Monday, November 26, 2007

Phenom is Here!

Well, there it is! The above photo is an actual die of the new Phenom CPU from AMD. Over 600 million transistors packed into a mere 285 square milimeters, containing four discrete processing cores, each with its own dedicated 512 KB L2 cache and a new shared 2 MB L3 cache.

This new CPU incorporates many new technologies and improvements over the Athlon 64x2 processors - A new instruction set, SSE4a; an advanced memory prefetcher that can load data directly from RAM to the L1 cache; improved branch prediction logic with a sideband stack counter to reduce load on the CPU cores: improved virtualization functionality to boost the performance of multiple Operating Systems running in a virtual Environment; a new shared L3 cache; a new Hypertransport 3.0 bus running at 3.2 ghz; and a new Cool 'n' Quiet 2.0 power saving feature that allows the reduction of the core clock and voltages for individual cores.

One of the niftiest things about this new processor, is something you don't usually see in a new CPU architecture - Backwards compatibility. While this CPU is designed for use in the new socket AM2+ motherboards with the new 3200 mhz Hypertransport 3.0, it will also work in the older AM2 sockets using Hypertranport 2.0 (2000 mhz) and 1.0 (1600 mhz). That means current users with AM2 motherboards may be able to upgrade to quad core, with nothing more than a BIOS update.

While all of us AMD fans out here were really hoping for a Core 2 'killer', that would dominate the performance benchmarks much like the original Athlon XP and Athlon 64 totally dominated the performance arena from 2002-2006, alas, such was not the case. Instead of leapfrogging ahead, they have basically just caught up. Right now the performance is about equal, clock for clock, between the Core 2 quad and the Phenom. But since the Phenom is priced below the Intel chips, that does make them a better buy right now.

One reassuring item in AMD's favor is that the new CPU's seem to overclock quite well. In fact, for the first time ever a CPU manufacturer is offering their own overclocking utility, called AMD Overdrive, which accesses the CPU directly, letting the user adjust the base clock, multiplier, core voltage and memory timings from within windows. Early results are very promising, allowing the 2.4 Ghz CPU to easily reach 3.0 Ghz on air cooling. I have a feeling we will see Phenom models with larger caches running at 3.0 Ghz by summer, providing enthusiasts with a viable lower cost option to the Intel Extreme QX6850, that provides comparable performance levels.

2008 is certainly looking to be an interesting year!

Forbidden PC

Monday, August 13, 2007

Here's what I would do with 2 grand...

OK, heres what I would suggest to anyone with $2,000 to spend on a new gaming machine.

Like my other gaming builds, this one also uses an Antec case. This time its the Antec Nine Hundred model. This case is a gamers dream with two front mounted 120mm intake fans, one three speed 120mm exhaust fan, and a top mounted 200mm exhaust fan. Lots of room and plenty of space for multiple hard drives, this is simply one of the best cases made.

To power this system requires a step up in class to a PC Power and Cooling "Silencer 610" 610W power supply. With an ultra quiet cooling design, and gobs of available current, this is one of the best gaming power supplies made. Unlike many lesser supplies, this one features a single 12v rail capable of supplying a whopping 49 amps. This is critical for a performance system like this because the video card we will be using requires 26 amps alone. Most multiple rail supplies put out 18 amps per rail. That simply not enough for todays video cards.

Antec Nine Hundred Case - $129.99 (free shipping)
PC Power and Cooling Silencer 610 - $158.67

As much as I like AMD, for high performance systems, Intel's Core 2 Duo simply can't be beat right now. That may change next year with the upcoming Phenom CPU's from AMD, but we're building for today, not next year. So I chose the E6750 running at 2.66 Ghz, with a 4 MB L2 Cache. At $211, you just can't beat the performance/price ratio. And to top it off, this thing overclocks like mad. 3.4 Ghz is easily achievable with air cooling. We'll top it off with a CPU cooler from Acrtic Cooling - the Freezer Pro 7. The Freezer Pro series are excellent coolers, they are quiet, effective and they point in the right direction. When properly installed they direct the hot air from the CPU straight out to the rear exhaust fan. This is the most effective way to cool your system. You want linear airflow from front to back. The down draft type coolers that blow straight down on the motherboard create too much turbulence inside the case for really effective cooling.

