How do you stave of the darkness? The ever impending shadow encroaching, that’s a symptom of our generation. Technology looms all around us, cars speed past us, and our lives are no better because of it. We, as a people, have more reach and can span more distance. How many of you don’t feel alone?

What’ve you got to lose?

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Thing

Here’s to the summer nights
the ones filled with fireflys
and wide eyes gazing
cool dew settles
the heavens shine
somewhere out there
something down here
will it all be worth it?
feel the earth rotate
slingshot through space
far off the trees don’t move
like the ones rushing past
right outside that window
the world is passing by
green and beautiful
crash.

Desktops

My latest project has been to research different PC hardware and wishlist three different machines on newegg. I decided to make two reasonable machines, one AMD and the other Intel and then a ridiculous one with an Intel core i7 at it’s heart. If you ever want advising on current hardware and junk like that, let me know.

Since I already have a monitor, speakers and basic PS/2 keyboard I set out with a goal of building a machine coming in under $900, with the rest of the parts.

As a starting point, I checked out Tomshardware for reviews and then I went to Anandtech for in-depth information about every aspect I didn’t know much about. When building a computer, I like starting with the CPU and working my way outward. The CPU is the heart of a computer, and therefore I find it the most critical part. It’s like buying a car with the right amount of horsepower. The reviews there go by price bracket, some CPU’s are sub-$100 all the way up to ~$300 for the ridiculously new parts. The best processor they have at the $160 price point was the AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE.

AMD is Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s somewhat less exposed competitor. There’s an advantage to buying an AMD chip instead of an Intel one, complete freedom to overclock the processor (which is denoted by the BE for Black Edition), which is a means of making it go faster than originally set and LOWER PRICE! The Phenom, is just the product line, like Corvette or Mustang. X4, means it has four parts to split up the work. Splitting up the work is cheaper than making a chip that goes really really fast, so that’s why there are four chips in this one little processor.

Since I wanted to build and all AMD machine, and AMD also makes video cards, I checked out reviews for those. I picked a reasonable price point and found they suggested the ATI 4850. I’m between that and the 4890 as solid possibles. (The 90 at the end instead of the 50 being higher performing)

The next piece of the puzzle was a motherboard. Since my processor uses the AM3 socket, I need a motherboard with the same socket technology. The video card I have runs on a PCIe 16x slot. Further down the road I can use another card that’s pretty much the same, and then use two cards for more video processing power. All the motherboards I could find didn’t let the two video cards use all of the 16x speed they’re designed for, so until further notice I’ll be unhappy with the motherboard selection.

Banducci suggested I get an Lian-Li case, so I picked one that looked the most non-descript, elegant and best for airflow. Here.

Since I knew very little about power supplies, I poked around on Anandtech and found a review of several 550 watt power supplies ( 550 being the wattage I’ll need based on Antec’s power supply caluculator). After their lengthy review, I picked the BFG.

To finish I picked the best RAM that’ll work on my mobo, at a decent price.
A DVD burner, Logitech mouse, 500GB hard drive, and an aftermarket CPU cooler on standby if I decide to overclock.

Price of my AMD build: $798

An Observation

Hardly anyone takes the time to stop and write down what they’re thinking, I miss those days. Sure, people post a few things here and there on Facebook, but little of it has intellectual merit. How much is simply and inside joke or a few lines stating how the person feels?

There’s a lot of ‘what’ out there in the world, but little ‘why’.

I’m getting comfortable with my schedule for this semester. Being done by noon every Monday, Wed, Fri is the same thing as last semester. On those days I get up, take a shower and plop myself at the computer for my morning ritual. I open up my MacBook with a breakfast square in my mouth. After checking my emails, which are usually few, I follow up on any Facebook related posts or urgent requests. On Tuesday and Thursday I’ve been waking up and then going running because class starts at 11, and I have more time to settle into getting the hang of my new schedule. Next week I want to get back to running on Mon, Wed, Fri at the very least. Perhaps I’ll make it every day of the week before the end of the semester.

Tonight was an informational meeting about becoming a Community Advisor for a floor, starting in the fall. I’m working on writing my cover letter and resume for the application process, but haven’t gotten much of the cover letter written. I have to think a little more on “why I want to be a CA” so I can give a thoughtful and cogent response. I really hope I’m accepted, so I don’t have to find someone to room with next year. For now I’ll sign up to retain the room I’m in, then get moved to another floor when the time comes.

Since CA’s have to be all moved in by Aug. 3rd that kinda cuts into the time I’ll have for a summer internship, if I can find one.

I was thinking and noted the many times I’ve felt at peace because the friends I was with, I had met because of a recurring group. May it be school, band or Boy Scouts, those were the ways I found my best friends. Perhaps I can build a few strong friendships through being a CA. I can meet some more people who may think more like I do.

I don’t know if you read my notes, but I make it a point to read those that post something requiring thought through to the end. That’s why I can be a good Community Advisor, I’m interested in offering what I can for those who are willing to listen. Come to me with what you have and I’ll spare an ear or opinion.

