Anne’s PC has finally kicked the bucket.

You may recall a couple of months back I was fussin’ over my wife’s PC suddenly giving up the ghost only to find that blowing the system out with a can of compressed air seemed to get it back up and running. Well it has died again and this time it seems like it’s good and dead with little hope of blowing on it bringing it back from the great beyond. This means we’re back to sharing my PC until probably at least after Christmas unless I win the lotto.

The one possible exception to that would be if we killed two birds with one stone and financed a new laptop. Her thinking is that she could use my desktop while I have the laptop with me at work and then when I got home she’d make use of the laptop while I used my desktop. That would mean finding a laptop capable of at least running World of Warcraft as that’s the main reason we need two machines is so we can both play the game at the same time. Trouble is that while there are plenty of decent sub-$1,000 laptops out there, most gaming laptops start at a cool $1,500 for the bare minimum configurations. I don’t know of any sub-$1,000 laptops that would be decent enough to run WoW, though I’d imagine there’s got to be one someplace so I’ve been looking around as we’d really like to keep the price under a grand.

So those of you out there who are gaming on your laptops should drop a comment on this thread letting us know what you’re gaming on and how much it set you back. Barring this course of action (and it’s by no means set in stone) I’ll end up building her a new desktop piece by piece after the holidays have passed.

45 thoughts on “Anne’s PC has finally kicked the bucket.

  1. What about going to dell and customizing a small business notebook? I am not sure how the core 2 duo equals out to the pentium 4, but you can customize the business laptops with XP rather than Vista. Starting prices are good….

  2. You probably already know this, but I found out this summer that getting a laptop is always cheaper by going to a major distributor and not from the company.  The companies build laptops they don’t just sell them.  I bought a new Sony Vaio for school this summer and realized very quickly that a laptop with the same specs from the company and distributor is always going to be cheaper from the distributor.  I wouldn’t call this a gaming machine though it does handle Wolfenstein Enemy Territory decently well.  I also didn’t have any luck finding a nonVista Windows machine that had the specs I needed.  Count on buying a Vista machine from a distributor and good luck finding a decent quality gaming machine for under $1000. I don’t think it can be done.

  3. Two notes:

    1.  For our home systems, we’ve had tremendous luck with “open box” and “floor model” sales at Best Buy and the like.  Reformat and reload and you’re solid, usually with a substantial discount for a machine that’s (gasp) 6 months old tops.

    2.  Gaming does not, in fact, require the fastest, 1337est machine on the market with quad core duo-fu and a chrome-plated lunch dispenser.  I play City of Heroes on my office laptop—an 2-year-old IBM Thinkpad T41p Pentium-M 1.7GHz, with the crappy motherboard-based video that came with it (and bumped up to 2Gb of RAM).  It’s not the fastest machine in the world, and I have to turn the video settings down a good bit—but it’s eminently usable and enjoyable.

  4. This means we’re back to sharing my PC until probably at least after Christmas unless I win the lotto.

    Don’t forget to hide the porn pictures and clear your browser history!

  5. Don’t forget to hide the porn pictures and clear your browser history!

    Good call, and nice signature, too.

    it seems like it’s good and dead with little hope of blowing on it bringing it back from the great beyond.

    I know the feeling – but that was the Nintendo for ya.

    Les: in all fairness, the one thing that will hold gaming back for whatever she wants to do (MMOs?) will be the amount of RAM followed closely by access speeds. Play settings can always be cut way down, or the game can be played in Windowed mode (which, I can understand if you wouldn’t want to).

    In other words, get any old laptop, at least a gig of memory (maybe more), and get any affordable graphic card. I know you can fetch that for under a grand; it just won’t be playing some games right off the shelf.

  6. Moloch: Don’t forget to hide the porn pictures and clear your browser history!

    I don’t understand what people have against porn generally, it brings joy to people and is people as nature intended, so it can only be a good thing?

    I take the view that anyone offended by something either deserved/needed to be offended by it. Anti-porn, anti-masterbation, anti-gay, etc are some of the things I think only existed in the first place because of religous fundamentalism and it’s tendancy to misinterpret and get people to look for the ‘worst’ in each other. It certainly doesn’t make sense that these principles should exist at all in secular ethics for anyone

  7. I take the view that anyone offended by something either deserved/needed to be offended by it.

    100%. Still, these things in their own time. Think of taboos you would refuse to violate based on a visceral reaction; how long would you take to accept it? Could you ever?

  8. According to my Sociology textbook, studies have shown that pornography leads to aggression in males and greater toleration of rape, not to mention it helps add to the subconscious patriarchal mindset in men.