The motherboard was a harder choice. I thought about an Nvidia 680i based board, but when it came right down to it, I felt the Intel P35 chipset was better suited for this build, since this is going to be using a single GPU. So I chose an Abit P35 motherboard. For the last couple of years, Abit has been my 'backup' brand of choice when there is no Biostar Tforce model available. Biostar has a P35 Tforce board, but its very new and still has some bugs. The Abit board seems to be a better product at this time. This board supports all the latest processors, including the quad cores and the extreme series. It also supports the 1333 Mhz FSB for the latest Conroe CPU's . It features 8 channel HD audio, Gigabit LAN, 4 rear USB 2.0 ports, 4 memory slots, 3 PCI slots, 2 PCIe x1 slots and one PCIe X16 slot.

Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU - $211.99 (free shipping)
Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 - $40.83
Abit IP35-E motherboard - $121.60

Memory was also a tougher choice this time, but I stayed with the Corsair XMS2 line, but stepped up to the faster 1066 Mhz (PC8500) speed. A bit more pricier, but for a performance machine that may be overclocked for higher performance, its really what you need. 'Standard' DDR2-800 just won't cut it under those conditions.

Corsair XMS2 DDR2-1066 RAM 4x 1GB - $348.00 (free shipping)

Next comes the drives - for this one we're stepping up to the Seagate 400 GB SATA 3.0 GB drive. Its a great deal at $99.99. For the CDROM drive I chose the Liteon black 20x DVD writer with lightscribe.

Seagate 400 GB SATA 3.0 Gb 16MB Cache Hard Drive - $106.13
Liteon 20X DVD writer with Lightscribe - $37.83

Since this is a true high performance build, we are going to need some high performance sound. Most motherboard sound chips are far from 'high performance' and even relatively cheap sound cards will usually sound better. For this build I selected the HT Omega Striker 7.1 card. This has 7.1 sound and built-in Dolby Digital and DTS hardware decoding. Since we're talking sound here I will include the speakers - Creative Inspire P7800 90W 7.1 surround speaker system. Your movies, music and games will sound amazing in 7.1 surround.

HT Omega Striker 7.1 Sound Card - $85.68
Creative Inspire P7800 7.1 Speakers - $104.18

Now comes the Video card. Since this is not going to be an 'all out' SLI system we do need a decent card but not necessarily the 'top of the line'. I chose to go with a Geforce 8800GTS 320 MB Card from EVGA. Its got plenty of RAM for what we are putting together and is plenty powerful, without busting our $2k budget.

EVGA Geforce 8800GTS 320 MB Video card - $286.32

Ok, this puts us at $1631.52 for everything but the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Lets add these items in...

Microsoft comfort Curve Keyboard and mouse - $28.32
Acer 22" Black DVI 5ms Widescreen monitor - $229.16

This gives us a grand total of $1889.00 comfortably under our $2k limit for this build.

Next installment will be an all-out "balls to the wall" build.

See ya then,


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Build your own PC for $400!

Maybe you don't need 3D gaming capability. You just need a basic system for Internet, email, office applications, and other 'non 3d' uses. Well if you are handy with a screwdriver and are familiar with computer hardware, you can build your own COMPLETE system with monitor, mouse and keyboard for just over $400. Compare this with a new Dell Inspiron Base model plus 17" LCD monitor, and speakers at $539 - those $349 'name brand' machines sound like a great deal, until you see whats not included - like the monitor and speakers!

So here's my recipe for an Ultra-budget DIY build (all prices are from Newegg).

Normally I use Antec cases and power supplies, but for this build we're going to go with a Rosewill case. These cases are not as nice as the Antec cases, but they are sturdy and come with a 300W power supply that should suit our needs here. The model I picked out is only $25.99 plus shipping.

