Archive for the 'shopping' Category

Making Peace with AMD.

August 27, 2007
1 BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Socket 939 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard – Retail
Item #: N82E16813138269Standard Return Policy
$59.99
1 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Toledo 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model ADA4200DAA5CD – OEM
Item #: N82E16819103053Processors (CPUs) Return Policy
$78.99
1 pqi POWER Series 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory Model MD441GUOE – Retail
Item #: N82E16820141198Memory (Modules, USB) Return Policy
$43.49
1 DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #49760 $-20.00
Subtotal $162.47

The above is from NewEgg and it signifies my re-entry into AMD’s universe. I had sworn off AMD on these pages in a quite angry fashion as two AMD boxes I had built 3 months apart died within 3 months of each other. But with the above purchase, I’m effectively getting a replacement box for an old P4 2.GHZ machine for under $200. Even if this setup only lasts a year, it will have been worth it.  Thanks to Ben’s Bargains for the tip.

Ok, AMD, let’s try to make it work.

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eSata Drive, No eSata Cable.

May 16, 2007

I’ve written before about how awesome the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD is.  Tonight I impulse-bought a 500 GB eSATA external hard drive for it.  The hard drive it comes with is tiny and I figured this would help.  Sascha Segan inspired me to try this with an article he wrote.  Although it looks like he has since quit using it.  At Best Buy, I had the presence of mind to ask someone if they sold the cable.  According to this fine young gentleman, it’s not out yet.  I thought perhaps I had one at home as I remembered having numerous SATA cables.  Of course I found out later that SATA cables are not the same as eSATA cables.

So now I have this nifty new drive and no cable.  You have to remember, Cleveland Ohio is not exactly the tech capital of the world.  Most of the CompUSA stores have closed.  There is a Microcenter about 40 minutes away, but it’s too late tonight.  I’ll call them tomorrow.  There’s always Newegg, but I don’t want to wait.

Online gaming means spending more money.

May 6, 2007

Sometimes I think companies that sell games and consoles would like the consumer cost of gaming to move from its present cost to more like the cost model of a movie. One of the main reasons computer and video games are so popular is because even at $50 a game, you get more entertainment time per dollar than you do at the movies. Say Spiderman 3 costs you $10 for two and a half hours. A good video game might give you 50 hours of entertainment time or more for $50.

But the video game model is shifting. Let’s look at Xbox Live. It is a really cool service, but it’s not an inexpensive one. Most things cost points. I submit to you that if you started downloading stuff every time you sat down to play, you would end up spending more per month than if you just bought games from the game store. Plus, Xbox Live’s premium version itself costs money.

Look at World of Warcraft. You’re paying a monthly fee. Maybe it’s worth it, but the point is you’re getting closer to the movie model in terms of cost per gaming hour than if you just bought a game from a game store.

The more money consumers spend in gaming, the more profits the various companies involved make. I’m all for capitalism, but I’m also for being a smart consumer. The companies have the advantage. I want to look for bargains and I certainly don’t want to pay for bad content. A smart gamer should look carefully at new content and set a budget. It would be easy to start spending hundreds of dollars per month on games, just like we already do on cable.

Review of the Samsung LN-T5265F TFT-LCD Television.

April 30, 2007

Samsung LNT5265F 52-inch 1080p LCD HDTV

Holy freakin’ God, this television rocks! I cannot tell you. If God has a television, this is what he watches. It is bright and gorgeous. It’s completely riveting. I am probably going to die sooner than I should because I’m buying a bean bag chair and I’m going to plant myself in front of the television and watch movies and play games for the rest of my life.

It has 3 HDMI inputs and 2 component inputs. It also does s-video and cable and the rest of the lower res stuff. The money is in the HDMI, computer and component inputs. Right now, I’m using a component input for my cable box and I’m running my Xbox 360 through the PC input. It is with this setup that I’m able to get 1080p output and watch movies in 1080p on the Xbox HD DVD drive.

