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Personal Tech Update

It's... alive!

Well, I think I finally have the new computer pretty much up and running. (I think my mouse is dying, but that's not too bad.) It took a few months of trial and error, swapping components and software, and more than a few sessions of beating my head against the desk for up to an hour, but I think I'm back in the desktop PC business.

Last fall, my tried-and-true Frankenputer finally gave me one too many headaches, so I replaced nearly the whole damned thing (the only internal components carried over were some hard drives). And now it's finally fully replaced with...

GigZilla.

And it's a hell of a step up from my old Athlon XP 2000 setup. (Specs below the fold)

I'm still finding little, annoying quirks here and there, but I should be stable for a little while.

NZXT Whisper case
750 watt power supply
Asus M4N78 motherboard
Athlon Phenom X4 9850 black edition (quad core 2.5 GHz, occasionally overclocked to 3 GHz)
4 GB RAM
GeForce 8400 video running Hybrid SLI with motherboard graphics chip
Dual 22" LCD monitors
Windows 7 Professional (with XP Professional setup in virtual PC mode just in case)


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Comments (27)

Amazing how much time and e... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Amazing how much time and effort is expended on these 'computers' that are supposed to make life 'easier'.

I also chose Windows 7 Pro ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I also chose Windows 7 Pro for my newest PC, but I got the 64-bit edition. Only the 64-bit edition can actually use 4GB (or more) memory. And yes I use Virtual Windows XP Pro to run software that doesn't work on Windows 7 64-bit. So far I like Windows 7, but even with a quad core processor it is possible to lock up the machine so that it doesn't respond to user inputs, at least not for a while. That problem is not restricted to PC's as I have managed to lock up a Mac as well.

The only thing I don't like about Windows 7, which was also a problem on Vista, is change for the sake of change. Windows Explorer hit it's panicle in XP, not that it couldn't have been improved a bit, but it certainly didn't need the level of change Microsoft made to it.

Much of the changes introduced in Vista and propagated in Windows 7 were driven by security. The idea behind the "Registry" proved to be a security hole and in order to plug that hole while working with legacy software Microsoft introduced Registry virtualization in Vista and added to its fickle behavior in Windows 7. Machine wide settings made by applications are now stored in multiple virtual locations and if keys are missing in one location they are recovered from another location. This makes it nearly impossible for legacy software to manage its own settings if they were not stored in a user specific area of the Registry. The result is that you may experience odd bugs in legacy software that are not actual defects in that software.

Amazing how much time and e... (Below threshold)
Brett:

Amazing how much time and effort is expended on these 'computers' that are supposed to make life 'easier'.

Get a Mac!

Actually, that's not just a facetious fanboi boast - it comes *a lot* closer* to a labor-saving device as opposed to the nightmare time sink that is Windows.


Wow JT....now you can final... (Below threshold)
rich:

Wow JT....now you can finally play Pong on high quality settings.

Eh, the 'innertubes' is jus... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Eh, the 'innertubes' is just a fad anyway.

Jay Tea: Now I have power s... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea: Now I have power supply envy! I built my own "Frankenputer" a couple years back, with a Pentium dual core 3.2 Ghz cpu, 3.25 gigs of RAM, dual GeForce 7300GT video cards, but only a 700 watt power supply.
I feel so inadequate!

Get a Mac!</blockq... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Get a Mac!

I have a Mac and find the Snow Leopard OS to be clumsy compared to Windows 7. With Apple it seems like everything has to be cute and work like a Chinese puzzle.

With Apple it seems like ev... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

With Apple it seems like everything has to be "cute and work like a Chinese puzzle."

But it's sooooooo "intuitive". ;)

I guess my only consolation... (Below threshold)

I guess my only consolation is that now I've got a 32" flat screen HDTV hooked up next to my 22" LCD monitor.
Eat your heart out, "twin 22" boy! Heh.

My 22" HP is good enough to... (Below threshold)
914:

My 22" HP is good enough to see what Barry is up to. And its no good!

My least favorite moments i... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

My least favorite moments in electronics repair during my 20 years of electronics service:

1. The time I simply plugged in a defective TV set to repair it, and a giant can sized capacitor shot right off the circuit board like a rocket and burned my face with hot oil as it soared toward the ceiling, impeding itself in the plaster.

2. The time I cut a vein in my wrist on the neck off a broken CRT and every time my heart beated, blood shot out.

3. Breathing so much leady smoke over the years, that it took months before the salty metal taste left my mouth after I retired from the business.

Oh, you kids got it so easy with your plug-in computer components these days. Us older electronics guys had to actually solder and desolder components.

Paul: I build my first ster... (Below threshold)

Paul: I build my first stereo set out of components I soldered all by hand. Unless you listened to the radio with a cat's whisker crystal set, you don't have me beat!

