Sunday, July 30, 2017

Installed Control Center on my Metabox laptops - count up to the first freeze begins...

There was something I forgot to write in my posts regarding the random freezes on my Metabox laptop. That is, I posted about this on the Whirlpool forums. One thing that I was specifically asking for was about where I can download all the drivers from. Kris from Kong Computers (that's the store I bought the laptop from) had come across that thread and he informed me via email that he contacted Metabox about this and he gave me two links to download what I wanted. One of the links was to the full suite of drivers for my laptops. It was a 2.5GB-ish download. The other one was for the latest Control Center software (version 5.0001.1.33). Oddly though, the full suite had a slightly older version of Control Center software.

I was quite confident that the laptop was working well so far without a freeze, so I decided to give a shot at this latest version of Control Center. Of course, I created a restore point before installing it.

The setup went without a hiccup. The Flexikey app got installed along with it as well. Finally, I was able to get rid of the dreaded blue backlighting (I won't who's idea it was to use blue as the default backlighting colour!) and this time I settled with white. It's not perfectly white, especially on the bottom most row you can see blue and green tints, but it is useable.

I did not double click the Control Center software though. That probably is a bad idea.

Later on, I set up ThrottleStop using this guide. I don't need Control Center to do that for me. ThrottleStop is was more powerful.

So, the count up till the first freeze begins. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Resolved the Metabox N850HJ's random freezes?

A couple of weeks ago I had some time to format the drive in my laptop and install everything from scratch, in the hopes of fixing the random freezes that I had been encountering since buying it. I played safe this time. I didn't install any drivers manually; I left Windows to take care of it. I only installed the application software because I knew they were not going the cause any system stability issues.

Luckily, Windows managed to recognise and install all the required drivers resulting in no visible exclamation marks in the Device Manager. This was including the webcam and the fingerprint scanner, two of which are notorious for not wanting to be discovered by Windows.

I think the problem is gone. I have not experienced any freezes since. I think two weeks is long enough to conclude that the laptop is finally functioning as it should.

There is one issue though. I cannot change the colour of the backlight on the keyboard. It requires a software called Flexikey, but you cannot install just that software. It comes with another software called Control Center, which I have no use for. It messed with the power saving features and I am quick happy with the ones Windows offer out of the box. Besides, I would be using ThrottleStop to under-volt the CPU and do it manually. I am almost positive that the freezes were caused by this. So this means, I will be stuck with the stupid blue keyboard backlighting.

I will probably wait a bit longer and decide if I want to install Control Center and see if the problem comes back. I haven't checked; maybe I don't have to have it running at startup. When I checked back then, I couldn't find it being launched as a Startup program; so probably it was launched via a service. If I can just get the keyboard software launching at startup and not the Control Center, I won't be too worried about having the Control Center installed. Let's see.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Issues with the Metabox N850HJ laptop

Rememeber I bought a new laptop few months back?

For the most part, it is running very well. The keyboard is my favourite part. I can type way faster on this keyboard than the Corsair K70 LUX mechanical keyboard I have on my desktop PC.

But there are two issues with it that I haven’t been able to fix so far.

Track pad is garbage

The track pad is rubbish. I don’t know how they managed to make this so bad. The benchmark - the MacBook Air - is leagues ahead of it. But the MacBook Air wasn’t that great in Windows. So I believe it is partially due to the software.

Fuunny thing is that this laptop has the Microsoft Precision trackpad. It never advertised like that. I tried with various settings in Touchpad settings pane in Windows Settings (that’s a lot of settings) application, but I still haven’t been able to settle down with something that I liked.

Random (soft) freezes

I experience freezes every now and then. I initially thought they were hard lockups, but then by chance, I found out that if you put it to standby (by closing the lid), it would go into standby. If you open the lid, it would resume fine with no sign of any lockup. I thought it was the graphics driver. But running with either the Intel driver or the NVidia driver did not make any difference. It could be something else.

It is really difficult to troubleshoot this because this doesn’t happen often. It could happen daily. Or it might not happen for a week. There aren’t any errors in the Event Log either. I don’t have much bloatware installed because the laptop didn’t come with Windows installed in the first place. I installed it. But I am using this tool called Obsidian Tools to download and install all the latest drivers and software for it. So it could be one of those drivers that is messing with things.

I think reinstalling Windows and only installing the bare minimum set of drivers would probably be the way to go. If it works fine, then I can create a back up of it and experiment with one new driver per week or something.

The audio output is terrible

This is a real issue but this is not fixable. This is how it is and I have to live with it. Both the quality of the sound output and the volume are terrible.


I think I would be able to fix that 2nd issue (freezes) by reinstalling Windows. I should do this when I have some time.

The laptop is decent otherwise. It is holding up as well as I expected. It was not that cheap honestly, but I got a lot of hardware for that money. Sure, there were couple of better deals during the End of Financial Year sales in June on similar SKUS, but I have no regrets jumping on the purchase a couple of months before that.

Life updates

It’s been a while since I last posted on my blog.

One very important thing happened during that time. I got a new job.

It is kind of a fresh beginning for me.

Perhaps you had read the post I wrote about how I got my first job in Australia. That was an Embedded Software position. I used to develop Canon printer driver related applications for more than 5 years before that, and that is what got me my job.
But thankfully, the work that I directly carried out at my previous workplace was not related to embedded development at all, although the project that I was in was actually an embedded project. I had to work on the front-end of the product which we were developing. And it was a web based front-end, something that I had very limited experience on. To make thinks more dramatic, the front-end was to be built using the most popular front-end library as of today: Facebook’s React.

It was scary at first. But I felt that this was an amazing opportunity to work with a fancy new tech stack and start my career fresh. Not to mention, React.js developers are of high demand in Australia.

There weren’t any senior web developers who could guide me or mentor me at work. I had to learn everything from scratch by my own. And I did that both at work and at home. I made learning about the React ecosystem my hobby. If you know me, my hobby used to be playing PC games - Crysis 3 mostly. Would you believe me if I said that I haven’t gamed for more than 10 hours in the last whole year??? (Funny thing is that even after getting the job, I haven’t resumed gaming yet. I still have a crap load of things to learn. The crazy speed at which these libraries evolve and new libraries pop up are not helping either.

So, now I am a React developer now - officially. The project that I am working on at my new workplace, although I have only glanced the shell of it, it amazingly complex. Here’s a spolier: it’s a virtual reality, React-Native project. How much more bad-ass can it get? We already have a working app which we continously improve. The next step is to get it on the Google Play store. And this is only one of those fancy projects.

Oh and I am working on a brand new MacBook Pro with dual 27" screens attached to it. I also have a Corsair K70 Lux RGB CherryMX Red keyboard and a Steelseries mouse (cannot remember the model) connected to it. The dongle life is sooooo real. Probably I should have asked for an iMac, but the portability might be helpful.

The only catch is, the now 1-hour commute feels like an eternity compared to the old 5-minute commute. The new place is in South Melbourne. Because of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, I have to take a longer route for a few days. After that, it will become a 50-minute commute.

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