A good balance between size and performance

In regards of space I’m a bit restricted, and so my thoughts about computers and cases to put them into lead me to Mini ITX, and to a case which was introduced last year and which immediately became one of the favourites in that size and price class, the CoolerMaster NR200P. Here’s Leo from Kitguru reviewing it:

Leo analyses Cooler Master MasterBox NR200P

You can also read their/his written review here in case you want to know more.

As you could see in the review video, my current drives – one 2,5″ SSD and one 3,5″ hard disk with 4TB – the same Leo was showing – both fit nicely. Plus modern mainboards all have space for one or two M.2 SSD drives which are even faster anyway, and the case could even take two more 2,5″ SATA SSDs behind the front plate – that’s 6 drives overall, surely more than enough storage options.

Of course one should also try to save some space with choosing components wisely, so as a power supply I’d take Corsair’s smaller SFX ones, the ‘Platinum’ specced ones have a set of nicer braided cables compared to the ‘Gold’ rated ones. Without ever planning to add a graphics card, a 450W model would be more than enough, if you want to keep the possibility to add a medium- or high powered graphics card later on, there are also models with 600 or with 750W available. Remember, the high powered system Leo was building there drew some 500 Watts from the wall socket when stressing it out, both CPU and GPU alike. For me, that would rarely to almost never happen… so what about cooling?

I’d go with air cooling with a Noctua L12S low profile top blower cooler. I’d never overclock a system, so that should be just fine for a CPU with a TDP of around 65W like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (6 Core / 12 Thread), the Ryzen 7 5700G (8 Core / 16 Thread) or a comparable Intel Core i5-10400 (not the “K” versions which take lots more power). Learn more about such coolers from Machines & More:

Cooler Master NR200: Low Profile Air Cooler Configuration (feat. the Noctua L12S)

In case you also take low profile (or JEDEC-compatible) RAM which isn’t higher than 31,25mm, you could even let the cooler’s fan *under* the heat sink if you so desire, although these tests showed that it’s performing a bit better if you have the fan on top of the heatsink.

So for RAM a kit of 2x8GB or 2x16GB DDR4-3200 from Corsair (“Vengeance”) would be cool and wouldn’t restrict your mounting options.

For the main board, I’d go with Asus, but Gigabyte is also a good option and maybe a bit cheaper. Even MSI has a nice board, for AMD CPUs I’d take one with a B550 chipset, for 11th gen Intel chips a Z590 one.

All of the mentioned CPUs have graphics built right in, so you won’t have to overpay for graphics cards (only gamers would want these anyway, you can cut movies or “develop” photos without a dedicated graphics card just fine).

That would be cool machines, and maybe I’ll build one of these for a relative soon.

Oh, and a propos benchmarking: my own current system which is quite old already, and still has a 4th gen Intel Core i5 was behaving quite nicely when I stressed out its CPU with the Blender render “classroom” test:

Benchmarking Blender on my machine

As you can see, CPU average temperature was 41°C, max was 52°C, and the system was drawing about 72 Watts from the wall socket while doing this. Of course this took quite a while:

Blender classroom test finished

Over 31 minutes is slow, a more modern machine and chips like the ones mentioned above should do the same in about 8-10 minutes. And while they might draw a bit more power, they’d still do it in about a third to a quarter of the time, which makes them much more efficient in case you need that power…

As always, thanks for reading.

We’ve been busy. And now we’re kaputt…

After having two weeks of holidays, starting last Monday we’ve got new windows built into our flat – the whole flat, so all the furniture, computers etc. which was in the way had to be moved, all things which had any value had to be covered, and so on and so forth. A first time for me to actually live in/on a construction zone…

Anyway, we’re almost done. And now we’re kaputt, even our small visitor from the neighbourhood is as you can see:

Having new windows built in is sooo exhausting, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2021
Sooo kaputt, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2021

As you can see, I can take photos and also type again, and my computer has internet again (no WiFi on this machine). The rest will follow…

As always, thanks for reading.

Mobile phone as a dashcam

We – the collective “we” – are documenting our lives using mobile phones by now, all around the globe, using them for photos, videos, everything. And lately I saw some videos where people used mobile phones instead of action cams, like on bicycles, motorcycles, and in cars. So I thought “Why not?”, and since we all have these devices already, we might as well use them.