  9. I don’t have to hide my porn. I don’t tend to have a lot of it to begin with, but what little I do have my wife is more than aware of. Hell, she bought me some of it.

    Getting back on the subject for a moment, it looks like we may skip the laptop issue after all and just build a new box. I can probably put something decent together for around $500 by recycling some of the components in the current machine that still work (hard drives, DVD-ROM drives, etc.). I’m basically looking at getting a new motherboard, processor, RAM, and video card.

    Still, thanks for the laptop suggestions as I will be getting around to buying something to replace my old one before too long.

  10. According to my Sociology textbook, studies have shown that pornography leads to …greater toleration of rape,

    I don’t know how you measure that – I’d be interested to find out. Studies have shown that video games lead to aggression and toleration of murder in men. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that both were accurate. There’s a larger issue at hand.

    not to mention it helps add to the subconscious patriarchal mindset in men.

    Male dominated form of entertainment, male producers, directors, male mindset. The rest is egocentrism, which we’re all guilty of. Whether or not men are more aggressive by default, I couldn’t care. We can expect that current porn really doesn’t offer much to or for most women – they get shut out at the concept stage. That’s really the problem. My mother loved her romance novels – I imagine that’s what all the “nice girls” had in her age. First time she saw porn she vomited.

    What we need is new kinds of porn.

    ||side rant|| I read an essay (edit: written by a woman, crucial detail) once, on the difference between erotica and porn – the argument was, essentially, that erotica promoted love and equality (S&M;between loving couples would be porn by default). Porn was porn because its mainstay was aggression and control – particularly men over women. You see what I did there?

  11. Patness: Think of taboos you would refuse to violate based on a visceral reaction; how long would you take to accept it? Could you ever?

    When aware of something like that I conciously ask myself – is this hurting anyone? What pros/cons there are? I don’t like the feeling of contempt for people, an idea or an action, so I try to find a way that I can be OK with it. I also look into why they would do it, because that helps keep me understanding

    However when people who hold influence/threat over me have visceral reactions I cannot afford to challenge it in them, or have to be subtle, I’m enslaved to their silliness. I will do my utmost to end it, so far as I can afford.

    Theo: According to my Sociology textbook, studies have shown that pornography leads to aggression in males and greater toleration of rape, not to mention it helps add to the subconscious patriarchal mindset in men.

    Even if there was a correlation I severely doubt it’s the cause;

    Rape often happens because people lack a sexual outlet, one signficant type of these people tend to be recluses who feel unable to date, unaccepted by their peers, made to think that alternative outlets like prostitution or masturbation are wrong but still expected to have sex by their peers in order to stand any chance of getting out of the situation they’re in. Beyond a certain point you cannot ignore physiological needs, cannot think straight even (hence you have fairly isolated guys who appear pervy/creepy), and they ultimately decide for once in their life to put themselves first (which in other forms is considered more acceptable). This type of rape occurs because of society’s failure to deal with + help reclusive males before they get to that point, instead the dominant of society tries to get everyone to hate the unconfident type, which doesn’t solve their issues and makes women even more wary of them, making them further isolated. Porn and prostitution provides an outlet for physiological needs for these people, that averts/ at least delays rape, and may help them move on.

    Of course, there is another category of rapists who are alpha-male types with far fewer emotional problems than the previous and little regard for others in most parts of life. These are the agressive ones, and also the ones who spread hate and discourage tolerance of the less confident (encouraging the problems of the above), they are often also the charmers, who gain/crave influence and respect they don’t deserve, and get angry with anyone who deprives them of it. In society alpha-males manage to shift their blame (even in philosophy) and get the best things socially

    And Patriarchal mindset? How does it do that?

  12. Patness: Studies have shown that video games lead to aggression and toleration of murder in men. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that both were accurate. There’s a larger issue at hand

    Correlation is not causation, and should not be treated as by banning video games. These studies are done by people who decided beforehand that they want to demonize those that don’t play, and they also tend not to be video gamers themselves, they lack understanding of the topic yet still try to make judgements on people.

    *Isolated people are more likely to play games out of boredom.
    *Isolated people might also become frustrated with a society that fails to understand them
    *That frustration can come in the form of violence

    We can expect that current porn really doesn’t offer much to or for most women – they get shut out at the concept stage. That’s really the problem

    So long as it’s their choice it’s their choice, they accept what’s going to happen when they agree to the pictures. Some pornstars are very well paid too. Also it’s not as if using free porn in any way affects the one photographed because they don’t even know that you’re using it, and probably wouldn’t care anyway if they agreed to it

  13. Oh no.

    Rape often happens because people lack a sexual outlet,

    Not often – rather rarely, in fact, and by which point there are many other issues of repression and personality to stack on the list. Okay – just so you know, man, this is the argument I get accused of making when I say rape is about sex. Of course, my argument is entirely different, but… I have an extreme distaste for it. It’s gotten in the way of progressive conversation on several occasions.

