Saturday, January 29, 2011

Computer upgrade!

After getting about 3 years out of my current computer, it started not booting intermittently. I tried to troubleshoot the problem, but ultimately, it seemed that the motherboard didn't like the cold.

I decided it was about time to upgrade. I went from a Pentium E2160 overclocked to 2.7ghz with 4gb of RAM to the following:
  • AMD Phenom II X2 560 BE, unlocked to 4 cores @ 3.3 ghz (~$100)
  • Coolermaster Hyper 212+ CPU cooler (~$30)
  • Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H with the AMD 890gx chipset (~$90 AR)
  • 8 GB of DDR3 (Corsair XMMS3 @ 1600mhz) (~$95)
  • 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (~$100 AR)
My final cost, after all the rebates, comes out to around $415. I could have saved $50 by waiting a few days for some cheaper RAM.

The system is a lot faster than my old computer, though I don't know which component it's due to. The SSD, surprisingly, hasn't amazed me with its performance yet -- perhaps it'll prove better as time goes on.

Whenever I build a new machine, I have to go through the trouble of stress testing it, even more so if I'm overclocking or unlocking cores. From searching the interwebs, I decided on a combination of the following tools:
I ran Memtest86+ overnight, then Prime95 on the small FFT test overnight, followed by an hour of OCCT and 10 runs of the Intel Burn Test.

I was also expecting to run into some trouble with Windows 7 activation, but I was able to use the key from my old computer and it activated online with no problem. (I'll probably take out 2 GB of RAM from the old computer and put WinXP on it).

A note about my case, an earlier version of this Antec case -- while it's nice to have a smallish case, the space inside is very tight. I had to take out all the hard drives and the rear fan to get the motherboard into the case. There's also no good places to run wires, other than stashing them in unused drive bays. On the good side, it is big enough to fit the Hyper 212+ cooler (though barely, there's probably half an inch from the top of the cooler to the side panel.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Synergy: Controlling two computers from one keyboard!

I've lost one of my dual monitors (I moved and it was a big bulky CRT), but now I have room on my desk for my laptop! But, with my laptop placed at a good distance for viewing, the keyboard is too far away. What to do?!

Synergy to the rescue! It's an app that allows you to share the mouse and keyboard from one computer to others, and it's cross-platform. I followed the instructions at GroovyPost:

One gotcha -- I normally use Dvorak, and if both my windows and mac machines are set to dvorak, it doesn't work properly. I have to set my mac to use the normal keyboard layout to get proper input, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter 2011 Anime Season!

Well, the new anime season is well on it's way, with a whole bunch of series already started. So far, the ones to watch are Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Gosick. There should be some noitaminA anime starting up soon which might be promising...

I also broke down and bought a 3 month subscription to the Anime Network just so I could finish watching Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl). I liked it a lot, as did psgels:

I'm sad that between Crunchyroll, Anime Network, and Funimation, nobody licensed Madoka for simulcast :(.

iPhone and Guitars

I'm looking to downsize the amount of "stuff" I have to make it easier when I have to move. Right now, I have a practice guitar amp, which, though it's not huge, still takes up space.

Since I usually practice with headphones (because I'm still learning, and I suck), I decided to go with one of the iPhone solutions. The two big ones seem to be iRig and Ampkit. The iRig hardware costs $35 on amazon, while Ampkit Link is $30. From reading reviews, the Ampkit Link has fewer problems with feedback and outputs at a higher level because it's powered. However, several reviews on Amazon have indicated that the hardware isn't that good, with bad 1/4" sockets being the primary complaint.

As soon as I sell my current amp, I'll probably buy the Ampkit Link and hope I don't get one of the bad pieces of hardware.