Tag Archives: computers

Minor Upgrade to Byakko and Thoughts over Seiryuu

So my Geforce GTS 250 (512mb GDDR3) has had a bit of a history with overheating for the last week… So I decided to nip the issue in the bud and pick up a Radeon HD 5770 by Asus. Who’d have thought that a change to 1GB of GDDR5 would make a number of changes. To give some of you an idea of how bad the Geforce GTS 250 was overheating… Some days, the system would run about 50C – 60C (122F – 140F) on idle. While gaming, the temps would rocket to 85C – 100C  (185F – 212F) quickly. Sometimes the overheating was so bad it just plain locked up my computer and I’d just have to force it to power down and cool the card off before turning the machine back on. Continue reading Minor Upgrade to Byakko and Thoughts over Seiryuu

Machines and Logic Bombs

Lately I have been debating over 2 cases to upgrade Byakko to… The Cooler Master HAF 932 or a Cooler Master Sniper Black. Cooling is my primary focus as heat dissipation is a primary focus for me as keeping a hot system cool is definitely important. I know I have a Phenom II x4 945 processor upgrade, a Corsair H50 cooling system, a Corsair HX power source, and a Radeon HD 5770 (XXX Edition from XFX) as pending upgrades. Definitely huge upgrades for sure. So keeping cool and functional is definitely vital… Plus I do want to push my gaming to the limits.

The logic bomb of the weekend is the matter of my sister. I have no clue why she thinks I care or am part of the loop with my family… but this weekend she suddenly tells me an aunt of mine died over the weekend and then vanishes. I mean, she’s basically cast me out because I am some sort of loser with no diploma and degree after my name… Which boggles me… Why would a person shoot me dead as an outcast yet then try to socialize to me about matters of a social system I have no shred of care for? It’d be like convicting a person with being a pedophile but a month later telling them to go to a Chuck-e-Cheese and babysit a party full of children. No offense to people who are logically incompetent, but… FOR GODSAKE DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO OSTRACIZE SOMEONE PROPERLY! I mean, I don’t think it’s hard. You don’t go “I never want to speak to you again, ever!” and then an hour later go “Hey, what up?” It defeats the purpose.

The Workbench Project: Operation Phoenix Down [iBook G4]

Every now and then at the hallowed office of ZeroXR 13mg, I do salvage projects. These things range from sterilizing computers with computer forensics tool kits to building full scale machines. This round… I wanted to do something charitable for my sister.

Alice has had a trustworthy iBook G4 that she’s had with her from entering college… Well, about a week ago… She’s reported it would get into a phase where the machine would be stuck on a white screen with a gray Apple logo and the spinning icon keeps going… No system boot-up at all. She is going to Florida to attend my cousin’s wedding and well… because she’s got no laptop… she won’t be able to sync and charge her iPod nano.

I felt bad and this evening… I took her iBook to my lab table. I tried resetting the PRAM and NV-RAM, resetting the PMU with no avail. My friend Tyler had suggested trying to boot from Single User Mode and to run the repair command… That worked… but on rebooting… same issue. I tried to reboot to safe mode and that failed. I tried a forced disk boot and the OS X Tiger disc reported the disk was ok… so I am at a loss…

I would hate to think it’s the logic board… but anyone else have possible ideas? Anything would be good… I’d like to help my sister out cause she’s got tons of valuable files on the machine to boot.

Dual Sport Surgeon ZeroXR – Cars and Computers

So… Friday was one busy day filled with projects.

After work, I made haste to visit Track Dog Racing in Dallas for Devil’s part. After paying Gary for the coil packs, I would wait for the engine to cool enough so I could just get in, change out the coils and then go home. There were a few Mazda engineer snags like tape and zip ties, but the guys out at Track Dog helped with those as I bolted in the coils. After the coils were in, the moment of truth was upon me. I was to take Devil around and make sure throttle response was stable again as well as ignition. A test run of about 5 minutes showed all systems were normal and I was relieved.

