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Toys

July 28, 2008 06:32 PM PST

Princeton24.JPG


I picked up a cheap Princeton 24" monitor from Ebay to replace my ancient Dell 20" monitor that died. I got a great deal by stacking a 10% Ebay coupon on top of 25% off from Microsoft's Live Search "buy now" cashback. The seller was claiming that these were OEM to Dell. Somehow I doubt that, but it doesn't matter.

I have it fired up and so far so good. No dead or stuck pixels from my preliminary inspection. I didn't look to carefully though, and I won't look again. It's better not to know. The vertical viewing angle is definitely not as good as my 2405, which is as expected. The specs claim 160į. I can't say much about the brightness, however, as I turned it down to 10 right away. I find both of my monitors to be far to bright at their stock setting to be comfortable for extended use. Contrast is 1000:1. Response is 5ms. Don't ask me about color accuracy, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a good monitor and a bad one.

The monitor is nothing fancy, just VGA and DVI input - oh and there are speakers on it somewhere. But as a second monitor it will do just fine.


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Lockpickster

Toys

April 22, 2006 11:27 PM PST

I went to REI today to buy an umbrella, and ended up in front of the Leatherman display. Oh dear. I bought this one:

cs4.jpg


Key tools:

Anyone have other recommendations?


Comments (3)

Arrg

Toys

May 9, 2005 12:08 PM PST

My microdrive died this weekend. Spinning media really sucks, especially in portable devices. I didn't drop it or anything. I put it in my USB reader and copied over a video file, it all worked fine. Then I removed it and put it into my Ipaq (power off) and it was no longer recognized. Now it seems to have a mini 'click of death' sound coming from it.
What makes this an even larger shame is that I was on a forum a week or so ago defending their reliability. Oh well.
I looked online to see how much they are now, and they have really come down in price over last year. About 160.00 now for 4G. They also have the 6G generally available now. Flash is still too expensive for large sizes.


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Damn This Game To Heck!

Toys

February 21, 2005 02:17 PM PST

Skull Stax1.jpg

Curse you, Skull Stax! You have stolen 4 hours of my weekend thus far.

Last session's stats:
- over 7 million points
- level 152
- more than 27 minutes remaining on the clock

then I quit because my hand was crippled.


Comments (4)

SFF AMD64

Toys

January 2, 2005 03:02 PM PST

Last week we built a Small Form Factor AMD64 machine. AMD64 is really at not only the peak of performance, but also of price. Intel based machines have really been taking a beating this year. Intel tried to add the x64-64 extensions to their high-end P4s, but the results were super expensive and performance worse than AMD's standard solution. The AMD64 chips are also much cooler, making them a better solution for small form factor, silent PC and overclocking.

So much is written about 64-bit machines being able to address more ram. But for some reason, marketers haven't pushed the primary home user advantage - faster math operations. Operations on 64 bit integers bit integers happen natively, giving up to 4x performance over standard 32 bit architectures on operations such as multiplying two 64 bit ints to a 128 bit int. Intel's SSE2 extensions do allow 64 bit operations, but these must be hand coded in assembly. 64 bit compilers will automatically take advantage of the increased precision. Also, since the registers are all larger, the register space is effectively doubled, providing much faster access to common variables than the slower, more expensive cache.

The cool thing is, AMD64 is the best performing PC architecture, but we haven't seen its full potential. Until Windows XP x64 is released (scheduled mid-2005), we won't see the OS, or any applications compiled for the new processor. That means that we should see a significant boost in applications once the Microsoft compiler for x86-64 is available.

Here's a great overview of AMD64 performance. To view the charts (in the black squares), you must select the text - there's a bug in their HTML code. Tests were done on 32 and 64 bit linux on the same processor, showing the massive gains in 64 bit mode. Also for comparison, they completely trounce the "equivalent" P4 3.2ghz. Example:

CPURSA 1024 bit digital signatures per second
P4 3.2GHZ147.2
AMD64 3200+ 32 bit mode207.3
AMD64 3200+ 64 bit mode913.8
Get ready for huge performance improvements to game engines and audio/video encoding when XP x64 is available.

Read on for the specs, photo and current pricing of this bad boy. Continue reading "SFF AMD64"...

Comments (1)

Ghost Recon 2

Toys

November 24, 2004 01:45 AM PST


A bunch of us bought Ghost Recon 2 for XBox today and played online. The big draw for this game was the multiplayer online cooperative modes. Many other games allow 2-4 people to play through game missions cooperatively (Halo, Halo2, BruteForce), but as far as we can tell, this is the first that lets you cooperate over the internet. CounterStrike theoretically has this feature, but the missions, bots and graphics aren't nearly as detailed. This game played extremely well online in a small group. We played with between 2 and 5 people, and only won one of about 8 maps we played. CounterStrike has terrible bot leveling, so it's difficult to set up a good game unless there are 6-8 people playing. I found this game more interesting to play online than CounterStrike, Halo2 or Star Wars: Battlefront (although frying Ewoks and Gungans with an AT-ST is pretty sweet).


