New System

I have *finally* been able, with considerable help from some great people, to put together a new desktop gaming machine. Not only that but it’s exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.

You see, I had been slowly, ever so slowly, saving money toward purchasing a new system. I had no illusions, I knew that even the best I could do would essentially be a Retail POS System. Not that there is anything basically wrong with a pre-built retail system . . . If you’re only going to use it for web browsing, shopping, balancing your checkbook and playing a few simple games.

However if you plan to use it, like I am, to play demanding games like Minecraft and to edit and render high definition video and detailed 3D models in Blender, then your basic off the shelf computer just isn’t going to cut it.

Oh, it’ll probably do ok, so long as you’re not in a hurry and don’t have a deadline. It would probably still render that high definition video, it will just take two to ten times as long to do it. Ditto for animated 3D models in Blender.

I’m kinda behind on posting my Minecraft videos here but as I get caught up you will no doubt notice a definite improvement in video quality and later, a similar improvement in audio quality by around episode 220 of the main world series.

Why Are Laptop Speakers So Weak?

In the little over a year since I got this laptop I have been very satisfied with it’s performance. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is easily the best, most powerful, computer I have ever owned. (it’s also my first dual core machine)

Yet there is one thing that I don’t care for and that is that I can’t get much in the way of volume out of it unless I plug in a set of external speakers. The sound from the built in speakers just can’t get loud enough in most circumstances to be really useful.

Now I realize that there isn’t room for the speakers to be physically bigger and there’s also the matter of how much power is available to drive ’em when the machine is running on batteries. On the other hand I almost always run on external power. I only use the batteries when I have to move the computer which is rare.

At the very least it would be nice to be able to pump more amplifier power to the speakers when running on external power.

[tags]laptop, speakers, sound, low sound volume[/tags]

Good Headphones Are Hard To Find

About eight months ago I pulled a really klutzy move. Without realizing it I had managed to get my foot tangled up in the cord to my headphones. When I got up and left the computer I managed to pull the cord right out of the plugs that goe into the computer’s mic and speaker jacks. This essentially destroyed the headphones.

I couldn’t just try to wire new plugs in place because the headphones had a very small circuit wired into the volume control on the cord and the wires were also pulled out of it in the process.

Since I used that headset a lot for part of my video making it needed to be replaced a.s.a.p. The problem is that my local stores somehow managed to not carry decent headphones that also have a good boom microphone and I had no desire to *just* get a microphone. I used the headphones even more than the mic and needed both.

So I started reading headphone reviews on sites all over the place, trying to find one that would both do the jobs I needed it for and not cost an arm and a leg.

I can’t say exactly why but it took me a week to finally find a decent logitech unit for a good price. Yeah, I tried putting “cheap microphone headset” and similar variations into search engines and still came up with stuff that cost over $60 when my budget was less than half of that.

I realize that good equipment is going to cost more but really, some of us don’t have deep enough pockets for anything but the least expensive thing that will actually do the job.

[tags]microphone, headphone, headset, boom mic, accident, trip on wires, tangled wires[/tags]

My Latest Discovery

It’s no secret that last Tuesday I started feeling sick like I had the flu. This put a big dent in my ability to get any of my work done. Both Tuesday and Wednesday I barely managed to get videos made for my youtube channel. Thursday I had the “oh so wonderful” experience of discovering that I was peeing blood. Not a lot mind you but ANY is a bad thing. This caused me to end up in the ER.

Fortunately the doc thinks that this is probably just an infection and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and painkiller. A couple days later I’m feeling a lot better.

In the meantime though, I *really* wasn’t up to getting much of anything done. I started watching youtube videos, both to catch up on my subscriptions and because I really wasn’t up to much more than that.

Then I saw this video by a friend about the beginning of an adventure in a game called Minecraft.

It took me only a few minutes to get totally hooked on it. Yep, totally hooked. In spite of the fact that the graphics look sorta like the old blocky 8 bit stuff from back in the early 1980’s. It’s the strategy and unlimited design potential that got me.

Now if I were like the wealthier people whose bank accounts I often envy I would have been glad to cash in a few silver bullion bars if needed to get a copy of it and start playing myself. Fortunately for me it didn’t take anywhere near that kind of resource to get.

As a result of watching his videos about it and the time I’ve spent playing it since Thursday, I am going to be making some Minecraft videos of my own. Partly because it really is an interesting game and partly because I just plain want to show off what I have been building in it.

I’ll be sure to post here when I get the first of those videos uploaded.

New MacBook Pro – Gold Or Garbage?

There seems to be something of a difference of opinion on the matter. One the one hand, PC Magazine has featured a review in which the reviewer cannot sing the praises of the new machine loud enough. Reading his review I actually expected him to say that it was the best thing since sliced bread, though I suppose it’s fortunate that he didn’t actually say that.

Then on Computerworld there is a very critical piece talking about how this new machine with it’s $1800 base price (and you know almost nobody buys the base machine so most people will be paying a LOT more).

What they had to say about it was that it has some serious issues.

While disassembling a 15-in. MacBook Pro, — a site that regularly tears down electronics and publishes do-it-yourself repair guides — found several signs of substandard assembly.

We’re talking about everything from a stripped out screw to the fact that the infrared sensor’s ZIF socket was unlocked to an excessive amount of thermal heat sink paste applied to the CPU and the GPU which regardless of whether it may or may not do any harm it certainly shows some really sloppy workmanship.

All I can say is that, given this second report, I’m going to stick with my policy of not buying Apple computers newer than the Apple][e and steer well clear of this one. My recommendation is that you do the same.

[tags]apple, macbook pro, reviews, teardown, shoddy workmanship, sloppy assembly, potential problems, avoid[/tags]