Rosewill R805BS Black/silver Steel ATX mid-tower case with 300W power supply - $35.98

Next comes the motherboard and CPU. For this one, we will be using an AMD Sempron 64 3000+ Socket AM2 CPU running at 1.6 Ghz, paired with an MSI K9VGM-V motherboard. The motherboard has a Via K8M890 chipset and Via Chrome9 Graphics. It also features 2 ATA-100 IDE ports for up to 4 IDE devices, as well as two SATA ports for drive expandability. It also has a PCIe X16 slot if you want to add a graphics card later on.

MSI K9VGM-V motherboard - $53.32
AMD Sempron 64 3000+ CPU (retail) - $25.99 (free shipping)

Next comes the RAM. I don't really like to use less than 512 MB so I chose a single 512 MB stick of DDR2-800 RAM from Patriot. Very affordable at $24.99 plus shipping.

512 MB Patriot DDR2-800 RAM - $29.98

Ok, that takes care of the 'guts', now we need to select some drives. I selected a Seagate ATA-100 80 GB hard drive. This drive comes with a five year warranty, unlike most other brands which have three or even one year warranties. Its very affordable at $41.99 plus shipping. If you're willing to splurge, you can get a 160 GB drive for only 8 dollars more. For the optical drive, I stayed with my old workhorse - the Liteon 'combo' drive which burns CDs and also plays DVDs. Its a steal at only 21.99 plus shipping.

Seagate ATA-100 80 GB hard drive - $47.28
Liteon Combo drive CD burner/DVD ROM drive - $27.83

Well, that takes care of all the internals and the case - the only thing left is the I/O stuff. And we've barely broke 2 bills at $221!

Next we add a 17" LCD monitor from Sceptre.

Sceptre X7G-NagaVI 17", 8 ms LCD monitor - $153.17

Then the keyboard, mouse and speakers:

Microsoft CA9-00001 Keyboard and mouse combo - $23.32
Genius SP-S110 speakers - $12.53

This gives us a grand total of $409.91, but if everything is ordered from Newegg at the same time you get a break on shipping that brings the cost down to $392.02!

Next time I'll post a more serious gamers build.

Forbidden PC

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Intel Gaming machine for under a Grand!

Ok, Here's the Intel configuration I promised. It was tough to get it under $1k, but I managed it. This system is based on another BioStar motherboard - the Tforce TP35D2-A7. This motherboard uses the latest P35 chipset from Intel. This board features 1333 mhz FSB support for the new 45 nm Penryn CPU's coming in the next month or two. This board combined with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 should give us performance at least as good (maybe better) as the AMD Athlon 64X2 4600+ CPU used in my previous build.

BioStar Tforce TP35D2-A7 motherboard - $116.12
Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 Processor - 165.5 (free shipping)

Because I don't care for stock CPU coolers, lets toss an Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 on top of that Intel CPU to keep it nice and frosty. I like the Freezer Pro series because they allow for proper airflow for the most effective cooling. They point straight back at the rear case fan and this creates a nice linear flow from the front intake vents, across the drives and then the CPU cooler and then exiting out the back.

Arctic cooling Freezer Pro 7 - $40.63

Next we need some good RAM. For this one I chose the Corsair XMS2 2GB dual pack DDR2-800 RAM. Newegg has this RAM for a measly $113 with a $30 mail in rebate. Good RAM is a must for any performance build. I have seen way too many performance machines ruined by cheap RAM, that it just makes no sense to skimp on it.

Corsair XMS2 DDR-800 RAM 2 GB dual pack - 113.00 (free shipping)

We'll use the same hard drive and DVD burner from the previous build. The Seagate drive has a five year warranty, a SATA 3.0 Gb interface and a 16 MB cache. I've used LiteOn optical drives for years and I've never had a problem with them.

Seagate 250 GB SATA 3.0 Gb hard drive - $69.99 (free shipping)
Liteon 20X DVD burner - $33.63

For this build we're going to use a different Video card - its a little less money than the Geforce card on the AMD build, but it benchmarks better. This one is a Radeon X1950GT from Sapphire with 256 MB RAM. Its a great buy at $129.99!

Sapphire Radeon X1950GT w/256 MB RAM - $135.63

Ok, we've got the basics of the machine and we're still under $700 - looking good!

