a USB drive without a working OS on the machine, doing so, then having to re-enable all of the TFP2, Secure Boot shenaningans as well as my other BIOS settings (XMP profile, boot order, etc) from scratch, and then re-running the installer from the beginning again... IT WERKS! Installer ran as quickly as before, hung on the "Getting ready" screen for a minute, before quickly flashing through a few more messages and continuing into another reboot. Success!

- Booted into the post-setup configuration, quickly clicked through that, landed on a usable desktop finally, and took another couple hours to set up my usual stuff to get a usable system again.

Screenshot 2021-11-26 002604.jpg

But wait! That's not all. Two issues still remain after all of the above, which I don't feel like dealing with immediately, but will need attention some time soon:

- Weirdly, the only HDD I still have in the case miraculously vanished from BIOS detection lists and anywhere in the system some time during the process. I even re-opened the case to check if I accidentally unplugged its power or SATA cable while removing the old system SSD - no, it's all still in there. This either means there's either some weirdness going on with the SATA ports after removing one drive, or with the CFM/UEFI setup - or that the drive chose this very moment to decide it just doesn't wanna live anymore, being old and all. Which would be annoying, but not terribly bad, since it was mostly a data hoard with a bunch of old movies and series (including a full backlog of Top Gear), so nothing I can't restore over time, if I feel the need at all.

- Also, the system refuses to accept any of several Windows keys I have in storage, including one that happily ran the old Win10 system and was even accepted for a manual re-activation when it decided it needed one after one of the "Creator's updates" or some such stuff. The keys are sourced from back in the university, when I could get hold of Windows 7 and 8 Home licenses for free, so I got a few :) But apparently the jig is up now. Will see what I do about that, for now it'll have to run without being activated, which at least in the beginning doesn't actually do anything of note.

Anyway, I'm running Windows 11 now, on a blazing fast new SSD. Is it actually any different or faster to use? Tbh, I think in daily driving I won't notice much of a difference, really. Even though the 830 was getting really old and the transfer rates are massively faster now, it was still easily fast enough to boot the system in seconds and launch most any apps instantaneously, so I'm not even sure why I bothered in the first place - apart from 250GB being a bit small for a system drive after a while, I guess. Oh well.
 

Matt2000

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Glad to hear you got it working, that exact issue of it hanging at 'Getting Devices Ready' has been happening on new Dell machines at work when they had the SATA mode set to RAID. That wouldn't be your issue here but drivers are the most likely cause.

Also I hope you cleaned that CPU cooler better. :tease:

You would probably have noticed a difference if you just cloned the existing installation. Would you mind running ATTO Bench32 for me to see how it performs?
 

Matt2000

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Very nice, looks like that's bus limited too. This old 960 EVO peaks at 1.71GB/s write and 2.83GB/s read (35.41K and 64K IOPS respectively) with that same ATTO version, which is better than I was expecting but I clearly need to upgrade. :ROFLMAO:
 

Eye-Q

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- Weirdly, the only HDD I still have in the case miraculously vanished from BIOS detection lists and anywhere in the system some time during the process.
Often the M.2 slot(s) and SATA connectors are shared in one form or the other. Usually the mainboard manual states which slots and connectors are shared so you can avoid those connectors which are disabled once you plug in an M.2 card.

- Unplugged the old system SSD.
Conversely the two other SSDs were still connected when you installed Windows 11? You might check where the Windows setup put it's boot sector, it might be one of the SATA SSDs. This means if you decide to retire/replace one of the SATA SSDs in the future you might ending up with a non-booting Windows. :(
 

eizbaer

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Wellp... thanks for all that, I'll be sure to keep your post open once I decide to go for W11 in order to not get frustrated as all hell.

- Shut down the PC, unplugged everything, opened her up. Put the M.2 SSD in the slot, marvelled at how tiny it is in comparison to everything else in there, even the RAM sticks are way larger, not speaking of 2.5" SATA drives and other stuff.
funny thing, that... nowadays 2.5" SSDs are mostly made of air:
3-1080.0268a2e7.jpg

so they're not really any bigger than those M2 SSDs, if we account for the fact that the SATA connector (and connection on the board) take up about 1/3 of that thing, and another good portion is literally holes... might be time to think about a better physical standard for drives like that.
 

leviathan

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Often the M.2 slot(s) and SATA connectors are shared in one form or the other. Usually the mainboard manual states which slots and connectors are shared so you can avoid those connectors which are disabled once you plug in an M.2 card.
Genius. Completely forgot this was a thing, checked the mainboard manual - and you're completely correct:

1637922094061.png


Gotta re-open the case the move the HDD to a different port then, I guess. The old system SSD needs to come out anyway too, got a USB3.0 adapter coming for that if I need to restore anything I missed from there.

