- Four weeks left until the to-production deadline on the new edition of Building the Perfect PC,
and three systems left to build. This week, we're building the Gaming
PC, which will actually end up as Barbara's new main office system.
It's a Socket AM-2 Athlon 64 FX 62 system with 2 GB of memory and a
terabyte of disk space. That should keep her happy for a long
time, probably until the third edition of the book. For the book, it
runs a Windows Vista beta, but in real life it'll run Xandros 4
We'll get that system built and written up this week, and then set it
aside until I have time to migrate Barbara's data and applications over
to it. She's happy with KMail/Korganizer, which I'll probably migrate
to myself once things are a bit less hectic around here. I really don't
like Evolution, and it's only by convincing myself that it would be
insanity to attempt a migration in the midst of deadlines that I've
kept using Evolution this long.
The final two systems we need to build are the Media Center PC and the
SFF PC. We hope to build both of those around Core 2 Duo (Conroe)
processors, but we don't have samples yet. We hope to have them by late
this week or early next week, but if the Core 2 Duo samples don't
arrive in time we'll probably end up building those systems around AMD
Socket AM-2 processors.
As I told my friends at O'Reilly, we'll definitely make our 20/21
August to-production deadline. We're just not sure exactly what
hardware configurations we'll be able to use with that timeframe. But,
one way or another, it's going to be a good book.
Several people have emailed me to ask for my take on the conflict
between Israel and the Hezbollah scum. I back Israel 100%. The
enemy of my enemy is my friend.
But I fear that Israel will accomplish nothing because it is unwilling
to go far enough. Even if it were willing to do what it would take,
world opinion would prevent it from doing so.
What needs to be done? Short answer. Expel all Islamics, including
Druze, from Lebanon into Syria, handing Lebanon to the Lebanese
Christians. Then, attack Syria and destroy its ability to make war.
Annex all of Syria west of the Euphrates, and expel all Syrians except
for the tiny Christian and Jewish minority into what is now eastern
Syria. (Unfortunately, that's where what little oil Syria has is, but
it probably wouldn't be possible for Israel to hold Syria east of the
Euphrates against a resurgent Islamic Iraq.)
That's what it would take. It's doable militarily, but not politically,
even assuming that the United States supported it, which it wouldn't.
Anything less is at best a partial, short-term solution. The problem is
the mistaken belief that Islamic terrorists are somehow different from
the general Islamic population. They aren't. Every Islamic is a
potential terrorist. Even if it were somehow possible to get rid of all
of the Hezbollah terrorists, leaving the rest of the Islamic population
in place, more terrorists would immediately spring up from that Islamic
The problem, as I've said before, isn't terrorists per se. The problem
is Islam. If you want to get rid of terrorists, you have to get rid of
Islam. That's what Israel faces.
Busy, busy, busy. We shot a couple hundred images last night of the
Gaming PC build, and we've only gotten as far as inserting the
processor in the motherboard. Once we complete the system, we'll
install Windows Vista Beta 2, play a few games, and then blow away the
contents of the hard drive and install Xandros 4. This system is
destined to be Barbara's new main system, although the swap will have
to wait until after deadline.
Scott Kitterman posted this on the messageboard:
It's going to be an interesting next couple of years, assuming that Microsoft actually ships Vista within that time.
Core 2 Duo officially launches today, and turns the processor market on
its head. For the last few years, AMD has owned both the performance
crown and the low-end. Intel has been competitive, in terms of
price/performance, if not in terms of power consumption and heat, only
in the mainstream segment. As of today, Intel owns the processor
performance spectrum from high-end down through mid-mainstream.
To the extent that AMD is competitive at all, it is only so below
mid-mainstream, and only that because it has taken a meat axe to its
prices. For example, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+, which until this week
was a $365 processor, is now priced at $187 and competes directly with
Intel's least expensive Core 2 Duo model, the $183 E6300.
Worse, from the standpoint of AMD's former stronghold of gamers and
overclockers, AMD is no longer competitive at all. All of the Core 2
Duo models are easily overclocked, and the enthusiast web sites report
that an overclocked Core 2 Duo is dead stable. By boosting the FSB
speed and slightly increasing the core voltage, the $183 Core 2 Duo
E6300 can easily be made to match or beat AMD's best, the Athlon 64
Overnight, AMD finds itself in the same position it was in K6 days. It
can't compete on performance, and has no prospect of being able to do
so for at least the next 18 months. AMD is once again a low-end
processor company. And even that is at Intel's sufferance. At any time,
Intel can cut off AMD's air supply by introducing less expensive models
including the Core 2 Solo, that will outperform AMD's offerings at a
lower price and with lower power consumption and heat production. AMD
is, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed.
Of course, all of us benefit from this processor war. Today, we can go
out and buy a processor for $125 to $200 that gives the same
performance we would have had to pay $350 to $500 for just last week.
For example, we're currently building the Kick-Ass Gaming PC for the
new edition of Building the Perfect PC.
We're using an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+, which is now a $187 processor.
But the 4200+ is just as fast today as it was a week ago, when it cost
twice as much.