From there… I sped back home to Plano to hit up Comp USA for a few things for Byakko (the desktop computer for those confused with my nomenclature). I would pick up a GeForce GTS 250 by XFX, 4GB of DDR2 OCZ ReaperX HPC RAM, and 4 more USB ports to plug them up… This is where the real fun began.

The fitment of the Geforce GTS 250 into my Micro ATX board was a little tight but manageable. It does show how much real estate disappears when you have a graphic card that eats 2 slots… That for me was essentially one PCI slot gone. After the parts were in… it was then time to power it all up and behold the glory…

I decided to try to “benchmark” my games on fluid playback… and surprisingly… Most of my games had decided to set themselves to “High” settings and played without any choppy frame rates. This is probably the first time I have ever seen “modern” games coming even close to looking decent. Sure there was some behind the scenes tweaking with drivers and stuff, but it was highly rewarding to say the least.

The funny part is just how in common fixing up cars and computers are… The fact I got to play in both worlds was rather rewarding. Devil being back to tip-top shape as well as my computer being in excellent condition made things far more sweeter.

[Technology] Byakko’s Story – My New Project PC

I am not going to lie… Suzaku, my laptop, nearly died a few weeks ago. I was in a panic. To think that I had just about my entire academic life in Suzaku and the damn thing almost killed all of my work with it’s possible death. I won’t lie… I was in pure fear. The Beast v7 had died a great while ago due to a bad power supply, so I really was SoL (not to be confused with my cousin Sol) without a spare WORKING machine.

It was one of those moments that I had to almost pause time and evaluate everything… The thoughts started rolling in my mind:

What the Hell am I going to do?! I can’t afford a laptop…

Will Suzaku hold out until I can hole up at minimal $1,000 for a great laptop?

What will happen if my laptop dies?! I am not going to have a machine for college next semester!

But then… A thought had hit me like a bolt of lightning from a brain storm…

I have some birthday cash… Maybe I can make a budget build machine as a back up and slowly make it stronger.

So I settled and decided to do the unthinkable… I drove out to CompUSA out in Plano and said “Let’s see what $200ish can get me nowadays…” What I found shocked me, as if Heaven smiled on me… The game plan was to take the shell of the Shuttle xPC SK41G and just throw in new parts.

So… Here were the parts I had gathered from my run (4/25/2009):

$50 – Biostar MCP6P M2+ microATX Mainboard (nVidia nForce 430)
$90 – AMD x64 Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.2Ghz processor
$30 – Ultra 450w power source
$40 -OCZ High Performance Dual Channel Kit: 866mhz 2GB DDR2 RAM
Total cost: $210 + tax (8.25% in Plano)

To most hardcore gamers… I know this was not “uber” but my point was to make a machine comfortable to use. The reused parts were to be the 40GB hard drive and DVD-ROM from The Beast.