Conversely the two other SSDs were still connected when you installed Windows 11? You might check where the Windows setup put it's boot sector, it might be one of the SATA SSDs. This means if you decide to retire/replace one of the SATA SSDs in the future you might ending up with a non-booting Windows. :(
Also a very good hint, thanks. Opened up the BIOS again, looking at the boot override menu it seems like it's all in order, with only the 970 showing as an available boot device:

IMG_1423.jpeg

Also looking in the Disk Management, there's an EFI system partition at the start of the 970:

1637922487315.png


The recovery partition on Disk 1 ("Data SSD") surprises me a bit, not sure what that is. However, I believe that was the drive I got used, so it may be from a previous owner's setup.
 

Matt2000

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I was just looking at the same thing on this motherboard the other day, however it only disables SATA5 and 6 when M2_2 is in X4 mode

I'm not sure what the next step will be, we're kind of in a limbo state where it's now cheap to use M.2 as a SATA alternative but motherboards lack the ability to have more than a couple of M.2 sockets on there. Either due to PCIe bandwidth limitations (as above) or because it's physically difficult to mount more on the board. I may start buying M.2 only now and just put them in SATA caddies, in the name of future-proofing.

I'd expect to see a lot more vertical M.2 mounts before long, they're already a thing as are M.2 to PCIe adapters for mounting directly in a regular PCIe socket.
 

leviathan

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Re-opened the case again, to remove the old 830, re-arrange the remaining SATA drives, and replug the HDD into one of the SATA ports that still work when M.2 is used. Indeed, that was the issue - drive is healthy and shows up perfectly fine now, plugged into SATA-4 instead of -6.

Also had a different issue: new system would not respond to pings from HomeAssistant, making some of my home automation go wonky (it usually triggers a couple things based on when my PC is on or not, and puts it into sleep via some scripts when I go away and it's still running). Tracked it down to Defender Firewall settings, which apparently default to not allowing ICMP responses on any networks, including "Private" ones even. Supposedly this is the default since Win7... although I'm pretty sure I never touched those settings, and my old system definitely responded to pings :unsure: Anyway, works now.
 

Matt2000

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Something to do with Home versus Pro or above versions of Windows maybe? It's not something I've ever used myself but both machines here are Windows 10 Pro and can ping each other with IPV6 responses.

Anyway, it has begun...



I now have the webcam running permanently on the Pi, taking screenshots and saving them to the SD card and to the USB SSD I have plugged in. The only annoying thing is despite the save path having dynamic sections for the folder name and file name, it seems incapable of changing the folder despite the file name always being correct. I think I need to ask on the Pi Projects subreddit. Having 35,000+ images in one folder come January isn't the end of the world as they're only little but I'd rather have them in date folders.

Let's see if it burns down this year.
 

NooDle

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Cool story bro. But why would you want a billion screenshots? Did I miss something?
 

Matt2000

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I just don't want to miss it when the fucker finally burns down again and yeah I'd like to timelapse it when that happens. I still have the screenshots from last year that were taken on my server here, apparently 35K was a low estimate as last year the total was 421,293 images. :p

Bonus of having it on the Pi is I can always have it on, the little screen has a backlight switch on the back so I can turn it off at night. Totally pointless but I think it's fun.

Edit: I forget that the goat isn't known by everyone so here's the Wikipedia page on its history of destruction:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gävle_goat
 
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Perc

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If I was in charge of the goat I would just make it out of steel and concrete.
 

leviathan

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- Also, the system refuses to accept any of several Windows keys I have in storage, including one that happily ran the old Win10 system and was even accepted for a manual re-activation when it decided it needed one after one of the "Creator's updates" or some such stuff. The keys are sourced from back in the university, when I could get hold of Windows 7 and 8 Home licenses for free, so I got a few :) But apparently the jig is up now. Will see what I do about that, for now it'll have to run without being activated, which at least in the beginning doesn't actually do anything of note.
Well, the best kind of problems are the ones that solve themselves. Changing some settings today I noticed the banner saying "you need to activate Windows to personalize" was gone all of a sudden. Checked in the System pane, and voila - despite refusing to accept any of the keys I've thrown at it manually for activation, it now decided to silently go and successfully activate itself with a "digital license bound to your Microsoft account".

I guess one of those keys that I used to get Win7 (later upgraded to 8, 8.1 and 10) working has at some point been migrated to an attached license, and since my old Windows setup hasn't been booted up since I got 11 installed, it decided that that license is now valid for W11.

I'll take that as a win, and a final check on the todo list of items needed before this setup becomes final. Everything works as it's supposed to, and I guess unless something breaks in a dramatic fashion the old SSD with Win10 on it can go deep into the desk drawers, to hopefully never be needed again.
 
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