Evga

I have purchased 5 video cards and three motherboards from Evga.    I have had to return an 8800 GT video card and a 7900 GT video card for warranty repairs.  Evga offers a lifetime warranty.  They honor this warranty even if you overclock the part.   You do have to register your product within 30 days to be eligible for the lifetime warranty.
If you need a part that Evga makes, you’ll regret buying it from another manufacturer.

Gigabyte

I attended the Intel Channel Conference, June of 2008, in Irvine.  Gigabyte had an impressive display at the conference. They even had one knowledgeable person that spoke English well.  My fiancee won the raffle for an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad core processor at that ICC.  I decided to give a Gigabyte motherboard an opportunity.   I read through all of the technical specifications and marketing material, combed reviews. I decided on the GA-EP45-DS3R motherboard.    I purchased the motherboard online from ZipZoomFly.com.   I purchased an Antec Sonata III 500 case and power supply from a local retailer.  I acquired the rest of the parts and built the system.   I’ve been building computers since 1995.  I take my time.  I skip the shortcuts.   Once it was complete, I plugged it in and turned it on.   The system didn’t boot.     I completely disassembled the system.  Looking very carefully for any possible foreign object damage or explanation for the lack of power.    The PSU, a 500W Antec model, that came with the Sonata case was indeed shorted.  I returned the case w/PSU to the local retailer.  They happily provided me a new one, and offered to return my money if that was what I preferred.   I brought the new case back and built again.   This time the Antec 500W PSU shorted at the power switch of the PSU.   Again back to retailer.   Build again.   Processor error indicated by diagnostics of motherboard.   Remove the QX9650.  Install the Intel E6750 processor from my primary system.  Replace PSU.  Call ZipZoomFly about $)(#^&^%($&^ motherboard.   They indicate that they would be happy to RMA said motherboard and waive their 10% restocking fee.  They cannot cross ship a new one.      I had lost 2 days building and transporting dead parts, a $1600 processor,  and 3 power supplies.     They offered to waive the restocking fee?  Yeah.  Ok.    I took the motherboard to Gigabyte USA HQ.   I stated the issues.   Shorts PSUs.   Causes processor failure as a result.   Gigabyte staff tested the board in the lab and could find no fault with the motherboard.   I built the system again.  Poof E6750 and another PSU up in smoke.   At this point I was livid with Gigabyte and with Antec.  I contacted ZipZoomFly.com.  They indicated: you have exceeded the 15 day return policy.  We can not replace your motherboard.

The power supply manufactured by Antec, case manufactured by Antec, and the Gigabyte motherboard still do not work correctly.

I approached Antec with the issues and they suggested I return the PSUs to them for analysis.  Given that those PSUs were exchanged at the retailer for new ones, that was not possible.  Antec indicates that THEIR PSUs have

Industrial-grade protection circuitry prevents damage resulting from short circuits, power overloads, over voltage, and under voltage

Quoted from the following page of the Antec web site: Earthwatts 500W PSU

Gigabyte indicates:

that a motherboard can not short a power supply

Zipzoomfly.com indicates:

they cannot accept an RMA after 15 days, even when the manufacturer had possession for 10 of those days

To which I indicate:

Antec, Gigabyte, and Zipzoomfly.com are no longer on my approved list of suppliers

The lesson cost me approximately $285 in parts, but worth every dime.   I did not lose a client.   I ultimately received a different factory refurbished Gigabyte motherboard.  I was able to sell the motherboard to a client that specified, against my strong objection, on a Gigabyte motherboard. The motherboard failed in less than a year. We replaced the motherboard with an Evga motherboard with a lifetime warranty. We have not had a problem since. Your mileage may vary.

Local.yahoo.com

Through December of 2008, I recommended local.yahoo.com to my clients and potential clients that were outside of my commuting range.     I was proud of my businesses placement in the local.yahoo listings.  I had several positive reviews.  When searching for a Computer Consultant,  Network Security, Wireless, and several other key categories that are relevant to my business, my site, Evans Computers was doing quite well.    Now, if you search for any of those services at local.yahoo.com, in my zip code, Evans Computers will no longer be a result.   Now you will get results that are obtuse. Examples:  Gray Bar Electrical, when you search for wireless security,  Wells Fargo bank when you search for wireless Internet.   I think local.yahoo.com still performs well for finding a local steak house.   Maybe not.

Custom spin

A custom spin is a version of the Linux operating system that has each package selected or deselected by the creator of the custom spin.   This can be quite useful if you want to install any build of any flavor of Linux, exactly the same way on numerous machines.  If you want two or more systems to have the exact same kernel, OS, server software, development environment and applications then a custom spin is a way to save significant time and effort.  Imagine a USB drive that has everything you need. You can install EXACTLY the programs you want and need, without a single download.   Then envision that you can actually boot from that  USB drive.   This is what a LiveUSB is all about.   I can carry my Operating system and software on my key chain.  If one of my clients has an issue with their computer, I can boot to my USB drive and test their computer’s hardware, verify their Internet connection, and even troubleshoot Windows disk errors without ever adding a single file or setting to their system.  I can make an exact duplicate of any Fedora system to the USB drive.  I can then install that exact same OS with everything on any computer anywhere.   Or I can just boot to that exact environment and see if I really like the way it works before I install it on any system.

Revisor part duex

After a great deal of time and effort, I found revisor to be completely inadequate.  It has numerous issues that prevent it from performing the intended functions.   I used liveCD-creator as the tool to create the custom LiveCD iso images that I need instead.  I was able to create a custom built package set and resulting image for x86_64 in a much more reasonable time frame using liveCD-creator.   Revisor was never able to fully accomplish this task.