Ah, the 'crystal set', that... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Ah, the 'crystal set', that brings back memories.

I get the feeling it won't be long before there will be a mandatory 'implant' at birth. Talk about wireless. It won't be a Social Security number, it will the number used to identify you and your 'circuit'.

"I have a Mac and find t... (Below threshold)
Brett:

"I have a Mac and find the Snow Leopard OS to be clumsy compared to Windows 7. With Apple it seems like everything has to be cute and work like a Chinese puzzle.

???? I guess I don't see how it could be considered hard or complicated. You turn it on, it goes. Want to do something, you double-click. I design spacecraft for a living, it's not like I can't figure out what arcane problem Windows has today and fix it (and *my* first hifi was soldered together by me at 13 years old) but I expect the computer to turn on and function. Used to, we had Mac SE/30s at work, we all did our work with no fuss, even though it had a 9" display. Now, I spend 10-20% of my week trying to figure out what is wrong with my XP installation, restarting it 3x a day, figuring out why it won't restart even though nothing has been changed, on the phone with the IT department while they can't figure out why it won't restart or why the document I was working on got corrupted.

Windows 7 = Mac OS10.3.9, feature-wise, and OS7.5.3 (the only irredeemably buggy Mac OS released) in terms of reliability/usability.

The biggest bottle neck on ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

The biggest bottle neck on your computer is gonna be your hard drive. If you want to boost the speed significantly and have $200 - $300 to blow buy a solid state hard drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=636&name=SSD

Paul: I build my first s... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Paul: I build my first stereo set out of components I soldered all by hand. Unless you listened to the radio with a cat's whisker crystal set, you don't have me beat!

Proof,

I have you beat. I built a radio by hand when I was 8 years old! Of course it didn't require solder, it was just a kit from radio shack that had springs that you would insert the wires into ;)

???? I guess I don... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
???? I guess I don't see how it could be considered hard or complicated.

OS X might not be hard or complicated, but it's clumsy. For example, the main menu for an application isn't part of the application's window, it's disembodied at the top of the screen. If you have some applications hidden behind others you have to move windows around or minimize them to find the other open applications or use some key combination to cycle through them. Windows 7 gives you easy access to all open applications without such nonsense.

The Mac is easy to use, but only if you follow the "Apple" way of doing things. For example, downloads on a Mac go into the dedicated download folder. Nice and easy as long as you don't have lots of downloads you want to organize in a rational way. Windows lets me do it my way rather than trying to force me to do it Steve Job's way. BTW I'm running OS X 10.6.3

If your IT department can't fix your XP then maybe you need a better IT department.

OS X might not be ... (Below threshold)
Brett:
OS X might not be hard or complicated, but it's clumsy. For example, the main menu for an application isn't part of the application's window, it's disembodied at the top of the screen. If you have some applications hidden behind others you have to move windows around or minimize them to find the other open applications or use some key combination to cycle through them. Windows 7 gives you easy access to all open applications without such nonsense.

Key sequence? There's the Dock which tells you which apps are open and can be selected (its the ones with the little siny spot beneath them) and brought to the front. Or hit the "Expose'" key and you see all the open windows.

The menus at the top of the application window is one of the most fundamental UI flaws of Windows. Followed closely by the fact that the menus in Windows apps *can have any function in any place*. Not to mention the egregious inconsistency in the shortcut keys

For example, downloads on a Mac go into the dedicated download folder. Nice and easy as long as you don't have lots of downloads you want to organize in a rational way. Windows lets me do it my way rather than trying to force me to do it Steve Job's way.

Windows does *precisely* the same thing by default. In Safari it's trivial to change, and it *stays changed* once you change it (Safari|Preferences|General|Save Downloaded Files to...) - instead of defaulting back to MY Downloads (or My Documents. or My Pictures) and having to reselect it every time.

If your IT department can't fix your XP then maybe you need a better IT department.

You know, you are absolutely correct! My IT department for most of the current problems are Microsoft. I have had a series of Platinum Service Problem Tickets with Microsoft for the same 4 problems since ~1997. One of them is for Word Document symbol corruption. After about 10 years of promising that it would be fixed in the next release, the recommendation of the Microsoft senior Level 3 technical advisor was that we get the document so it will print correctly, print it, scan it, and then save the scans as TIFFs so the data would be permanent.

Windows people are just to incredibly used to computers being pains in the ass and unreliable that they feel uneasy when they *don't* work that way.

Of course I don't care what anyone uses but given that I am on the damn things 16 hours a day (about 50% windows, 25% Mac, and 25% Sun Solaris, and in the past extensive VAX/VMS and OpenVMS) I think I have a pretty good idea which one I would pick!

