Thursday, March 30, 2006

Waiting for UPS

I apologize for geeking-out a bit on this post.

Five years ago I assembled my own computer I dropped a P3 800 processor in it with 256 MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. I splurged and paid $254 for a Creative Labs 3DBlaster Annihilator 2 (GeForce2 GTS) complete with 32 MB of glorious, video sparkle—and Unreal Tournament, fragging goodness. Over the years I have upgraded the memory to 320 MB, added 160 GB of hard drive space, and installed a DVD reader. It has seen 5 different operating systems. Its daily tasks have varied from programming functions, games, the ‘net, homework assignments, and email. Although it has always served me faithfully, it can no longer keep up with my activities.

As my photography equipment has evolved, so have the sizes of the files I work with. At times I'll avoid a stack of pictures that need editing because I dread waiting for each of them to creep across the screen.

So, I’m assembling a new computer. In fact I just ordered:
  • P4 3.2 with HT
  • ASUS Motherboard with NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset and a fanless cooling system
  • 4 GB of DDR2 memory
  • 2 250 GB SATA 3.0 GB hard drives that I’ll RAID 0 together to make one 500 GB data drive
  • 1 160 GB SATA 3.0 GB hard drive for the OS (I may partition this for a dual-boot (xp64, Vista, OSX...)

    I still have a few items to pick up before it will all work, but the bulk of it should be here early next week. I’ve never done anything with RAID, so that should be fun. I went round and round deciding if I should just get one big drive or 2 smaller ones and I’m still not sure if I’ve chosen correctly. I do know, however, that the RAID will make it scream.

    To get 4 GB of memory was a little pricey, but I don’t want to do this again for another 5 years. Also, I’d really like to see how Photoshop performs with a 150 MB file and no need to cache anything to the disk. (I may actually get some of my big panos on the wall.)
  • Friday, March 24, 2006

    The Last Time We'll See 4 or 23 on a Duke Jersey

    Duke's Coach K, after tonight's loss:
    I'm proud of my team, obviously, their 32 wins and 4 losses, and they have won championships and the two kids here have been two of the best players I've ever coached. They have been part of 116 wins at Duke during their four years, many championships. And although we have lost games, they have always represented me, our program and our school and themselves in the best possible manner.

    I'm proud of them, and I'm disappointed that we can't go on, but you got to learn, you don't win all the time. You lose too. And you have to handle losses with the dignity and class that you handle the wins.

    For right now, for me, it's to make sure that these kids don't walk out of here blaming themselves, and looking only at the loss. I've always said that you want to end the season where you're cutting down the nets or you're crying in your locker room. And our kids were all crying in our locker room. And they, they have been a great group of kids. And led by these seniors. And this is a team that had a lot of seniors and a lot of freshmen.

    And so it put a heavier load on those seniors and especially these two kids. And I just thought that they were two of the best kids I've coached in my 26 years. Sean, Lee, Pat, and Ross, the other seniors, they all did a good job. We had a great year. 32 wins, 4 losses. Championships. Finished the regular season number one. I know we're not -- we weren't ever a dominant team. We knew that. And so things have to go right for us to win. And tonight LSU just, one, they -- J.J. made a good point, it's the first team we played all year that could really block shots like that. It wasn't just their own the ball defense or off the ball, their ability to block shots made us change some shots inside. And I don't know if we have ever, we ever adjusted to that.

    I'm not a blamer. I take responsibility. I think we all could have done a little bit better job, but the other team forces you into those situations. And the game is a game of adjustments. And I don't think we ever completely adjusted to the physicality of this game. And so they did. And they won and we shake their hands and that's part of being a competitor. So there's no excuses or no blame.

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Car Care Day

    My church sponsors a bi-annual event to change the oil and perform safety checks on cars. The service is available to anyone and is mostly found useful by our older members and their friends. Today was the first time I was able to volunteer. After an assessment my mechanical skills I was promoted(?) to the car-wash and vacuum team-—which was fine with me.

    I couldn’t help but feel pride for the leaders who organize this event and the real mechanics who volunteer their time at it. To me this is what the church should be about and I am glad to be a part.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    A New Lease

    In 1989 I was given a pair of headphones for graduation. They were a welcome companion during study sessions, amateur recording events, and numerous road trips. They faithfully reproduced my music collection as it evolved from cassettes to cds to mp3s.

    However, after about 8 years of use, the fake leather that covered the ear pads disintegrated leaving the foam exposed. This destroyed their ability to block outside noises since they could no longer form a tight seal around my ears.

    In the land of cubicles, where I work, it is often necessary to block out the ubiquitous conversations of co-workers. For this task I daily call upon my trusty headphones. To counteract their inability to deter outside noise I increase the volume.

    Recently, I decided that I needed better headphones—not because mine don’t sound good, because they do—but because I have to crank them up so much to keep out the unwanted noise. While I was searching for some new headphones to buy, I stumbled upon a discussion about replacing worn ear pads. Soon I was on Sony’s website and without hesitation I bought a replacement set. One week and an easy installation later, I am pleased to report they have never sounded better. It is as if they are brand new.

    If only everything I own could be revitalized with such simplicity. Imagine if my 20 year old car could be revitalized with a new set of seat covers. Or if a $10 part bought at radio-shack could make my television picture as clear as it was the day I bought it. What about a washing machine additive that could keep my clothes from becoming worn out.

    And, what does it say about a piece of electronics that can still be enjoyed after 16 years? Possibly more amazing, is that the standard for delivering sound from a personal device to the listener's ears has remained constant.

    Here’s to simple fixes, unchanged, industry standards, and my uncle Russell for buying me these sweet headphones.
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