    The reason the accusation gets levelled immediately, and it’s important that you acknowledge this, is that the issue of rape has somewhat of a legal precedent, circa 1950. The argument that “boys will be boys” was actually, somehow, a plausible defense – that is, if a woman was going to be indecent enough to (*gasp*) have sex with someone and not be perfectly discreet about it, that this was an open invitation to have sex with everyone who wanted it all at once. It’s almost impossible to believe, but this (somehow) saved a huge number of asses from the clink for gang-rape. It’s taken many decades, and we’re still not there yet, for people to accept that women have every right to choose whatever, or however many, sexual partners, they prefer, without being made to suffer for it by the general public – certainly, without it being made an excuse to harm them.

    When you say it’s an issue of sexual repression, or that they lack a sexual outlet, you are almost always wrong. It can be an issue, yes, but your self-esteem should drive you to a solution long before rape enters the picture. In the meantime, having said this leaves you looking like you’re making the “oh, they just needed to get laid” defense. Rapists do not need sympathy for their crimes – what they need is intervention or condemnation.

    I know a lot of people who are so socially awkward that they can’t approach women and get viciously depressed when someone talks about any form of intimacy with a woman (like spending 6 hours on the phone with one). They also can’t talk about their problems, and they struggle even admitting those problems to themselves without feeling like worthless human beings. They, all of them suffer from mental illnesses – our tendency to isolate them hurts them more. I could even see some of them becoming a danger to other people. Yes, getting laid (and not having to feel ashamed of themselves one way or the other) would help them.

    But rape isn’t really about sexual repression. There are many other options, always, and thus, many other motivators to consider.

    If I had it my way, I’d do away with the proverbial fig leaf and be done with all sexual stigma. Sexuality isn’t a suitable basis for judging anyone, and altogether often the fear of judgement does stop those few cases from getting to the point of intervention. On the other hand, having dulled its edge I’d also think that sex would make a far less effective weapon, which is almost entirely what this is about – raw malicious, evil conduct.

  14. You know you have a mixed audience when your post about your wife’s broken computer leads to porn vs. erotica debate =P

    Anyway, why not just get her a usb keyboard for your new PS3?

  15. Patness: and by which point there are many other issues of repression and personality to stack on the list

    Which makes them socially inept, which in turn means they will often have a lot of sexual tension, which makes them even less able to deal with women without creeping them out, it’s a spiral. Men of this type live in psychological torture which they want to end by anything that might stand a hope in hell

    It’s almost impossible to believe, but this (somehow) saved a huge number of asses from the clink for gang-rape.

    It saved the asses of the exploitative type. This is not the same type of rapist as the desperate recluse. I am fully behind women’s rights to have sex with whomever they wish, so long as they havn’t got an emotional commitment to a partner who would be hurt by it. I suppose it is bad for someone to restrict the freedom of their partner, but sex is often emotionally connected in relationships, then again, maybe they should grow to tolerate it (if they are offended…)

    Law is not my major concern, as any principles it tries to set up are open to exploitation by the worst sort

    It can be an issue, yes, but your self-esteem should drive you to a solution long before rape enters the picture.

    The reclusive type of rapist often severely lacks self esteem, often crushingly so. This is what makes them reclusive, and makes them unable to get laid by the conventional route of emotional trickery and charm.

    In the meantime, having said this leaves you looking like you’re making the “oh, they just needed to get laid” defense. Rapists do not need sympathy for their crimes – what they need is intervention or condemnation

    They need to know the effect they’ve had on others, but they need to actually get the cause of the problem sorted. Simply kicking them some more only gives them the discouragement of prison and further isolation at the point of threat, it doesn’t itself make them realise what they did or less destructive ways to get laid. Good rehabilitation doesn’t cure re-offending generally, but it certainly reduces it. These people need a psychiatrist if they are to be eventually released.

    Yes, getting laid (and not having to feel ashamed of themselves one way or the other) would help them.

