IE 6.0 Is leaving the building

IE 6.0 sucks.  It’s lagged behind Mozilla for a few years and just a few minutes ago it crashed and took my blog post with it.  IE 6.0 must die.  Unfortunately I have to replace it with IE 7.0 because there are still so many MSIE only sites.

My New Dual Core

The highest priced parts of my new compter were the speakers and the graphics cards. Finally, I should be able to play a decent game of Battlefield 2.

I accidentally ordered two motherboards, but fortunately the TigerDirect phone support was able to fix it for me. I could have split up my order, but on the expensive items, like the CPU and graphics cards, Tiger was already a price leader.

Here is my parts list: (prices don’t reflect about $100 worth of refunds, $100 worth of shipping)
* Microsoft Windows XP Pro Edition OEM Version & Service Pack 2 (M17-7502) $139.99
* Ultra 1024MB PC4200 DDR2 533MHz Memory (ULT31690) X 2 $199.98
* Ultra Black Aluminus ATX Mid-Tower Case with Clear Side, Front USB, Firewire and Audio Ports (ULT31824) $89.99
* Ultra / X-Finity / 600-Watt / ATX / Dual 80mm Fan / SATA-Ready / SLI Ready / Black / Power Supply (ULT31848) $79.99
* Aerocool Black UV Frame 120mm Case Fan with 4 LEDs (Q131-1014) 2 $17.99 $35.98
* Intel Pentium D 840 3.2GHz / 2MB Cache / 800 FSB / OEM / Socket 775 / Dual-Core / Processor (CP2-P4-840 C) $199.99
* Gigabyte 3D Galaxy Socket A/754/939/478/775 Liquid Cooling System (G452-4004) $139.99
* Asus P5ND2-SLI NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard / Audio / PCI Express / SLI / Gigabit LAN / USB 2.0 / Serial ATA / RAID (A455-1066) $95.99
* Logitech Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Audio System with Wireless Rear Speakers (L23-7076) $239.99
* Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic PCI Sound Card (C44-3232) $109.99
* PNY Verto GeForce 6800 GS / 256MB DDR3 / PCI Express / SLI / DVI / VGA / TV-Out / Video Card (P56-6800) x 2 $399.98
* Lite-on SHM-160P6S / 16x8x16x DVD+RW / 16x6x16x DVD-RW / 8x DVD+R DL / 4x DVD-R DL / 48x24x48x CD-RW / Black/Beige Faceplates / Internal / DVD Writer (L12-1076) $49.99
* Western Digital / Caviar SE 16 / 250GB / 7200 / 16MB / SATA-300 / OEM / Hard Drive (TSD-250KS) x 2 $179.98

WHY
I read an article that showed that two cheap graphics cards out perform one graphics card that costs twice as much as a single graphics card. Thus SLI and 2 budget Nvidia cards. I used Nvidia just because I’ve had three good experience with Nvidia and I don’t like the ATI software (which I have had one bad experience with)
I wanted a dual core becuase I really do multi-task, I run Unitied Devices UD Agent all the time, I want to run a dedicated Halo server, but I want to be able to use my computer even when a bunch of other people are using the computer.

I got Intel because I have no experience with AMD and can’t figure out what their performance numbers mean. The 840 dual core was cheap, not horribly crippled like a Celeron, and already ran at a high clock speed. However, the dual core 840 has a reputation for running hot, so I got a water cooler. I hope the water cooler is easier to install and operate than I fear.

I got RAID drives because I’m crazy and like striped RAID. It’s very fast, but really is less reliable. I know that I need Windows OS disks to repair the RAID after I get bad sectors in the OS files, so I’m glad I have a real Windows Install disk instead of a peice of shit restore disk. Restore disks should be made illegal and the rat bastards that sell them should be forced to eat broken glass.

The X-Fi and speakers are so I can hear footsteps behind me while playing Battlefield 2. You can’t do a realistic combat sim without simulating what is happening behind your avatar. I hope they X-Fi and the speakers play well with eachother, because the speakers are heavy and will be expensive to ship back if they don’t work. I got X-Fi for music because no one knows why the pricer versions would help.

I got a motherboard just because it was SLI and supported my chosen CPU. And it was cheap.

I got the DVD drive because it was cheap.

I got the case because it was aluminum.

I got a 600 watt power supply because SLI requires a lot of electric.

I relied on the user reviews at tiger direct, a copy of Maximum PC, and many interent ‘computer recipes’ for inspiration, although my final PC didn’t look anything like any other PC I’ve seen.

I couldn’t find a comparable on Dell because Dell really wants to bundle in a monitor.

