May 30, 2013


Himawari has been making me very happy.  Playing a time consuming game with all the graphic features ON instead of off... And best of all, I re-discovered that a while ago I had downloaded the Tenchi Muyo OVA series in 1080p a long time ago, but I could never watch it because the opening sequence, with that flashing pattern, was pretty much instant death for any codec on Dystopia.  For Himawari, she wasn't even breathing hard, and I got to remember why, for the first six episodes anyway, why it was one of my favorite series.

I was in love with Ryoko, at first. She was like Lum, with an edge. and I particularly liked the history she had with Tenchi before he was even aware of her - that was a sweet backstory.  Of course, after the big storyline in the first six episodes, they fell back on fairly standard Harem tripe, and that dimmed my enthusiasm, but still, I haven't seen it since I was eagerly buying it up on VHS.  And I've always loved that opening theme.

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May 26, 2013

And I was like...

Wanted to tack this into the original crash post, but I couldn't find it until now.

From one of my favorite artists on DA, Phillip "Jollyjack" Jackson. (Who does not always draw stick figures, no, not at all!)


Click to Embiggen

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May 20, 2013

The Price of Technology

They used to say, with regard to Moore's Law, that a top of the line computer would typically cost around $4000, and that with each doubling of the power of computers, the top of the line computer would still cost around $4000.

Well, I think they did hit some limit based on the scale they can make IC traces, so now the prices are coming down.  WAY down. For $1030 before tax ($1128 after) I think I got an amazing deal. I probably could have spent more on  higher end video card, but even this one is an order of magnitude faster than my old one. (Wish I'd had access to this video card rating site someone showed me afterwards, for a little more the next variant of my new card is significantly better, I suppose I could return it and trade up, but it's 45 minutes each way.). In any case, while I suppose there were a couple of small areas where I could have been a little more top end, I'm well up there, and I was able to get a much better computer, and hopefully solve all my problems.

Alas, that remains to be seen. Some of my computer issues are yet to be resolved.

So today's foray to Fry's to build a machine from the ground up resulted in me bringing home:

An 8 core, 4 GHz, Socket AM3+ AMD processor (an unlocked version that my MB can supposedly automatically figure out how far it can overclock and even possibly free up any unused cores),

An MSI motherboard that could support it (and a few features I wanted that distinguished it from the others, like optical digital audio out that connects directly to my Amp.),

16 Gig of memory (1600 speed, could have been faster, but at $99 for the pair, a great deal),

A 750 Watt Corsair power supply with modular cabling,

A very nice "Soprano" case,

Another 2 TB drive - which turned out to be a wise investment, although it would have been better if they hadn't been sold out of the Seagate Barracuda that was cheaper and the same model as the one I've got.  This one's a Hitachi.

A new Asus nVidia GTX 650 video card, and

A SATA DVD/CD drive.

And on the way out I remembered to snag an HDMI cable, since my old video card did 1080P via component video. Alas, the days of taking advantage of the component video switching in my Amp will have to change, and I'll have to use the TV remote to switch between the computer and the video gear, and switch the amp for the audio.

Not one item on the list was over $200.  Most were under $150, and the DVD drive blew the curve by being $12. The HDMI cable, which I picked up on the way out (fortunately) was a very reasonable $8 for a 6 footer, half what they used to cost.

There were also about $40 worth or rebates among those components. And the laptop has one too I need to send in for.

So I carefully began the process of building the machine, routing the wires though the rubber grommets in the frame of the case, installing drives in the slide out trays (This case even has a space in the top where you can basically jam in any bare SATA drive into this socket for hot swapping backups.) Once everything was in, and the TV was switched to HDMI, I crossed my fingers and fired it up.  It worked!

The world of BIOS has improved to the point where you can use the mouse with it. Alas, while booting up with my original drive, I got about the farthest I was able to before the old machine really began dying.  The mouse would freeze during the post-desktop loading process, right about the time the SysConfig dialog would come up.  Plus Windows wanted to re-validate, but couldn't connect to the internet for some reason.  Safe Mode launches would lock up (Probably missing some critical files for the new config). Fortunately, I got that second drive.  As I write, it's in the process of formatting, and I'm going to install an OS on it.  Then we shall see if I can successfully copy all my important stuff off it before trying to fix my original drive's OS.

Why not stick with the OS on the new drive?  It's a slower RPM, and there's so much stuff to re-install and re-update. The new drive is meant for backups. (Also, the CD that came with the new drive seems to be less bootable than they indicated, so my XP Pro disk is doing the formatting.  It's taking a while to format the raw drive.)

