Adventures in Computer Building

Ola from my brand spanking new…well new with the same hard drives and video card computer!

For some reason I thought it would be good if I built the system myself despite the fact that two days ago I bought a new computer chair and paid the extra $10 for assembly because Bad Things happen when I try to assemble furniture.

I’ve spent several months poking around various websites reading about what I might want.   This is more workstation than gaming machine so I was looking for a beefy high end processor.

I settled on the i7-3930K Hexacore.  At $600 it came in $400 below the Extreme edition which I contemplated until I saw that there isn’t much difference performance wise between them.   Naturally there’s no point in putting a high performance chip on a crappy mother board so I went with the Asus Rampage Extreme IV.   I think the Extreme is for “Extremely Expensive”…until of course you get it running then it means “Extremely Awesome”

So, anyway yesterday afternoon I sent an email to the gang at Canada Computers at Richmond and Oxford in London asking if they had my selections in stock.   There was some back and forth as I wanted their advice on cooling.

I arrived at the store at around 5:30 and they had everything I’d asked for waiting for me 🙂   I picked out a Cooler Master HAF 942 case and a Noctua DH14 CPU Cooler.

It was a bit surreal on the drive home.  I was in no particular hurry to get home despite the task that awaited me.

So,  I get home, and unpack my box of goodies!

I had the forethought to gather up all my tools before I went to London so there wasn’t much scurrying around.

As I started to unpack things I had a moment of alarm as I thought that perhaps I had accidentally removed something from the Buick…like a radiator….

Despite the lack of rust I suspected this actually belonged to the Buick!

As it turns out that is the Noctua CPU Cooler!

Setting up the case with the OCZ modular power supply was pretty simple…considering its modular…meaning you attach cables as you need them…and it has thumbscrews….not even I could screw that up!

So, next comes seating the CPU on the motherboard.

The second most nerve wracking moment of the build. There's $1100 worth of gear I can ruin with a single slip...far out of my "Frack it, I'll just buy another one if it breaks!" range

Thoughts running through my head during the CPU install were:

“OMG WHAT WAS THAT SOUND???”

“IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE THAT STIFF????”

Of course,  the maddening thing with this install is…I won’t know if I borked it until I actually get the whole computer put together.

It only takes me 20 or 30 minutes of futzing about to get the CPU Cooler installed.

Those of you with sharp eyes will see the RAM sitting under the cooler (no need for RAM cooling on the proximal slots!!)

So then I demonstrate how tired I am by installing the mother board risers in the case…by hand.  (these are the things that I will screw the motherboard into.    It wasn’t until I was on the last one that I stopped and thought, “Wait a minute…why am I doing this by hand??? I have a tool for this!”

So I install the motherboard,  I take the hard drives and video card from my old machine and plug them into my new one.

I connect power….and with my finger on the power supply’s on/off switch I hit the power button aaaannnnnd…….nothing…..I keep my cool.  Disconnect the power and reseat the ATX connection (the bit that connects power to the motherboard).    I notice an empty hole where a screw should be holding the mother board down!   Fix that,  plug power back in and I’m rewarded will all sorts of pretty lights!  Yay!

Then,  with one finger on the PSU’s on/off switch I hit the computer’s power button.   I watch it POST (a check up as it boots)…then I get an error “CPU FAN ERROR!”   I quickly shut the machine down.   If my CPU over heats there’s $600 down the drain.

I spend about 20 minutes reseating the CPU Fan power and checking everything over.

Same thing!   I go into the BIOS…the little program that you can use to set up how your computer runs.  I see “Q Control for CPU Fan”.    I set that to Disable and immediately see the fans spin to life!  Yay!

So, its 11pm.   I hit power and see the “Starting Windows” logo

After a minute Blue Screen of Death flashes and it reboots.

I run the windows repair tool…same thing.

This time I read the log….frustrated I unplug the system and go watch tv.

Halfway through South Park I think…”wadeaminute!”

Something I read in the log tweaked  “D:/Windows”

My windows installation was on my C drive!

I go and switch the SATA cables and presto-blamo I can boot!!!

So yeah,  this weekend I’m going to go grab a new Solid State Drive and a copy of Windows 7 Pro  but it is prettty freakin sweet!

