Passed by


As much as I used to follow computing news and trends back in the 1990s, the combination of leaving the Website design business, going back to college, and losing access to Tech TV after the fire caused me to kind of withdraw from that whole scene. Later, when I stopped working for Dad’s business to focus on my studies, I lost access to the computing magazines he always subscribed to. I still knew enough to build my own computer (Yggdrasil Mark I) back in 2003, but then I got into grad school and I started teaching, and of course these past couple of months my life has been turned upside down. (I promise, once the current semester ends next week and I have one last weekend of reviewing student work, I will make a strong effort to return to blogging on a regular basis, not to mention other things that fell off of the radar after Dad died.) I have to stay up on Internet stuff just because of my job (in addition to teaching and researching online I also need to know the "Internet culture" of my students to be able to communicate effectively with them), but as far as the hardware stuff goes I kind of haven’t paid attention to that for a long time.

I’ve mentioned here for a long time that I need to start making Yggdrasil Mark II soon. However, Mom says that she wants a computer so she can do Internet stuff, and as soon as she suggested that, she also suggested that I give her Yggdrasil Mark I and she’d buy me the components for my next computer. Well, unfortunately I’m beginning to have problems with Mark I — I think she needs a new power supply and new fans — and I don’t want to have to perform major surgery on Mark I until it’s time to get it cleaned up for Mom. At the very least it is now time to start pricing things out for Mark II, and yes, I’m building another PC, so Mac loyalists are advised to save their breath trying to get me to switch.

Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge of current tech trends is really coming back to bite me in the butt now. As I did with Mark I, I’m going to use an Asus motherboard at the heart of my system, and I’ll probably get a current low-end Intel model. Unfortunately, PC architecture has changed so much that I find myself lost looking at the specs for motherboards. (Right now I’m looking at the P5N-E SLI, but I may get a higher-end model depending on how much money I can save up.) I look at the specs for the motherboard and what kind of RAM and hard drives it can support, and then I look at the RAM and hard drives that are on sale, and it seems like the components have all these additional variations that I can’t match to the motherboard’s listed specifications. I’ve tried to puzzle these things out on my own, but I’m having no luck, and it’s getting to the point where I’ve given serious consideration to having a local computer store just build a computer for me, even though I’ll probably spend at least an extra $250 just on price markups and labour costs.

I could use some guidance, if any of my readers have advice on components and stuff to get (apart from "Get a Mac"). Unlike my old computers which were mostly full of bargain-basement (but reliable) parts, I actually want something "nice" here because I’m past my "all I need to do is write papers in Word and look up plain text Websites" stage of my life; I plan on doing a lot of music and 3-D stuff with this new computer, so I’ll want things to be nice but not go overboard buying bleeding-edge stuff. I don’t want to overclock, and I don’t need to burn Blu-ray discs (I already have a DVD burner from when I was going to put a new computer together for Dad), but I’d still like to know that I can run current-generation software quickly and be able to do a fair amount of multitasking. As I said before, an Asus mobo and Intel processor are givens (the one AMD computer I owned didn’t work out too well for me), but otherwise I’m fairly open to suggestions.

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