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New desktop, try 2

March 3, 2009 8:07 pm Published by 1 Comment

After doing yet more research on benchmarks and prices, I’ve backed away from my revolutionary stance on Intel processors. The Athlon 64 X2 represents a fair approximation, and the CPU and motherboard combo I’ve chosen will save me about $150 off of the Intel alternative. Here’s what I’m ordering tonight:

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA780G-UD3H (780G chipset, ATI Radeon HD 3200 on-board, although I won’t be using it)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600 (Dual 2.9GHz cores, 2x512K L2, 65W)
Video card: Radeon HD 4870 1GB (My first PCIe x16 card! Note that this is actually a bump over the previous plan)
Memory: G.SKILL 4GB DDR2 (1066 MHz, dual-channel, CAS 5. A tiny upgrade in speed)
Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar WD6400AAKS (640GB, 7200 RPM, this hasn’t changed)

Add in an HDMI cable (my screen and current video card support it, but for some reason I never got around to buying one) and one of the best reviewed AM2 heatsinks on the market, and it all adds up to just over $550 including shipping. Even cheaper than I was expecting.

The savings will probably go towards an HTPC build from the old hardware. Details to come! Maybe!

The earliest news events I remember

February 26, 2009 3:26 pm Published by 1 Comment

The first five news events I actually remember (and my corresponding ages) were:

  1. 1986-01-28: Challenger explosion (6 years, 1 month)
  2. 1986-02-09: Halley’s Comet passes Earth (6 years, 2 months)
  3. 1986-10-27: Mets win the World Series (6 years, 10 months)
  4. 1987-10-19: Stock market crash on Black Monday (7 years, 10 months)
  5. 1988-11-08: Bush defeats Dukakis (8 years, 10 months)

One of the most interesting things I learned while looking up these events is how close together the Challenger disaster and the Halley’s Comet perihelion were. In fact, the Shuttle mission (STS-51-L) and the following scheduled mission (STS-61-E) had apparently been scheduled to observe the comet up close. In my mind, those two events were far apart. Along the same lines, the Mets won the World Series just a couple of months after my family moved to Connecticut, but somehow I suddenly became a Mets fan.

New desktop specs

February 23, 2009 10:14 am Published by 7 Comments

I’ve got my new desktop birthday gift essentially planned at this point. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Tom’s Hardware and Ars Technica, and both of them are pointing at Intel for solid mid-range desktops nowadays. There’s some disagreement over whether the Core i7 (Quad-core on one die! Triple-channel DDR3!) is worth the price premium over the Core 2 Duo. I’ve decided that, for me, it’s not. I don’t do enough video gaming anymore for four cores to be effectively utilized. Even two cores feels like a bit of a waste.

We’re still deciding on a case (although I really like everything Lian Li, like the PC-7B plus II) since the case is a part that I feel that M should have a say in. But the guts are going to be as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 (Dual core, 3.16GHz)
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P (Intel P45 Northbridge. X48 was tempting, but I don’t need that much PCIe, and I probably never will.)
  • Video card: Radeon HD 4850 512MB (This was a hard decision. The HD 4870 1GB would be so much faster, but in the end I don’t game as much as I used to, and another $100 for the performance is too much.)
  • Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) (DDR2 800, Dual Channel, CAS 5. The Motherboard has four slots, so if when I need more memory, it’ll be simple.)
  • Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar 640GB (7200 RPM, SATA 3.0Gb. I’m a hard drive miser. I could splurge for a 1TB drive, but I’ve never even filled my current 160GB disk.)
  • Optical drive: I’ll move the NEC ND-3550A DVD-RW from my current desktop. It’s still solid.

Update, Mar 3: I just ordered the parts, but not before a whole bunch of stuff changed.

Passwords in email

February 7, 2009 10:23 am Published by 2 Comments

Dear web sites:

Please do not send me my password in plain-text in an email. My email is not necessarily secure. The protocols by which email is sent through the Internet are unencrypted. When you send me an email with my password in it, I delete it immediately. phpBB does it. So does Geni. Movember did it, too. There are only two cases when you should send me a plain-text password in an email:

  1. When I create an account, and you generate a password for me.
  2. When I tell you I forgot my password, and you generate a new password for me.

The fact that you even can tell me my password in plain-text indicates to me that your database is insecure. Anyone with access to it would be able to get everyone’s plain-text usernames and passwords. Please change your database schema to use a one-way hash to store passwords.

2008 Oscars Scoresheet

January 22, 2009 10:09 am Published by 7 Comments

It’s that time of year again: Oscar nominations! The 81st Academy Awards nominees were announced today, and here’s my scoresheet:

Category # seen
Best Picture 1 2
Best Actor 0 1
Best Actress 0
Best Director 1 2
Best Screenplay 1
Best Adapted Screenplay 1 2

Another banner year here at Plutor.org for seeing movies in the theaters. I’ve seen the entertaining but overrated Slumdog Millionaire and the fantastic and completely deserving WALL-E. If (as I hope) I see The Wrestler and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the next month, that’ll give me 5 more points.

How’d you do?

Update Jan 26: I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button this weekend. I have to say, neither of the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen have really blown me away. Both this and Slumdog Millionaire were good movies, but I don’t think they’d have made the cut if they were made last year.