Sorry, I’m tired, I might re-write this later 🙂

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RTOD: Why I’m glad I’m single…

If everything goes according to plan,  today sometime between 5pm and 6pm (depending on traffic and what not) I should be in London Ontario purchasing an i7 3630K Hexacore CPU, an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79 chipset mobo,  32Gb of Ram and a Corsair H100 Water Cooling system.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with computer hardware just read the above as “Most freaking awesome components I can get for rendering without dropping 5 figures on an actual workstation!”

For those of you who are familiar the i7 3960X CPU is slightly faster…but not an additional $400 worth of faster 🙂

You know what…I didn’t have to get anyone’s approval, and the only person I had to argue with was my mom who pointed out that their computer only cost $500 and it works perfectly fine. 😉

RTOD: Sometimes you just need to not look so hard to see the problem…

No matter how much you stare at it,  glare, walk away in disgust…the following line will not alter your database

var strSQL = “Delete from SecondarySites where employee = ‘” + empID + “‘”);

without this bit: 

var result = dbConn.executeUpdate(strSQL);

this won’t work either:

var result = executeUpdate(strSQL);                   //oddly the program will want to know which database connection you’d like to send the command to

or

var result = dbConn.executeCachedQuery(strSQL)  //Queries pull data from the database, not the other way around

Those last two will at least throw errors.

Yeah, yeah…its been a long day 🙂

For non-programmers… The first line loads a command that tells my database to delete everything in the table SecondarySites that belongs to the employee contained inempID into the variable strSQL

That’s all it does.

The second line actually sends the command to the database.

Sort of like putting a letter in an envelope and forgetting to drop the envelope in the mail box.   It will do nothing but look pretty!

Yes, its a programming fail.

But look at it this way.   I am so freaking awesome that I can post my fails on my blog 😀

Real life is different from tv…

You see “computer experts” on television shows who can pretty much do anything by tapping their keys and blabbering out a bunch of words the writers have heard their computer geek friends say.   Then they will do things that will make computer geeks laugh, or scoff.    Like:

Non-Geek Character:  “Omg, what’s happening??!!  I can’t get into Facebook!!!!”

Geek Character:  “They’ve launched a denial of service attack on our wireless router!!!”

NGC:  “FIX IT!! FIX IT!!!  I need to post this lolcatz to my wall!!!”

GC:  “I’ll brute force their DNS server!”

5 seconds later….

GC:  “I’m in!!!!”

So yeah…tv computer geeks never make mistakes and can always fix problems in the blink of an eye.   I’m not even going to explain why the above imaginary tv conversation is wrong on so many levels.

In real life the conversation would go like this…

Non-Geek Character: “Omg, what’s happening??!!  I can’t get into Facebook!!!”

Geek Character: “We blocked it.”

Non-Geek Character: “Oh”  …goes back to work.

I usually ignore some of the technical nonsense I see on TV.  Things like Criminal Mind’s Penelope breaking pretty much every privacy law ever made   (and quite a few technical ones),   but it seems that regular non geeky IT people are influenced by the massive technical prowess displayed on television and expect the same from technical people they encounter in their daily lives.

So here is a dose of reality for you:

The cool, quirky uuber techno wizard you see on television is, in fact,  an actor who probably has difficulty programming his/her PVR in real life.

In real life, uuber techno wizards look a lot like this:

Real Life Techno Geek

Bugs, glitches and equipment failures happen.   Even if there isn’t a plot hole to fill.   Everyone makes mistakes, and programmers are no different.   You know when your favorite software gets updated?   Yeah….bug fixes!  🙂

Sometimes computers run amok.  In movies and television it will often prevent the intrepid heroes from doing something,  or the running amok computer might be causing the end of the world…it’s important to remember that every piece of equipment that requires electricity to operate can be unplugged,  or somehow disconnected from its power source without the world ending.  This will stop The Bad Thing the computer is doing in its tracks,  every time,  even if the Bad Computer has a sinister looking countdown and flashing lights.

No matter how good you look in form fitting black ninja clothes,  it usually takes more then 3 or 4 minutes to download an entire hard drive to a USB flash drive.    If you can get to the point where you can stick a flash drive into a computer,   you can just download a program that will email you everything you need.   But really, there are a million ways to get that software onto someone’s machine without the need to have a carefully coordinated plan involving 5 people sneaking into a building supported by a guy in a van using a impressive array of electronics that could be replaced with a 1st generation smart phone.

