Archive for the 'FAMILY' Category



Gettin’ jiggy with the new home PC

So… our “old faithful” Dell PowerEdge 400SC box at home is finally beginning to show its age.  For a 5-year-old machine, it’s really faired quite well, but it’s making it known that it would prefer to be put out to pasture.

That’s the call I was waiting to hear.

I initially found a pretty sweet deal on a PowerEdge T105 box from Dell – and I even ordered one! – but there were some issues around upgradeability that I didn’t take into account.  Specifically, just getting a decent video card and sound card was proving both difficult and expensive.  All of a sudden the “sweet deal” was looking less and less sweet.  😦

I cancelled the order and started over.

Given that we were already looking to spend about $540 on a box, I had my price-point to shoot for.  (Note that we aren’t needing an OS, monitor, keyboard or mouse.  We’re good there.)  It finally dawned on me that I could simply do what I always use to do: build my own PC.

I headed over to NewEgg and began my research. Intel or AMD?  What kind of case?  How much RAM and at what speed?  Onboard video or an add-on card?  For a pretty awesome price/performance ratio, I chose a top-of-the-line AMD Phenom II Quad-Core CPU.  Once that was decided, I could research some compatible motherboards with good onboard gear.  We don’t “game” on our PC anymore, so I really only needed a video solution that could handle the Win7 “Aero” interface.  Most motherboards these days also come with very good onboard sound, video, tons of USB ports, firewire, and so forth.  I also needed an easy-on-the-eyes computer case to put everything in.

Here’s the gear I decided upon:

  • AMD Phenom II 940 3.0ghz CPU “Black Edition”
    • This is their (current) top-of-the-line quad-core processor, boasting 8mb total onboard cache, great overclockability, and very good performance.
  • Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H Motherboard (catchy name, eh?)
    • Quite honestly, this motherboard is amazing.  Not only does it look great, but it supports 16GB RAM, SATA RAID, 8-channel onboard audio, gigabit ethernet, ATI HD3300 onboard video, HDMI, DVI, firewire, optical-out audio, and more.  The pipe-cooled chipsets are pretty awesome too!
  • Kingston DDR2 1066 RAM
    • Pretty basic stuff here.  4gigs (2 x 2gigs) of DDR2 1066 memory, for dual-channel support.  Good looking RAM with a nice heatsink.
  • Antec NSK6580B Mid-Tower Case w/ 430W Power Supply
    • Finding a “normal looking” computer case these days is like trying to find a normal looking pair of running shoes.   Sheesh!  This Antec case, however, is very subdued with cold-rolled steel edges (no finger slices!), front ports, plenty of internal expansion, and a very decent power supply.
  • Samsung SATA 22x DVD Burner w/ Lightscribe
    • Pretty basic SATA DVD burner, but the Lightscribe functionality is nice to have.

All this gear is then matched up with our current 19” Samsung LCD monitor, 74GB Western Digital Raptor drive, 74GB Western Digital secondary drive, and the latest version of Windows 7 64-bit.  How much did I spend?  The full purchase was just $519.49 – shipped.  Thanks, NewEgg!

So… my son and I put the box together last night, and I brought it into work to run through a test install of Windows 7 “Beta 7000” 64-bit.  The install went great, and the box is running wonderfully!  For giggles, I also increased the CPU multiplier and bumped from the stock 3.0ghz core speed to 3.42ghz – no voltage change necessary.  That’s a combined 1.6ghz overall bump to the CPU!  No issues so far.  This machine is also amazingly quiet.

Here are some (not-so-great quality) pictures of our new home PC sitting next to my desk at work…

newcomp2

Sweet, sweet Compaq monitor with 1024×768 resolution! 😉

newcomp3 

(No… I won’t leave the harddrive there!)

newcomp4

Look at all those drive bays!

newcomp5

Here’s hoping that the “RC” build of Windows 7 is released very, very soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Obama the Insensitive

In a recent taping of The Tonight Show, President Obama remarked about his own (evidently lacking) bowling skills, saying “It was like the Special Olympics or something.”  To his credit (or at least the White House staff prompting him to do so), he has already apologized to the head of the Special Olympics.  That said, in many ways the damage has been done and cannot easily be reversed.

Now, I don’t want to make too much of this, as everyone makes mistakes and says things they wish they had not.  Still, as the father of a “special needs” child, this made me feel badly.  Truth be told, I know that I’ve made my fair-share of “Special Olympics” jokes in the past – before I understood a bit better what their lives are like.  Watching people stare down your child at the local mall has a way of changing your outlook.  What they see is an almost six-year-old boy, in a wheelchair, wearing hearing aids, and (typically) acting pretty silly.  What I see is my son who already has more strikes against him in life than most people will ever deal with.  He doesn’t need strange looks (or unnecessary comments) from people who have no idea what his life is really like.