    Hence part of the need to legalize prostitution, and make these people aware that that option is open to them- with people willing to help of their own decision. Legalizing it may well offer protection against people smuggling to fill the gap, and legal protection against bad punters

    There are many other options, always, and thus, many other motivators to consider

    If they feel the conventional routes to getting laid are closed to them, and unaware of how to obtain a prostitute/made to fear pimps, then they may feel like they have little choice – if they are conditioned to think (as people were/are) that things like masturbation will make them go blind or other things, they have no physiological outlet and are constantly at boiling point, which is no way to live. The demonizing of suicide makes some feel forced to live in the hell they’re in, they’re trapped in a situation and don’t see many ways out…

    If I had it my way, I’d do away with the proverbial fig leaf and be done with all sexual stigma. Sexuality isn’t a suitable basis for judging anyone, and altogether often the fear of judgement does stop those few cases from getting to the point of intervention

    I’d like it if sex was considered no big deel, and something done practically as a greeting or public expression of friendship (like hugging is now). If it was freely and easily available, all the inhibitions, stigma, probably a lot of conflict and frustrations, would just dissolve away. People wouldn’t need to rape then, and even if they did it wouldn’t be a big deal.

    I think bonobos have it right

  16. I’m with the “any old laptop will do, as long as you invest in a decent amount of ram to cap it off.” Even low-end laptops seem to have dual cores, and while it’s nice to get a really awesome video system WOW just doesn’t require all that much. I haven’t upgraded my video card yet on my dual core cheapers desktop, but with 2 gigs of RAM I don’t have any hiccups with WOW whatsoever.

    On the other hand, some of the low end laptops I’ve looked at are ugly as sin and look really uncomfortable to use. YMMV.

  17. Wheeler, I find the thread drifts that take place to be alternately fascinating and flustering. As for a keyboard on the PS3, if it ran World of Warcraft that would be a viable solution, but alas it does not.

    MM, WoW’s biggest requirement seems to be RAM and I’d imagine a semi-decent mobile graphics chip should be able to handle it.

  18. Check this out.

    …the public testimony of women ( MacKinnon & Dworkin, 1997), my interviews with pornography users and sex offenders, and various other researchers’ work, have led me to conclude that pornography can: (1) be an important factor in shaping a male-dominant view of sexuality; (2) be used to initiate victims and break down their resistance to unwanted sexual activity; (3) contribute to a user’s difficulty in separating sexual fantasy and reality; and (4) provide a training manual for abusers ( Dines & Jensen, 2004).

    http://www.mincava.umn.edu/ documents/ arpornography/ arpornography.html#id2645419 (for some reason this source is blacklisted just take out the spaces)

    …large amounts of experimental exposure to such material led men (and to some extent women) to be more callous toward gender relationships, more likely to overestimate the prevalence of certain kinds of non-mainstream sexual behavior such as sadomasochism and bestiality, less likely to be offended by sexually explicit material, less likely to support restrictions on the distribution of sexually explicit materials, and more likely to support lighter sentences for convicted rapists.

    D. Zillmann and J. Bryant, 1982, “Pornography, Sexual Callousness, and the Trivialization of Rape,” Journal of Communication 32(4): 10-21. http://bob.nap.edu/html/youth_internet/ch6.html

    http://www.mediawatch.com/wordpress/index.php?cat=7

    http://www.dianarussell.com/ porntoc.html (also blacklisted)

  19. (Worn out from skipping all that talk of porn) and getting back to the system building – Les, I know I’ve said this before, but if you build a box, don’t skimp on the power supply.  It isn’t the wattage that matters, it’s the quality.  My favorite machines have used supplies from PC Power & Cooling.  And by “favorite” I mean, systems that have run without a hiccup until their motherboards are ludicrously outdated. 

    The reason for this is better power regulation.  As line voltage varies, you want a supply that delivers steady, clean power.  Most people buy a cool new case, which is fine.  First thing they should do is take out the cheap-assed power supply and toss it in the trash.

    Oh, and after more than a decade in computer support, I’ve encountered a lot of porn.  It is very amusing when the user becomes flustered (usually a professor) and says “it’s for research”.  LOL  smirk  as if I care.

  20. Theocrat, thanks for the info. The latter link, though several decades old, appears more concrete than the first. They leave me a little more to consider.

    Men of this type live in psychological torture which they want to end by anything that might stand a hope in hell

    And a felony conviction will totally do that. Not saying it’s a rational thing, just saying that nobody in their right mind would reach such a conclusion. The intervention that needs happening, in this case, will be a psychological (or if more severe, psychiatric) one. Getting them laid would only allow a temporary lapse of otherwise permanent torture.

    It saved the asses of the exploitative type. This is not the same type of rapist as the desperate recluse.

    Yes it is. You rape a woman, you need two things. One, sex. Two, control. Sex by definition, control by consequence. Getting that control, maintaining that control, requires exploitation. As for legal exploitation – defendants still get the best legal defense they can muster. It’s just sad that such a shitty defense was the precedent at the time.

