Updated Computer Core

It’s been a looong time since my computer saw an upgrade. I think I’ve gotten new RAM and DVD drive along the way, but by and large I have had the same computer for the last 5 years. Here’s my last blog update talking about my last upgrade. Unlike last upgrade, this one was far better planned. I had been slowly upgrading my computer for some time. I had already upgraded from a lowly 300GB hard drive to 4TB of space. And was well on the way to saving for the next upgrade. This particular core upgrade came about from a $1500 bonus that I got from work, for my new position that I had only been in for 3 months. Nice! Continue reading “Updated Computer Core”

New Computer Needed

Perhaps the most annoying part of the fact that I have no money due to a new mortgage and car loan is that I really really need a new computer. The current computer that I have is still operational, but I think a couple of the fans are Dying and it now makes a lot of noise. In addition, I do note that the speed is fading, though maybe a reformat of the OS could help alleviate that for a time.

I built this thing shortly before I got my current job. It was one of the last things I bought with the remnants of my student loans. That means this computer is about 5 years old, give or take. As a gamer, you can imagine how i feel about that.

Since I’ve had time a bit more lately, a lack of money and a design to think about this sort of thing, I have actually gone and done some research on the current iteration of computer hardware. In doing this, I did decide that it was high time to fulfill a long standing idea. In fact this idea was one I had when I originally built this current computer: A Media Center.

And yes, I mean to make a media center as a primary computer. The way in which I intend to do this is actually to make two computers and not just one.

The idea is that there will be a traditional media center that would be a very small computer that would attach itself to the Television. This particular unit would carry in it a powerful wifi receiver, a solid state hard drive, a small but decent graphics card that would allow for playing some games on the television, a bunch of RAM and a wireless keyboard, mouse and game pad.

The other computer is actually the main computer. This particular computer would actually be a media server. This one would feed the media center all the movies, music and whatever else that it will need so that I can be entertained in my living room instead of my bedroom (where my computer is currently located). My plan is to have about 8 2TB Green drives that could be on most of the day (or at least in sleep) and then quiet when it is on so that I can sleep in its presence.

The media server would also have in it a state of the art processor, graphics card and RAM. The main reason is to play modern top end games that I don’t think a media center will be able to handle (that one is more meant for older games and/or indie games). However, I do think increased RAM and Processor speeds will aid in streaming stuff to the main media center.

Ironically, a lot of what i want this system to do, I think the Wii U will be doing with the TVii app that they are building. I really like what they are doing, but the one problem I have is the lack of information on customization. As far as I can tell, the only thing that you can actually do with TVii is access online services, not your own hard drive on a different computer, so though I think it is an excellent service, I don’t think it is going to be doing what I want it to do.

So that is my plan. It would require a lot of work and a lot of money, this later bit I really don’t have and so I don’t know if it is going to happen soon. Unfortunately even if I had some extra cash I have other things that are slightly higher on my list than a new computer.

The one bright side of all this is that I do think that I am hopeful of finding a newer higher paying job in the next few months, and I do believe that my exploits into swagbucks may be paying off finally. When last we spoke about it I was earning about $20 a month in amazon gift cards. As it stands i have already earned $25 in December in just one week and am hoping for a $25 gift card to Gamestop before the month is done. A definite improvement in production!

New Cell Phone

After two years, my roommate came to the point where we could get new cell phones at discounted prices assuming we would sign new contracts. It came about the right time too as our previous phones were falling apart. We both previously had HTC Heros, this time we didn’t go with the same phones. I went with the Samsung Galaxy S 2, and my roommate went with the iPhone 4.

The old HTC Hero I am fairly torn with. On one side I really liked it. It was in essence a first generation Android phone, and I felt that it was a pretty good one. However, over the last 6 to 9 months it really started to show its age. Both of ours started freezing and crashing periodically. One of the button plating had started to fall off and the back cover barely stayed on mine. And there were a number of other similar problems. It is these hardware malfunctions that made me decide to go back to Samsung who had developed my two phones previous to HTC and both of which were excellent phones in my opinion.

When I unboxed the Samsung Galaxy S II, I couldn’t help but look at it and go “Holy Crap! That’s way too big. The Galaxy has a 4.5-inch OLED screen which is a full inch bigger than the iPhone 4 and I think 1.5 inches bigger than my previous phone. It looks huge even though it is nearly all screen! I really thought I might have issues putting it into my pocket, but fortunately, it is a really thin device at less than a half-inch thick. I think the thinness of the phone makes up for the length and width. I feel it actually fits in my pocket better than my previous phone despite initial worries. I will be honest, even 4 days later I am still trying to get used to the size and this is still making me contemplate returning the whole thing.

