I know I’ve been slack on the updates lately – been a lot happening since we listed the house and now I have a lot of new stuff to talk about (see, not posting for a while isn’t all bad).
The house sold, very quickly. We had an offer less than a month after we listed and it went on a 30 day contract. Now, we’ve moved out into a one bedroom apartment (squishy) while we wait for things to wind down at work so we can make the move back to Australia in February next year.
It’s definitely been interesting moving from 3 bedrooms with a large family room to what is essentially a 2 room apartment with a large storage area downstairs. We’ve converted the small dining space into a computer area, kept the living room as a living room and moved all the sewing stuff into the (quite large) bedroom. Still doesn’t leave a lot of room to move about in but it’s comfortable enough to live in for six months and we shouldn’t kill each other before then.
I finally got tired of Tahnia’s dual core Athlon x2 running rings around my old Athlon 3200, not to mention the fact I had this sparkly new GeForce 8800 GTX in the machine that couldn’t even get enough data to live up to its performance potention, so I spent the $500 to upgrade the CPU, Motherboard and RAM to a Core 2 Duo E6750, Asus P5K-SE and 4G of RAM.
Yes, I know I’m normally an AMD buyer, but this time I figured I’d cross the road seeing the Core 2 Duos were really doing very well when pitted against the Athlon 64’s. The systems I could get for the same price were very comparable and the C2D just felt like a better and more upgradeable buy right now. Maybe if AMD had the Barcelona stuff out already then I wouldn’t have switched, but their loss I guess http://www.tadalafilotc.com/.
Things just didn’t go right, however, from when I got the machine. First, Vista seemed to be taking a very long time to install, and once it was installed the disk accesses were hanging for a long time. Turns out that the Maxtor 500G drive I’d put in fresh out of the plastic bag (I hadn’t opened it from when I received the exchange for a faulty one last year) had exactly the same problem the drive that I returned used to show – freezing for a few seconds about 5 or 6 times a minute.
Thoroughly frustrated with this, I drove down the street to Best Buy and grabbed a Western Digital drive to replace it. It was an extraordinary difference! Vista installed in under half an hour. Right now, I’m so annoyed with Maxtor (which is now Seagate) that I don’t even want another drive from them. Teach me for going too cheap!
My next problem was the machine started to give me blue screen errors when playing games. This was most noticeable in Everquest 2, but also started to happen in Bioshock. Putting the crash dumps in the debugger showed no discernable pattern – the errors were truly random – so I started trying to isolate it.
- Disabled the sound card in the device manager. No change.
- Pulled the sound card out and used the motherboard sound. Actually sounded a lot better, but still crashed. Sound card got tossed into the cupboard but I was no closer to finding the problem.
- Reduced the memory to 3G (using boot settings). No change.
- Increased the voltage to the CPU. No change.
- Increased the voltage to the RAM. No change.
- Dropped the RAM speed to DDR2–667 (from it’s spec speed of DDR2–800) and no more crashes.
Ugh. So I have dodgy memory somewhere. However, it’s stable and with some tinkering I’m sure I can find it when I next upgrade. Benchmarking shows me I lose about 50 points on 3DMark06 (from 10700 to 10650) which right now isn’t enough to care about to send the RAM back. So, the PC works and I’m relatively happy with it. The performance is fantastic at least!
As I mentioned before, I’m messing with Bioshock right now. It’s an stunningly well done game, and I’m taking my time to enjoy all the little facets of the game that I normally just skip in a first person shooter. While there are a bunch of DRM issues (which I touched on in my previous post), the game itself is just “wow”.
I’ve also gone a little retro and been relaxing with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It was a little slow and annoying at the start (gang wars aren’t that much fun), but now I’m working for the Triads in “Las Venetas” things are a lot more interesting. I’m still amazed at how well they’ve captured the feel of San Andreas (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venetas (Las Vegas). Having been all over there last year, the feel is almost perfect. While it’s a fun game, I would absolutely NOT recommend anyone buys this for their kids. It’s just not a kid’s game. At all.
I’m still looking forward to trying Flight Simulator X out on the new machine. Should do really well! I might even run back through some of my old games that I couldn’t turn the quality right up on (F.E.A.R., etc.) and play them through when I have time. Got 3–4 weeks of vacation left this year before things all go crazy next year moving so seems a good plan near Christmas!
Anyhow, sleepy time. Will try to post more frequently!