    If they feel the conventional routes to getting laid are closed to them, and unaware of how to obtain a prostitute/made to fear pimps, then they may feel like they have little choice – if they are conditioned to think (as people were/are) that things like masturbation will make them go blind or other things, they have no physiological outlet and are constantly at boiling point, which is no way to live

    Sure – but who’s a sensitive rapist? Doing this requires harsh callousness, recklessness and disregard for the welfare of the rape victim. It’s not “oh, excuse me I’m just here to fuck, I’m really sorry.”. It’s not. There’s never been any evidence supporting that rapists rape because they are reclusive, and I’m a firm believer that when it comes to crime, motivations vary by offender. It just doesn’t happen. Rape is not about sexual repression.

    If it was freely and easily available, all the inhibitions, stigma, probably a lot of conflict and frustrations, would just dissolve away. People wouldn’t need to rape then, and even if they did it wouldn’t be a big deal.

    Rapists don’t need to rape, now. In all fairness, I doubt they did in, say, the last millenium or so. We agree on something, here, though. Victims of any form of abuse should not be left to feel isolated, alone with their problems, or crippled by it.  Stigma does the worst harm, then, and I’ll bet money that almost every rapist is aware of that going in. We’re long past due in disarming rape and rapists, and you have described to me a number of ways in which you have trivialized rape as an attempt to fulfill a personal need, and not a deliberate attempt to debilitate another human being.

  21. On the same topic as DOF, Tom’s hardware did an excellent review of Power Supplies and found most companies lie about what their PS can truly handle.

    Here, here and here.

  22. Don’t forget to hide the porn pictures and clear your browser history!

    Lol, not an issue with me… especially if he shares the entertainment;-) Actually,I prefer fantasy based Hentai. However, I despise the tentacle themes and am turned off by all styles which including violent rape scenes… There is a mind boggling difference between seduction and rape.

    According to my Sociology textbook, studies have shown that pornography leads to aggression in males and greater toleration of rape, not to mention it helps add to the subconscious patriarchal mindset in men.

    A possibility, but not one I will accept just yet.  Just like, I do not accept that video games “make” anyone act more violent in real life. I do not believe either one of these mediums are responsible for societal decline.

     

    Les: in all fairness, the one thing that will hold gaming back for whatever she wants to do (MMOs?) will be the amount of RAM followed closely by access speeds. Play settings can always be cut way down, or the game can be played in Windowed mode (which, I can understand if you wouldn’t want to).

    In other words, get any old laptop, at least a gig of memory (maybe more), and get any affordable graphic card. I know you can fetch that for under a grand; it just won’t be playing some games right off the shelf.

    Mostly, it’s just an issue of WOW for me.  I actually play in “gasp” Windows Mode quite often, lol. It enables me to consult Wowwiki or Wowhead and manipulate VENT while playing.

    Dell XPS is what I use…it’s a work horse…and many hours of gaming fun.

    Oooooooo, Red Flag mental note for Dell XPS.

    Les, I know I’ve said this before, but if you build a box, don’t skimp on the power supply.  It isn’t the wattage that matters, it’s the quality.  My favorite machines have used supplies from PC Power & Cooling.  And by “favorite” I mean, systems that have run without a hiccup until their motherboards are ludicrously outdated.

    The reason for this is better power regulation.  As line voltage varies, you want a supply that delivers steady, clean power.  Most people buy a cool new case, which is fine.  First thing they should do is take out the cheap-assed power supply and toss it in the trash.

    THANKS for the reminder, DOF!

  23. Mostly, it’s just an issue of WOW for me.  I actually play in “gasp” Windows Mode quite often, lol. It enables me to consult Wowwiki or Wowhead and manipulate VENT while playing.

    Well, with a reasonably new (but not TOO new) dual core, a HP onboard graphics processor and 2 gigs RAM I can assure anyone that WOW not only plays fine you can switch in and out of it easily even with OpenOffice and Firefox running in the background.

    Of course, that’s with XP on the machine too. I got in a month or so before they switched to Vista, so I don’t know what inflated requirements might be required if you end up using Vista.

  24. Since I’m not a gamer, I don’t know the true requirements for WoW.  However, most of the performance issues that can crop up in non-gaming use can usually be mitigated by tuning XP services and effects.  Of course, more memory helps most of all.

    A relative of mine bought a low end laptop with Vista basic preinstalled.  With the installed 512MB of RAM, it took literally 3-4 minutes to boot.  Upping it to 2GB cut it in half, but still …  I’m planning on avoiding Vista as long as I can.

