I built myself a new toy (computer, that is)..

August 28, 2008 · Posted in I'm such a geek, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on I built myself a new toy (computer, that is).. 

So I finally decided to do a complete computer makeover and now enjoy the wonders of PCI-E vs AGP land. Here are the results of this endeavor (Newegg links but actually mostly purchased @Fry’s Eectronics):

  • Antec P180 (Silver) Case
  • MSI P45 Neo3-FR Motherboard
  • Core 2 Duo E8400
  • Diamond Radeon HD 4850
  • Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800MHz (Please read this)
  • Samsung 500GB 7200RPM Sata/300 16MB Buffer Hard Drive OEM
  • LG Super Multi DVD Rewriter
  • Thermaltake Purepower 600W Power Supply
  • OS:

  • Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM
  • Ubuntu 8.04 LTS AMD64 Desktop
  • It has been a busy week at work so I am still tweaking and installing software but besides upping the level of eye candy, so far, Vista is neither the bane or salvation of Windows operating systems. And probably if AMD/ATI would actually release a better OpenGL implementation in its Linux driver (so I can play Oblivion under wine) this may have been a single boot machine.

    MPAA wants to control your TV, and stereo, and DVR

    August 1, 2008 · Posted in At the Movies ..., I (heart) Tivo, Politics, Tech - Hardware · 1 Comment 

    MPAA’s SOC or Selectable Output Control permanent waiver request is complicated and probbably best described with pretty pictures like this video:

    Here are some nice write-ups:
    Public Knowledge

    Old computing habits die hard …

    February 26, 2008 · Posted in Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on Old computing habits die hard … 

    I upgraded my system so that I could continue to play Oblivion with lots more of the eye candy turned up and perhaps even dabble in Bioshock but I still have a motherboard with (gasp) AGP. Yes, although I do have an Intel Core 2 Duo, I am still “kicking it old school” in the graphics department. Luckily for me and the other folks still otherwise happy with their AGP computing experience there is a new AGP graphics savior compelling you to spend money if you want to extend its gaming life a little longer:

    The Sapphire ATI HD Radeon 3850 AGP 8x 512MB

    This little card will not break any speed records when compared to the high end in the land of milk & honey … err … PCI-E but to those of us still holding out in AGP land it is the fastest graphics available. So far it is noticeably faster and quieter than my EVGA NVIDIA 7800GS OC and even seems to handle powering down for sleep mode well. For actual benchmarks please take a look here:

    Oh wait … you can’t because I can’t find any online magazines that actually have a review out on this card because I guess they are all latte’ drinking AGP haters (my apologies to any latte’ drinking AGP lovers).

    In summary if you’re still loving your AGP, give this card a try (although make sure your PSU still has some oomph left in it)…

    Bulk Chemicals, Pre-paid phone cards, Food & More

    January 26, 2008 · Posted in Misc, Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · Comments Off on Bulk Chemicals, Pre-paid phone cards, Food & More 

    The title really hasn’t got much to do with this post except that I saw this on a “market” on the way to the hotel I’m currently staying at for a business trip in Jamaica. This one of those “etc” posts so I figure it would be a good title since there will be a little everything.

    I usually end up running through lots of benchmarks and reviews when I do a computer upgrade but I think “Yougamers” (Futuremark) might have put together a nice page for these endeavors. They essentially have a page that lists hardware in order of CPUMarks per dollar and 3DMarks per $ so that will be a definite help in future upgrade. The list is updated twice a day and you can find it:

    Need to help a far away friend or family member with their computer on the weekend? Then Fog Creek software (Of “Joel on Software” blog fame) has you covered as they have opened up their Copilot service for free use on the weekends. Haven’t had a chance to try it yet but probably will soon. Here is a link to that post:

    Like Pizza? Here is a list of various regional U.S. pizza styles:

    Like OSX but not the price of the hardware to run it on. Purely for educational purposes lifehacker has put together a walkthrough on how to get OSX running non-sanctioned hardware:

    Here is a list of the top 100 motivational blog posts as put together by Laura Milligan of Bootstrapper:
    And once you’re motivated, here’s a list from the same site of 50 resources to help de-clutter your life:

    Like to dual boot but don’t want to re-partition your hard drive well the Wubi installer might be something for you. It lets you install ubuntu onto your current OS file system (linux, windows, OSX under development) as a virtual hard disk not to be confused with a virtual machine ala qemu or vmware:

    The Library of Congress is sharing lots of their pictures on the Library of Congress Flickr tagging project so take a look and help tag:
    LOC Flickr FAQ

    That’s it for now….