I'll keep you fascinated people updated.

Update 1: I guess I really do need Windows 7 or better.  XP can only access 3 Gig of memory. But I still don't want 8.

Update 2: Amazon told me that Win 7 wouldn't arrive until Wednesday, so I didn't check my mail until now (3 AM Sunday) but it arrived Saturday at Noon. It's going to take some messing around to get my drives right. One can't change the drive letter of the boot volume, I still want my system on one half of my faster Seagate drive hooked up as drive 0. Fortunately I installed XP on Both drives, so I renamed the Hitachi drive to H: will boot from that and get C and D back to their proper places (instead of E and F.) Wondering about repartitioning, so I'm backing up all the torrents from D. Reorganizing is always such a pain.

But I DID discover that on 4/20/13 they released a new CCCP.  Yeee!

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May 16, 2013

Dystopia has Fallen!

Unfortunately, Dystopia is the name of my main Desktop computer, pretty much my only really useable machine. (I've given up mostly using my vintage 1996 Mac, and I have one other less advanced PC that is scheduled to run the CNC Router I will build eventually). Usable was a fairly charitable description for a Single Core Socket 939 Athalon at 2.4 GHz. But it did have one thing going for it, a 2 TB SATA drive, divided into two partitions (thanks to Seagate's cloning program splitting it to match my previous 200 Gig drive). C: of course was the main one, and D: contained all my torrents.

The graphics card, a BFG-made nVidia 7300 lost its fan a while ago, but kept working. But I got into playing a game that ran the graphics pretty hard, and I got an education. The game would oddly lose its frame rate dramatically, then regain it in a minute or so. The Task Manager would show a huge spike in Kernel times. The in-game debug stats showed that it was that the Open GL calls that were taking an order of magnitude longer, and my handy little Infrared thermometer showed me what was happening to the graphics card. At the start of the game it would begin heating up, and at a certain point, it would go into some kind of thermal shutdown.  It still worked, but slowly.  Once it cooled (barely) enough, it would start flying again, and overheat again. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. A strategically placed case fan solved the problem, but before I could implement a better plan, it failed permanently, only working in some kind of VGA mode.

So began the desperate struggle to salvage things as other cascading failures followed. CHKDSK started making an appearance in the boot process, never a good sign. Attempts to copy my documents folder to my external USB drive would fail before it got to the important stuff, all my pictures and writing (and apps, and software installers). Hey Microsoft, what ever happened to Abort, Retry, Ignore? Abandoning a copy fifteen folder levels deep because NTUser.dat is in use is a really shitty way to leave a user. Attempts to copy my data into the remaining space on the D: Partition were similarly cursed, even a Power Outage added itself to the mix. By this point, the machine was starting to randomly fail to get through the POST or load the BIOS.  I fell back to my previous video card, with significant additional problems related to the end of support for it in the current divers. Eventually I decided I didn't want to risk the C: drive any more, and pulled out my previous 200 Gig IDE drive, which SHOULD have still had a working OS on it. But guess what, it wouldn't boot.

Always Mount a Scratch Monkey they say, Well, the Monkey may well be dead, but it's hard to tell because attempting to reformat the old drive and re-install the OS on it failed with a random freeze, and after that, well, it's just not restarting.

(I even replaced the CMOS battery. No real help there though.)

Well, I finally dug out the crowbar to pry open my wallet.  I've always wanted to have a Laptop. Meet Etna. The best HP laptop Office Depot had laying around. It doesn't give me access to my SATA drive yet, but it gets me online, sorta.  All my good stuff is still locked away (Including my bookmarks!). And I wasn't joking about the crowbar. My bank called me the day of the purchase to make sure it was really me.

I have gotten my first taste of Windows 8 and it's every bit as vile as you have heard. Thank goodness for the auto-setup it ran when I first powered up because I wouldn't have found some of the network settings manually. Although it was quite annoying in insisting to use my wireless access point instead of the perfectly good network cable plugged into the side. Eventually I had to turn the wireless off entirely. And I'm still not too thrilled about the info it insisted on collecting for a "Microsoft Account".  No, I'm not going to your stinking App store. They seem to have added another layer of abstraction to the filesystem too, in order to hide what's under the hood from users. My files seem to save in a directory called "Library" which is not what one would normally call something you write to.

Hopefully this weekend a trip to Fry's will give me the chance to get all the parts for a killer system, one that I will run into the ground for another ten years. And run my copy of XP Pro on for as long as I can.

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