  25. On the drift topic;
    Theo – Do you not have your own porn supply? (you don’t have to answer) I find it difficult to think that someone using it long-term who is at ease with using it could reach the conclusion. It makes me feel relaxed, in fact I get the tension out of my system and find am able to deal with women more as people. I do not feel dominant or powerful using it, because I know it’s just an image

    Either someone is dominant or they’re not, need for dominance is out of the insecurity of feeling like they need to be, that’s exhibited in their general behaviour.

    Patness: Getting them laid would only allow a temporary lapse of otherwise permanent torture

    What if that torture was virgity in a society that looks down on it? That would end in the person’s mind. Granted they’d be looked down on even more for raping, but at least they’ve moved on.

    Yes it is. You rape a woman, you need two things. One, sex. Two, control

    Control would not be your objective if you only wanted to end virginity. It would be a ways+means to the sex that would do that.

    Doing this requires harsh callousness, recklessness and disregard for the welfare of the rape victim

    The rapist may end up balancing their needs against the percieved ones of the victim. They may feel that on net, they gained more than the victim suffered. Their sympathy may also be stubbed for their victims if they’ve been harshly treeted by women.

    Sexually repressed men sometimes hold the view that it’s easier for women, all the woman has to do is wait for a partner to come along, they don’t have to be proactive about it (and it’s the inability to be proactive, and the dependance upon it that causes these men problems). If the man feels life is unfair on him, he may feel like he’s equalizing the score a little.

    They may be aware of the suffering, but feel it’s outweighed. In other aspects of life you have to balance your own needs against those of others – you cannot afford to be completely self-sacrificing because that would be a form of hell if you gave everything away, but on the other hand total selfishness may cause harm to begin with. I agree that stigmas must end, that is one of my objectives to work towards.

    and you have described to me a number of ways in which you have trivialized rape as an attempt to fulfill a personal need, and not a deliberate attempt to debilitate another human being

    It’s not always out of vengance or spite, just disregard.
    A psychopathic rapist wouldn’t feel spite for example, they feel no emotion, they’d just be horny and a user

  26. Avoid Vista indefinitely – buy a Mac

    That’s simply bad advice in general for anyone who’s expressed any interest in running games on their computer. Worse, since we’re talking about someone who already owns PC games you’re telling them to go out and buy those games again to run on a Mac, or run them on the Mac using Windows which seems to be a good way to waste money on the Apple pricing overhead.

    Plus I can’t recall seeing a Mac under a thousand dollars that wasn’t a lot outdated. Even on the top end of the low price retail box PCs you could get a PC with a dual core and a couple of sticks of gig memory for $700, and I’m betting that even a tiny bit of shopping as we come up on Thanksgiving should produce something for around $500 – ignoring entirely the idea of simply assembling a computer for $300 out of old PCs and a new motherboard/additional RAM.

    I don’t dislike Macs, but a lot of the reasons to buy Macs started fading away when you’ve got an owner like Les who can fairly easily attend a PC and who (I’m guessing) would have to learn a whole new set of skills to know a Mac top to bottom as well.

  27. However, I despise the tentacle themes and am turned off by all styles which including violent rape scenes… There is a mind boggling difference between seduction and rape.

    Mrs. SEB- I will agree with you absolutely about the turnoff of rape and violence.  Indeed, I can’t imagine what anyone finds attractive about it.  But tentacles can be fun…

  28. [buy a Mac is] simply bad advice in general for anyone who’s expressed any interest in running games on their computer…

    I have heard that Vista isn’t a great gaming platform either.  Probably better off getting a game console, for what I understand they’re a bargain of price/performance.

    But as general advice for people looking to buy a computer to do regular computer stuff, I am beginning to see the Mac as a better option.  Vista is such a piece of crap…

  29. Perhaps, but you can run XP on a PC as easily as Vista still and you can do it for cheaper than you can buy a Mac and replace all of your PC games for it.

  30. To drift the topic further- while we are on the Hardware purchasing kick.

    My step son wants/needs net access in his room- new computer for college course, but luckily running XP, so we are looking at wireless.

    I’m currently running AOL (and no changing isn’t really an option) through a BT phoneline, at alledgedly 8Meg (the DSL modem icon in the system tray bottom right gives Rx of 7616kpbs Tx 448kbps) The distance is about 25 feet.