I'm not a computer tech. N... (Below threshold)
Jester:

I'm not a computer tech. Not a power user. Just an everyday user that wants to turn on the machine and have it work, the first time. When something stops working properly, as it invariably does on a PC, I don't have skills or the patience to fart with it. If you tech weenies like playing with your Windows stuff, have at it. I just enjoy the heck out of doing what I need to do on my Mac with absolutely no problems, and gladly pay the price for the privilege.

"I have you beat. I built a... (Below threshold)

"I have you beat. I built a radio by hand when I was 8 years old!"
Tied maybe, but not beat! At eight I was breadboarding simple transistor circuits.
I used to buy components from Allied Electronics in Chicago, through the mail.
Funny! Whenever I would overestimate the postage needed to ship the parts, Allied would send me back a check for the difference, generally under a nickel, and once they send me a check for two and a half cents!

Key sequence? Ther... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Key sequence? There's the Dock which tells you which apps are open and can be selected (its the ones with the little siny spot beneath them) and brought to the front.

That just it, many apps that are not open clutter the Dock as well as the open ones and all of them have a reflected image. You have to look for cute shiny spot in the reflected image to figure out which ones are open. It's much clearer and easier in Windows 7.

The menus at the top of the application window is one of the most fundamental UI flaws of Windows. Followed closely by the fact that the menus in Windows apps *can have any function in any place*. Not to mention the egregious inconsistency in the shortcut keys

The one-size-fits-all menu system of OS X simply doesn't stack up to the designed-for-a-specific-purpose menu system and hot keys of Windows applications. Yes, you might have to spend a bit more time learning each application, but after that productivity goes beyond what can be achieved with the less than optimal UI forced onto applications by the inflexible OS X.

Windows does *precisely* the same thing by default.

Not at all.

In Safari it's trivial to change, and it *stays changed* once you change it (Safari|Preferences|General|Save Downloaded Files to...) - instead of defaulting back to MY Downloads (or My Documents. or My Pictures) and having to reselect it every time.

Only a Mac user would think that's trivial. In Windows 7 I simply select to save and Windows Explorer opens to the last folder I used, or if it's a specific type of file then to a specific location I set up. If I want to create a new folder for a particular download I can do so on the fly.

You know, you are absolutely correct! My IT department for most of the current problems are Microsoft. I have had a series of Platinum Service Problem Tickets with Microsoft for the same 4 problems since ~1997. One of them is for Word Document symbol corruption.

So you have an application problem. I've had problems with Safari not working on various web pages since Safari first came out. Apple's solution is to not go to those web pages, but they are part of an expensive web application I use in my business. So if I'm working on my Mac and need to access that information I have to turn to my PC and access it with IE.

Hate to bust your bubble, but OS X has bugs and security flaws just like Windows does. The difference is that Mac users are in denial.

Proof, you have me totally ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Proof, you have me totally beat. The kit was very similar to the one from the link below. To build a radio merely required connecting about 10 of the springs with wires. You just bend the spring and insert the wire. The glow in the dark Frankenstein model kit my brother helped me with was much harder.

http://electronic-geek.com/piecing-together-a-vintage-radio-shack-150-in-one-kit/

This may bring back memorie... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

This may bring back memories for some folks. I'm feeling a bit nolstagic right now.

http://www.plaidstallions.com/aurora/75monsters.html

Tina S, I'm so glad to see ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Tina S, I'm so glad to see those old "glow in the dark" Aurora monster model kits back again. I didn't realize those "glow in the dark" versions are back again. I've been a huge model kit fan my whole and loved building some of those great old kits.

I sure like to see those Johann car model kits back. They had some great Cadillac hearse and Rambler models that AMT and MPC wouldn't touch.

Aurora had a great RAT PATROL model kit from the TV show I sure loved. The MOD SQUAD station wagon model by Aurora was pretty cool too.

I had one of those Tina. U... (Below threshold)
Clancy:

I had one of those Tina. Until this very moment, I never quite fully appreciated the effect that Christmas gift had on my life. Thanks for the memories!!

Paul Hooson & Clancy,... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Paul Hooson & Clancy,

It's been over 30 years since I played with those model kits. The pictures triggered some very sweet memories for me. I'm glad it had a similar affect for you guys as well.

Our house had a secret room under the stairs. It was intended for storage and was accessed from a small door in the back of a closet. It became our secret fort and was decorated with many of the glow in the dark model kits.

I was still using Win98 as ... (Below threshold)
Arthur:

I was still using Win98 as late as December of last year. Then my computer blew up and I got a new one instead of fixing the old. The new one (HP) came with Win7 and ... Hey, they finally got it right!




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