And the 4200+ still qualifies as a kick-ass processor, because Good
Enough is Good Enough. Sure, there are now faster processors available
for what we would have paid last week for the 4200+, but there's not
really any point to using them. The performance increase would be
visible only in benchmarks, not in actual use. So, Intel with its
introduction of the Core 2 Duo and AMD with its price cuts have
succeeded in bringing high-end performance to the mainstream price
segment. Paying more than $250 for a processor has always been a case
of diminishing returns, but that is now more true than ever.
Perhaps just as important is the effect of these changes on the low
end. Intel has kept several Pentium D models on their price list, the
fastest of which is priced in low-end Core 2 Duo territory. That leaves
the less expensive and only slightly slower Pentium D models, along
with several Athlon X2 models, in what used to be the high-end of the
"value" segment. That means that many people who would formerly have
bought a mainstream processor can now instead buy a value processor and
get the same or higher performance. With the pricing changes this week,
even a $100 processor is now a force to be reckoned with.
Intel must be enjoying themselves immensely with the Core 2 Duo
rollout. After being beaten up by AMD for a long time now, Intel again
has the whip hand. The Empire Strikes Back, indeed. As part of the
rollout, Intel has produced a limited edition PC that features the Core
2 Extreme. It sells for $4,500. One of my colleagues, who requested
anonymity, reports that he picked up one of these systems yesterday.
Here's what he found.
It's one of a limited edition of 100 units.
So, my colleague now has one of the 100 fastest PCs on the planet, at least for a while.
It's factory overclocked to 3.2GHz with the full warranty in
effect. The front-side bus is operating at 1.28GHz, which means
the bus multiplier was changed as well, which proves the Core 2 Extreme
It has the high-end ATI X1900 Crossfire setup. One Crossfire-specific
card, one ordinary card, one special external cable between them.
It has two 150G WD Raptor 10K RPM HDs in a RAID configuration as drive
C: and one 400G drive as drive D. (The originally promised
configuration was one 750G drive, so this is a little bigger and a lot
It has 2G of the high-end Corsair overclocking-friendly DRAM.
It's in a standard Cooler Master Centurion case with a Thermaltake 700W power supply.
On the other hand, it is NOT a Media Center machine.
I'd hoped to have the Gaming PC chapter done today, but that won't
happen. I lost most of a day this week to pleading with component
vendors for parts I need for the final two systems and other
administrative stuff. We'll shoot more images of the Gaming PC this
evening. Barbara is taking a day trip bus tour with her parents and
sister tomorrow, so we won't be able to shoot any final images for the
Gaming PC until Sunday.
Barbara left at oh-dark-thirty this morning to join her parents and
sister on a bus tour for the day up to Asheville, North Carolina. She's
due back around 10:00 tonight. I'll spend the day working. I'd hoped to
have the Gaming PC chapter completed yesterday, but that didn't happen.
I should be able to finish the writing part today, and Barbara and I
will shoot the final images we need tomorrow.
FedEx should be showing up shortly with a package from Intel, at
which point we'll have all the hardware we need to finish the Media
Center PC and SFF PC chapters as well. Those systems will both be Core
One year of Netflix. I said I'd report on my experience.
08/05 - 25 discs (all readable)
09/05 - 23 discs (one cracked)
10/05 - 22 discs (three unreadable)
11/05 - 20 discs (all readable)
12/05 - 20 discs (one unreadable)
01/06 - 14 discs (one logged out and then back in by Netflix without me receiving it)
02/06 - 20 discs (two unreadable)
03/06 - 22 discs (one disc sent by Netflix cracked and already repaired)
04/06 - 25 discs (all readable)
05/06 - 22 discs (two unreadable)
06/06 - 24 discs (one unreadable)
07/06 - 22 discs (all readable so far; the final two for the month arrived today)
So, in 12 months, we've received 259 discs, of which 11 were cracked or
unreadable, for a net of 248 discs, or 20.67 discs per month. For those
248 discs, Netflix has billed us $226.18, or a net of about $0.91 per
disc. By my calculations, if the Netflix "Unlimited Plan" were truly
unlimited, they'd have shipped us an average of 26.5 discs per month,
for a net cost of $0.725 per disc. That means Netflix was
about 6 discs/month short of truly unlimited service, which I
In fact, I'll probably drop Netflix soon, not because I'm unhappy with
their service, but because we've already gotten just about everything
we're interested in watching. Between Netflix and discs we have
borrowed or can borrow from friends or the library, we're just about
sated on videos. We'll probably re-join Netflix for a month at a
time once a year to get any new stuff we want to see, and spend the
other 11 months of the year reading.
Some people insist that American Islamics are Americans first and
Islamics second. I don't believe it. I think all Islamics
are Islamic first, last, and always. Here's more evidence.
Understand that I have nothing against non-Islamic people of Arab or Persian ethnicity. Here, for example, is a video
that features an Arab-American woman who is welcome in my home any
time. It's a pure pleasure to me to watch an intelligent Arab-American
woman ripping into a mullah, revealing him for the evil martinet he is.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Robert Bruce