Now we install all of this hardware in the same case we used before - the NSK 4400 from Antec. Antec makes some of the best cases you'll ever find. They are sturdy and well built, roomy without being oversized, and this particular model comes with an excellent 380W power supply and a 120 mm rear tri-speed fan

Antec NSK-4400 (B Stock) - $65.00

And now a keyboard, mouse and speakers from Apevia:

Apevia KIS-Combo BK Keyboard, mouse and speakers - $29.93

And top it all of with this sweet deal on a 19" monitor from newegg:

Sceptre X9-g Naga 19" 8 ms LCD Monitor - $174.97

This gives us a grand total of $944.40 - only slightly higher than my previous AMD based build!

Forbidden PC

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A gaming machine for under a grand?

Yes, it really is possible - you don't have to pay $2K or more for a decent gaming machine. Here is how I did it:

First off, this is a ground-up build - its got everything you need and nothing you don't. All prices include shipping. The primary goal was to be able to run "The Sims 2" with no lag. This game requires lots of RAM and a good graphics card.

I start off all my builds with a quality case and power supply from Antec. The one I chose for this build was the Antec NSK-4400. It includes a very nice 380W power supply that is plenty powerful enough for most configurations. Newegg has this item for 79.99 plus 15.99 shipping. But if you visit the Antec website you can buy it from their "B Stock" for only $45.95 plus 19.05 Shipping.

Antec Case NSK-4400 - $65.00

I came very close to making this an Intel based machine due to the impressive performance of the new Core 2 Duo CPU's but prices still favor the AMD based machines in this class. So I decided to go with an AMD Athlon 64X2 4600+ CPU, and a BioStar Tforce 550 motherboard. This motherboard has excellent performance and quality and you can see this in the customer reviews at Newegg. With over 220 reviews, its got 84% in the 4 or 5 egg range. All of the Tforce series boards have gotten excellent ratings. This board has alot of nice features - four RAM slots, four SATA 3.0 Gb plugs and an IDE port, so you can have a total of six drives.

AMD Athlon 64X2 4600+ CPU - $113.00 (free shipping)

BioStar Tforce 550 motherboard - $86.12

Next we need to select some RAM. This board is designed for DDR2-800 RAM. Your memory is one of the most critical items in your computer - it pays to get good RAM. I like the Corsair XMS series. It comes with nice shiny black heat spreaders to help keep them cool. 2 GB is the generally considered to be the gaming 'sweet spot'. Two 1024 MB 'dual packs' will add another $138.00

Two Corsair XMS2 512x2 dual packs DDR2-800 - $138.00 (free shipping)

Next we have to select some drives. I always try to buy Seagate because they have a standard five year warranty while most of the others have 3 or 1 year warranties. The drive I chose was the 250 GB SATA 3.0 Gb drive with 16 Mb Cache for $69.99. For the optical drive I chose a LiteOn 20x DVD burner. I've had good results with these drives over the last few years.

Seagate 250 GB hard drive - $69.99 (free shipping)

LiteOn 20X DVD burner - $33.63

Now comes the Video card. for this build I chose a 256 MB Geforce 7900 GS series card from BioStar. Its a decent compromise between performance and price. Its not going to set records for framerates, but it will play just about any game out there at playable framerates and decent resolutions. And you can get it in an 'open box special' from newegg for only 149.99 plus shipping.

BioStar Geforce 256 MB 7900 GS - $156.12

Wow - we're almost done and we're only up to $661! Next we need a keyboard, mouse speakers and monitor. I like the Microsoft ergonomic style keyboards and you can get on with mouse included for $21.99 plus shipping. For the monitor, I would recommend a good 19" LCD panel with low response time of 5 ms or better. Newegg has one from Hanns-G for 179.99 plus shipping and it has built in speakers.

Microsoft Ergonomic keyboardwith mouse - $28.12

19" Hanns-G LCD monitor - $194.38

And last of all, because most onboard Realtek sound is somewhat lacking (ok, it sucks), I would suggest an addon sound card. One that I like is the Chaintech AV-710 7.1 sound card. Its got decent reviews and its very good for music.

