Going home for CNY!


AEM Cold Air Intake on ’14 Mazda CX-5 2.5L – FITS LIKE A GLOVE


GoPro Vlogging rig Setup – handheld AND in-car


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NVIDIA graphics card, CUDA/OpenCL, mining Ethereum, Davinci Resolve

With the recent boom(again) in cryptocoin, and the feasibility of GPU mining, I have re-started some experiments on GPU mining Ethereum with my GTX970. Following some online tutorials, I managed to get around 21MH/s on my one GTX970, which puts me in a somewhat profitable position. Granted, this kind of power doesn’t make me rich by any means, but I’m mostly looking for fun tinkering as well as experimenting.

I don’t want to redo my entire PC to use what’s considered “best” version of GPU driver for CUDA mining, so I went with genoil’s OpenCL miner. I only have to make 2 tweaks:

  1. in NVIDIA control panel – manage 3d settings, set “Optimize for Compute Performance” to “On”. (I’ll use OCP for that long name, since we’ll come back to this later)
  2. use nvidia-smi command line tool to “unlock” power states for my card. I’m not sure this is required, but I was able to get another 2MH/s, or 10%, out of my card, at a price of maybe 5% more power consumption.

My mining rig is happily slaving away, but I recently started a YouTube channel(take a look here and consider subscribe if you like it), and I’m using/learning DaVinci Resolve to edit my videos. Before mining, I’ll just start Resolve and edit, but ever since I started mining, Resolve stopped cooperating – that is, it will open project manager, but will crash any time I open a project. This is not good… I know this has something to do with my mining ops, so I started tweaking settings back to default. Turns out, it’s OCP that’s the issue.

DaVinci Resolve(and many other respectable video editing software) can utilize GPU for a lot of tasks, since video rendering/transcoding are all compute-heavy and benefits a lot from parallelism. Resolve uses CUDA to accelerate its work, but I think this is where the issue is.

See, NVIDIA GPUs support both CUDA and OpenCL, and my guess(and nothing more than a guess) is that by changing OCP, it turns the GPU from “CUDA mode” to “OpenCL mode”. Which means Resolve(or any other program that uses CUDA) cannot use GPU even though it can “see” the existence of a NVIDIA GPU and tries to use it. And when Resolve can’t get a hold, it crashes.

So I turned OCP back to “Off”, and voila, Resolve comes back to life.

So if you have any NVIDIA-GPU-utilizing program that stopped working on your mining rig, take a look at the NVIDIA Control Panel, your solution might be right there.

If you find this helpful, consider donating to my ETH : 0x32066578ad8417e7325ddb07a38e76402ea110b3, thanks a lot

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Xbox app on windows 10 – scaling causes crash

I was trying to get xbox app on win10 working with my laptop, and for some reason, the app will crash at startup. Tried all the normal methods I found online, and no luck. So I decided to look into what actually happened. Event viewer is the first step, and it says that it’s an error from xaml.dll.

XAML? really? the UI is breaking? interesting…and I started searching for more info on this. From MSFT community page, someone mentioned the Solitaire Collection app (btw Microsoft, I’m not giving you a cent for ad-free solitaire) doesn’t work on one of his/her laptops, and he/she went all the way into registry and found some keys missing for the non-working laptop. Those keys mention scaling factor. Interesting…

My laptop has a default scaling of 150%, and I changed it to 125%, start xbox app…and boom, the app is there with all its glory.

I’m glad this workaround works, and I sort of can live with 125% scale for now. But…C’mon Microsoft, you guys can create some assets for 150% scaling for maybe the most used first-party app don’t you think?

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Get Windows Update working again for Vista

Over Black Friday I got a new laptop, the new HP Spectre X360 with 7th gen i7, 8G RAM/256G NVMe SSD, a sweet sweet machine. So I reverted my trusty old dell E6400 to its original OS, Vista Business SP2. Now here comes the problem: I tried to get security updates via windows update, and it just won’t budge. No update shows up at all. For a 2009-era laptop, I know this is not supposed to happen. So I started googling.

