WordPress 4.2 Upgrade

First post after upgrading to WordPress 4.2 BETA3 (from ver. 2.0) with the following benefits:
  • PHP Engine warnings about being deprecated are gone.
  • Updated theme to use bootstrap, so it works better on mobile devices and Google will not give penalty.
The old problem with taxonomy has not been fixed, but I found a way to fix it for this site.

Performance has gone down hill since WordPress 2.0, so now a caching plugin is even more important:
  • Old Version - FrontPage: 14 queries. 0.131 seconds
  • New Version - FrontPage: 23 queries. 0.266 seconds
  • Old Version - Single Post: 12 queries. 0.086 seconds
  • New Version - Single Post: 29 queries. 0.326 seconds
Please tell if something has been broken in the upgrade.

Zotac ZBox BI320 as HTPC Mediacenter

I bought this unit after seeing lots of recommendations at the Kodi forum, where it replaced my now broken Shuttle XS35GS V3. Zotac BI320 has a fan but it was said it was very silent, which is rare, since small case means small fan which usually means noise. I have also looked at Zotac CI320 which is completely fanless, but the Kodi forum said the 2957U Haswell CPU was better than the N2930 Baytrail CPU.
I just installed the 2x2GB Crucial DDR3L SO-DIMM and SSD with Win7 from my old HPTC, and then it was up and running after installing the latest Intel drivers from the Zotac homepage.
  • I had an issue with igfxEM.exe running at 100 pct. CPU usage, but this was fixed by using the latest Intel HD Graphics 4400 driver
  • I also changed the BIOS settings to allow more RAM sharing for the GPU (512 MByte instead of 64 MByte).
The Celeron 2957U is so much faster than the Atom D2700. Before I had to force "High Performance" powerplan for the Atom D2700 to work okay, but the Celeron 2957U works wonderful with "Balanced" powerplan (Allowing it to throttle for even less heat). Movie-startup is faster. Movie-playback is smooth with deinterlacing and post processing enabled. Netflix HD also works without issue together with Chrome HTML5.
Noise and temperature
When playing movies then I really don't care about the fan noise, but when idle then it should be silent. By default the fan will start when temperature is above 30 Celsius, and it gives a faint noise, but I just went into the BIOS and changed it to 50 and then it was silent. When idle the CPU is about 38 Celsius and when high CPU usage (without GPU) then 48 Celsius.

The chassis is not warm to touch when idle, and the power consumption when idle should also be around 5-7W compared to the 19-27W of my previous Atom D2700 (+Radeon HD 7410M GPU)

Steam Box alternatives

Was looking for new PC with the following requirements to replace my Core2 Duo:
  • Cheap - This means laptop/all-in-one are out.
  • Fast GPU - This means NUC are out
  • Upgradable - This means replaceable motherboard, CPU and GPU
  • Small - This means SFF / Mini-ITX / SFX
  • Silent - This means no small fans
I was not able to find anything that actually matched all these requirements, but found these candidates:
  • Alienware X51 - PSU only delivers 330W, so not very upgradable
  • Asus ROG GR8 - Large cabinet compared to X51
  • CyberPower Zeus Mini A-300 - Not available in my country
  • MSI Nightblade - Expensive even as barebone.
  • MSI Hetis H81 - Cheap, but not sure if PCI-e supports dual-slot GPU
  • BitFenix Prodigy - Large cabinet compared to X51
  • EVGA Hadron Air - PSU has very small fan, and it is expensive.
  • Acer Aspire XC-605 - Not very upgradable
  • Silverstone SST-RVZ01B Raven - Large cabinet compared to X51 and expensive.
  • Silverstone SST-ML07B - Large cabinet compared to X51 and expensive.
  • NCASE M1 - Very promising but not available in my country
I decided to go for the Dell Alienware X51 R2, as I'm getting old and like things pre-assembled. The i5 + GTX750 combo is not super expensive compared to building yourself. The only real problem is the PSU is only 240W, so the upgrade path is very limited.