So I bought a car holder, an adapter for power, and tried it today. We were driving from one of the big supermarkets in Germany (Aldi) to another (Rewe), which took about 8 minutes, and I’ve used two recent tracks from Wikiloops on which I’ve played the double bass, “Colours“, and “Going down” for the video:


Got another holder for the bicycle as well – and maybe I’ll try that one tomorrow…

As always, thanks for reading, viewing, and listening. And of course thanks to my friends over at the ‘loops as well 🙂

Tried Arch Linux yesterday

Yesterday my work notebook got an upgrade from RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 8.3 to 8.4 – normally not a big deal you would assume, but when dealing with internal IBM images, you’ll also download a complete Win10 virtual machine (more than 80% of the 8.8GB download), and while more or less everything is being drawn out of a VPN it all trickles down with about 5 MBit/s maximum speed – takes all day, although my cable network line could have handled 135 MBit/s… oh well…

“Well”, I thought after work, my son Jeremy advised me to try out Arch Linux years ago, and because that’s what they call a “rolling distribution”, it’s always current and comes with the latest and greatest packages, so let’s have a try. And so I installed that into a (kernel-based) KVM machine on my computer, giving it just 4GB of RAM, a 20GB part of my hard disk, and 2 CPUs.

And yes, it is what it says on its homepage – a “simple, lightweight distribution”. I installed the Gnome desktop environment, and so for the first time I saw the upcoming Gnome 40 (only rolling release distros like Arch plus the new Fedora have that one). It even came with the default background(s) from the Gnome guys, so it more or less looked identical to their image:

Gnome 40 desktop view

So if you’re curious how Arch looks, and like me you prefer the Gnome desktop to others, have a look at the Gnome site.

Other than that it’s really pretty minimal, so I see Jeremy’s point – you more or less build (or install) what you need, nothing else, nothing less – the default environment even doesn’t have a printer. So sleek, minimalistic, yes it is. And sexy somehow.

So I tried and installed tools like Firefox, Thunderbird, and Ardour using Arch’s internal ‘pacman’ tool, and yes, all the latest versions including Ardour 6.7 which is only a few days old while I’m typing this. So this is a very easy and convenient way to getting the latest of everything indeed.

Would I need or even recommend it? Well about recommendations: for beginners, no – it’s much easier to recommend a standard Ubuntu or even Linux Mint (based upon Debian/Ubuntu but with more non-free stuff) to beginners than this – this is more for tinkerers who know exactly what they’ll want and/or need, and what not.

For me? Well having the latest and greatest does have its charm, but then there’s also not that much difference to, say, a Debian ‘Sid’ (unstable), and this. Both will give the latest stuff, and both will be managable by users who know their way around Linux, and how to react should things break or not work out immediately (think of greater transitions like from Gnome 2.x to 3.x) – but do I need this in my day-to-day usage of my own machine? I think not. I’m not that much interested in the system(s) per se, but want a reliable and configurable environment on which I can run my photo and music apps, handle mail and basic web browsing, all that day-to-day stuff. It’s not that sexy if you first have to deal with and fix your latest updates/upgrades rather than beginning whatever you wanted to do right away. So for me, a current Debian stable is just the way to go. Or, if you want something more recent, take Ubuntu (although the upcoming Debian 11 ‘Bullseye’ will be newer than the 20.04 LTS of Ubuntu of course), or any of its derivates (a friend from Paris takes ElementaryOS, a strikingly beautiful descendant of Ubuntu which looks a bit like MacOS).

To each their own as they say. Anyway, very cool and interesting to look over the proverbial fence, and to try out Arch. Somehow I still love its simplicity, and the idea behind it. So, if you want to see it, try it – recommended indeed. At least you’d never have to install a new version anymore… 🙂

Philosophically, Arch is a bit more lax compared to Debian concerning the ‘free’ (in free and open source), but both are more or less the opposite of ‘Enterprise’, which I like a lot. Both Arch and Debian are even a lot less commercial than Ubuntu, and unlike that (which is built by the staff from Canonical) they’re not companies, so they can’t be bought, sold, and ruined in any way, and I love just that. It’s a thing called ‘freedom’, and that has values far beyond monetary ones. Think about it.