I bought components because every time I priced a dual core, dual card, 2GB, x-fi, RAID, machine from a reputable company like velocitymicro.com I ended up with $2500-$3000. Even Dell, would run me about as much or more. One of the the closer Dell configurations I worked up was $1600, but then I realized I was missing water cooling, a 2nd graphics card and XP Pro. The Dell XPS 410 also was somewhat comparable, but cost $300 more, in part due a bundle monitor worth $200 and still didn’t support a 2nd graphics card, didn’t include XP Pro. It is hard to say if my two hypothetical Dells would have been equally fast.
Not bundling XP Pro really complicates things for me, because as a power user, I really do use features like Remote Desktop, IIS, NTFS encryption and NTFS compression.

Well, I will try to review as many of these components as possible as soon as I build the computer.

Finding the Answer: Researching Tech Questions

1) Library. County libraries often are 10 years out of date. Depends on when the last bond referendum passed and what the head librarian thinks about the relative value of tech books versus everything else.

2) Bookstore. Expensive habit. At $40 a pop tech books are not a poor mans hobby. Plus, for many technologies, it is not clear if they will be worth the time or money.

3) Internet. Takes a long time to search, lots of dead ends, opportunities for distraction.

4) Experts-Exchange. Subscription Fee, but often has remarkably good answers.

5) Subject specific forum, usenet, etc. Quality varies wildly. Some questions go unanswered for long peroids of time.

6) Friends and coworkers. Skillsets are likely to be complementary, so if you are the DBA, you won’t get a lot of database advice from the expert in message queues. Instant feedback.

7) Webcasts. Tedious and boring but they do a good job of squishing a lot of technical data into your brain.

8) Safari. Digital books store. Costs money, but addresses some of the problems with tech books from physical libraries.

9) Knowledge Bases, FAQs. Microsoft has a fantastic one. At the low end, you have FAQ pages, and the high end you have massive databases with RSS feeds for subscription.

Gaming Machines

My options are mind boggling. I can get a console, a high end PC, a gaming PC from a shady company or build my own.

If I get a console, the hardware is cheap, the software somewhat expensive and the whole system is somewhat duplicative since I already own a PC.

If I get a high end PC, I’ll be poor and Dell will be rich, or I’ll be bankrupt and Falcon NW will be rich.

I can get a gaming PC from a shady company and then fight with the company for RMAs and the like for the next year.

I can also try to build my own PC and hope that building PC’s has gotten easier.

Personal Tech

Summary of Windows Mobile 5.0

Some of the applications are subpar, but upgradable.

Word -> Textmaker

MS Reader -> Mobibook

Media Player -> ?

EFS Scare

I was using EFS (Encrypted file system) with Windows XP.

First problem.  Network admins can disable it network wide.
Second problem. If they enable EFS, the certificate of the recovery agent can expire every once in a while, so you can still read old encrypted files, but you can’t encrypt any additional files.  I thought is was just my machine that was misbehaving when the network wide recovery cert expired, but that was discredited when I found out other people could no longer encrypt.
Third problem. While trying to fix EFS, I requested several client EFS certificates.  The computer seems to just pick a certificate at random to encrypt your files.  I tried to delete the extra ones, but ended up deleting the certificate used to encrypt my files.  Also, it wasn’t good enough that I had a copy in the trusted people folder, I needed the certificate in the personal folder.  Fortunately, an export and reimport fixed things.  Moral of story, if you accidentally create a bunch of EFS certificates, you will need to back them all up, especially if you have plans to change your certificate.

Virtual PC

Here is the use case: You have beta software that could seriously muck up your machine.  You don’t want to repave your machine.  Option 1, use system restore.  Drawback, doesn’t really get you 100% back the way you were, isn’t selective to just the beta software.  Option 2, use Norton ghost or the like.  Drawback, not selective, although you are 100% back to where you where.  Option 3, use Virtual PC.

So far Virtual PC is pretty exciting.  Things to watch out for:  Booting from disk was a trick, until I realized I wanted the cntrl-alt-delete button, not the reset button. I got my cursor trapped in my VPC window. I escaped when the host OS’s screen saver turned on.  After reading the documentation, mis-understanding it, I finally figured out that to escape, you need RIGHT ALT ARROW DOWN.  Not just ALT-arrow down.

 

Portable Software

I’ve got a keychain drive.  What to put on it?

1) Use it as a keychain floppy disk & put word documents on it.  Problem: I already have a lap top and prefer to use that.

2) Put Firefox, OpenOffice, Thunderbird on drive.  Problem: I have Outlook 2K3 at home already.  This does solve the problem of having to reconfigure email clients when visiting relatives, don’t have to adopt to their version of Office.  On the otherhand, office productivity applications are not what I usualy reach for when I’m using a computer away from home.  It also solves, somewhat, the problem of privacy using a public computer. 

Timeport 280 and Tungsten T3

I’m probably the only person with this combination, but to get it online:

0) Downloand suitable drivers from Palm.com
1) Turn on irDA connection on the phone
2) Open WebPro (this will correctly connect to network, opening other network using applications first will give you an error message)
3) WebPro doesn’t seem to work right away, but Avant Go does.

Results: using T-mobile GPRS as the cell phone network, you can get data at about 1KB per second, so http browsing is not practical. Next: testing WAP.