So on arriving home… I feverishly tore open The Beast, cleaned what seemed to be 3 years worth of dust and dried out thermal paste and I ran into a problem. Shuttle’s xPC series uses a propretary flex board for their mainboards. I remember the words from my mouth that were uttered were “Oh… For crying out… ARGH!!! %#@&!!!” Naturally, this flex board was longer and thinner than the new motherboard I just bought.
Family had picked a bit of a scuffle with me… but resolute that buying another poor laptop would only result in me being unsatiated, I would say “I will see my project out, no excuses.” Thus… I began to plot on CompUSA’s website for a cheap case that would be adequate too cool the machine, but also not break my college student wallet. That would be were I found my new case… The Thermaltake Wings RS-100. My quest would be to buy a new shell and this would effectively mean a brand new machine.
Sunday morning… I would run at what seemed like the first light of dawn to find that computer case and bolt up my parts. The reps had trouble finding a shell and eventually a brand new Thermaltake Wings RS 100 was found! The best part was it was on sale to boot!
$40 – Thermaltake Wings RS 100 Piano Black case
Total build cost – $250 + tax
After purchasing the case… I would assemble it in haste while family picked their battles with me. I remember one point getting so caught up with family that I didn’t finish the build and was even late to work from debating with them! So I was resolute to finish it in my dorm…
Post work, I made haste to throw Byakko into my car with an old 15″ Sony Vaio CRT monitor, a Chinese-English PS/2 keyboard, and a whole lot of faith. After making the boring drive home to my dorm… I ran into an issue with the build up: My DVD drive was not being recognized. The next problem was getting Windows installed but without a CD/DVD drive.
Luckily, the web had a bunch of people making tutorials on how to fit Windows 7 onto a USB drive… so I just transposed the information to my copy of Windows. With a lot of faith… I prayed and watched my machine process everything and then… I saw the confirmation that the install had completed successfully. I was elated…
That was almost 4 weeks ago…
Since then, Byakko has had a few budget upgrades to help it breath a little easier…
$15 – Second hand 15″ standard definition LCD monitor
$50 – 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7,200 RPM hard drive
On top of that, I have dedicated it as my gaming machine… so naturally, I moved over my Saitek Eclipse back-lit blue keyboard, my Logitech G13 Advance Gamer Pad, and G9 Laser mouse. So far for $315, it’s been a grand example of a machine. I know the next upgrades will have to be the Geforce GTS 250 and widescreen LCD monitor to make my gaming & productivity a lot more tolerable.
The later upgrades from there will probably be the 4GB RAM upgrade, a Corsair 80-plus 750w power source, an additional 1TB hard drive, a few more USB ports, possibly a Blu-Ray drive and just call it complete.
I will say that for a machine on a budget… it runs like a champ! This is proof that if you want something that’s a killer value and you don’t mind doing some part recycling… you can build a nice system on the cheap.

Fears about Suzaku…

I love my little laptop… I really do. Though the last few days have me concerned. I have had Suzaku for nearly 2 years now and it wasn’t until recently that the poor machine has been heating up at a vast rate both in Linux and Windows XP. In Linux, there is minimal processor strain as I usually turn off the Compiz-Fusion effects and just keep my system functional. In Windows, I use it mainly to back-up my phone, hack/upgrade my phone, and (as of late) World of Warcraft. I know I had blasted a whole ton of latent dust bunnies out when I did the RAM install for my machine on top of ripping out caked up dust on the cooling fans as well.

It concerns me as my machine is usually on for a good few hours be it doing some bittorrent streams of Linux distros, movie/anime watching, web surfing, and games. If Suzaku is on the verge of death… I need to try taking the machine apart and see if it is due for another cleansing of dust and debris. I would hate to find that my machine that has treated me so well wants to give up. Let’s pray that is not the case.

Realizations on Modern Day PC MMO Gaming.

Boredom is a powerful and deadly drug in this modern day world… It can cause us to view some rather awful things that our human eyes were never ever meant to see. Great example was the viral “2 girls 1 cup” video that many laid eyes to and lead to some great “reaction” videos on YouTube. However… It has lead me to a rather interesting cross-road. I have lost quite a number of friends from the ex wreaking her drama around town which is a terrible shame really. In turn, this has caused me to play with an odd thought my cousin Sol tuned me to…

Zero, I dare to say that that your laptop could run World of Warcraft… I know you are getting cabin fever when people call out and cancel to your hang-outs. I have had friends who couldn’t even run Guild Wars with low settings on their machines, but somehow World of Warcraft runs like a champ. Plus you may have some fun on top of everything. Just hit up Blizzard’s World of Warcraft site and get your free trial key.

