Computer Rules of Thumb

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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby MKSheppard » 2010-01-24 06:46pm

Also, what interval do you guys follow concerning hardware refreshes? I tend to stick to a 3-4 year refresh policy -- this ensues that the new computer is a substantiative improvement over the old one in every way possible -- allowing you to get the most 'bang for your buck' for your dollar -- e.g. if you go from a GeForce 8800 GTS with about 700 million transistors to one of the new GeForce 3xx coming in March 2010 with 3~ billion transistors -- for a reasonable price.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-01-24 06:47pm

Usually every other year or so for me.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby charlemagne » 2010-01-25 01:16am

I refresh hardware whenever a new game I really like is really straining my computer even with details reduced to looking really ugly. This usually happens every 3 - 4 years. Right now everything I'm interested in still runs well enough on a 1,8GH Dualcore, 4 Gigs of RAM and a 8800GT.

Rule of thumb for me there: don't upgrade to mid-level GPUs, because mid-level GPUs always suck in the long run. Rather wait until a reasonable "upper end" GPU can be had for a reasonable price, like around €100,-.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby The Grim Squeaker » 2010-01-25 01:56am

Once I can't run average new games and I have the cash. About 4 and a bit years.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby MKSheppard » 2010-01-25 05:51pm

charlemagne wrote:Rule of thumb for me there: don't upgrade to mid-level GPUs, because mid-level GPUs always suck in the long run


Yes, always spend a little extra in your computer for the GPU and CPU; to ensure it's longevity. Midlevel cards are okay if you're building a budget box that won't be used much for other than the intardweb and maybe some old game you really do like.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby MKSheppard » 2010-03-01 09:19pm

External Hard Drives: Good only for backup storage -- e.g. you need to have 50 Gigaterabytes of porn backed up, and don't feel like burning 11 gajillion DVDs of it. They are NOT a mobile storage solution. That way lies the click of death after being put in a briefcase for a day. Likewise, they're a bit erratic, even with the advances in drivers/USB for them to be used as a primary storage solution -- for that, stick to Internal HDDs.

Hard Drives I've noticed that if you stay a bit away from the bleeding edge in hard drive capacities, reliability goes up -- I've been hearing of Seagate's problems with 1+ TB hard drives.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby MKSheppard » 2010-03-02 09:14am

Internet Pop Up Deployed Malware

I have been fairly conscitentious concerning deploying a anti-virus program, etc; and even then, I got hit by a virus/malware program. It was one of those “fake” anti virus scan programs which messed up your system among other “fun” things. How did I get hit? Well, I was browsing one of my internet discussion forums when it was being hosted on Yuku (the former eZboard).

A popup came up, asking me if I wanted to install blah blah blah.

I clicked on the windows close button (that “x” in the upper right corner of your window), and still got hit by the program.

See, what happened is that many of these programs manage to script their popup windows so that ALL the buttons on the window begin the installation sequence. Even the “cancel” buttons.

Here's how you deal with them.

Hit ALT-F4. That will close the window via windows close feature.

Some malware popups however recognize this, and bring up a NEW pop up window asking you if you really want to navigate away blah, blah blah.

Dealing with those are a bit harder.

Hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and start up the Windows Task Manager.

Select the browser in task manager, right click, and select END TASK.

Sure, you'll lose whatever internet pages you had open in that browser, but it beats a zombie system that forces a nuke-and-pave.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby FSTargetDrone » 2010-03-11 03:25pm

Also, you can use Process Explorer in Windows (XP and later) to kill any applications that are being stubborn.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysi ... 96653.aspx
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Night_stalker » 2010-03-25 06:55pm

Personally, here's a bit of understated adivce: Unless you have a degree in computer engineering, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE ANY MAJOR SETTINGS.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-03-25 08:19pm

Night_stalker wrote:Personally, here's a bit of understated adivce: Unless you have a degree in computer engineering, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE ANY MAJOR SETTINGS.

Not quite! More accurate would be don't touch major settings if you don't know what you're doing (unless you're trying to learn, then go ahead and tinker - and be prepared to break something in the process). Computer engineers, computer scientists, software developers and information technology people are all equally prone to doing something silly.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Zixinus » 2010-04-16 03:41pm

What is the point of a surge protector?
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Napoleon the Clown » 2010-04-16 07:18pm

A surge protector is to act as basically a breaker between the outlet and your computer. That way, if there's a power surge it trips the surge protector instead of frying the electronics. Note, however, that a typical surge protector won't save your shit from a lightning strike. Those ones are a bit more expensive. Higher end ones will also give you around thirty seconds of back-up power if the power goes out. Giving you time to shut down the computer properly, for example. These ones are more expensive than a basic surge protector, though.

You're a moron if you don't have a surge protector, basically. They can save you from having to buy a bunch of new electronics if there's a power surge for one reason or another.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Zixinus » 2010-04-17 12:15pm

Good thing I've brought one then. One of my teachers commented this on course: people buy their 100000+ computer but forgot to buy a 2000-6000 surge protector. Don't want to be one of those people.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-04-17 12:17pm

Surge protectors will fail silently after a few years, however. The parts inside that protect against surges (MOVs) destroy themselves as they absorb a load - and worse, they slowly degrade anyways!
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Zixinus » 2010-04-25 09:23am

Well, that's wonderful.

Can anybody give me a rundwon on bluray players and whether most computers can handle a 1080 resolution?
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby charlemagne » 2010-04-25 09:54am

Well just look up on the max resolution your monitor can display.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2010-04-25 11:21am

Zixinus wrote:Can anybody give me a rundwon on bluray players and whether most computers can handle a 1080 resolution?