Sometimes writers put no effort at all into their technical solutions.  Its important to remember that reinstalling Windows will not help, especially if you’re using a Linux server.

When someone hacks into a system they are not presented with a fantastical land of 3D imagery where security software is represented by bad men chasing the hero.   In real life, when you hack into a system,  you are usually presented with….

The underscore  (which is an old-timey cursor)  would be flashing if that helps at all.

Sadly,  once you get to this point there is about 50/50 chance that you can find what you’re looking for by presuming that many security settings were not changed from default.

Sometimes you will see some smart young kid who dances circles around old stodgy technically inefficient,  incompetent technical experts employed by the government.   This happens in the movies and while it might happen irl on occasion in most cases no.   The people who work technical security are people like me.   We grew up with technology when there was no internet…no google.  We had to figure it out all by ourselves,  sometimes with the aid of books but most of it was trial and error.    Essentially if you haven’t had to completely rebuild a system because you wanted to try something then you couldn’t really consider yourself a hacker.

So yeah,  if you show us something new,  we’ll pick it up pretty quick….because we’ve been learning and implementing new tech stuff while your parents were still in grade school 😉

At what level do we consider that there are no shades of evil, there is just evil?

Victoria Stafford: Missing 8 Yr Old Girl
Victoria Stafford: Missing 8 Yr Old Girl (Photo credit: Kimberly.Bock)

On April 8th 2009 an 8 year old little girl went missing from the town of Woodstock, Ontario which is about a 30 minute drive from where I live.   In the following days posters with Tori Stafford’s smiling face were plastered everywhere.

People looked.  People cared.  You could not be in a public place and not hear someone talk about Tori.

On May 21st 2009, tens of thousands of hearts across the province broke when police had announced that they had made an arrest in her murder.  They hadn’t found her body,  but police were certain she was dead.

I will not mention the name of the the people charged in her abduction and death.   They do not deserve the dignity of having a name,  I will therefore refer to them as the male and the female.

The female,  if I remember correctly plead guilty to her part almost immediately.   The male has finally gone to trial.

I do not understand what is going on with this trial.

Much as I tried not to,  I did read some of the articles about what was going on in court.   The mother was pilloried for her drug use,  although she was trying to stop.
I started a blog entry that day called “Apparently if your mom is a drug addict its okay if someone abducts, rapes and murders you.”   as that seemed to be what the questioning aimed at Tori’s mom was about.   Hasn’t she suffered enough?  What has her habits to do with anything?   Yes,  maybe that’s how the female became aware of Tori, but is that really relevant?

Is the message that if you harm a child you met because their mother is an addict that you’re somehow less responsible??

They made Tori’s teacher relive the final moments of her last day with Tori.   Why put her through that?   Seriously!!!   WHY?!

The media reports every detail,  every word.   They follow the female’s account of Tori’s final hours.   It was heartbreaking,  but obscene that they went to that detail.

If Tori had lived her name wouldn’t be published.   The humiliation that she suffered in her final hours would not be detailed for everyone to read.   Her dignity would’ve been preserved.

If you say “The Public has a Right to Know”….tell me why.   I’d be interested to know.

It seems that this entire debacle is aimed at clouding the juries opinion on who actually killed Tori.  As in who swung the hammer.

I don’t get this.   I do not understand how the legal system can differentiate responsibility in an act like this when both parties admit they were party to this crime.

In my mind it doesn’t matter who did what.   They are both guilty of every heinous act.  The female is just as guilty of raping Tori as the male.   The male is just as guilty as the female of killing Tori (if the female is to be believed at trial…taking responsibility for that particular act).

Its all one and the same and it appears that good people are being dragged through horrific memories so that the male can deflect some of the responsibility.

I would like to point out that kharma is not swayed by legal shenanigans.   I cannot think of how either the male or the female can balance their kharma after this.  Perhaps a lifetime of selfless service and compassion (and you know that’s not going to happen).

There are a lot of people who are saying that the death penalty should be brought back for these two.

I disagree,  but not for the reason you might think.

The dead do not suffer.