Chaintech soundcard - $28.12

This puts our grand total at $912.48 for gaming machine with 2 GB RAM, a 2.4 Ghz Dual core CPU, 256 MB Geforce 7900 GS vid card, 250 GB SATA hard drive and a 19" monitor.

Next post will be an Intel configuration.

Forbidden PC

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dell goes BTX

Dell is todays subject. An aquaintence of mine recently was hired by Dell as a service tech. During his training and orientation he learned some interesting things he has shared. It seems Dell has decided to change over from ATX form factor to BTX form factor. My reply was:


For those that are not familiar with it, BTX is a 'new' form factor introduced by Intel about three years ago. It professed to solve a number of heat problems inherent with the ATX standard. The computer enthusiast community (custom builders and hobbiests) responded to this introduction with a huge yawn. BTX repositions everything on the motherboard for what Intel considers 'proper' cooling. First, they mounted the board on the left side of the case, so that the graphics card would be 'right side up' allowing heat to flow away from the GPU, instead of into the board - good idea, actually. Next they placed the CPU directly in front of the intake fan with a shroud around it, and the Chipset is placed directly behind it. So the air flows over the CPU, then the Chipset, and then out to the rest of the components. Sounds like a good idea, as long as you don't think about it any further than that.

So whats wrong with this idea?

Simple thermodynamics, thats what. For maximum cooling effect you need to maximize the temperature differential between the air stream and the object being cooled. When cooling multiple objects with a single air stream you need to consider the amount of heat coming off each item and cool from smallest to largest - because the smaller items (like the chipset) have less effect on the air stream, resulting in a larger average temperature differential overall. If you place the largest object first (like the CPU) you end up with a much hotter air stream at the end of your cooling path, lessening the cooling effect as you progress. Sure, the CPU is going to be cooler, but everything else is going to be warmer. With todays high performance chipsets, that can be a real problem.

The enthusiast community, led by overclockers, recognized this flaw immediately - hence the lack of interest in BTX over the last two years. Apparently Intel has a lot invested in this idea, so rather than letting it die a quiet death, (like the Itanium) they decided to foist it on the market by convincing (or maybe bullying) Dell into converting over. And Dell apparently has bought the idea (or capitulated).

Lets hope the other big manufacturers don't follow suit.

Forbidden PC

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Vista Sags, Flexgo Soars

You're probably thinking the same thing I did when I saw that article in an EETimes magazine from last summer - Flexgo???? What the heck is that??? Is this some new OS MicroSoft is working on that no one knows about yet? Well, yes, sort of.

At a recent Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, a 'new' system concept (FlexGo) for emerging markets from MicroSoft stole the show, while Vista looked like a snoozer. Vista offers a roster of technologically impressive features such as improved security architecture that has earned the OS CableLabs sanctioned access to premium digital cable TV content, and a new photo format that MS claims will replace the JPEG - despite the fact that it has virtually no industry backing so far. However, enthusiasm was far higher for Microsoft's FlexGo concept which borrows heavily from the cell phone industries' business model.

Several years back Microsoft floated the idea of a subscription based Operating System and the public basically gave it a big thumbs down. We in the US and Europe, want to own ALL of our PC, not just the hardware. Well, now they are trying it again from a different angle. Market research shows that in developing countries only 6% of people own PC's but 27% own cell phones - that fact, along with some ethnographic research, has led MS to the concept of subsidizing PC hardware in emerging markets, the way cell phones are subsidized today. FlexGo systems may sell for as little as $250, although they may have a value of $600 or more (These numbers make me wonder - have these guys priced a low cost Dell/Emachines/Gateway system lately?) and the cost difference would be made up in payments over time for internet access. Key to this effort is security, to make sure users don't hack the system to get free Internet access, or remove the components to make a quick profit by selling the system for parts. The FlexGo system would also allow service providers send a Web Services message that would cripple the systems functionality if the user didn't pay his bill.

MicroSoft kicked off a 1,000 system trial in Brazil last year and trials are planned for China, Eastern Europe, India, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam. "FlexGo will be a growth catalyst. We expect every major OEM will be building these PCs for emerging markets," said Will Poole, VP of Client systems for MicroSoft.