Revisor

This early AM I was fighting the good fight with revisor.  Revisor is a Fedora unity application for creating custom software package sets for LiveCD, LiveDVD and LiveUSB application.  A LiveUSB allows you to boot a computer from the USB drive directly to Linux, without modifying the computer hard drive. I ultimately had to uninstall the existing version of revisor.   Then I recompiled using Git from the sources directories.   Here is a link for the walk through from Fedora. I still get some minor errors when creating a custom Live image, but an image that is useful gets created.

Processors

I frequently get asked which processor is best.

There is no quick and easy answer to that question.  Factors such as budget, what you plan to use the computer for,  overall performance, existing system, all play a part.  If you only browse the web and check email, you would be ill advised to purchase a $1600 Quad core Extreme edition i7 processor.   If you are a  serious gamer, you would be very disappointed with any laptop as your main computer.  I will attempt to give some suggestions for various scenarios here.

Average user – you spend less than two hours a day on your computer, you check email, you browse the web.  You play card games.  You probably already have a system that is adequate for your basic needs.  You may be best off to upgrade your existing system with more RAM.  For Windows XP Home or Pro, 2 gigabytes of RAM is the “sweet spot”.   If you have to get a new system, a standard laptop or desktop with an AMD or Intel processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM with Windows XP or Windows Vista may be totally adequate.

Gamer – you know who you are.  If you know the difference between card games and DirectX, you’re in this category.   A gaming laptop is an oxymoron.   You need a desktop system with 4 gigabytes+.  If DirectX 10  is something you care about Vista is your only choice.  I suggest an Intel Core 2 Duo processor such as the E8400 or E8500.  Take the money you saved on the processor and spend it on better Video cards.

Hardcore Gamer – You play DirectX games 2 hours or more a day.  Budget becomes the primary factor.  Spend more on your Video cards than on your processor.  Intel Core 2 Duo is still a very viable solution. E8500 is king  of the hill.  Why not go Quad?  Quad processors are not fully utilized in any gaming scenario.  Real world performance metrics indicate a 5-10% gain for a 50-75% increase in processor cost.  An E8500 processor outperforms EVERY AMD processor and most of Intel’s Quad core processors.  Exceptions are the Extreme Quads and the i7 processors.

CAD/CAM – If AutoCad is your thing, then a Quad core processor actually makes sense economically and from a time perspective.  AutoCad and programs of this genre typically take full advantage of Quad Core processing.   I suggest the Intel i7 series, that fit within your budget.

Slow browsing

If you are experiencing really slow web browsing but downloads seem to be at normal speed, you may be a victim of a DNS (domain name service) cache poisoning attack.   This can affect any operating system connected to the Internet. Many of my professional clients have been impacted by this recently.  It is becoming a common issue.   The simple test to see if you are being impacted is to download a file from a known source such as Microsoft or Apple.  If the download proceeds normal speed, but web browsing is slow and sluggish, you may be affected.

On windows based systems:

Open a command prompt and type in “ipconfig  /flushdns” without the quotes.  Press enter.  To prevent future issues you can disable the DNS client service in the Admin Tools–> Services section.

On Mac systems:

Leopard and newer

Open a bsh shell prompt and type in “dnscacheutil -flushdns” without the quotes.

Earlier than 10.5.2

Open a bsh shell prompt and type in “lookupd -flushcache” without the quotes.

On Nix systems:

From a console with root priveledges “/etc/init.d/nscd.restart” without the quotes.    G/K/Ubuntu users  “su /etc/init.d/nscd.restart” without the quotes.

Most security programs have no mechanism to prevent this from occurring.  I do recommend ESET’s Smart Security Suite for Windows.  It will prevent this issue.

WLAN Security

Now that you have a wireless local area network (WLAN) it needs to be secured to prevent everyone from logging into your network.   You will need the manual that came with your wireless router for this.  It may be on the CD.  Download the manual from the router manufacturer’s web site if necessary.  All of the following is performed primarily at the router.  Log into your router as admin to do the following per the manual.

Wireless network

Want to put a wireless printer in the closet?

Like to watch YouTube video on your TV?

Would you like to carry your laptop to any room of your home and browse the Internet?

Wireless networking may be your solution!

Basics requirements:

Computer with Network Interface Card (NIC)

Wireless adapter for each system you want to connect via wireless.

Internet connection ( Cable or DSL preferably) with existing Cable or DSL network bridge.

Wireless router.

I recommend you put the CD that comes with the wireless router back in the box.   The companies that manufacture wireless routers typically do a great job with hardware.   The software on the other hand, leaves more than a bit to be desired.

Connect the wireless router to the Cable or DSL network bridge, often mistakenly called a MODEM.   Use a CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet patch cable.  One is typically supplied with the router.  Connect one end of the patch cable to the only connector on the Cable or DSL network bridge.  Connect the other end of that same patch cable to the WAN or Internet port of the wireless router.  Now if you have an existing patch cable connected to the NIC in your computer, plug that into one of the numbered ports on the wireless router.  Now make the sure power is on for everything.   Next disconnect the power cord to the Cable or DSL network bridge for 5 seconds.   Reconnect it.   Reboot your computer(s).   Everything should be connected to the Internet now.   You are now the newest WLAN Admin on earth!    Next you’ll need to secure your WLAN.  I’ll cover that topic in my next post.