My Idols

After finishing up the last TWIT of 2009, I got to thinking who I aspire to be like. If you didn’t know, I like podcasts. There are several I like but the main ones are This Week in Tech, Buzz Out Loud, MacBreak Weekly, Wait Wait.. Don’t Tell Me, and The Drunk Tank.

This Week in Tech, also known as TWiT, founded by Leo Laporte features a different set of co-hosts each week. The hosts I enjoy hearing from the most are of course Leo, then Jason Calacanis, and John C. Dvorak. Since the panelists rotate / are different each week there aren’t a number of people who are consistently on the show.

Leo Laporte is the founder of the TWiT network which now produces so many shows a week, that it’d be impossible for me to listen to them all. He’s quite well-off and enjoys what he does for a living. He dropped out of college to pursue a career in broadcasting and did a heck of a job making a name for himself. You may not have heard about him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he produces the single most popular podcast in the iTunes store (for free of course). He has almost any gadget you can think of and buys almost every new Apple computer when it comes out on a whim. If I had that kind of purchasing power, look out Apple, you’ll be short one heck of a Mac Pro.

Jason Calacanis is so exuberant that it’s hard to not like him. He’s energetic and he’s funny. He does a hilarious impression of Christopher Walken and he owns a Tesla Roadster. He’s an entrepreneur and appears on TWiT less often as I’d like, but hey, he’s a busy guy. oh, and he created mahalo.

John Dvorak is the resident old guy of TWiT and always has something witty to say or talk about. He’s somewhat cranky and knows what he likes to talk about. If he can’t get the rest of the ‘cast back on track, no one does. He’s infamous for not wanting to talk about Twitter because most of the stories are pointless.

Buzz Out Loud is produced daily and features Tom Merrit and Jason Howell every day. The other person(s) is/are different each day. Molly Wood, Brian Tong, Natali Del Conte, Brian Cooley, and Rafe Needleman rotate each day of the week pending availability.

I can really identify with Tom Merrit, full-time geek journalist, who plays a pivotal role in the podcast. He plays WoW recreationally, knows quite a bit about tech and various tech topics. At first glance you might think he’s a plain kind of guy, but I like his personality. He brings up his home and personal experiences with tech outside of talking about tech news. He brings experience in both responsible journalism and living the life of a geek surrounded by technology.

Molly Wood is known for her rants. She gives the audience a piece of her mind and isn’t afraid to give an opinion, be it positive or negative, about a company or product. While varied, her mood is generally up-beat, as is preferred for broadcasting. She’s fun to listen to above all else

Macbreak Weekly also being a podcast from the TWiT network, is of course hosted by Leo Laporte, Alex Lindsay, Andy Ihnatko, and Scott Bourne. Simply four guys talking about Apple, past present and future. They all use Mac’s and have brought up once or twice the fact that so many geeks use mac’s because they value their time and don’t want to have to deal with using a PC. The show eventually wanes into discussion about something else but it’s almost always relate-able to Apple. Having already spoken about Leo, I’ll talk about the other three.

Alex Lindsay isn’t so much of a person I look up to as an interesting individual. He founded a video production guild called The Pixel Corps. It’s basically a way for those interested in the production of movies and digital media to get training for future careers. He’s in studio much of the time, and rarely has something very fer off-color to contribute. On the show he has a reputation for vetting expensive products, and thus 1 Alex is worth $700.

Now Andy Ihnatko is a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and definitely someone I could strive to be like. Is it weird that most of the people on this list are writers or in the business of expressing themselves in a civilized manner? In any case, he’s knowledgeable and witty, which I really like. Like the other guys, he uses a Mac and contributes quite a bit to the discussion about Apple products. For his job he reviews various technology and phone related products, so he knows a lot about that market. That leads to valuable insight toward what Apple could be doing with their mobile platform, namely the iPhone.

Scott Bourne has Drobos out the wazoo. The amount of tech he gives away puts some less civilized contests to shame. He’s mostly a photographer for his day job, and has to put all of those pictures somewhere, so they go on Drobos. They have a jingle, “Put all of your stuff on a Drobo”.

The members of the following podcasts I don’t know very much about, so I can’t call them “idols” or “luminaries”.

Wait Wait.. Don’t Tell Me is a weekly news show usually recorded in downtown Chicago at the Chase Auditorium. The show has different parts to it but each generally consists of questions regarding the week’s news, and listeners playing for Carl Kassel’s voice on the answering device of their choosing. The show is hosted by Peter Sagal, Carl and any of three panelists from a long list of guests. Look it up if you’re interested. None of these people are really my idol, I thought I owed you an explanation as to why it’s a favorite podcast.

The Drunk Tank is pushed out weekly and it’s my source for news and opinions on video games, geek movies, and an inside look at the guys behind Red vs. Blue. What started out as a few episode test project, turned into a weekly podcast which is always entertaining and funny to the discerning geek. Usually in attendance is Burnie Burns, Gus Sarola, Geoff Ramsey, and Joel Haymen. The group starts out talking about something relevant then it turns into a few guys simply talking about whatever they want. It’s usually interesting but none of those guys I really look up to.

This is what I did to have something to show for my day. I’d say it was a pretty productive Thursday, though I don’t know when the day skipped from Sunday to today. The rest of the days must have gone missing and shoved me headfirst into the second half of the week.