Mr. President – I forgive you, for what it’s worth.  However, if you really want to apologize and make a difference, spend some time with the “special needs” people of our country.  Go help out at the Special Olympics or somewhere similar.  Let the citizens of our country know that these oft-joked-about people are real human-beings with feelings, hopes, and a desire to be accepted.

The *amazing* 100 LED flashlight!

So, we had a family Christmas party last night, which is always a good time.  A few years back, however, we migrated to a “drawing someone’s name” method for gift buying, primarily so that the spending could be somewhat contained.  Rather than purchasing small, lame presents for everyone, we purchase nicer gifts for one specific person.  It’s cheaper for everyone, and you actually get some stuff that you want!

Anyhow, one of the items on my list was the “100 LED Flashlight” from Geeks.com.  I have a thing about flashlights, and I’m not entirely sure why.  There’s just something about a flashlight that looks like a portable showerhead, but has the brightness rating of a small star!  I had to have it, and thusly it fell into my possession.  Thankfully, my Dad was clever enough to purchase the (required) 4AA batteries, so I was able to fire it up right then and there, much to the amazement of everyone present.  Honestly, it is blindingly bright!

One of the best parts about getting these “straight outta China”-type items has to be the packaging.  You see, although many of the items we purchase here in America are “Made In China”, they are typically still filtered through an American company that handles the design (in some cases), the marketing, the packaging, and so forth.  Heck!  Half the fun is the ‘engrish’ on the packaging for these items!  Case in point, the “100 LED Flashlight”.

Observe:

100LED_packaging

I just love that stuff!  What you don’t see is the mention of the “Real Rubble Handle” that they point out on the other side of the box!  (Worth noting: the “rubber” handle smells really, really bad.  Here’s hoping that remedies itself in the very near future!)

Oh, man.  Good stuff!

In all fairness, their ‘engrish’ is a whole lot better than my Chinese, so I’ll give them some credit there.  I just hope that they don’t get too good at their English, or else these products won’t be nearly as much fun! 🙂

Meet…..ME (kinda)

Loaded up the NXE (New Xbox Experience) this morning, and was very pleasantly surprised.  What has long been a very tired interface is now fresh, fun-to-use, and nice to look at!  It’s also quite snappy, which is nice.

One of the oft-discussed features of the NXE, of course, is the addition of “avatars” – an online character that represents you.  The character to my left there (<—-) is the avatar that I’ve created!  It’s certainly not a spitting image of me, but I would *totally* wear that outfit, and I really wish that my hair looked that cool.

My overall impression of the NXE is certainly positive, but I need to have some more hands-on time with it.  Ultimately, we spend *most* of our Xbox time simply playing games, which doesn’t involve the interface or dashboard a whole lot.  Now that the interface is more “community-based”, however, that might change.  I can see myself checking out the parties, chatting with friends, playing UNO, and other such nonsense – at least for awhile.  Should be fun!

Now for some other avatars…

          Chumplet                         Barkjon                         Pastor EJO
         (my brother)                      (my son)                    (my good buddy)

See you out there! 🙂

UPDATE: I’m impressed that Microsoft is continually able to “improve” their offerings via software updates.  I know that’s only sensible for a software company to do that, but let’s be honest: most companies improve by throwing new, improved hardware out there, and then they get around to the software.

The Xbox 360 will be 3 years old as of Nov. 22nd, 2008.  In technology years, that is a lifetime.  Still, with this dashboard refresh, Microsoft has made the 360 feel new again – fresh and fun.  I appreciate that the hardware isn’t the focus necessarily.  The is also true for the Zune, which received another refresh recently, and that refresh could be installed even on the ver1 devices.

Pretty amazing.

Not staged.

heatherSleepingWithStuffedAnimal

Dogs are funny creatures, sleeping or not.

I’m always taken aback at God’s creativity in creation, as well as the personalities given to them.  Truly amazing!

Pet peeve: caulking curved things

We’ve been remodeling our main bathroom for about…oh…’forever’ now, I think.  It never ends!  Made some good headway this past Saturday, however, when I finally installed our two sinks, faucets, water lines, and ran the drains.  Guess what?  It all works and doesn’t leak!

What I don’t like?  Caulking around the curved sinks.  The green-tiled countertop looks great, the white sinks are purty, and the faucets are just about perfect.  What better way to complete the project than with a poorly run bead of white caulk around each of the sinks?  Honestly, that part of the project appears to be beyond my skill-set.  😦

I’ll have to post a picture…

Welcome to the family.

Following in my tire tracks, if you will, my brother just purchased an older Saab similar to what I drive!  Very cool.  We’re going to have a “car maintenance afternoon” following church and lunch this Sunday!!

For whatever reason, I dig that.

Crazy looking cars, I know, but they’re fun!