What sort of TV do you have? Do you have a home theater receiver? If so, does it have a Dolby TrueHD and/or a DTS-HD logo on the front of it? How many speakers do you have hooked up to your reciever?

As for PCs, they're much easier to give recommendations for. Assuming you bought your computer in the last 3 years, just buy the cheapest BD-ROM drive you can find (currently that would be this on in the US for $60, but I don't know how much it would be in Hungary), then purchase AnyDVD HD, install ffdshow and DivX Plus, and just play the .ts file from the BD disk in your favorite media player; everything should work perfectly.

Some people will tell you you need a video card with hardware-accelerated video decoding and a special video player that you have to screw around with the settings to enable it to use DXVA , but they're just idiots. Any halfway modern dual core or higher processor will be able to playback 1080p videos with no problem.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Xon » 2010-04-26 04:27am

Zixinus wrote:Can anybody give me a rundwon on bluray players and whether most computers can handle a 1080 resolution?

CPU hardware wise, at least an intel 2.0-2.4ghz dual core can decode 1080p in software easily.
As for a PC monitor;
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Edi » 2010-04-29 01:46pm

If you're running Windows Vista or Windows 7, you should disable TCP/IP v6 from the computer's network settings unless you know your operator's network uses it (for more than just having some IPv6 routing functions in the network core). Otherwise it's liable to fuck up your WLAN, your email (if you use a client) and possibly also your LAN connection, resulting in lag, random connection drops or even outright disabling your internet entirely.

You may get none of these symptoms, some of them or all of them. Therefore, it's your best bet to just kill TCP/IPv6 entirely and you won't need to worry about it. Everything uses TCP/IPv4 in any case and those implementations generally don't suffer from bugginess.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-04-29 02:23pm

What? I've never heard of IPv6 problems like that at all (and I've had the IPv6 stack enabled since XP!)
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Edi » 2010-04-29 04:23pm

phongn wrote:What? I've never heard of IPv6 problems like that at all (and I've had the IPv6 stack enabled since XP!)

Trust me, I've personally had dozens of cases (edging on hundreds pretty soon) where this has been exactly the problem. Given all of our helpdesk, it runs into the hundreds or thousands of cases easily.

Just from last week, in one case a customer with Vista had an absolutely, horrifically crappy internet connection through mobile broadband (3G/UMTS). The lag between anything happening when I took a remote connection was 20 to 30 seconds and webpages were barely loading. After a big struggle, I managed to turn the IPv6 stack off in the local area connection, wireless connection and bluetooth connection in that machine. Reboot, reestablish remote connection and everything ran smooth as silk at maximum speed.

Another case, customer calls tech support several times, can't get email client to work no matter what. When we finally get around to installing Thunderbird and configuring the crap out of it, it establishes connection to server and then freezes to the message "Downloading message 1/500". Turn off IPv6 on all connections, reboot and wham, everything works correctly.

I've personally had several cases where the customer's connection simply will not budge anywhere before you disable IPv6. Trying to get WLAN working is more often wasted effort if it's enabled, though this is not guaranteed.

But in any event it's so prevalent that standard operating procedure at my workplace is that if there's a connection problem on Vista or Windows 7, IPv6 is the first thing that goes after the cables are checked and the line checked. If we file a field case and it turns out it was the customer's equipment, they get the bill, so we have to do it anyway.

I can tell you that it was a complete bitch to troubleshoot this in the early cases, because it was all trial and error, but it was consistently the only thing that fixed otherwise unfixable problems.

The real killer was that remote connection case last week. The IPv6 stack is supposed to be independently set for each network connection, so theoretically they are not supposed to affect each other. But practice has shown that if you leave it enabled in so much as a single network connection item there, it will fuck up every connection in Windows. I've got examples of that too. Disabled IPv6 on local area connection but left it on in the wireless one, the local area connection didn't work and once IPv6 was turned off from the wireless and the machine rebooted, both were a-okay.

I don't know how much of that is due to the fact that 95% or more of our customers use brand computers that come with Windows preinstalled and who knows what OEM crapware on the side. Most people with self-assembled computers don't have problems like this. Some do, but most don't.

But it's a fucking nightmare is what it is. I asked the network core side people about IPv6 and they said our network has some support in the big pipes, but it's completely absent from the DSLAM level and the customer connections. And trying to connect a PC to a modem does not even involve the network at all.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-04-29 07:12pm

That's unusual - I've never heard of such issues on most boards I'm on! I hope there aren't going to be larger issues like that - the largest ISPs in the US are preparing to move to IPv6 space over the next year or two (in particular, Comcast, which is rumored to be almost completely out of IP addresses).
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Joviwan » 2010-05-14 01:45pm

What do people use these days to test their memory for faults/errors? Last time I did it was like 5 years ago using a program called MemTest that dad had burned to a CD for me.
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby phongn » 2010-05-14 02:16pm

Joviwan wrote:What do people use these days to test their memory for faults/errors? Last time I did it was like 5 years ago using a program called MemTest that dad had burned to a CD for me.

Memtest86+
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Re: Computer Rules of Thumb

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2010-05-14 02:17pm

The best way to do it is to open Terminal and type a dollar sign then memtest then the amount of ram you have in megabytes then the number 1, like so:

Code: Select all

$ memtest 4096 1


After that completes type $ echo $? then if a zero appears on your screen it means everything's fine. If you want to test a bit more deeply then just remove the one and let it run overnight, if it's still running in the morning then everything's fine!

Easy right?

Why the hell does no one ever, ever post what operating system they have? I mean seriously, I could probably count on one hand the number of times someone has asked for help with their computer and actually bothered to mention it. How the fuck do these people expect us to provide help when we don't know what we're working with? Do these people just walk into their mechanics shop without their car and say "the brakes on my car aren't working, how do I fix that?"
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