The motherboard for the machine I’m building is set to arrive today. I’ll be able to finish up the hardware and start on the software. The first motherboard wasn’t compatable with 45-nm. :\

EDIT: The machine’s done. I like ASUS boards. They have a nicer I/O plate.

Hardware Nature?!

Electric Cars!

Here’s a very good idea. There’s an article on Forbes. We need to skip the whole painful hydrogen and ethanol and biofuel psudoadvancement and go right to electric cars. Solar peaks in the day, wind peaks in the night. Balance out the load by allowing utilities to borrow power back from the cars, provided the driver has not disabled this ability. (Like they’re leaving soon or something?) Really, why are we even trying to set up another flawed model of distrubution of liquids for powering vechicles? Electricity really is the renewable way to go. Besides, I remember reading somewhere that two thirds of oil in the US is used for millitary use and transporation trucks and the like. Although changes in consumer technology could definitely help, the millitary and transporation and freighting industry will need to get involved too. The article is here.

Hardware Software

Fun With Linux

I have two things:

  1. Guild Wars runs perfectly under Wine, no tweaking.
  2. VirtualBox is interesting, and much less nerve-wracking then trying a new OS on a real system. I intend to use it to try out new distributions more easily.

Also, logical volume management sounds interesting. I think I’ll check that out later…



It’s nice to be on break!

I finished my build of a computer with the following specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66Ghz


500GB HD

Two nVidia 8600 GTs in SLI

And Windows XP. This thing got 162.65 FPS on the Lost Coast stress test! It’s really snappy! However, I hit several snags from idea to having a working box humming in front of me.

Newegg wasn’t restocking on my nVidia 680i motherboard, so I bought it from TigerDirect. I also didn’t realize that XP’s 3GB total usable RAM limit counted video RAM. I got 3GB RAM, and the video cards added up to 512MB, so functionally I had 2.5GB non-video RAM. There’s a lesson learned.

The CPU fan was really hard to push into the motherboard. I would have preferred screwing it in, but I don’t think that’s possible with the ATX motherboard standards. It was something that required great strength. The tooless drive bays were a pain, but they managed to be fairly stable once I screwed it in. I wish they’d stop selling tooless cases – it really doesn’t help in the long term, or in stability. Then the computer kept overheating – just turning off suddenly – after sustained hard drive use. Then I remembered that hot air rises, and moved the hard drive to the lowest bay – it had been in the highest – and it stopped overheating. There’s another lesson learned.

The Windows XP installer surprised me by being really ugly and slow. When it first started up, it was text-based. It then booted from the hard drive and used a low-resolution (800×640?) GUI to configure things. While it recognized my PS/2 keyboard, it didn’t recognize my PS/2 mouse. A USB mouse worked fine though. After setting everything up, I was able to login. It turned out that nothing really worked out of the box – no sound, no networking. The driver CD included with the motherboard fixed all those problems, but seeing how Ubuntu did support sound and networking and even the PS/2 mouse/keyboard while running off a LiveCD, I was not impressed. To make me even more annoyed, when I first logged in one of the first notifications was the “Your system may be at risk.” It was complaining I wasn’t running antivirus. Great way to greet your users with a fresh system, Microsoft. At least it was just an XP install disk so it didn’t have lots of 3rd party crapware. eMachines have hours worth of it – and by hours I mean that’s how long it takes to get rid of all of it. I also learned that building a computer can be way, way cheaper than buying a new one. A used machine is about as cheap as you can get…

The rest was installing OpenOffice and Firefox, running benchmarks in Steam games, and setting up the machine again at my customer’s house. It was fun, and I even got paid! 🙂



This guy has some interesting hardware demos up. There are others on his site, but this one is of an automatic projector calibration system. That could save lots of time, although there’s the inevitable loss of resolution. There’s another one that allows any projected-on surface to be used as a multitouch screen, provided you’re willing to use an IR “pen.”



Hydrogen-extracting microbes! Clicky.

Games Hardware Interweb Elsewhere

MINERVA: Metastasis 3 Released!

Download here, and if you use BitTorrent, please be sure to seed! That brings me to my next topic: how Comcast is messing with BitTorrent traffic! Since I tend to be at Mom’s and subsequently using my much-more-dependable DSL service, I had only been reading about it up until now. Comcast is actively spoofing reset packets to BitTorrent seeds and the peers they attempt to connect with. This means seeding is impossible. Seconds in to establishing a connection, it will be ruthlessly slaughtered by Comcast’s packets sniffers. I find it amazing that Comcast thinks it can sell you a 3MBPs connection, (which they falsely claim is consistently faster than DSL, which it’s not, you can get higher peaks but you can’t depend on them) then tell you with a straight face that you can’t use all of it.

In worse news, it would seem that overheating was not all, or perhaps part, of my server’s problem. It just stopped responding again, and needed a hard reboot. I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m hoping I can find it and fix it. That’s really too bad that I spend $50 on a case that I thought I needed for stability but I guess I didn’t. :\

EDIT: Latest torrent with an exe installer instead of a zip went up on the 2nd of October. I’m seeding the exe now. I had 500 some MB on the zip.


