Thursday, November 13, 2008

calling all computer nerds!

So, I'm picking out the parts for the Studyo's* next computer. I'm getting really excited. [NOTE: If you are not interested in computers and the like, please stop reading, as you might realize just how apt the name of my blog is.] As is my custom, I'm getting as many people to weigh in on the tech side of things before I make my purchase.

I'm trying to buy as few parts
as possible, but buy the most powerful ones I can afford (my minimalist philosophy on software is spilling over into my hardware). I've been really pleased with my old computer, and it has lasted a long time as a machine which can compete well with anything prefabbed. However, I've learned quite a few things since building my last one, and want to avoid a couple mistakes I made.

The biggest lesson I've learned is this: Never, ever underestimate the ability of Windows to waste space. Whatever they tell you is the recommended system requirements, double it. Since I don't trust Vista, I'm going to buy it and then downgrade to XP, but in case I ever develop dementia and decide to switch to Vista, I'm planning for its system requirements. They say that Vista needs to be put on a 40GB hard drive with 15GB of free space. I'm installing XP on an 80GB partition of a 160GB hard drive. I'm probably tempting fate by making this taunt, but, "Try and fill up all of THAT space with invisible crap, Windows!"

Secondly, I've learned that it's never a good idea to scrimp on RAM. Since I plan on running XP still, I'm going to use the max possible, at 4GB. It's going to be dual-channel (2X2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 RAM, which come equipped with their own aluminum heat-sinks. And since it's DDR3, it's both faster and uses less voltage than DDR2.

Since I've already started doing it, let me get to the part all you computer nerds want. The parts list as it now stands. On each bullet point is a link to its stats on the website from which I'm buying the parts:
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 3.16GHz 65W Dual-Core Processor
  • RAM: 4GB of Corsair XMS3 240-pin DDR3 1600
  • Motherboard: ASUS Striker II ATX Intel Motherboard with a NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Northbridge
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce 9500 PCI Express Video Gard with 512MB of on-board RAM
  • Hard Drives: For my OS and for my software, I'm going to go pretty standard, but for my audio and samples, I'm going to use a Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB SATA 3.0Gb/s drive running at 10,000RPM. Ahhh, yeeeeah.
  • Other stuff: I'm going to scavenge the case, power supply, wireless card, audio/MIDI card, and my 40GB SATA 1.5GB/s hard drive from my old computer.
Your thoughts? I'm excited to build this monster. It should be going down within the next 2 months. Wheeee! Yay for being a nerd! [I will update this post as changes occur.]

* My home studio is also my study, thus the amalgam, The Studyo.

Ok, so after many comments, I've changed my tune. I've made the following changes:
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Core 2.4Ghz (which I will overclock up to 3GHz)
  • Motherboard: An Intel motherboard that is compatible with everything else I've selected. It has an Intel X48 chipset. Is that better (Justin and Bart)?
  • Hard Drives: I will stream samples off of a 150GB 10,000RPM 3.0Gb/s drive, and run the audio for my projects on a 300GB drive of the same specifications. The OS and the programs will be on two separate, equally-sized partitions of a 160GB 7200RPM 3.0Gb/s drive.
  • Other Stuff: Like the CPU and Motherboard, my buddy Justin Aiken helped me find this nice, sporty little CPU cooling unit. He either has this one or something similar. It's supposedly super quiet. With that and the fanless video card I've selected, this should be one silent little beast.
Alrighty, my geeky brain trust, how's THAT?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

battles and battle wounds

Well last night (it's not really 'last night' for me at this point, as I have yet to go to bed) was pretty darn fun. The blues/rock band I play in, A Band Called Riley, played in Day 2 of the Muse Music Battle of the Bands. Muse is hosting a 6-day battle in which Monday through Friday are mini-battles and the winners from each night play again on Saturday. We played probably the best show we've ever played (in terms of our performance) and won. It was a fun night. Man oh man, how I missed playing the drums my first two years down here in Utah. I absolutely adore my instrument. And, though it's not the kind of music I'd ever write myself, this band is fun as hell.

One of my favorite things about playing in this band, is that we're a bunch of nutballs on stage. In particular, our bassist Nate is certifiably insane when armed with an instrument. While playing, he is prone to stumble like a drunk, twitch like an epileptic, put his bass on the ground and smack it, chimp-style, and do generally manic things. [For an example of his on-stage stumbling, check out this video, from a concert we played during the summer, and skip forward to 2:23.]

It might come as no surprise then, that tonight he broke his freaking finger while playing... and then proceeded to play the rest of the set. After the show was over, he was quite cavalier about bringing it up. "Um, yeah, I think I might need to go to the emergency room once we get all our gear packed up. I'm pretty sure I broke my finger." I took one look at it, became certain that he was right, and then began to laugh uncontrollably at the utter nuttiness of the situation.

And I don't even need to ask him to confirm this, but I can gaurantee that we will still play on Saturday. Ah, rock and roll....