Life: January 2012 Archives

PC completed! Paleo Begins!

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My adventure in building a PC went fairly well. I ran into a few minor issues:

1. I bought everything to build the PC and forgot to buy a power supply. Oops! That set me back some $$ and a few days of waiting for it to be delivered.
2. I didn't buy a bracket for my SSD hard drive, and had to order that for delivery this week. A SSD hard drive is a Solid State Hard Drive, which is commonly used in notebook computers. Desktop users are buying them now, because they are faster than traditional hard drives. I put my Windows 7 operating system on the SSD drive, and my computer boots in about 15-20 seconds like a laptop. My old PC would be about double that speed. The SSD drive is basically wedged in my case at the moment, but it's no big deal.

Otherwise, building the PC was a lot easier than I expected. The only two difficult parts was attaching a heat sink to my processor, which wasn't hard, but nerve wracking applying thermal paste to my processor. The other difficult part was connecting up the wires in the case (LED lights, Boot button, Reset Button, Sound) to the connectors on the motherboard. I had barely any guidance aside from basic pictures included with the motherboard and i'm frankly shocked that my logical guesses were correct.

Otherwise, loading Windows 7 was extremely easy. Updating all my driver software was quick. I'm a guy who has been tinkering with PCs since 1986 and my memories are about how nightmarish it used to be. We definitely have come a long way since then. I don't know if i'd recommend this to anyone to try, you certainly need to have patience and a bit of computer/electronics know how. During lots of my build I have my iPad out and searching the web for answers or videos on "How to..." do something.

Aside from that, my Paleo journey begins today. I had all the food delivered on Sunday by FreshDirect. I woke up today, had a breakfast of 4 eggs, raw almonds and blue berries. Last night I cooked up chicken fajitas (chicken, onions, peppers, cumin, oregano, chili powder), and have a side salad of that ready today of lettuce & plum tomato. In my old diets it had me eating every 3 hours, which was a bit of work. I'm being told to just eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and if i'm struggling I can have a paleo snack at 3pm (I might have an apple or orange today at 3pm).

I'm cutting out all sugar, including any fake sugars like Splenda. I have done this before, and found that after a week without sugar, your tastebuds explode. Everything tastes better. I'm looking forward to that, because i'm already without my morning coffee and I can feel it. Ha ha.

I'll update here on my progress. Interesting enough is that my birthday is coming up on Feb 12, and my family and I plan to go out on Feb 11th or Feb 18th to celebrate. That will be Day 33 / Day 40 out of 45 of the 'diet'. Long way to go, but I wanted to stick to this at 100%, but I guess I can have a cheat meal by then...

I'm Building A PC

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For years i'd usually upgrade my PC to the 'latest and greatest' PC every three years or so. I was one of the first people to have an Alienware (before Dell bought them), then I bought an Dell XPS, and in my latest search, I decided to go a different route.

I was comparing various PCs at and similar "gaming PC" sites. The drive to get a new PC was the result of various different reasons:

1. I wanted to play the latest games like Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic on a PC that wasn't behind on the times.
2. I now have the option to "work from home", where I can tunnel into my office network and access everything from my home PC. It works great, but at home I only have one 23" monitor, whereas at work I have four 19" monitors on my desk (yes, we need it). I wanted to get a new video card for my PC that could support multiple monitors.
3. I wanted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, but in order to do so - I have to basically delete my entire hard drive and start over. That means I have to move all my critical documents and pictures around and hope I don't forget about anything.
4. I also wanted to be able to watch baseball on my PC while I surfed the web or played PC games. During summer, I get the package so I can watch baseball, which is excellent, but that's the only thing I can do on my PC, unless I ran it in a small window. Getting a new PC with more than one video port on the video card would allow me to do this.

Money has been really tight lately, thanks to our economy and the fact that I have hungry, hungry hippo Rocco which takes a bite out of my paycheck from his Vet visits, food and "doggie daycare". I was once paying $300 a month on dog walks & doggie daycare alone for him!

When I talked (online) to some friends about getting a new PC, many of them suggested that instead of buying a new PC, I should build one. I work in an industry in which i'm around computer hardware all day - part of me didn't want to have to 'deal' with trying to build a PC. Building a PC is more than just slapping cables together and creating a finished product. It was a bit time consuming, and there was a lot of room for failure there.

But, part of me wanted to try it. It was a bit of a challenge, and this is something I should learn to do. Also when you buy a PC from Dell or other manufacturers you don't really get the 'high end' components. For example, you may get a PC with a Intel i5 or i7 chip, but sometimes there can be large differences in the processor speed, cores and chipset if you aren't careful. Plus the motherboard or RAM could be low grade or the video card is from a so-so manufacturer.

Building your own PC you get to save the overhead costs of someone building a PC for you, choose your own components, and search the web for the best prices. I was pretty fortunate, most of what I found was on I did search, which I love, but because I live in NJ they slap on a NJ sales tax because their shipping site is from Edison, NJ!! Plus I have to pay for shipping with, but with Amazon everything was free because I have Amazon Prime.

Here's what I bought, using Tom's Hardware as a guide:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache

  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX560 Ti 448 (2x for SLI)

  • Hard Drive 1: Crucial M4 128GB SSD

  • Hard Drive 2: Western Digital 1 TB SATA III 7200 RPM Hard Drive

  • Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD55 (B3)

  • RAM: Corsair Memory DDR3 1600 MHz (4x4GB)

  • Tower: Cooler Master HAF ATX

  • DVD: Lite-On iHAS124-04 (Blu Ray is often used here, but I have a Blu Ray DVD player)

  • Heat Sink: Xigmatek Gaia SD1283.

Dangers of building your own PC are fairly fundamental - it it fails, you are screwed. If you have problems building it, you are on your own. This certainly will be an interesting challenge. But if you have any advice or suggestions, i'm all ears: Send me an email.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Life category from January 2012.

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