Let’s wish them long lives behind bars where they will have to live with what they’ve done.   They will not have an easy time in prison.  “Skinners” (sex offenders) are reviled and victimized…even the female ones.   In this case the fact that Tori’s mom was a drug addict will come into play as many of the inmate population will know,  or know someone who knows someone who knew Tori’s mom,  making it personal in a subset of the population that solves problems with violence.

So yes,  no death penalty for them.

A more appropriate punishment would be to blot them from history.  Erase their names,  their identities.   Give them a scarlet letter so they can’t hide, but make them non-people.

My point in writing this is, that there has to be a point where the legal system has to view a chain of events like what happened to Tori as a single act,  and treat both parties, upon conviction,  the same.

I have sat here for a few minutes wondering if I should link to blogs and news articles with more information.

I will,  but with this warning….descriptions of  Tori’s final hours are heart-wrenching.   Of course, the perpetrators are named.  There is nothing I can do about that.

Why Buddhism?

English: The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari:...
Buddhist Wheel of Life

I’ve been asked this a couple of times so I figure this is a good place to answer this particular question.

In Buddhism you are responsible for your actions. <– Note the period

You cannot ride into a city with a host of your fellow faithful and rape and pillage and murder and escape the consequences because you believe that you have been absolved of all sins while on crusade.

Equally, you cannot fly an airplane into a building, or blow people up in the name of your god and escape the kharmic consequences.

You cannot hate without drawing negative kharma.

One of the things that confused me about Christianity as I was growing up was how many sects claimed that the only way to eternal salvation was through accepting Jesus Christ as your personal saviour (or some variance thereof).   How does that work?  Did someone take a poll in the afterlife?  Is your soul’s fate determined by where you are on Sunday morning? (or Saturday, or Friday)

When I was in the military,  while in training we had a classmate who claimed to be devoutly religious.  I forget the name of his sect but in addition to the usual fun stuff some religions prohibit music, dancing and what not were also on the naughty list.   He gave us the line that he was the only one of us who would see heaven because he was the only one of us who belonged to his sect.  This offended other classmates who were also practicing Christians.

I asked him for clarification by asking him if he went out and started murdering people, and I did nothing but good for the rest of my life (which drew some chuckles),  that he would get into heaven, but I wouldn’t.  He agreed that would be the case…because while yes,  he did evil,  he had God in his heart, and while I did good, I was evil because I didn’t have God in my heart.  That, sadly,  is a true story.  I will add that he was a hypocrite of the highest order.  His bullshit may have washed at his home base,  but we lived with him 24/7 for 3 months.

I have stated previously in this blog that I have great respect for Christians.  I have great respect for most religions that  teach peace, and tolerance (violent and intolerant subsets notwithstanding)

Kharma is incredibly complex and I will admit that I do not fully understand it.   If I did I would be a Buddha,  an enlightened being, and I am many lifetimes from that.

But I do know one simple fact.   Kharma can be increased through selfless acts of compassion.  Of course,  selfish acts will decrease it.
In our classes we are encouraged to meditate on compassion, and to go out and act with compassion, and attempt to influence others in a positive way through our compassionate acts.

Yes, that’s pretty simple.   But at the same time is very complex.    Let me illustrate by asking you a question.

If you do something compassionate,  simply because you feel the need to increase your kharma,  are you being selfish,  or selfless?

True compassion is shown without thought of reward.   I was about to say that its all right to feel good that you did something compassionate, but I realize that its another complicating factor.

Buddhists believe that your kharma affects your soul’s progression through your lifetime.

When you think about,  what people believe at a spiritual level about happens after you die is really irrelevant in the here and the now.

What is relevant is how you conduct yourselves and treat other living things that you encounter in your day to day life.

Everyone should be able to carry a concealed firearm…

…provided they meet a few simple requirements.

What got me on this rant?  I just heard that the University of Colorado was over ruled in attempting to ban concealed handguns carried by students (can you believe I initially typed “handfuns”?)

I think an armed citizenry is an awesome idea!  If I was looking at it from a purely Darwinian standpoint, then I would stop typing right there and hit “Publish”.   But look!  I’m still typing.

Yes.  I think you should be permitted to carry a concealed firearm with you where ever you go provided that you can pass the following tests:

First off.  You must past a forensic psych eval.  Sociopaths know how to game the system…so yeah  emphasis on forensic.