Server Upgrade

It was down for an hour or so for a good reason: case swap.

My old case was horribly prone to overheating. The fan mounts allowed for pathetic amounts of airflow and seemed somewhat of a joke. The only fan was that in the cheap, possibly overheating PSU. When I get this case all set up, it will have three This case has two fans, not including the PSU. The old case tended to overheat to the point the computer would stop responding around once a month. The last straw was when it did so twice in around three days. I was going to get three 90mm PCI slot fans, (and I now just realized that this mobo only seems to have 2 PCI slots >.<) but ended up just fixing the base of the problem and getting a better case. A better PSU helps too. Hooray for Vertex!

EDIT: The final fan mount isn’t fitting. I’m going to see if I can get a fan that fits.

EDIT2: Oh. It’s not a fan mount. That makes sense, then. I’m glad they let me return the fan.


New Graphics Card!

Wow, I need to make new categories. Everything seems to be going under “other.”

As the title suggests, I now have a new graphics card – an Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT to be precise. I ran the benchmarks and I’m in awe. What I had prior to this upgrade was the onboard pathetic excuse for a GPU – an ATI Radeon Xpress 200.

Here are the numbers, for those interested. Tests on the recommended settings are marked R, tests on the maximum settings are marked M. All tests were performed at 1024×768 resolution.


Lost Cost R: 11.52 fps

Lost Cost M: 4.75 fps

CS:S R: 16.80 fps

CS:S M: 8.11 fps

New card:

Lost Cost R: 66.67 fps

Lost Cost M: 50.43 fps

CS:S R: 116.71 fps

CS:S M: 58.98 fps

All of the tests performed at maximum settings, regardless of game or card, had artifacts which I think were missing textures. I think that means I need more RAM, but it’s not like I play with maxed settings anyway. The new card got 10.6 times better on Lost Cost maxed. The smallest multiplier was 5.8 for Lost Cost recommended.

I also inadvertently stumbled across something interesting. Prior to all my testing, I had disabled Windows’ pagefile, which is where Windows uses the hard drive as auxiliary RAM. I didn’t turn it back on when I started the test, and ran both tests on Lost Cost without the pagefile. It scored slightly higher on the recommended setting test with 13.94 fps, but then crashed on the maxed out test, near the end where the soldier blows up the door. I assume this was because I simply ran out of physical RAM and there was no place for the additional textures to go, or something. What I find interesting is that something like this would be implemented so that, while it does improve stability, it also hampers performance, which is somewhat frustrating. That’s Windows for you…


Cheap Computers

Are they worth it? Financially, yes. Time-wise, no.

We got a machine with a Pentium 3@498mhz with 256MB of RAM, a 10GB HD, and no operating system for $116. This was opposed to the $226 P4 Celeron @ 2.4Ghz with 512MB of RAM and XP Home. All we need this machine for is light surfing and word processing, so that’s why we went with the one that cost almost half as much.

Right off, the machine was annoying, throwing up a “1801 PCI/PNP error! No space available to shadow ROM,” when it POSTed. It annoyed me that the guy that sold it to me knew about it (I saw him test its ability to POST) but didn’t tell me. I didn’t really know what it meant, but some light Googling turned up that I had to disable the ROM shadowing, which was unchangeable with my current BIOS. :\ It wasn’t all that much trouble, as I had either the option of continuing, or entering BIOS setup, and it would continue in 5 seconds automatically. I think I might have noticed at that point that the hard drive was not detected in BIOS, but I didn’t do much about it, I’m not sure why.

I booted into Ubuntu, and it took a while to load the LiveCD thanks to the horribly slow CD drive. Don’t get me wrong, Ubuntu is great, but on this drive, it took a long time to load. What made it even worse was that once I crawled through the installer and got to the partion stage, there were no devices detected to install to. I booted into GParted to confirm, and BIOS cemented it. I assumed the drive was dead, and started trying to make a Damn Small Linux bootable USB drive to have the machine still be usable. After it failed to boot into a FAT32 USB stick, I was about to try FAT when I checked to see if the HD was indeed plugged in. Data was plugged in, but power wasn’t. I had just spent an hour or more trying to get around an undetected HD, and it was just an unplugged cable!

I booted into GParted and easily made an ext3 partition and 509mb of swap. I pulled up Ubuntu again, repartitioned to use up all the drive space, finished the other stuff, then mashed the install button and left it alone. It took a while, due to the CD drive still insisting on being slow. I could’ve taken my faster drive from my server and popped it in there, but that would mean downtime, and I’m trying to have a high uptime so I can brag about it.

The install finished after what seemed like a little over half an hour, and the machine rebooted and pulled up the OS. The sound worked right out of the box, so did the networking. My sister settled down and seemed to like it. Mission accomplished! 🙂