    Etc : March 1 – 18

    March 18, 2007 · Posted in I'm such a geek, Misc, Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · Comments Off on Etc : March 1 – 18 

    Babies take a lot of time … so here is a reader’s digest version of a post:

    If you have an old Xbox lying around collecting dust, you may want to take a look here at an interesting project you can undertake relatively painlessly:
    How to Go from Xbox to Xbox Media Center in 30 minutes

    Pigeons appear to be relatively immune to avian flu and do not appear to spread it :
    Avian flu virus H5N1 and pigeons: the facts
    The Invincible, Flu-Immune Pigeon

    Linux it’s not just for dual boot systems anymore:
    30 days with Linux

    I have never really gotten into myspace, or classmates.com, etc but I do have to say that I am really liking LinkedIn.com as a “professional” networking site. Check it out.

    Dell Ideastorm

    February 23, 2007 · Posted in Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · Comments Off on Dell Ideastorm 

    Michael Dell opened a new website : www.dellideastorm.com

    It’s a place for folks to give ideas and feedback to Dell. The ideas are voted on, and those with more votes get more attention from the Dell folks. The highest voted ideas don’t necessarily get implemented but they do get the most attention from the Dell execs.

    I even submitted an idea. You can find it at:

    If you’ve got a few minutes, sign up and vote for some ideas … voting for my idea would be especially cool.

    Silicon Valley Pioneer Hitchikers

    August 19, 2006 · Posted in News of the Weird, Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · Comments Off on Silicon Valley Pioneer Hitchikers 

    It’s an art project and a history lesson! It’s GPS/Cellphone equipped cutouts of Silicon Valley pioneers hitchiking across the country!

    To read more about this project and see the cutout GPS locations and travelogue go here :

    Sun Microsystems also got in on the action as HP didn’t seem to want to care for their namesakes :

    Definately worth taking a look and reading about the guys who helped make alot of the technology we use today possible.

    On a “Dark Miracle”

    April 7, 2006 · Posted in News - International, News - US, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on On a “Dark Miracle” 

    As seen on WilWheaton.net, Joshua Ellis, who is an independant journalist, went to the Trinity Test Site (the site of the first nuclear bomb test), this year to go take a look. The site is open to the public 2 days of every year. He describes what he saw in pictures and words, and has also given some historical context for it all. It is a good read and his article can be found here :


    Please go take a look and feel free to leave some feedback.

    Nintendo … gone wild

    December 17, 2005 · Posted in News of the Weird, Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · 1 Comment 

    As seen on digg. Here is a link for a Nintendo micro ad that for some reason isn’t being shown in the US.


    How the Death Star Works

    November 2, 2005 · Posted in Misc, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on How the Death Star Works 

    Saw this link on digg.com :

    A nice article by the “HowStuffWorks” gang on the workings of your favorite planet detroying space station :
    How the Death Star Works

    On it use, Obi-Wan Kenobi a former member of the Jedi Council says :
    “A great disturbance in the Force. It was like a million voices crying out in unison, then suddenly silenced.”

    In completely unrelated news, it appears that “Star Wars : Revenge of the Sith” is now available on DVD.

    And in other completely unrelated news, it also appears that “Star Wars: Battlefront II” is also available.

    RIP : Turbolink Switching Power Supply

    April 21, 2005 · Posted in Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on RIP : Turbolink Switching Power Supply 

    Well to make a long story short. If you add a new spare drive (for backing up other systems on the network, for example) to an older system you may want to be sure that the power supply has enough enough wattage (which it did), unfortunately that didn’t stop my linux box’s power supply from giving up the ghost. I guess it was manufactured 12/2001 and probably adding a new energy sucking hard drive did not help it in its golden years but it did make for some drama before going in to work this morning. …

    Such is life.

    Well before it gave up the ghost I also heard the system drive starting to sing … a trip to FRY’s for a new main system drive and power supply later everything is up and running. For replicating a drive the “dd” utility has become my newest favorite *nux tool. Here is the link I found really useful in this endeavor if you ever find yourself in the same situation.

    High school robotics team beats college students but still wants to go to college

    April 7, 2005 · Posted in Tech - Hardware · 1 Comment 

    Might be old news, but maybe not. Check out this Wired article. These kids from a high school beat out several colleges, including MIT, at an underwater robotics competition.