The brightness of this TV is amazing. It’s sitting in a room facing 4 5 ½ foot windows. The television is bright enough to watch in full daylight. Strangely enough, there is less glare than the CRT television this TV replaces. Also the viewing angles are incredible. I had originally planned on getting a Mitsubishi DLP. The viewing angle on a DLP is nothing like this. You can watch this TV from essentially the same viewing angles as you would with a conventional television.

On my set up, I use the optical audio output to send audio to an Onkyo surround sound system. Honestly, the first time I plugged in this television it brought a tear to my eye. Gaming is in a class by itself. The 360 does not disappoint. I can’t imagine going back to my PS2 after this. In fact, if there is one weakness, I did try running my PS2 on it and it looked terrible. My cable box upconverts so normal channels look ok.

I looked at every LCD Best Buy had to offer in picking this TV. The contenders were from Sharp and Sony. Still, the Samsung stood above them all and I obviously couldn’t be happier. As I’ve said before, it’s reawakened my interest in movies and games. I’m a lucky man indeed.

Shameless eBay Plug: CDs, games & more!

November 28, 2006

Gentle reader, you know I have no ads on my blog.  You know that I don’t hawk things here and when I review something, it is always unbiased, honest and not tied to compensation.

Well tonight that’s all out the window!

Tonight, I’m promoting my eBay auctions!

See I feel compelled to do this because I don’t like having reserves on my auctions, but my lot of 7 CDs that I’m selling is currently only going for a penny!  Boy, if that guy wins that one, he’s going to walk away with $70 worth of music for…  (wait for it) a song!

I’m also selling old PS2 games, and Star Trek and Firefly DVDs.  So, my loyal friend, check these out and if you like what you see, make a bid.  Your ol’ pal Thaed has been on eBay since 1999 and you’ll get your merch quick after that paypal money hits the internets.

Guitar Hero for the PS2.

November 5, 2006

It is shameless indeed to buy a game that you want to play under the pretext of it being a gift for your daughter on her 6th birthday.  But that’s what I did with Guitar Hero.  I even threw in a second guitar in case her 3 year old sister wanted to play.

The original Guitar Hero has been around for over a year now.  The sequel is soon to be released.  I had little experience with it however.  After two days of playing with my kids (both of them actually like it even if it’s a little hard for them), I have a few observations.  First of all it’s really accessible.  My wife, who is not a gamer, has been jamming with me.

Next, it’s a category killer game.  Once you play, you want to keep playing.  The game play is smooth, very much like DDR for your fingers.  Also, it captures enough of the rock star mythos so that anyone who has ever dreamed of actually playing guitar can experience some of that fantasy right away.  If you have a PS2, you should get this game.  If you don’t have a PS2, you should buy one on eBay and get this game.

I brought work home this weekend (like usual) and it’s killing me not to be playing through the career mode so I can unlock more songs.  It’s also a game that I want to play on the higher difficulty levels because you can eventually “play” every note.

My six year old is happy (and she got other presents too) and the rest of us are happy.  It’s an awesome game.

Soap

September 23, 2006

This is a blog post on soap.  That’s right, I’m talking about the stuff that most of you use to lather up your skin every morning (or night before).  Well, hopefully, you’re a soap user.  If you aren’t, this post isn’t for you and frankly, I hope we never meet in real life.  We can still be Internet friends though.

Anyway, I’ve been experimenting with new types of soap for the freshest, cleanest experience.  As usual, I’m not like normal people.  Even though Lever soap has been recommended to me by dermatologists, it causes my legs to break out.  I like the soap, but I’ll pass on the accompanying rash.

Ivory has been very good to me.  It’s cheap and it doesn’t bother my skin.  Unfortunately, it’s also not the strongest soap with which one could clean one’s self.  Ivory is good if you’re having skin problems, but there are better things out there.  I often wonder after I use Ivory if people aren’t giving me a little more room than usual during the day.  Maybe that’s a good thing?

When I was in Las Vegas and lucky enough to be staying at the Winn, they had this soap called Bambu.  Smelling like lemons, I really enjoyed it.  I haven’t been able to find it at the grocery store, though.  I suspect that I’d have to go to one of those fru-fru places to find it or look online.  Yet, there are limits to what I’m willing to do for my soap fetish.  I am, after all, still a guy.