I would give it a shot and see what could come out of it… but sadly… there was one thing limiting me from playing. The updates. World of Warcraft’s base install from a v1.0.0 DVD took 20 minutes and about 2GB of hard disk space. Then add that there are several patches that lead to v2.4.0 that are about 450+MB a piece and NOT a direct “update to 2.4.0 patch” upgrade… Over a base DSL connection, that’s a rather agonizing download… I am on v2.0.1 updating to 2.4.0 currently at 24%, the patch being about 1GB in size, and my speeds from P2P downloads reading at 26 kb/s to 76 kb/s. The estimated time of completion being close to 5-6 hours. I could deal with slow updating, but that’s a rather hefty lot to be downloading almost 3-4GB of compressed game data just to enter the game. At the same time… Guild Wars has it’s own share of things… If you install the client, it does have to sync up with the server to download client software updates which can be agonizing as well. I assume that having to download all of the data before playing is much better than entering a zone and being prohibited from playing until the zone data completes, which is a slight issue I have with Guild Wars.


I would try to go somewhere like a zone after entering a town and my in-game friends would message me to death but due to the zone loading, I couldn’t see squat. I digress…

I haven’t played World of Warcraft in a long while, save for the one time Cousin Sol let me have a taste early on just to see… I didn’t care for it much then, as I had liked how polished out Guild Wars was with regard to errata. It should be interesting to see how things are now in the game after so many “nerfs” that have balanced/unbalanced (depending on your take) the game play.

It’s a shame my family doesn’t want to step into Verizon FiOS but I don’t have much choice. I will say that if World of Warcraft does run on my laptop, albeit crudely… 1) I will probably be seeking a dedicated Windows laptop for gaming and proprietary program use. Even if it does mean I have to donate Suzaku to my family and means I may not be using Linux too much… I don’t mind charity for them. 2) I will probably ask family to consider FiOS for bandwidth reasons.

I will say that I don’t plan to have World of Warcraft take over my life, I have decent self control from working out and knowing I only have a few years left in my pharmacy studies anyhow.

MMO’s are one hell of a drug…

Where do I begin…

I remember living the alone life and watching my life depressively fall apart. I was the low man on the totem pole at the office. My course-work was a shining example of a guy who had too many things to worry about and school could hit the back-burner. I will admit that I had a bad problem with alcohol addiction and only because I lacked supportive and close friends to break me from the slump. I only found one outlet for my loneliness and that was through online gaming. Sure, I was drunk most of the time I played, but for the few hours of my evening… I could be a character who was kind and sympathetic to other travellers of a fantasy world with mythical beasts and denizens. However… with how much computer gaming has changed with the years, my gaming computer can’t even barely play Guild Wars anymore. My laptop had a shot with the game, but the graphics chips just couldn’t handle splitting processor power to display the game and processing the game data at the same time. I have had to take a forceful retirement of gaming all because of dated hardware.

With my status change to an “eligible bachelor in training” (quoted from my boss) and with my reputation in Dallas being a tad tarnished… It’s been a little hard to try to do damage control to re-establish myself as a reputable person. With friends in summer school and some of my distant friends unable to take vacations to Dallas, I have been at a rather odd loss to going to the bars and wine parlors to only drink alone or watch my attempts to strike conversation only go so far. Then there are days where misery makes me yearn to put my time into a game… but I have lost my gaming consoles save for my PSP and DS and I lack funding for the new generation systems as well as a TV. I lack a digital SLR camera to fuel my hobby of macro photography.

Sad to say… I almost want another gaming computer. I know that there’s college for me around the corner… Lots of laptops on the retail market at the entry prices of $600 have GeForce 8000M series or ATi Mobility Radeon cards with supple processing power and RAM to boot. Not that I have anything against my loyal Linux laptop Suzaku, but booting into Windows bogs down the poor 1.73gHz Centrino from doing its job and I am damn near close to scrapping that partition… In essence, I’d rather have a dedicated Windows machine for gaming, Windows Mobile phone back-ups/hacking/modification, and proprietary academic programs that do not play nice in Wine or Virtual Box. I almost want to fork out the cash for a modest machine to play an FPS game, Guild Wars or even, dare I say, World of WarCraft. I have hated the cabin fever of staying in with nothing to do and even more so that my machine is so limited and my old gaming tower is damn near useless.