And, thanks to the internet, we have a German on the other side of pond that documented this in very fine detail, and offered a solution. If you run into similar issue (which I doubt, since not many people will fresh install Vista nowadays), please give his/her site a visit, you won’t be disappointed:


I used his command script towards the bottom of the page, section “some automation”, and being the lazy man I am, I just downloaded it, ran it on my dell, and took whatever Knowledge Base number it prints and went to microsoft to download them. Make sure that you download the correct architecture (x86 vs x64, microsoft’s download site doesn’t make this difference very visible). Put all the installers in the same directory as the script, and run it. After that, reboot, and voila, Vista is pulling in updates!

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Setting up your own home server the dummy way – Beginning, Hardware

This is my journey of setting up my own home server for things that I do: sharing files within my home network, download videos, stream local media to all my devices in home network, and build my non-career skills on it with hopes that one day it pays off. I’m not an IT guy, so I relied on a lot of searches and trial/errors, but I hope I can make things work, and I hope you’ll find these articles useful to you.

To start, I bought a Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 with i3 Processor as the machine to work with. I chose that for several reasons:

1. It uses ECC memory. Sure, ECC memories are more expensive, but as something I intend to leave on 24/7, the added stability is more than anything.

2. It costs only $230, and for that price I get a REALLY quiet machine with quality parts for the price. I’ve been using DIY desktops since forever, but sometimes the added cost actually pays off at places where you don’t want to spend much time on, like noise level.

I also bought a 120G SSD since the system doesn’t come with HDDs, and an additional stick of 4GB ECC RAM just in case I need it in the future.

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Woodworking in apartments – more tools

Last time I wrote about tools for woodworking in apartment environment was about 10 months ago. Since then I have managed to add quite some tools, so I’ll give an update here.

The general thought was to limit noise but to not significantly decrease the efficiency that comes with power tools. So I ended up getting a corded circular saw by Ryobi. I wasn’t prepared for that noise when I first pulled that trigger, but MAN it’s loud. Immediately I was looking for foam earbuds. I bought that tool for one reason only: quick, STRAIGHT cuts. I needed to cut some 2×4 for a ski waxing jig, and I need some square cuts. While it is a good chance to practice handsaw, I decided that couple seconds of loud noise in the middle of the day shouldn’t cause neighborhood trouble, and I’ll admit it, I don’t do well with handsaws.

Another big power tool I got is a drill press. I say “big” because it’s sizable on my workbench, but still, it’s a cheap-o-freight 5-speed 8-inch press. This is another thing about woodworking in apartment: you don’t have space for them fancy 20-in floor-standing, digital speed-changing drill presses. As long as it drills fairly straight I’m fine with it. I’m not making big pieces anyways. I used it to open some slots for the waxing jig. I could have gotten away with hand drill and jigsaw, but drill press and chisel makes me feel I’m progressing. Whether that’s true or not is another question…:)

Power tool #3 I picked up recently is a plunge router with a table from BlueHawk(read:Lowe’s). This is the one time I bought a tool that I don’t know where to use it yet. The reason? It is on an insane sale for some reason, and the price is…wait for it…$17.50. Yep. For less than $20 you get a fairly powerful plunge router AND A TABLE WITH SPLIT FENCE! I’m fairly certain this is a price error, but hey, you make mistake you take the consequences. I haven’t got a chance to use it yet, but I have some projects I have in mind.

I also got a backsaw from HD for those times I don’t need to break out the noise maker, or I need a finer cut. It worked relatively well for cutting rabbets given that I don’t even have a vise. Speaking of vise, that will be my next purchase. Thinking about those leg-vise-like woodworking vise by Irwin might be it…

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Woodworking in apartment: tools

When people talk about woodworking tools, they talk about table saws and drill presses and loud tools etc etc. Yes, those are essential tools for a legitimate wood shop, but for all us beginning woodworkers who doesn’t have a garage to hold all those big boy toys, does that mean we are out of option? Absolutely not. I’ll try give you a brief idea of how I chose my tools for woodworking in an apartment.


Power tools vs Hand tools

Let’s start by saying we live in 21st century. Yes, I admire those old woodworkers very much. It’s almost unimaginable to me to build a whole dresser with only saws and chisels. But let’s admit it: it’s slower, it’s less accurate, and for rookies like me those are the two most frustrating points to turn you away from getting into woodworking. You don’t want to spend an hour chiseling along that (not-so-)fine line only to find it won’t fit into another piece. With power tools, you can do the same thing in a much more accurate way in much less time. For weekend hobbyists, this is what we are looking for.