Next, you would attend an intensive 3-6 week course to teach you the following:

– basic fire arms safety

– infantry tactics and training (including intensive live fire training)
Many of the anti-gun control crowd seem to forget that shooting at someone isn’t all that easy.  Especially if they’re shooting back!

Combat is a stressful and confusing ordeal.   If you’ve got a bunch of untrained, inexperienced, armed citizens (students or not) and someone opens fire, there is going to be a lot of injury, death and tears.  With no guarantee that the actual gunman hasn’t slipped out the back.

One of the prevailing precepts of warfare that has survived the ages is that you don’t shoot at your side.  (or hack at them with a club,sword,frying pan or large rock).
Without uniforms, or a front line or something that tells you “the enemy is standing at point’s A,B and C,  and your friends are at points D, E, F” who the hell are you going to know who to shoot at if you weren’t a witness to the cardinal event?   And if you were,  how will the guys and girls who hear the gun shot and come running, pistols at the ready know that you’re on their side?

So to pass this phase you must excel in situation assessment,  target identification and marksmanship….all while people are shooting at you.

Okay…so you got this far…

Now you must learn close quarters, unarmed combat.

“Why,  this is about firearms, I can just shoot the bastard!!!” is what you’re thinking right?

Yes, you can,  if you have the time and wherewithall to shoot your target (after properly identifying him as a target) get within reach.  But then I have to ask…if he gets within reach, he’s obviously not shooting at you…so why are you trying to shoot him?  If you said, “Because he’s got a big knife!”  I would think that if you’re dumb enough to let someone with a big knife come within stabbing range when you’ve got a gun pointed at him then maybe you should just put the gun down and let Darwinian nature take its course.

The police warn people about arming themselves as they often see a weapon taken up for self-defence being taken away from the citizen and used against them.  The general rule of thumb is that criminals are bad-asses, and citizens are not.

Citizens are prone to things like morals, and fear.  A couple of years ago a friend of mine asked me if I could teach her how to defend herself.  I didn’t have anything better to do so I started by showing her how to throw a punch properly,  how to kick without breaking your toes and some other rudimentary things.

She picked these up pretty quickly and despite her being small, fast and deceptively strong I do not have confidence that she will be able to defend herself.   Simply because the most important lesson didn’t sink in….if you’re fighting for your life,  you cannot care one bit about your target,  you cannot let one drop of humanity stop you from doing what needs to be done.

Many criminals already feel that way about you…

Oh wait…I haven’t made my point…let me put it this way…do not expect a “Thanks for the gun!” card from the criminal after he takes it away from you.

So yeah…to pass this phase you must maintain control of your gun while someone is trying to take it away from you.  You must do this without shooting anyone but the attacker.  If you do shoot the attacker, you must repeat this test 10 times in order to ensure it was skill and not luck.    Good Luck…oh wait…I just said you couldn’t rely on luck.

Let me be clear here.  The situation I’m trying to illustrate above is that if someone starts shooting and random people draw weapons, then everyone is a target.  There are people who believed it happened in when Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage in Texas.  Those were military folk who presumably passed the certification tests I outlined above.

If that’s not clear enough for you, let me put this to you.   Let’s say you’re shopping in downtown Boulder, feeling safe and secure with your Sig Sauer 9mm nestled in its holster.  You hear shots coming from down the street and see people running.   You draw you pistol and charge forth to save the day!

You round the corner you see a lot of people with alot of guns.  None of them are in uniform.  None of them look insane.

Whose the bad guy?

The ability for ordinary citizens to  carry concealed weapons based on the ability to fill out a form baffles me.  In most places if a COP…you know, someone with training,  fails a periodic certification fire arms skill test,  they are not allowed to carry a firearm.

Many Americans tout that they are exercising their rights under their Constitution.  Yeah,  like if it wasn’t in their Constitution they wouldn’t have guns.   If you have more than one gun, and aren’t an avid hunter and you use that excuse…then its like me saying I like porn for its artistic merit.  At least have the balls to say  “I have guns because I like guns!”.

Of course in Canada we have very strict gun control laws.  Its still dangerous up here though because getting smacked in the head with a snowshoe can hurt…a lot!