New computer

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A few weeks ago, I built a new gaming computer. My long-suffering Lenovo y510p laptop was around 7 years old, and while it’s a great gaming laptop, these things don’t last forever.

I had been having trouble with it for a couple of years. Certain games would make it overheat and crash, but I just didn’t play those games and turned settings down and got by. But last year, I reached the point where the number of games that I wanted to play, but couldn’t, was higher than those that  I could play.

So I built a new machine. I had thought about buying one instead of building, but you save so much money building, which meant fewer months of saving up money. And today, the last piece came in: a new keyboard. Subsequently, I’m writing a blog post.

  • Intel Core i5-8600k 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor
  • Asus – Prime Z370-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
  • G.Skill – Trident Z 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
  • Crucial – MX300 525GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive
  • Seagate – Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
  • Gigabyte – GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB WINDFORCE OC 6G Video Card
  • Phanteks – Enthoo Pro M Tempered Glass (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case
  • EVGA – SuperNOVA G3 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
  • ASUS Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM
  • Ducky Shine 6 keyboard
  • Microsoft – Windows 10 Home

I’m super pleased. I decided not to get the highest-end video card, and I haven’t yet upgraded my monitor. I plan to get a new monitor later this year because mine is going dim after however-many-years it has been. But the video card needs no upgrade, as it turns out. I’m running everything on maximum settings, and I even have some add-ons installed for Elder Scrolls Online that make it even prettier, and I’m getting at least 60 FPS in everything. This has been an unmitigated success.

The only challenge that I ran into is that my external hard drive was corrupted. It looked like it still worked, but when I tried to transfer all of our photos to the new computer, it failed. Thankfully, I had everything backed up through Carbonite, and they had backed up before whatever/whenever it was that the external got corrupted, so I was able to restore everything going back to 2005. That would have been pretty heartbreaking to lose all of our pictures.

Now I just need to get used to this keyboard. I’m still managing around 90 words per minute, but I’m making a lot more errors than I would like. I do enjoy the feel and responsiveness of it though, and I look forward to doing more writing with it. It is higher profile than I’m used to so I may need to get a wrist rest.

 

Computer Setup – Then and Now

This article is a reply to Lorelle’s Blog Challenge: Describe Your Computer Setup – Then and Now

It is difficult to think back to our first computer, because my first experience with them was when I was three years old. These days, that’s nothing uncommon–my boss’s kids use Edubuntu exclusively and were typing at two and hacking at three–but in 1988, our household was rather uncommon. I grew up “playing” with DOS, and we had just upgraded to a 486/33 (which was upgraded to a 486/66 when I was 4).

I had been introduced to the Internet in seventh grade by my friend Justin, who helped me pick my first screenname and shared his ORION (Ozarks Regional Internet Online Network) account with me so I could connect from home. With a brand new 28.8 baud modem, we would chat via telnet and, on a few exciting occasions, connect Doom over TCP/IP for some multiplayer gaming. My father shelled out the cash for a Prodigy account, and suddenly we had a graphical web browser… but the Internet seemed small back then. It was all Yahoo!, Angelfire, and Geocities. Businesses ruled the web, and there wasn’t much I was interested in beyond interacting with my friends. These were my father’s computers, though, and I didn’t get my first until high school.

My freshman year of high school, my mother purchased me an HP mini-tower and CRT monitor for Christmas of 1999. Back then, Napster and ScourExchange ruled my time, and downloading music was just an everyday thing. I mixed CDs for myself and my friends, discovering a wide range of music I hadn’t known existed outside my little country-radio-station world. The world hadn’t turned dark and scary yet, and TOR was just an interesting idea rather than a potential necessity.

My little HP box ran Windows 98, and ran quite fast for at least a few months at a time. I don’t even recall the specs on it, but it was pretty generic, and I didn’t really care back then anyways. Our operating systems didn’t demand much, and I spent most of my time on telnet. We were still on dial-up (though some of my friends who lived either in town or in subdivisions had cable), so my access was limited, and so was our budget. Buying software wasn’t really an option, so I pirated a copy of Norton AntiVirus, ran ZoneAlarm, and used IE without thinking about it. I was grossly ignorant about computer security, but it didn’t seem to matter as much just yet. The great virus outbreaks of the early 2000s were still to come.

My mom got me a separate phone line sometime around my sophomore year of high school, and I spent the vast majority of my time at home on the Internet. Eventually, my time went from downloading music to movies, from ScourExchange and telnet to IRC, and from browsing for MUDs to researching evidence for my speech & debate team. The RIAA began making more noise about music downloads and announced that they were targeting anyone with more than 1000-3000 songs. I deleted everything I had pirated, but I still had my Norton AV and my copy of Windows XP that I had acquired from someone. When it came time for college, it was time for a new machine.

I purchased a Compaq laptop, which died so often in my first year of college that Best Buy gave me a new HP to compensate for the lemon they had originally sold me. I used the laptop to take notes in class, but it also doubled as a gaming laptop (freshman year was Star Wars Galaxies, a far cry from the Ultima Online I had begun playing in high school), and its 64mb video card blew away everything I had seen until then. The Compaq had 1gb of RAM and a 40gb hard drive, so I was pretty stoked; when I upgraded to the HP, I suddenly had 80gb of HD space, filled rapidly with games from LAN parties. I still have that HP, but last year I built a new desktop.

From spending my evenings on telnet and IRC growing up, I have now transitioned to being connected to the Internet almost 24/7, both for work and play. I wear a smartphone that picks up all my email, almost all of the games I play are either MMORPGS or multiplayer over XBox Live, and I do almost all of my writing online. I don’t download music, which means my collection (all legal now) is many years out of date, but I’m OK with that. I do still download software all the time, but that’s also all legit. When I got my current job (Centralized User Support Specialist for Computer Services at Missouri State University), I decided to take the plunge and switch entirely to Open Source.

My home computer has a 400gb SATA drive with a DVD-burner, a far cry from the few hundred meg of storage space I once had. A 19″ LCD has replaced the 15″ CRT, and 2gb of 1000mhz RAM is certainly a change from the 128mb in my first machine. I ditched Windows, both at work and at home, and run Linux everywhere. OpenSUSE 10 at work for a long time, recently replaced by Linux Mint, and either Ubuntu or Linux Mint at home, depending on the release cycles. I have a video card and a sound card now, neither of which I had on that old HP (instead using the onboard devices) and, of course, a DSL modem rather than a 28.8 dial-up device.

I still live on the Internet, but most of that time is spent at work. At home, rather than MUDding, I sometimes play World of Warcraft with my wife. Just over a year since I built my most recent box, I built her a new computer that was half the price of mine and already superior. And yes, it runs Linux.