On the other side, there is a fundamental flaw in power tools that works against us. It can be LOUD. While this is not a problem for most people, it is a problem for apartment. You do NOT want your landlord/HOA/neighbor complaining about noise, since they can, and will, give you endless crap for the rest of your time living there. So, forget about those badass table saws and miter saws, those don’t ever belong in an apartment. I know, I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a Bosch table saw on my balcony, but I rather have peace between me and HOA/neighbor.


Is there a middle ground? Yes. See, the majority of the power tools for woodworking is doing one thing: Cutting. That means it’s the high-speed motor, and the friction between blade and wood, that makes the most noise. We just have to avoid those parts, and we’ll have peace. What’s left there for power tools you ask? I say a lot. Drilling, driving, sanding, and maybe some small-scale jigsaw action could all use help with some power tools. Keep in mind though, those are still power tools, and that means those still generate a fair amount of noise. Use common sense. Don’t drill at 11pm and have your neighbor kicking your door or stomping your ceiling.


What power tools do you need?

For a beginner just starting, you don’t need those pro-level tools. I repeat, you don’t need DeWalts or Makitas or Milwaukees. Those brand tools are better built, but they are better built for pros. You don’t have to pay pro money if all you do is amateur stuff. The earlier you realize this, the more money you can save and spend on materials and stuff that helps you expand your ability and more importantly, imaginations. What you need is versatility and affordability. So, I suggest you get the following power tools:

A cordless drill. Yeah yeah, people will say they aren’t power enough, but do you really need all those power from a corded drill? Do you think that you need to drill a huge deep hole in an apartment? or drive some 3inch screws through real hardwood? I don’t think so. Plus, cordless gives you so much more wiggle room.

A jigsaw. I did say that cutting will generate noise, but I also said that it’s the friction between blade and wood that creates the most noise. Does a jigsaw have a huge blade? No. Do you want to cut round sides? Yes?

A sander. No, not those giant belt sanders. Hand sanders. It will be good enough for 90% of your projects. If you are ambitious enough to build something with a large surface, it will just take some more time to sand.

That’s it. Yes, three tools. You don’t need more to achieve 90% of your initial goals. I said initial goals, meaning build a box, a small hutch, etc etc. Something simple and functional.

What hand tools do you need?

A hand saw. We have to resort to handsaw to do the hard work of ripping/crosscutting large sheet of wood to smaller size. The noise of powered big saws(table/circular) is just unacceptable in apartment. $15 gets you a pretty good hand saw for apartment use.

A miter box. This is borderline optional, but it would be fun to build your own picture frame isn’t it? A miter box will allow you to make accurate miter cuts using hand saw. Sure you can try jigsaw, but as a beginner I’m not sure that will give you the best result. Remember, we want things simple, and we don’t have much patience for failed tries. $5 gets you a plastic one, and that’s good enough.

Clamps. Get as many as you need and then some more. Working in an apartment means it’s usually a 1-man job, which means there won’t be another pair of hands to hold things for you when you cut/glue things. Plus, when you glue things together, you need those clamps to apply consistent pressure so you can do other things. You don’t want to hold on to that wood for 30 minutes do you? Depending on the length you are looking at $5-$30 a pop. Think through before purchasing

Pocket hole jigs. Probably the most used joining(holding 2 pieces of wood together) method a beginner will use is screw and/or glue. You probably don’t know how to read wood grains, which means the joint you make might not be as strong as you think, but glue and screws, we all know they just work. Again, we are going after simplicity and functionality here, we’ll do those fancy dovetail joints later when we get better.

For screws, we know that it doesn’t look good on the surface, so how do we hide it? The answer is pocket holes. It’s basically a tilted hole that allows you to screw from the BACK of the wood instead of the front while still be able to screw into the front piece and hold it together. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ambitious enough to drill pocket hole without a jig.

What else?

The accessories for power tools: drill bits, driver bits, jigsaw blades, etc etc. You’ll know when you need one.