As always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: While I’ve been at it, I could of course also have had a look at KDE Plasma – but ok, there are more rainy days to come, so… 😉

More visitors

I’ve written about the neighbours’ cats already, and that some of them are now visiting us – which they do on a more or less regular basis now, at least two of them, “Milka”, and “Cookie”. They even come inside now that our old friend isn’t around anymore to turn them away. But we won’t ‘lure’ them in, or bribe them with food – we’re sure they would be missed by someone… anyway, here are some photos I took since late April:


It’s nice to have them visiting us, but as I wrote above, no food, and the cat toilet and other stuff are packed away as well. At the moment, this isn’t a home for cats, sorry… still missing our Tuna too much…

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Rest in peace, Tuna

Oh man – it’s so hard to write this…

On Saturday, March 13th, 2021 at 10:30am, our little furry friend of 11 years passed away.

Tuna (which was the name Zuleikha gave her) chose us as her family, not vice versa. She must have “belonged” to someone else before since she had a flea collar when in July of 2010 I took the first photo of her sitting on our fence like this:

A cat with no name (yet), Mörfelden-Walldorf 2010

About three months later she came in, ate, slept, and stayed pretty much forever. Until that Saturday 2 weeks ago.

I have countless photos and also some videos of her, some of which are in an album on Flickr, so go there if you want to see them. For here, and for now, I’ll only show you our “Easter Greeting” photo from last year:

Easter greetings to all cats and humans, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

And the one which is still my background wallpaper on this Debian Linux machine on which I’m currently typing this, and also the company’s work notebook which runs Red Hat Linux. It’s Tuna on a hot day on our veranda, taken with my 25mm lens wide open:

Tuna enjoying 28 degrees, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

We buried her last Wednesday at an animal cemetery in Frankfurt Rödelheim, which is the closest to us with a distance of about 20km.

I’ll add a photo of the grave when it has a surrounding like the others.

Don’t know what else to say except that I’m deeply grateful for the 11 wonderful years that she’s spent with us. Thank you my little friend, and rest in peace…

Today, 16 years ago…

… in a hospital in Bremen, Zuleikha was born. Don’t know if I can show you her picture (haven’t asked yet), but here are her birthday calendar, and our cat, both in black & white and with a simulated Kodak Tri-X film:

Birthday calendar, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
Tuna the cat on ZUleikha’s birthday, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

As always, thanks for viewing.

Me on film, photographer: Zuleikha

Just got back some black & white film and prints, and here’s a scan of one of these postcard-sized prints. Zuleikha was so friendly to take my picture using my Olympus OM-2N camera and one of my studio strobes:

Wolfgang, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
photographer: Zuleikha
using Agfa APX 100 b&w film, and one of my studio strobes
scan from a postcard-sized (10x15cm) lab print

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Another new camera

Mitchie got the new Pixel 4a 5G phone, so I was willing to buy for one shilling – her “old” and “normal” Pixel 4a. Which basically means that for the first time in my entire life I’m now the owner of a current smart phone (the iPhone doesn’t count since that belongs to my employers).

I had to test the camera of course, so here’s the obligatory cat picture, in the phone’s ‘portrait’ mode:

Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
shot with the Google Pixel 4a phone in ‘portrait’ mode

Not too bad what you can get out of these devices – both this Pixel 4a and the iPhone SE – without any further processing even. Without any doubt this is good enough to use it for blog posts such as this one, even if these pictures can’t reach the quality from a real camera with their much bigger sensors like the µ43rds ones I have…

But ok, fun anyway in a device millions of people carry around their daily lives anyway. No wonder the camera industry is struggling, and only the best of the best survive in that field.

I only got that phone yesterday evening but like it already.

As always, thanks for reading and for viewing.

Edit, in the evening of the same day:

Here’s another photo of her, this time taken with my Olympus camera and a 45mm lens, with using a studio strobe bounced over the ceiling:

Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
studio strobe, bounced

Again, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Second edit, from Sunday evening:

And here’s another photo of Tuna who jumped our bench, ready to steal whatever she might have found. That was in almost no light at all, the only light source was from the kitchen – and I took the photo from my computer using the same 45mm lens and camera as in the previous one. Converted it to black & white, and toned the greys more brownish as usual:

Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

Again, thanks for viewing.