I guess ultimately what I am saying is… LOL! When friends turn me down to go out on the town to enjoy the night life over a pleasant drink and maybe dinner… I’d like to have an alternate plan to bask in the greatness of MMO’s and maybe feed my gamer side when no one online feels the need to talk to me. (I can assure you that I would not be neglecting ZeroXR 13mg in any form of fashion.)

I think I know what my next purchases will be, should I be able to hobble up my expenses… a new Windows laptop for strict use that minimize it from being a full time machine and a Canon Digital Rebel XSi with a 4 or 8GB high speed SD card as items celebrating my liberation from debts. I have just a little more to go before I am free from the biggest financial bondage… To be free of personal debts is something that I am so very close to concluding. I cannot thank my family enough for giving my that one chance to prove my filial worth as as son and to start over as an upstanding man in society.

A Semi-Sane Blurb Before I Go Nutty

With the chaos of my job at the office, corporate cannot rally reinforcements to aid me. Due to this, I am going to be at the office for an entire 12 hours. I do get two 30 minute lunches as the law requires, but a person must have something to look forward to endure a mental flogging of sorts. Me? I do my 12 hour shift tomorrow only to walk in 12 hours later and work 9am to 5:30pm Thursday. I may possibly be disgruntled and maybe a tinge insane, only if things at the office mess up continuously. I know the past Friday, I was on edge from the fax machine imploding on itself from the paper feed mechanism choking on itself with me trying to service the machine and juggling phone calls with other offices and clients… I can only hope that I can try to hold my sanity through. I mean, I had an insane Friday and then an insane Monday, so the worst is over for now? I just hope so.

I don’t mind the money, because the more cash… well, the quicker I can get to my 60,000 mile maintenance parts. Considering it’ll be $550 in parts and supplies, I could use all the money I can get. Lucky me, I will be doing the 60,000 mile service with my friend Radioactive from the Dallas Miata Enthusiasts, which saves me $800 – $1,100 in shop labor fees as well as 2-5 days of downtime. My main cost will be 10 – 12 hours of laboring on my car with a buddy who will keep me laughing and conversing. I do look forward to my car running like a properly maintained machine… after the 60,000 mile maintenance, oil change, new spark plugs and wires, new synthetic gear oil… I expect to be seeing a side of Devil that I have possibly never seen. I have never had a chance to ride with Devil in near brand new status and even with a brand new batch of gear oil either. After that, my next task will be to get new tires to ensure I get a proper contact patch on driving. My next major expense for Devil will be the drop top maintenance. I am seriously debating on buying an upgraded cloth top with new seals as I hate the vinyl top limiting me to days warmer than 65F.

I may have to hold off on getting a phone upgrade from my considerations to doing maintenance and potential upgrades to Devil… As fun as it would be to get an HTC Touch Dual, TyTN2, or even a Blackberry device, it’s not necessary as my P990i does the job well enough. Gaming expenses will definitely be taking a hit for me… I may look into DS and PSP hacking and modifications, but that’s a while away. I hope that my school will play nice with Ubuntu Linux, especially with regards to the proprietary Windows applications for some of the CD’s packed in academic textbooks out there… There’s always the route of getting VMware on my laptop, should things get desperate.

Hopefully the office can let me just do weekend shifts while I am at school to get a steady source of income to pay for my car note and insurance. If they can’t… it’ll muck things up a bit more. I just need to make sure before anything… If they can’t I may need to request a transfer to another division where I can be guaranteed weekend shifts on a weekly basis. It does suck to have my car note and insurance payment as my only encumbrances, but far better than being in constant debt. Though for me, it puts insult to injury as I will be the “poor, starving college student” with reducing my work load in exchange for an education.