10 Things I Hate About Building PCs

I’m sure I’ll get a bunch of smarmy comments from the Mac contingent over this, but I’m currently in the middle of a PC upgrade fiasco, and I need to get it off my chest.

I really like the new City of Heroes game, but unfortunately the PC I use, a homebuilt box, does a lousy job of running the game. The graphics card I have (a Radeon All In One) isn’t quite powerful enough, but due to the age of the motherboard, I can’t upgrade to a better graphics card without also upgrading the motherboard. Which means buying a new case and power supply, because the 4-year-old case won’t hold newer motherboards. And at that point you might as well go to 512MB of memory and upgrade the processor. Now you’re up to $500 worth of new hardware to run a $50 game.

Scott suggested new hard drive(s) as well but I drew the line there. And I decided that since I have so much free time right now, I was going to be the primary builder of the new box. I’m about 4 times as slow as Scott when it comes to hardware installation, but with him working and me not, it seems unfair to make him do it all.

That all leads us to the point of this post, which is a list of the 10 things I most hate about building your own PC:

  1. Despite the huge pile of PC hardware in our office, some of it up to 7 years old, none of it is actually useful
  2. There is no easy way to grab onto PCI cards when you’re trying to take them out of their slots, resulting in cuts on your fingers
  3. Instruction manuals on the one hand omit key pieces of information yet offer pages of useless drivel on the other hand
  4. Power supplies, whose huge masses of cables block critical space inside the PC case, don’t have enough plugs of the kind that you need and too many if the kind that you don’t need
  5. I don’t get why you need 6 different kinds of screws to put one PC together
  6. Operating systems that give a BSOD on boot-up if the CD drive isn’t found suck
  7. Motherboards with secondary IDE controllers that don’t work out of the box or even after you’ve updated the BIOS also suck
  8. Resellers who ship motherboards that have non-functioning secondary IDE controllers suck even more than that
  9. Planned Obsolescence in general, for being the root cause of the entire fiasco
  10. Having to do it all over again when the (hopefully fully functional) new motherboard gets here some time in the next few days

Ignorant Luddities Strike Again

Or at least they’re trying to. Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a bill to the Senate which is worded in such a way that it would not only make Kazaa illegal, but also TiVo, the CD burner in your computer, and even VCRs and cassette recorders illegal.

News.com reports that:

The proposal, called the Induce Act, says “whoever intentionally induces any violation” of copyright law would be legally liable for those violations, a prohibition that would effectively ban file-swapping networks like Kazaa and Morpheus. In the draft bill seen by CNET News.com, inducement is defined as “aids, abets, induces, counsels, or procures” and can be punished with civil fines and, in some circumstances, lengthy prison terms.

“Induce” stands for “Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation,” making this yet another example of cloaking wildly restrictive legislation in the mantle of “save the children!”. Because of course, it’s all about keeping kids away from porn. Never mind that adults would have to throw away every recording device in their homes to make it work.

The good news? Even if this lame excuse for a bill were to actually pass both houses and be signed into law, I doubt it would stand, because the Supreme Court said in 1984 that VCRs are legal devices. But still, it’s annoying to have to fight the same battles over and over again.

12 Slices of Roast Beef

Couldn’t sleep, so I was browsing the news sites this morning. I came across this gem from Salt Lake City: No-Carb Eating Couple Booted From Buffet.

Roast beef was the issue. As Reuters put it, “when [customer] Amaama went up for his 12th slice, the manager asked Amaama to stop.” Chaos ensued.

What rational person is going to think they’re controlling their weight by eating that much food? ‘Oh, but it’s low carb!’ you hear the cry. ‘Cut out the carbs and you can eat anything you want and still lose weight!’.

I call bullshit.

If each slice of roast beef averaged a mere 2 ounces, that’s just under a pound and a half of meat eaten. Let’s look at the calories in that (you remember calories, right?). According to the handy guide at http://www.calorie-count.com/, 3 ounces of cooked beef, all fat removed, has 232 calories. So those 11 slices of roast beef contained approximately 1700 calories – more if my estimate of a 2-ounce slice is too small or if all the fat had not been trimmed off.

It passes my understanding how people can think this is a good way to lose weight. The FDA recommends consuming approximately 2000 calories a day, depending on a person’s age and activity level. You can bet dollars to doughnuts (if you’ll pardon the carb-laden expression) that this goober ate much more than just 11 slices of roast beef that day. Whether he was exercising regularly or had an active lifestyle wasn’t mentioned in the article, so perhaps I’m doing the guy a disservice. Maybe he mountain bikes to work every day and rarely sits down on the job. But somehow, I suspect that’s not the case.

You want to lose weight? It’s simple but it’s not easy. Burn more calories than you consume. How you do that is up to you. Exercise or don’t, eat carbs or not – it doesn’t matter, as long as your net calorie count is negative, you’ll get lighter.

Maybe I should write my own diet manual. Call it “The Sanity Plan.” I’d make millions, quit my job, and spend my days doing book tours and being pampered. With merchandising tie-ins (I see ‘I want sanity’ t-shirts, maybe kitchen products), perhaps a chain of Sanity fitness centers, I’d be set for life.

Unfortunately, most of America is not ready for sanity. And people (I do not exclude myself) are generally lazy. They really want the magic fix-it that’s going to let them do as little as possible and still shed pounds. Sanity is too hard.

Ah well. Time to brew some coffee and get ready for work.


American troop deaths in Iraq this month now number more than 90, and there’s still 11 days to go before the month ends. Yet in just 10 weeks, the US is supposed to hand over sovereignty of Iraq over — although to whom is far from clear.

This would all be funny if it weren’t so terrible. It makes me feel like we’re trapped, like a mouse caught on a glue trap, nothing to choose from except bad alternatives, and what’s worse is that it all could have been prevented.

And now people like Paul Bremer, as well as most of the military in Iraq, seem to think that only more violence is going to break this bad cycle and fix things. Have they learned nothing from the history of the Middle East this past 100 years? Increasing the violence is only going to breed more violence.

This is the kind of crap that makes me feel bad to be an American.

Slippery Slope? We're flying down it

So the Senate passed an “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” today. This heinous piece of legislation defines an “unborn child” as any child in utero, which it says “means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” In other words, from the moment sperm meets egg.

This is some scary stuff for people who believe that a woman should have the right to control her own life and her own reproductive system. If it’s a crime for a 3rd party to harm a fetus, it’s a pretty small step to making it a crime for the mother herself to harm said fetus. And once that’s the case, then is it that big a step to having the government control what a woman can and can’t do, or eat, or drink? Whether she can get on an airplane, or even drive a car while pregnant?

Hell, let’s just send all women who become pregnant off to special pregnancy camps, where they can stay for 40 weeks and incubate, only doing exactly what the government thinks is good for them during that time. Never mind the woman’s rights. It’s all about the fetus.

Think it could never happen in America?

Just wait. If Bush is re-elected, I’ll lay good odds that Roe v Wade goes down during his 2nd term.

Insecure Security

jetBlue Airlines, for reasons passing understanding, violated their own privacy policy and handed passenger information lists over to a government contractor.

Why they blithely handed millions of passengers’ names, addresses and phone numbers over without a subpoena to a private company that could do anything with that data passes understanding.

I’m not feeling inclined to be flying jetBlue again.

Update: Check out this website for more on jetBlue and their invasions of personal privacy.