I really, REALLY don't like this idea at all. If this idea takes off in emerging markets, MS will certainly pressure Dell and the others to implement FlexGo here in the US and Western Europe. It will be the death knell for the independant PC builder, and the whole aftermarket PC industry.

Forbidden Computer Services

Monday, March 26, 2007

Although it didn't attract the worldwide media attention that the World Cup did, the RoboCup 2006 certainly generated plenty of excitement and enthusiasm for those that attended the event. Billed as the most important robotic competition in the world and patterned after the World Cup, RoboCup is a series of soccer matches played by teams of mechanical robots. Not remote controlled robots, but programmed robots that operate autonomously with no outside interference. They must know their location on the field at all times as well as that of the ball. As in real soccer the object is to score goals. Kind of reminds me of an episode of the Jetsons where George and Mr Spacely attend a robotic football game. Truly an example of life imitating art.

With over 2500 participants, the competition was made up of more than 400 teams from 36 countries. American soccer fans can console themselves with the fact that the small robot competition was won by the team from Carnegie Mellon University. Possibly the most intriguing bit of info in this story is the additional service provided by Carnegie Mellon - live play-by-play commentary during the event. Admittedly, it can't be too difficult to call the action with such relatively slow moving robots, but Carnegie Mellons announcers weren't human - they were two four legged robots named Ami and Sango, developed and built by Sony Corporation and programmed by Carnegie Mellon researchers. The announcer-bots can track the ball, know which team has possession and move their heads and bodies to follow the action on the field. Using synthesized speech, they announce when a robot player kicks or passes the ball, how fast the ball is moving and when a goal is scored. When a goal is scored the announcer-bots are programmed to respond accordingly. One might dance around with arms waving while the other shouts out appropriate comments. Each robot calls plays on only half of the playing field because of limited vision range, but they are programmed not to talk simultaneously. If action occurs on one side of the field while the other robot is talking, the first robot can interrupt and the other will stop talking. In the future these mechanical marvels will be able to handle many more announcing duties, all completely autonomously. Not only will they accurately call the action on the field, but they can instantly provide, from sophisticated onboard computers, additional commentary on a variety of topics including in-depth individual statistics and intricate rules of the game.

Howie and Terry might be looking for new jobs soon...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The First Day of Spring

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - the first day of Spring - was one of the most difficult and painful days of my life. On that day at 8:20 AM, I had to say goodbye to my dear friend and companion, Sterling. As I cradled his head in my arms and whispered in his ear "Its ok, boy", the Vet injected a strong anesthetic into the vein in his left foreleg. His head grew heavy in my arms as he drifted off. Ten seconds later the Vet, holding a Stethoscope to Sterlings chest, said softly, "He's gone."

Even though my heart still aches with the guilt and the loss, logic and compassion tells me we did the right thing. His eyesight was almost completely gone, and he sometimes got stuck in corners. Watching him prepare to lay down made it painfully obvious how badly his joints hurt. He would seldom go out into the yard any longer, I think for fear he would not be able to find his way back to the porch, so he 'did his business' on the sidewalk just a few feet from the porch steps. Back in January, when my wife said that we needed to see about putting him to sleep, I thought he was not that bad off. We heard about a young bulldog pup (Petunia) that needed a home, so we took her in. I hoped that having an active dog around would perk him up some, and it did for a while. Then he began to have 'accidents' in the house. He had had a couple of accidents before, but that was because he had been left inside for too long when we had to go out somewhere and could not take him with us. Those times he actually seemed to be embarrassed by what he had done. This time it was different, though. He seemed to not even realize he needed to relieve himself. It just 'happened' as he lay sleeping on the floor by my desk. He was eating less too. I noticed this past weekend that he only ate about half of his food. Petunia was eating the rest. There was no longer any denying it. I knew it had to be done and on Monday I made one of the most difficult phone calls of my life. The receptionist asked if we wanted to be present. I honestly didn't know, I've never had to do this before, so I asked my wife. With no hesitation she said "Yes, it would be cruel not to". Bless her heart, she was so right. Sometimes it amazes me how she is so wise about exactly the things I seem to be ignorant of. So I am at least comforted by the thought that the last thing he felt was my arms around his neck and my words of comfort in his ear. He was my friend and he deserved that much, no matter how painful it was for me.