    Is there anything I should be looking for/avoiding in a router? The ones I am looking at are measuring speeds in Mbps- logically I equate the speed I gave abouve at 7.6 Mbps, or is there some cunning change in definition when you get to routers? Would say 54Mbps be fine,  as we can’t go faster than the phone line speed?  The modem is currently physically linked to my computer via USB cable.  Would I have to get a wireless receiver for this one as well?  Is there anything else I should know?

    Thanks

  31. What seems to happen when you jump from a wireless router with 10mbps reported to 54 is you seem better performance because the technology used in the 54 is a better technology. If you can afford it I recommend finding a cheap wireless N router.

    Here are my recommendations:
    Buffalo: in my mind one of the best brands.
    DLink: I think I have this one and it is pretty damn nice
    Even cheaper DLink
    DLink: Cheaper Still

    The last one is a G router which should still give you plenty of performance. Cheaper ones can be found if you look hard enough.

    Hope something here helps.

  32. MM writes…

    …a lot of the reasons to buy Macs started fading away when you’ve got an owner like Les who can fairly easily attend a PC and who (I’m guessing) would have to learn a whole new set of skills to know a Mac top to bottom as well

    Actually I am somewhat familiar with Macs, though less so since the advent of OS X. I used to be a Desktop Publishing Coordinator for a local Kinkos back when I was in my early 20s and I had to use a Mac to do the job. I believe that was OS 7 back then, but I’m not sure. Anyway I got to know the Mac quite well. There’d be a bit of a learning curve with OS X, but probably not as huge as someone who’s never touched one and with the hardware being standard off-the-shelf PC hardware these days that aspect of it shouldn’t be a problem. That said, I’m not going to buy a Mac.

    DOF writes…

    I have heard that Vista isn’t a great gaming platform either.

    Vista is fine for games. The issues are the same issues that everyone always has when there’s a new OS release. Namely A) the new OS requires more resources to run at its best and B) the drivers still aren’t a mature as they should be.

    People have a really short memory when it comes to OS upgrades it seems. I can remember how back when Windows XP was released everyone who was used to running Windows 98 bitched about the same damn things they’re bitching about with the release of Vista. How the performance isn’t as good, how it takes up too many resources, how the drivers suck, and all of that was true for awhile. Then as people bought newer machines with more power and the standard builds increased the amount of RAM and the drivers matured all of that bitching went away.

    I fully expect the same thing to happen with Vista. It’s not perfect, but then no Windows OS ever is. It is a step up from XP and has more than a few advantages in my experience.

    Probably better off getting a game console, for what I understand they’re a bargain of price/performance.

    I did that, but neither the PS3 or Xbox 360 will run World of Warcraft which is an absolute requirement. grin

    But as general advice for people looking to buy a computer to do regular computer stuff, I am beginning to see the Mac as a better option.

    There have been people in the past that I’ve recommended Macs to on the basis of what they wanted to do and how PC literate they happen to be. I’ve suggested it to my parents more than once, but they look at the cost and decide they can put up with Windows for the time being.

    Apple would sell a lot more machines if they didn’t jack the price up so much. They’ve always charged a premium (sometimes close to 200% profit) for their hardware and they’ll continue to be second class until they stop doing that.

  33. Double dipping because I forgot to respond to LH’s question:

    Is there anything I should be looking for/avoiding in a router? The ones I am looking at are measuring speeds in Mbps- logically I equate the speed I gave abouve at 7.6 Mbps, or is there some cunning change in definition when you get to routers? Would say 54Mbps be fine, as we can’t go faster than the phone line speed?

    Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell: First, your internet connection cannot exceed what your DSL modem provides. So if you have an 8Mbps connection then that’s as fast as it’ll ever go.

    That said there are advantages to having a higher speed router if you do a lot of PC to PC transfers on your network (e.g. from your PC to your son’s PC without hitting the Internet at all). In that case the faster your router the less time it will take to finish the job. 

    The way a router works is it sets up a small network that you hook your PCs into and then it pretends to be a PC itself for your DSL/Cable modem. It then moves data from your home network onto the Internet (and vice versa) as needed. To the Internet it looks like a single computer and to your home PCs it looks like another PC passing along data. Most routers also have a 4 port switch built into them so you can hook PCs up using standard cat 5 cable and that’ll run at either 10 or 100 Mbps depending on the network card in the PCs you’re plugging in. So the speed issue only comes into play when you’re talking about PCs connected using wireless cards and even then it only really matters when you dealing with transfers from one PC to another on your network.

    Range is also an issue and, as a general rule of thumb, the faster the router the further its range (not ALWAYS true, but most of the time it is). For most folks 802.11G works just fine giving enough range and speed for what they do, but there’s no harm in going 802.11 Draft N if you want to.