One very perfectly good soap for men is Dial for Men:  Full Force.  I’m liking this one a lot.  For one thing, it comes in a manly blue bar.  It’s not the longest lasting soap.  I think I burned through a bar in a week.  But that just means it’s working, right?  This soap is a deodorant version and it’s very strong.  I definitely know that I smell better coming out of the shower than going in when I used it.

Far less masculine, but definitely nice smelling is Zest:  Linen Fresh.  In terms of all round smell, this is a nice one.  It does smell like clean linens with maybe a hint of lemon.  That’s one a whole family could use.  It’s not just for guys.

In the end, I suspect I’ll stick with Dial for Men.  I like the fact that it’s strong.  When you use it, you could probably forget to put on deodorant and still get away with it.  Maybe it’s a belt and suspenders approach to smelling good, but whatever, I’ll take it.

Pentium D 805 Overclocked to 4.05 GHz no longer stable.

September 14, 2006

Well, I’ve given up on overclocking. I know after this post that that may come as a surprise to you. I just can’t keep the machine stable. It will run for hours one day and then be buggy as heck the next. I’ve had it. The thing is, I built the stupid machine around some expensive hardware.

I’ve been debating doing the following:
1)Sell it all on ebay and start over
2)Keep it and just put up with it as a normal, slow regular pc.
3)Upgrade the chip alone.

I think I’m going to choose option 3. If this chip works, I may buy it this weekend. I’ve emailed Newegg to see what’s the fastest chip I can put in the Asus P5WDG2-WS motherboard. We’ll see how it goes. When the quadcores come out later this year, I’ll probably build another computer around one of those anyway.

I feel guilty about wanting a Sony PSP.

September 4, 2006

It’s not because I’m a middle aged guy. I already have a Nintendo DS and a DS Lite. No, I feel guilty about wanting a PSP because Sony is essentially an anti-consumer company. It plagues its products with DRM, it locks onto proprietary technology like Memory Sticks that only work in Sony things and, lately, it makes stuff that blows up (well batteries anyway).

I was with some friends today and their son has one. Now I’ve seen it before, but I’ve never really looked at the screen. It’s beautiful. I’m told that the games aren’t that good and that most people use it for other things than gaming, but as a gadget, it’s definitely something I covet.

But I feel strongly guilty, not just a little bit. Look at the new Blu-Ray technology. If Sony were to license it to DVD makers so that DVD makers could put both Blu-Ray and HD DVD in the same box, that would be consumer friendly. At this point, as far as I know, they have not. And don’t get me started on the PS3. I have a Playstation 2 and I still use it, although my kids use it more. I would not buy a PS3 just for the Blu-Ray player. The DVD player in the PS2 is terrible. Strangely enough, since Blu-Ray holds more data than the HD DVD standard, it seems to me that it could win. Of course, that was true with Betamax and you would think Sony would learn something after, oh, I don’t know, 31 years!

So you see why I have mixed feelings about wanting a PSP. Now I have another confession. I want a Vaio UX too.

Pen, Paper and Notebook.

July 10, 2006

Sometimes just going into Office Max can be a religious experience. This weekend, I bought some new pens and some computer paper. This gave me a sense of satisfaction. Normally, I only use Black PaperMate Comfortmate medium point ball point pens. I tried some new ones this time. Still PaperMate, but with bold ink. They aren’t bad, but they smudge a little. I like the fact that the ball points have a tiny plastic protector on them that you remove before using them for the first time. Nifty!

But the real find was a Black, Mead 5 Star, 5 subject college ruled notebook. It gave me real OCD satisfaction. You see, I use these to work out my thoughts and put passwords and codes down and just generally use them Da Vinci Codex style. They hold 200 sheets and my last one lasted me from January 1, 2002 until now. Not having one would probably induce a rain man style fit. Well, maybe not, I’d just have to use a legal pad, but, still, it would make me sad.

Despite my half dozen computers running in my office, nothing will ever replace pen and paper, not in my lifetime anyway.