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Abit tech support.

Toys

November 23, 2004 01:00 PM PST

Well Abit tech Support finally got back to me on my MB problem. Wow only 8 days after my email request, and long after I have returned it to new egg. It comes as no surprise that they ask me to try all the things I already told them I tried in my email. The only new bit of info, was that thy Suggested I check out the grounding by starting up the board out side of the case. I'll keep that in mind next time. They suggested that if after I Jump through all these hoops, it still doesn't work, then I should send them my CPU and MB info and they would 'try' and send me a new bios chip. It looks like I made a good call Swapping this for an Asus.


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Game on

Toys

November 18, 2004 10:56 AM PST

Well it didn't go perfectly smooth, installing the Via 4in1 drivers with SP2 trashed the first install. On the second install I didn't bother with them. I consider these two setups to be learning experiences. I may actually pave the box and re-install one more time to get things the way I want. But I did manage to get HL2 installed and booted up. Oh man!! I was actually able to play smoothly with high quality textures etc at 1600x1200! Unbelievable! After playing console games at 640x480 for so long I had forgotten what I was missing. The detail in this game is simply amazing.


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Signs of life

Toys

November 17, 2004 08:22 PM PST

I packaged up my Abit AV8 to get it ready to return to NewEgg. I'm going to try and get a refund rather than exchange it as my patience is wearing thin. I decided to buy a motherboard locally so I could get some support. I went with the Asus A8V deluxe from ComputerStop. They will let you return for full refund within 7 days. That sounded pretty good. I dropped it in, only hooking up the bare minimum, and it posted no problems. I hurried up and grabbed the latest bios off the web. Asus has a cool feature were the bios will update itself from disk, you donít even need to make it bootable. This board is more expensive than the Abit, but it has a few more features. I has support for IDE raid as well as SATA raid. In fact it has 4 IDE channels and 4 SATA. The only feature Iím missing that I kinda wanted was Spdif in.

Iíve built a lot of computers over the years (I used to run a computer business on the side), and I had standardized on Asus with good results. I donít remember why I switched away from them. If this works out well I might send more business their way.


Comments (2)

No Love

Toys

November 16, 2004 08:31 PM PST

I received my new Bios chip today, all flashed to the latest available from Abit. I put it in and I still get the post error of 9.0. No amount of CMOS resetting / removing the battery etc. will make any difference. Ouch, more money lost. Not sure what is next. No point swapping the MB for the same thing through NewEgg. They pretty much told me they won't guarantee a particular bios rev will be shipped. I could swap for another brand like Asus, or I return to newEgg and buy a MB locally with the hope of getting some support.

(And in case you were wondering, yes I did pickup my copy of HL2 today after I heard my bios chip arrived. How optimistic was that?)


Comments (3)

Fry's RSS Feed

Toys

November 16, 2004 09:44 AM PST

I'm pretty much over Fry's due to the poor service and extremely low stock on sale items. Just like I'm over Costco, but that's another story. Fry's is at least a good price comparison for how much things should be online.

RSS feed for Fry's Seattle. (From http://varchars.com/archives/2004/06/91.html)


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The pain of the bleeding edge

Toys

November 15, 2004 02:04 PM PST

Well most of my weekend was taken up with the Xbox party and going out etc., so I didn't get back on my new machine until Sunday night. Immediately my efforts were thwarted. The machine will not post far enough to see anything on the video card. The MB sits with a 9.0. on the LED display. After about an hour of basic troubleshooting Ė removing everything connected to the motherboard, trying a different video card. Reseating the processor, ram etc., I give up and hit the web. It look like Iím not the only one with this problem. It turns out that the newest 90nm Athlon 64ís are only supported by Abitís latest v1.5 bios. And if Iím seeing 9.0. stuck on the display then I don't have the latest.

Continue reading "The pain of the bleeding edge"...

Comments (3)

Game Box Full Assembled

Toys

November 11, 2004 01:28 AM PST

The rest of my parts arrived today from new egg. Unfortunately I had to work late which cut into my free time. I did manage to get it fully assembled and at least powered it up once. Thatís enough for tonight. I'll get the OS installed tomorrow. I took pictures along the way and will do a full review later on. I like the aluminum case I picked, the Antec Super Lanboy. Iím not a big fan of clear windows on cases but I think Iíll warm up to it. It slowed me down quite a bit during assembly however, since I had to be very careful with cable routing to make it look purdy. At any rate Iím on track for Half Life 2.