Wood glue. I’m using Elmer wood glue, you know, the small, cheap version. I’m not making things big enough that needs a gallon jug of glue.

Sand paper. You have a power sander, but you also have tight spots where your sander can’t get. This is where sand paper(and elbow grease) comes into play.

What tools do I have?

With all above in mind, I went to Sears and get the Craftsman bolt-on cordless drill and the jigsaw attachment. Reasons? Versatility and affordability.

Woodworking is basically four things: cutting, joining, sanding, and painting. Each of the four categories has a huge collection of tools you can get. But, do you really want to spend that kind of $ when first starting out? Also, do you want your apartment filled by all these tools? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that. That’s the reason I got the Craftsman bolt-on. The idea of changing heads is pretty genius if you ask me, and for home DIY people, the attachments are more than enough. The “base”, which is the power unit, comes with corded or cordless versions. I bought the cordless one since, well, I don’t need huge power but I do like some versatility. Plus let’s admit it, it looks better than corded. It comes with the drill/driver attachment, and you can get it for $80-$100 when there is a sale. It uses a “20V Max” Li-ion battery, which to me is always better than NiCd, and it holds a charge fairly well. The drill/driver attachment has a keyless chuck, so forget about losing the chuck key. It’s 3/8in, not the most burly one but more than enough for beginners. 10-level clutch plus a drilling mode, again, good enough for most beginners. I personally don’t really feel the difference between gears, but that could be because I don’t drive screws hard enough.

I also got the jigsaw attachment. You could argue that I get a “real” corded jigsaw that has more power, bigger base plate, etc etc, but I got it because of the versatility, and I don’t want to clutter up my tool cache. The jigsaw attachment has 1/2in stroke length, 4inch blade, and accepts both U and T shank blades. I have zero issues cutting 1/2 plywood with it. I’ll admit, it’s not the best choice when it comes to cutting straight lines, but it’s powered, and I wasn’t thinking quite straight when I bought it. I can see it being used a fair amount, but we’ll see.

A craftsman 12″ clamp. One of those “trigger clamps” that you can operate with one hand. Given that I don’t have much space for tools, 12″ is more than my usual need. Although I can see myself getting a pair of 24″ later when I have more space.

A Jorgensen 12″ clamp. This is one of those “traditional bar clamp” where you get more flexibility when moving the clamp, but you do need both hands to use it. I find it a bit more useful than the craftsman one, since the rubber padding on the craftsman clamp took a bit of clearance away, and when you are trying to clamp 12″ board you’ll have that one trigger pull that you never get in. The Jorgensen one, however, has a better clearance with a threaded handle so you can adjust it.

A box of Ryobi drill bits. Nothing fancy, just some straight steel bits.

I already have a box of driver bits with my screwdriver so I don’t have to worry about that.


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Man I’m lazy…

Been like what, 7 months? Not a whole lot happened in those months, other than a long winter(which is fine since I managed to get wife on skis!), which sort of restarted 2 days ago…

Alright, so what’s happening? Apparently for some reason, I got into woodworking. yeah, sawing, drilling, sanding, bla bla. Why? I don’t know. But it happened. and my first project, a box/k-cup drawer for the coffee machine, ended up being the big embarrassment/motivation factor to get serious about woodworking. I kludged it together in a day, yes, kludged. By that I mean no plans, everything is airtight-fit, which means one mistake and the whole thing won’t fit. And you know that will go wrong for a first-timer. Now I have a light-sky-blue box painted by wife sitting under coffee machine, drawers barely open, and is SOAKED in paint(I need to teach her that you don’t need to dump 4 oz paint on a 12x12x3.5 box…) with blobs all over the place. I’ll post some pics later to see how ugly it is.

Considering this is the first project, the cost of tools far exceeded the cost of wood. I’ll open another post about tools, but what I want to say is this: it is possible to do woodworking in an apartment. No, I’m not talking about building a kitchen or all your bedroom furniture, there is ZERO way you can run a table saw and not have angry neighbors kicking at your door. It doesn’t mean you can’t use any power tools though.


I’m planning on my 2nd project, a pair of monitor risers with drawers. I learned SketchUp(to some very basic extent) so hopefully this time it won’t be a mess. We’ll see.