The screen itself, outside of size, is quite amazing. A much more clear and crisp quality than my old phone. Blacks are REALLY black and colors just pop out. I turned on the netflix app and could actually see myself buying a stand of some sort and actually watching movies of some sort. It is a far better screen than any other cell phone that I think I’ve seen, iPhone included.

I am an Android devout. I like the OS. I like that Google left it open. I like that they actually support and innovate, unlike their competition. I like that they invented bar code scanning and voice control and don’t sue others who use it, even though they probably should. And I gotta say that Gingerbread is pretty awesome. Rumor has it that the Galaxy S 2 is going to be upgrading to Ice Cream Sandwich, which was part of the reason I made the switch, but for now I’m enjoying Gingerbread. My previous version (I think it was donut) felt like an early iteration. It had a ton of promise, but a ton of problems. Many of these issues they’ve fixed and have since added a ton of effectiveness.

The in-phone keyboard is much more smooth than it used to be and I find myself much more comfortable with it and getting things wrong less. I haven’t really liked the swipe feature very much, it is a good idea but I have had issues using it so far and it actually feels like it takes me longer to make a word on it than it does just typing. I have been amazed at the voice control of the thing. I always liked the voice recognition on my Hero, but I didn’t use it because you couldn’t use it in too many places unfortunately. Well Samsung stepped up and included the mic button anywhere you could type and it works wonderfully. It has caught nearly everything I’ve tried at it. I went and downloaded a task app and started speaking my tasks into the keyboard input… “Geocaching,” “Take Medicine,” “Fold Clothes,” “Clean Kitchen,” and “Take out Trash” all worked without a hitch. The only issues it had was with write which it spelled right, not a huge deal, and “do litter” which it read as “do later.” I think the last one was a fair problem but could have been user error, I will give it the benefit of the doubt. I’ve used it dozens of times since and those remain the only two issues I’ve ever had. It’s everywhere and it works.

The phone has 4G, another reason I got it. I wanted to make sure it was fairly future proof seeing as I was going to have it for two years. I didn’t actually think that we got 4G in this area, but it has been picking up 4G in this area none the less.

The jury is still out on the battery life. It is supposed to have 8.5 hours of talk time. However, I’ve been playing a lot of games, and keeping 4G and wi-fi up as I’ve been home so the battery has been draining. Games in particular are draining it faster obviously. I played Angry Birds on it for about 4 or 5 hours yesterday morning and ended up having to plug the phone back in at about 2pm because it was down to 10 or 15%. I woke up at 7am so I guess this isn’t bad. If I start using it more normally, I think it should last all day pretty easily.

It has a pretty nifty zoom feature where you can put two fingers on the screen, you can tilt in or out to zoom in or out. I think it works pretty well though is difficult to control how fast it zooms. I never really was able to get the pinch thing to work reliably on the Hero so I’m not tied to any previous function so I’m going through both and seeing how they work.

It also has a nice feature that you can turn the phone upside down and it is supposed to mute so that it doesn’t disturb you at work or what not. My initial test of putting it on my stomach while I was laying down didn’t work so well, I’ll have to see if it works better on an actual flat surface.

Overall I like the phone quite a bit. I kind of wish that Samsung released different versions of the phone with high-end and low-end. I would like this phone maybe without the giant screen and half the storage, but overall it’s a great phone. I’m now leaning towards keeping it where I was considering sending it back when we got it thanks to the size issue. But I’ve gotten used to it.

I btw, also had this reaction to getting a big screen TV. I remember when we put it into our house a few years back we looked it and thought that it was way too big and we should have gotten a smaller one. But we did eventually get used to the adjustment and now have a hard time going smaller. Funny how those things work.

Accidental New Computer

Kind of strange really, but as a tax return present to myself I decided I wanted to finally get my computer fixed after more than 5 months of not being able to use it. (I use my laptop on a day to day basis.) The motherboard had fritzed out (the third such ASUS motherboard which has died earlier than it should have) and so I decided to buy a new motherboard. While I was at it, I decided that RAM was cheap enough now a days that I could get an upgrade to it with a 4GB purchase. That’ll bring my RAM to 6GBs which should be plenty for at least a few years.

Continue reading “Accidental New Computer”

Got My Computer Working… I think.

After months of hard work, I finally got my computer working. Or at least I think I do. I finally got it up and running last night, had it on all evening and it didn’t crash. Just turned it on this morning, and again appears good. It seems that the entire problem really was a motherboard problem that somehow looked and felt like a hard drive problem. I bought an Asus M3N-HD/HDMI, I didn’t really want to buy another Asus because that was the last one I had, but it had the features I was looking for at the price I was looking at so I just bought it. So far so good.

Hard Drive Woes

A couple weeks ago I started to get the Blue Screen of Death randomly. I started by thinking it might be a recently installed program so I uninstalled everything that I had added, I then tried system restore, and after that didn’t work I tried taking out the Memory because that is a common problem. Continue reading “Hard Drive Woes”