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Game On

Toys

November 10, 2004 10:46 AM PST

After receiving word that there had been a resupply at the Company store, I finally secured my copies of Halo 2. This time without all the lines and blurry eyed fury.


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The first shipment arrives

Toys

November 10, 2004 12:32 AM PST

part1.jpgNewegg is pretty amazing. The parts for my new machine are already starting to trickle in. I received the graphics card and the Nec Dual layer DVD burner today.


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Pushed the Button

Toys

November 5, 2004 10:54 AM PST

Well I pushed the button on the new machine order. Now I'll wait for newegg, and give a review of my experiences.


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Time for Toys?

Toys

November 4, 2004 12:22 PM PST

I put of the new box decision for a while, but its come back to the front of my brain. When HL2 releases I think I will finally be pushed over the edge. Here are my current decisions on the issues posed last time.

Form factor: As much as I think an SFF box would be cool, it is still less hassle to go with a nice mini-tower case. So I'm back on ATX - this means more up to date features. I'm going to try and get a nice anodized aluminum case though, I'm really tired of beige and black plastic.

Chipset: K8T800 Pro. Good ratings, and good compatibility.

Socket: 939. Since I'm going full size, no point in skimping here. This gets me sweet dual channel DDR.

Graphics slot: AGP I guess. Although the PCI Express versions of the athlon boards are probably less than 1 month away now.

Graphics card: Since I'll go AGP, the 6600's are out of the question. This is a really tough issue. To be able to drive my 20" monitor right I really can't skimp here. Plus having 256M would push the games over the top. This means a 6800Gt as minimum probably. Also I want dual DVI for future proofing. This pushes the cost above 410.00 however. More then I've every paid for a GPU.

So the current motherboard choice would be an Abit AV8. Nice features, ratings and price. However the AX8 will be out soon and it has PCI express. I've had some good advise lately though reminding my how much fun I've had with rev 1.0 products. So I conceed to go AGP for now.

So will I finally push the button? Only time will tell.

As for other toys, I'm still keeping an eye out for a new VGA pocketPc. The Asus a730w has caught my eye, but it is not yet released. So I'll wait on that front for now.


Comments (0)

What To Build?

Toys

September 9, 2004 12:50 PM PST

So Doom3 is already out and HL2 is on the way and I still haven't upgraded or built a new machine. I keep thinking maybe I'll be able to resist the pull and just game on my Xbox until early next year. It's not likely though.

So what would I build if I was ready to go? As usual I wouldn't want to build a bleeding edge machine, but something a notch or two down. Turns out to be a harder decision than I thought. Here are some of the dilemmas:

1. Micro ATX or ATX? I still want to build an SFF gaming box, although I really can't justify it. Micro ATX boards have come a long way, but still lag behind in features.
2. Via K8T800 chipset or nForce 3?
3. Socket 745 or 939? (Mostly about dual channel DDR).
4. PCI Express or AGP. Hmm, I don't see any PCI Express boards for AMD chips yet.
5. Which Graphics card? Current thoughts are 6800 vanilla or wait for the PCI Express 6600.

This is a tough time to buy. If you want to future proof you should probably go with the latest socket and graphics slots. That's a problem since PCI Express is not available on AMD platforms yet. And neither is available in a micro ATX. Maybe it would be wise to wait a few more months.


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Microdrive

Toys

June 12, 2004 04:23 PM PST

I picked up a 4G microdrive for my PocketPC off of ebay. Very nice. Now I can load up a pile of songs and listen to them in the Wife's car - which doesn't have an mp3 player.
I'm still trying to decide which Pocket PC MP3 player software is best, but I like PocketPlayer so far.
Battery life is actually pretty good with a good player (not built in media player), since they can cache the song is RAM which lets the device spin down.
I don't have as much space as an Ipod, but I get to carry a single device.


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Fight in the playground after school

Toys

April 14, 2004 12:20 PM PST

Nvidia just released the NV40 and reviews put it at around twice as fast as their previous chip! With ATI releasing a new chip later this month we should be in for a good fight.


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Break over

Toys

March 23, 2004 09:21 PM PST

Well I've been away from the blog for awhile. I've been very, very busy and just as I started to wind down and get some free time my copy of UT 2004 showed up in the mail just in time for the weekend. Man is this game fun. I'm playing with 3d EAX sound for the first time, and reasonable graphics settings on my Geforce 4 ti4200. It plays ok but it is pushing the limits of my PC. I just ordered up a new Athlon processor to give me a bit more kick. I hope that by maxing out this motherboard (2400+) it will allow me to hold out until HL2 is out. Then I am planning to do the big upgrade to an Athlon 64 and a high end Vid card. I'm pretty excited about the AMD 64, and apparently so is the gaming community. I only wish Nvidia would pull their head out. It currently looks like I'll be buying ATI again, bummer I still have a grudge against them.


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