Shuttle XS35GS V3 as HTPC mediacenter

*Update 2015-01-06*
Computer stopped working after running 24/7 for little over one year. The PSU shows green light, but when plugged to the computer then it blinks green. This seems to indicate a short circuit somewhere in the computer. I have tried to detach SSD, RAM, DVD and all other connections but the problem remains. I have contacted Shuttle support and they say problem requires that I sent the unit for repair, but I bought the unit at Ballicom.co.uk and they only provide 1 year warranty. I have now bought a Zotac ZBOX BI230 and happy again.

I bought this unit after having read some positive feedback about it:
Asrock ION 330 HD was failing
I had an Asrock ION 330 HD, but it gave an evil noise from the small GPU fan, and had a small stutter when doing 1080p playback, along with a soft plastic remote control that was about to break. I had tried to fix the small GPU fan with a fan-mate, and it lowered the noise, but didn't remove it, and a new smell of burned electronics arrived. I had tried to fix the 1080p stutter on XBMC by synchronizing the refresh rate with the movie, but then the sound was out of sync. The easy solution was to change the refresh rate to 50 Hz (Instead of 60 Hz), and it solved most of the stutter, but it was still there.
Sensitive when it comes to RAM
I bought the barebone version of Shuttle XS35GS V3, and had purchased the RAM else where (Corsair Value RAM). But quickly discovered that it was very sensitive, and failed to perform BIOS POST without the correct RAM. I then bought the recommended Crucial RAM, and it started up nicely.
Windows 8 is not recommended for XBMC
I installed Windows 8 on the computer and the VGA card was recognized as an AMD Radeon HD 6430M. I then installed the VGA drivers from Shuttle homepage, and the card was recognized properly as HD 7410M and everything seemed faster. But XBMC had a small stutter, even after fixing the normal issues:
  • Ensure to force DXVA (Instead of AutoDetect). Ensure to activate DXVA2
  • Ensure to set output audio device to DirectSound, and disable all unnecessary audio output formats
  • Ensure to set true fullscreen, instead of running it as a fullscreen window
I then tried Windows 7, and after installing the drivers from Shuttle's homepage (AMD Catalyst 12.6 WHQL), then all issues was removed. The XBMC menus was much more responsive and the playback of 1080p movies did not have any stutter. Later tried the updated drivers (AMD Catalyst 13.11 WHQL) from Shuttle's homepage, but then performance was slow again.
Netflix cannot play in HD
Silverlight 5 fails to make use of the GPU for DRM content, and the CPU is not strong enough to handle a HD stream. When forcing it to only use SD-quality, then everything plays without lag. Could be nice with a better XBMC plugin than NetfliXBMC
TrueHD and DTS-HD support
If you have a fancy surround sound amplifier, then this little device will produce a high quality audio experience.
No heat and no noise issues
I used a Samsung SSD 840 as main drive, and then had a 5400 RPM harddrive attached as an external USB 2.0 drive. And it works quite nicely. The USB drive will power off when not in use, so even though it fails to give hearable noise when active, then the dogs will not be affected either in idle state.
Hauppauge MC Remote Control Kit
Since there is no IR receiver on the Shuttle XS35GS V3, then I bought one from Hauppauge. It was just to plug the device in, and then the remote control was working nicely in XBMC. No additional drivers or extra tweaking was needed.

WordPress 2.0 vs. PHP 5.3

My web hotel (Unoeuro.com) announced that they wanted to upgrade the PHP version from 5.2 to 5.3. This has caused some disturbances on this site, as WordPress 2.0 is an aging blog engine and is not fully compatible with the "latest" PHP version.

Had to disable E_DEPRECATED in error_reporting, as PHP 5.3 complains about function parameters passed by reference (&). But besides some minor fixes in the WordPress code (and plugins), then everything seems to be working again.

Still waiting for the Ticket #5034 to be resolved, so I can upgrade to the latest version of WordPress.

Also had my last work day at Saxo Bank, so it is now time to brush up my rusty résumé.