    Its a story about underdogs, college, and Hooters.

    One other side of the story is that since they are undocumented, they have little chance of going to college in this or any other country but there is a scholarship fund if you would like to help.

    Living in a DRM land …

    March 8, 2005 · Posted in Music, Politics, Tech - Hardware, Tech - Software · 1 Comment 

    Well my computer hard disk died and among other things that I didn’t have backups for was my mp3 music collection. Luckily my music was on my iPod so I thought cool … I won’t have to re-feed my CDs to my computer. After installing XP and iTunes I learned the truth, there is no Apple sanctioned way to get the music back off of the Ipod. So if you re-associate it with your new iTunes install it will basically take over the iPod and load the new library … erasing the “foreign” library in the process.

    Luckily by harnessing the power of my search engine I was soon able to find a neat utility called iPod Agent that helped me copy my music library back onto my harddrive (among other neat things it does). Although it was slow to pull off the several Gigs of MP3s via USB it was able to do so without me having to intervene, unlike I would have if I had to manually feed it CDs to re-create the library.

    So this leads me to wonder about the not so distant future where the “DRM bit” would have been set on the usb connection and I would have been out of luck, cursing the record labels, and the hardware manufacturers for the better part of a weekend.

    Well, here’s to hoping that my pessimism is just that …

    Waving the Flag

    February 23, 2005 · Posted in News - US, Politics, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on Waving the Flag 

    As I’m sure you are aware the FCC is mandating that all new TV receivers process a Broadcast flag starting on July 1, 2005 (just 3 days before Independence day).

    Why should you care?
    The broadcast flag, as a side-effect, limits what you can or can’t record, or if interpreted “nicely” will let you record a low-quality version of the TV program but only on a flag compliant piece of hardware/software.

    So this is affecting only cable and satellite right?
    Actually, no, this is affecting what you receive over the airwaves via your rabbit ears. Satellite and cable use their own proprietary mechanisms for transmission which may or may not incorporate a broadcast flag-like “feature”.

    Why did we need this?
    The government wants the transition to digital tv broadcasts to happen sooner rather than later but until 85% of the country is able to receive digital broadcasts it can’t happen. And once the transition happens, the government will be able to auction off the newly available spectrum and make $$$. In order to help our government, several motion picture studios “selflessly” offered to provide “exclusive” digital tv content to woo us to go out and buy new TVs but, they would only do this if their transmissions were not able to be copied and thus, the broadcast flag was born.

    Well, if the FCC is mandating it, they must have a mandate from an act of congress because they cannot unilaterally do such a thing, right?
    You would think that but you would be wrong. Although the FCC does not technically have the power to force this on electronic manufacturers without a congressional mandate, it seems to think it does… which is what makes this whole deal kinda shaky.

    Who proposed the broadcast flag? A standards body?
    No, it was Fox and was subsequently ratified by the ATSC as an “optional” part of the ATSC digital TV standard.

    Does the MPAA support this?

    Does the EFF support this?

    Does HDNET the only 100% digital broadcaster support this?

    But it is in court right now and the judges don’t seem to like it, case closed right?
    Not quite. Although the judges believe the FCC overstepped its bound, the court is also not sure that the case was brought up by the right people, i.e. the library groups and EFF do not neccessarily represent the people potentially affected by the broadcast flag. So although the FCC is wrong it may be allowed to continue on its merry way.

    Where can I find more information on this :
    MPAA FAQ with EFF Commentary

    G4 TECH TV Broadcast Flag FAQ

    Broadcast Flag in the News (and currently in Court)

    Man builds Giant Robot to defend Home

    December 22, 2004 · Posted in News - US, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on Man builds Giant Robot to defend Home 

    OK … maybe that title is a little far fetched, but according to this article on Engadget and the original link from CNET News, a man in Alaska is building a Giant Robot/Exoskeleton in his backyard. He plans to be finished by next summer and then plans to go to the local racetrack and test out the “mecha’s” destructive uses on some old cars.

    Cellphones, or things that make you go SHHH

    December 9, 2004 · Posted in News of the Weird, Tech - Hardware · Comments Off on Cellphones, or things that make you go SHHH 

    Engadget is reporting that the Society for Handheld Hushing, or SHHH, have a pdf available to help combat the next cell phone conversation you overhear in those inapropriate places and times. The notes aren’t necessarily as “reasonably polite” as they claim, but they do get the point across for even the most dense invidual.

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