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.

Kitchen Computer

I bought a $40 (with shipping) Windows CE terminal that can connect to Windows XP pro. I used a monitor I got from the trash and a keyboard and mouse left over from a previous computer.

I set it up in the Kitchen, the biggest complain is that the wires are all over the place. I could fix it for $30 (with shipping) for an xbox style wireless adapter.

The monitor is too bulky. Fixing it would cost $110 (with shipping) to replace it with an LCD monitor.

The keyboard is too big and not water proof. Fixing it would cost $25 (With shipping).

So for $165 I could have an optimized kitchen computer. It’s the accessories that run up the bill.

SSIS: Import Export Table Wizard

The new wizard is opaque.  Just by looking at the package, you can barely figure out what is going on. The “Transfer Task” has no designer. The file connections can’t be viewed without firing up notepad.  To get the list of tables included, you have to open and search TableSchema.xml You can’t see the progress of the table copies.  And finally, the UI isn’t friendly.  On my first attempt I ended up with my project in the TEMP folder, files had seemingly randomized names.

Grr, makes me want to go back to bcp and INSERT INTO

Life Hacking: Shopping

Every time I’ve tried to use shopping list software, I boggle at the amount of time it would take to do the data entry.  Short of electronic eyes and RFID chips on the goods in the fridge, the killer grocery list may be a ways off.  Grocery lists generated off of recipes aren’t a bad idea, but last time I tried to use cook book software I couldn’t keep to recipes in the database, so I couldn’t generate a comprehensive ‘requirements’ list.

Any solution to the grocery list problem will need to include a way to generate the list, either on paper, PDA or phone.  I think that the killer app, when it happens will use RSS to a smart phone.  PDAs are too bulky and RSS is a universal format that many devices will be able to deal with, someday.
Here’s an interesting angle on grocery lists: other people’s grocery lists
This one his half way there: the Publix grocery list maker It integrates the shopping list an online recipe database with a map of the grocery story. Unfortunately the publix website is *slow* and clunky.

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.

The SQL 2000 Post System Crash DBCC Script

Here is the human script.  Now I just need to write some code to check for each condition and to capture the output.

1. Check for sufficient tempdb drive space: DBCC CHECKDB WITH ESTIMATEONLY
2. If server crash was hardware related and you are in business hours: DBCC CHECKDB WITH PHYSICAL_ONLY
(run a full check some other time)

3. If server crash could have been more than just hardware related and you are not in business hours: DBCC CHECKDB WITH NO_INFOMSGS
(no news is good news)

4. If server is slow or database is huge and you are in business hours: DBCC CHECKDB WITH NOINDEX
(run a full check some other time)
5. If server is slow or database is huge and you don’t care if you users have to wait while you run DBCC: DBCC CHECKDB WITH TABLOCK

Loop through all databases.

* By business hours I mean, the server is being used or otherwise under load.

6. If errors found, start googling.