I am also comforted by the many fond memories of Sterling, moments forever frozen in time thanks to my wonderful wife and her digital camera:

Find the Cookie!
Is it Nap Time Yet?
Fearless Bird
The Things I do for a Cookie!
Sterlings first christmas with us. He got his own present, a rawhide package filled with rawhide bones.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Well, I geuss its about time I got started here....

I'm a techno geek, so I suppose this blog will be mainly tech/computer oriented, although I may occasionally toss in an odd thing or two about other subjects.

Ok, so a little bit about me and my background...

Science was always my favorite subject in school, and I've loved techno toys ever since I can remember. I've always liked tearing stuff apart to figure out how it worked. My family never had much though, so tech toys were very rare. I can remember when we finally got an Atari video game, it was basically just variations on 'Pong', and was quite outdated, but it was all we had. We couldn't afford a computer, though I would have died to have one as a teen. I can remember spending hours in Radio Shack ogling all the tech stuff, wishing I could get one of those early Tandy TRS-80 computers....

So it was really no surprise to me or anyone else when I joined the Navy in '81 and was selected for the Nuclear Power Program. A Nuclear Power Plant - The ULTIMATE Tech Toy! But sadly, that dream was not to be. After waiting 11 months for my class seat, I was disqualified the day I reported for my physical. Seems they didn't like the school I graduated from - Porterville Adult School. They required a diploma from a 'regular' high school and would not budge on the issue. So I ended up 'settling' for the Advanced Electronics Program. In the six years I spent as a Navy Electronics Tech, I still never got that computer I longed for so bad. Computers were quite expensive and I just was not good at managing money. My family never had money, so I never really learned to manage it wisely, I just frittered it away.

I finally got my first computer in '97 when a friend brought over this huge box that his uncle had given him. In it was a 25Mhz 486-DX2 based IBM PS-1 that would not boot up. I took it to a local computer shop and they put DOS 6.2 on it for me. I played around with some DOS based games until a friend gave me his Windows 95 Disk so I could have a 'real' operating system. I managed to get a Modem for it so I could go online, and I've been 'hooked' on the Internet ever since. I met my wife, Joy on the Internet and we have been happily married for over six years now. I really don't know what I would do without her - she puts the joy in my life, quite literally.

Eventually I saved enough to get a new Biostar motherboard, a Trident 4 MB video card and a P120 processor, so I could actually play some of the games I wanted - like Lords of the Realm, Outpost, Warcraft and Starcraft, my all time favorite. I had all this stuff crammed into the old IBM desktop case, and since none of it 'fit' it was just sort of hanging out everywhere. I called it my Frankenputer. Finally I broke down and got a mid-tower case for it all and it became a 'normal' computer. I've gradually upgraded one piece at a time, so none of the original remains. I do still have the old soundblaster ISA card in another computer, though.

In the meantime, in August of 2000, I went to work for a large Biotech company, Beckman Coulter, that has a circuit board manufacturing facility here in town - finally making a decent wage for a change, and doing what I love most, testing and repairing electronic circuit boards. There's nothing I like more than figuring out why something doesn't work, and then fixing it so it does.

Since my wife has built an extensive personal website, I decided two years ago for her birthday I would give her what she needed most - her own Domain. She became the proud owner of "" and I put a web server on her computer so she can easily manage the files without having to deal with FTP and hosting hassles. Since it is so much easier to work with now, her site has grown signifigantly - over 300MB of files now. She is very proud of it, and rightly so. You can visit it here

After a few months I thought it might be a good idea to build my own website, since I do a little bit of side business working on computers, doing repairs, upgrades and spyware/virus removal. I figured it might be a good idea to have a web presence and so I became "". When it came time for the domain renewal, I decided to get my own domain name instead of piggybacking on hers. I became "" You can see my website here

Anyway, thats my story and I'm sticking to it.