Holy crap! I actually got a new(ish) PC!

Chris Brooker
June 12, 2009

It’s true. I know I’m a tech nerd and don’t usually get so far behind on technology. But money has been tight and mortgages payments and such seem to take precedence over PC upgrades. Especially when I use my laptop for almost all my PC needs.

My desktop computer was an aging Intel P4 2.8ghz with 2gb of DDR ram and an AGP ATI Radeon x850. This beast served me well and I’m sure will continue for years to come but in a completely different capacity.

I had given up on playing modern PC games a while ago when I couldn’t play Bioshock and the upgrade path was basically everything had to go. All gfx cards were now PCI-Express so new mobo. PSUs required different and additional connectors, so new PSU. RAM was all DDR 2 now, so very little could be reused to build a modern system.

The main reason I wanted something with a little more power was video editing. I’ve been shooting a lot of h.264 720p video lately and all of the computers I owened could not playback that format in real-time while editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4. Click play, hear the audio and watch a 1 frame every 10secs slide show. Terribly frustrating.

I setup a Craigslist search feed for PC in my price range and waited. Finally after a few weeks I found this;

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4Ghz Processor
ASUS P5LD2 Motherboard
4 Gig Corsair DDR2 XM2 800Mhz RAM
160GB SATA2 7200RPM Western Digital Cavair Hard Drive
EVGA Nvidia 8500 GT PCI-e Video Card
Trendnet Wireless Ethernet Card
450 Watt Power Supply
Hewlett Packard Lightscribe 48X DVD Burner
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4Ghz Processor
ASUS P5LD2 Motherboard
4 Gig Corsair DDR2 XM2 800Mhz RAM
160GB SATA2 7200RPM Western Digital Cavair Hard Drive
EVGA Nvidia 8500 GT PCI-e Video Card
Trendnet Wireless Ethernet Card
450 Watt Power Supply
Hewlett Packard Lightscribe 48X DVD Burner

For $325 ūüôā

I went and got it. Throw on Windows 7 RC1. It totally flies in comparison to my P4.

W00t, it’s not the best. I would prefer an Intel i7 920 with 6gb of DDR3 and SLI nVidia¬†GeForce GTX 295’s. But there is no budget for that. I’m just happy that I’m finally able to edit my video!

photo-1

photo 2-1

Update – June 17, 2009

After some tweaking, BIOS updates and installing Windows 7 RC 64-bit gutting the PC and rebuilding it in a better case with a better PSU. I’ve managed to get those numbers increased (if they really mean anything).

CPU, Memory and HD data rate are now 5.9
Bumped Graphics up to 5 and Gaming graphics up to 4.7.

All I need is a decent Graphics card and I’m good to go again.

Not bad at all for ¬†$325! ūüėÄ

Make Web Not War – Microsoft Conference

Today is Make Web Not War an event hosted by Microsoft Canada at the Ted Rogers School of Management. First, I must say this is a beautiful building. Large, clean, bright with big atriums and tables outside. School was never like this when I attended.

I did get here a little late but I did make it in time for David Crow’s keynote presentation. W00t!

As a side-note, I’ve never heard MS say “WordPress” so many times. Very kewl.

I shot a great deal of video so far and it will better tell the rest of the story. Once I have a chance to review and edit the footage. I’m just going to post images I have taken.

img_0085One of the atriums with tables and a Tim Horton’s Express. Microsoft provided coffee and breakfast, so I didn’t have to visit it. Win!

img_0077Breakfast: coffee black and a blueberry scone. Yum. That device is for real time voting. Kewl. We used it a bit, but we also just raised our hands. Twitter was also in full force.

img_0078David Crow just starting his keynote. Very kewl stadium class room. I’ve only seen these things on TV. So awesome. One problem is there were very few plugs. Laptop #Fail. Yes, that’s a Mac in the lower left-hand corner. This is Make Web Not War we’re all welcome. Macs, Linux, Windows all co-mingling. The blue mat is for a boxing throw down later in the day.

img_0076

img_0082Yes, this is a nice buidling. More to come!

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (#WWDC) 2009

Chris Brooker
June 8, 2009

wwdc

If anyone follows technology than you know today at 9am PST (1pm EST) was the kick-off keynote where dreams are typically made. This is the conference where the original¬†iPhone’s release date and key features where announced. Last year the ¬†iPhone 3g was anounced. This is typically the one event where you can expect Apple to bring out the big guns.

As always, expectations were increadibly high. However, this year for me, it felt like a major let down. Actually I felt like this was a company wide Service Pack.

Let’s run down the items that were presented today at the WWDC keynote delivered by Phil¬†Schiller;

New 15″ MacBook Pro – minor updates. A hardware Service Pack.

New 13″ MacBook Pro – new model, like a MacBook with better specs.

