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Thursday September 14 2006
Well, despite my constant inclination to be a hardware conservative, my resolve evaporated.
Sat at my faithful cobbled-together PC on Tuesday I marvelled at a new instability. I had cleanly reinstalled everything, and taken the whole thing apart for a periodic removal of dust and crud. I noted that the annoying little fan on the graphics card was full of crud, as to a lesser degree was the heat sink on the processor, and that my tank tape repairs to the former were sort of holding up. Nonetheless, I cannot get this machine to run at an acceptable temperature or with an acceptable level of stability at the moment. Something is clearly a bit hit or miss in there, and it's a noisy old beast chiefly due to the Maxtor hard drive in it which sounds like road-mending (and is only a few months old, must investigate). Therefore I have temporarily retired the box, which with an Athlon 2200 XP and 768 meg of Ram, Nvidia 5500 256 meg graphics, 160 gig drive and some fast CD and DVD burners (and a nice Antec PSU - props again Dan) built around a Gigabyte mobo, is not exactly crap. I will get it sorted out in the fullness, and it will become a games box or media centre or Linux box or something.
Anyway, I lost my temper with it, and built a new machine from the ground up. The thinking was to have something that coped a bit better with audio, and to enable me to compartmentalize work and play. I've never had two computers capable of doing much of use simultaneously before - my principal being that there are better things to spend money on than computers - so this is a real novelty. I scuttled to my connection, Sinoco, and we thrashed out a box of bits together which combined lowness of cost with highness of performance and fair quietness of operation. For some reason the whole lot is black. Well, there's a bit of silver on the case and the monitor is silver but otherwise it's all black. Perhaps I will never look back. The best part of the whole thing was that I took the whole lot home and nailed it together and it all worked first time after a mere hour and a half of unpacking and assembly. And it works very well. On the off chance that anyone particularly cares about the hardware, here's what it all is:
Enlight midi tower case, 380 watt supply
Asus M2NPV-MX AM2 mobo
AMD Athlon 64 3200+ cpu
2 x 512 MB Dane-Elec DDR2 553 memory
Asus ATI PCIE Radeon 300 SE 128 MB graphics card (Fanless! Silent!)
Seagate 250 gig Serial ATA hard drive. Quick and quiet.
Samsung CD burner and DVD reader.
Cheap optical mouse and cheap keyboard, but good enough.
NEC 19" Accusync LCD monitor.
And a copy of XP Home.
And so far it's all very nice.
Now I need to patrol the Cowley Road for a bit of real life and lunch.
Posted at 12:54 pm by Jim Woods
Monday September 11 2006
Having carried out a clean re-install of XP,
as seems necessary every four months or so when the system has got all crufted up, I confess myself disappointed that I am already having trouble. Sometimes there is a bee-baw bee-baw from the system speaker when I power the thing down. Reliably, if I allow nVidia's control panel to load, I may enjoy crashing and screen resetting which can be reliably induced by right-clicking on anything. And this is on a "clean" system. Not much f*cking good, really. Perhaps it is something to do with the graphics card or drivers? Playing video seems to annoy it. And of course the fan on the chip on the card is all held together with gaffer tape where it fell apart just outside the warranty period, as it was no doubt carefully designed to do.
My washing machine is making funny noises too. Not good ones. Not in a good way.
I would take this to be a cue to build a new system, quiet as all get-out as I did mention, were it not for the fact that I have a trip away to finance and all manner of bills to pay and bugger-all coming in right now. Other than having removed the fluff from everything in the case, making the cpu run five degrees cooler at least, I am at a loss here. I am not enduring another clean re-install. I am seriously thinking, though, of buying an Apple when funds permit.
Nice warm weather. Nasty old teeth. Too much lager, too much bile.
Posted at 4:09 am by Jim Woods