    The routers Webs listed are all reasonable choices, but I’ve gotten particularly fond of Linksys as of late. I’m currently using the Wireless-G Media Storage Link Router with SpeedBooster (WRTSL54GS) because it includes a USB port on the back that you can hook up an external hard drive to for a simple form of network storage. That’s probably not a necessary feature for most people, but I find it handy.

  34. Bought a router and USB thingy for his machine, checked I could keep mine hardwired in (saving buying another USB thingy. Got home. Can’t find the AOL installation CD. Have had to explain to a Indian call centre what I need (no problem- just need the software)- delivery 5-6 days.

    Bugger.

  35. This is just a guess, but you shouldn’t need the AOL install disc to get him working unless the way AOL broadband works in the U.K. is considerably different than it is here.

    Scratch that, even if you DO need it then just download the client from AOL directly to your PC and burn it to CD/put it on a thumb drive. You’ve got one PC working already so just use it to get the software you need.

  36. HA! The story continues.  The reason I needed the disc is for the AOL front end log in screen- I have to tell Ben’s machine its AOL we want to use.  If you don’t connect with AOL first, IE sits there and says ‘No connection’- though I always use AOL’s browser. 

    So I phone AOL, spoke to someone in India- after all the normal ‘press 1’ routine, who I am not sure understood the problem, but has ordered the software.

    Of course, with in 10 minutes I had found the original disc.

    Tried to set up. I leave him installing the little receiver thing that goes on the client computer, while I start on the ‘main’ computer (though as his is newer it’s probably more powerful).

    New Problem- Modem/Puter connection is USB, not RJ45. Belkin (online PDF) manual suggests I contact ISP about getting a RJ45 modem. Also, the list of settings on a slip in the box does not include AOL UK. Now I did ask, knowing there was a problem with some stuff, and the guy in the shop said ‘yeah its fine’. Thinking about it I should have accepted more than ‘its all standard’ reply.

    Have emailed AOL on the special Tech help page (ie not actual ‘email’- a fill in the box page) asking about Modems.  However, if they don’t give freebies out, need to find somewhere that sells AOL compatable Broadband modems.  Have also asked them about the settings.

    If ‘we don’t support it’ answer, back to the shop to complain.

    Meantime Ben has net access- I think he is piggybacking our neighbours- whose router is probably just as close a ours will be!  I’ve pointed out the complete lack of security he has.

    We did consider a modem router, but to save money on buying a second receiver for Puter #1 we went with the wiring from router only. That saving may well go on the new modem unless anyone knows if you can get a USB to RJ45 cable/adapter thingy.

    I’ve still got the setting up to look forward to. My computer degree course was in 1989. We thought email was a pretty neat idea…

  37. You mean to say the modem they supplied doesn’t have a standard RJ45 connector in addition to the USB connector? That’s pretty much standard on most modems.

    One more reason AOL sucks ass.

  38. The modem is BT, though it is supplied as part of the AOL start up pack. At the time I bought it I didn’t know, I just got what seemed to be the best fit tech/money wise. AOL doesn’t impose any download limits, and was among the cheapest subscriptions going for the speed.  To be fair I have never had any customer service compliants, I have been upgraded 2-3 times, and am now at 8 meg for the same price, and have never had any problems getting on line. Plus I subscribe to the McAfee pack they do, which works out cheaper than buying a new subscription to a equivalent package each year.

  39. Latecomer to this thread, but here’s my 2 cents:

    I play WoW on my first-generation MacBook, which is 2×1.83Ghz Intel Core Duo processors and 1 GB of RAM, and Intel GMA 950 graphics. I’d describe its performance as passable – fps averages about 15-20 but lowers in some of the new places in Outland where Blizzard have employed more sophisticated lighting techniques; Shattrath City can be especially laggy.

    I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a Mac over a similarly specced Windows PC. WoW is something you list as being important, and it does work well on OS X, but if you use TeamSpeak or Ventrilo you may have issues. There isn’t yet an official TeamSpeak client for the Mac and the only unofficial client doesn’t work with all servers. The official Mac Ventrilo client also doesn’t work with all servers, especially older ones running 2.1, which means using something like CrossOver.

    Though I prefer the OS X user experience, if you’re going to be using your laptop for gaming you probably want Windows. The Intel GMA X3100 is supposed to be much better than the 950 for graphics performance so if you see a laptop with one of those you can probably expect reasonable framerates, but also look out for mobile options from ATi and nVidia, though I imagine they’ll be more expensive.

    As far as WoW goes its system requirements are modest but it’ll relish a high-end system, so just go with whatever your budget allows.

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