Safari 4 – Nothing really new. It’s WebKit, they tuned it a bit more.

Mac OS РSnow Leopard РApple touted this as  next big thing. Really there are only 3 new features and none of them are truly ground breaking. Seems more like playing catch up to Windows; adding better multi-threading, giving control to developers, supporting 64-bit. Typically Apple will charge $129 for and OS upgrade but even they understand there is nothing here and lowered the price to $29. People cheered really loud for this one. You typically get much more in a Microsoft Service Pack for the price of $0.

iPhone Apps – Apple spent an hour of the keynote showing off apps from third-parties. The one that made me chuckle the most was the TomTom turn-by-turn navigation software. Really? this is new? I honestly had this 3 years ago on my Palm Zire 71 and 2 years ago on WinMo. The fact that TomTom was finally allowed by Apple to enter the iPhone is sad. Not something to be cheered.

iPhone 3.0 – They recapped all of the features that we heard about 6 months ago and added a few more. MMS, tethering, notification, voice recorder, global search, copy and paste, A2DP, etc. You know what they are. It’s a list of features that all other phones have that Apple is finally blessing us with. These are really 2 years late guys. Especially MMS.

Find my Phone – This is actually a great service. It will find your lost or stolen phone. Make it ring even in silent mode, locate it by GPS or Wifi, and perform a remote wipe.Then they tell you, it’s only for MobileMe subscribers. Someone should really make this an App for $3. If the SDK gives you the hardware access but I’m not sure it does. Remote wipe should be part of Exchange sync, this is MUCH needed for the corporate world.

iPhone 3GS – The moment we were all waiting for! An exciting, mind blowing upgrade to the iPhone which will make me go running out and camp at the nearest seller of iPhones. I felt really let down. It’s exactly the same¬†ascetically¬†as the current iPhone. There is really no way to tell them apart. The 3GS gets a bump in processor speed, more RAM, more storage, ¬†longer battery life, a compass, 3MP AF Camera with video recording and Voice Dialing. Again, this is just a hardware Service Pack. A good improvement to the 3g but still, it’s just adding the missing features that even my Razor had. Voice Dialing? Finally. Video, Finally. We shouldn’t have had to wait 2 years for these features.

I’ve currently had an iPhone 3g for almost an entire year. This is the longest I’ve had a phone in my life! They typically last 3 months before I replace them with something different. Always searching in vein for a phone that makes me happy. There is still nothing even close.

Apple, thanks for the minor improvements. Microsoft has been much, much more exciting lately.

I love cell phones and want to test your new smartphone!

Chris Brooker
June 4, 2009

palm_2dpre_2dsize_2dcomparison

Hi manufacturers of smartphones, Rim, Apple, Palm, Google, (sorta) Nokia. I’m a huge lover of cell phones and have been through more than my fair share in the quest for the perfect phone. Which inevitably leads me to making a list of all the things I would really like to have in a smart phone and I’m always left staring at an impossible list.

Quick sample of my list;

  • Powerful CPU (Atom or better equivalent performance)
  • Full featured OS. (Multitasking, Full browsing with flash at minimum, ability to install any apps I want without an approval process or having to hack the device, push email is a full featured email client.)
  • OS must remain quick and responsive at all times.
  • Ability to plug in USB devices like videos camera, cameras and external HDs.
  • Non-crippled¬†Bluetooth. Support all¬†Bluetooth¬†profiles.
  • Excellent 10MP AF camera with 720p video recording with a Flash. Support for Bluetooth mics.
  • GPS, Accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor,¬†ambient¬†light sensor, etc (the usual)
  • Large vibrant capacitive touchscreen with a Transflective TFT LCD and e-ink display 4″- 6″? Pocketable.
  • Ability to playback 1080p h.264 video on screen and via Wireless HDMI as well as gfx accelerated flash.
  • Ability to play 3d games and run gfx accelerated applications. (perhaps the entire UI)
  • 2 full days of battery life with actual use.
  • Integration to major social networking sites (Facebook, twitter, etc)
  • Unified messaging framework for SMS, IM, email (Maybe Google Wave can help)

Essentially a full PC designed for a touchscreen with an all day battery that will fit in my pocket.

So ya, an impossible list. I’m tired of carrying around so many devices and all the devices I carry around are small.

  • 11″ Tablet-PC (for computing)
  • Ultra compact HD camcorder
  • iPhone
  • all the chargers and cables (the most weight, just so I can use these things for more than an hour)

I just want to carry 1 device that does it all.

What I’m really asking, to anyone out there listening, is can I please test your new smartphone? I’ve used them all Blackberries, iPhones, Nokias, ¬†WinMo, etc. I’ve played with the Google G2 (HTC Magic). I’d love to try the Palm Pre if it were in Canada and on a GSM network.

Let me test your smartphone.

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