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(Supergeek Warning) I need some help finding some unusual PC parts... [19 Jan 2006|04:12pm]

Okay. I've decided that my next project computer-wise is to build myself a new DOS machine.

New. DOS. Yes, I know what I'm saying.
Basically, I want a DOS gaming computer that will let me play old games plugged in to the TV.
I'm going to have a method of going from VGA to S-Video or Composite, so that part isn't a problem.

There are two major problems. Well, three problems total, but one isn't too major.

1) Processor speed. I want as slow of a processor as possible. Like, 100 MHz would be awesome. Anything 400 MHz and below is my goal though. This would probably end up being done by underclocking. Why not use old processors instead? Easy....
2) I want a small case. SMALL. Like smaller than a PS2 (original) small. Because there weren't really any desktop computers that were that small at that speed, this is a huge problem. But wait! Couldn't you use a laptop...
3) Soundblaster soundcard. Well, more specifically, one that makes DOS think it is a sound blaster - which is impossible to my knowledge on a laptop (DOS doesn't see PCMCIA sound cards).

So, by itself, each are easy (especially 3). Combine #3 and #2, and you have a big problem (no old laptops). Combine #1 and #2 and you have a big problem (no old desktops). Combine all three and you have what I'm trying to do.

I'm willing to spend up to 200 USD on this, as I can still use the computer as a media computer for playing videos and such, and it would still work fine for newer games as well (just reclock to normal speed and boot into Windows). All I would need is processor, motherboard, and sound card.

(Crossposted: GF, Personal Journal)
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Hard Drives - What all matters in one? [19 Dec 2005|12:20pm]

Sorry for the long hiatus, I've kinda been super busy personally with my so-called life. On vacation right now, so updates will be sparse, but I'll try to remember to update.

Knowledge level: If you've cracked open a case before, you should be able to follow what I say. If not, well, you can try at least. I doubt you would be able to follow, as I'm not quite sure how to simplify it too much more.

So, hard drive, simple, right?Collapse )
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Quick Windows XP Tip [15 Jun 2005|03:21pm]

Just posting a quick tip today, and yeah, this one is OS specific.

You can check the number of processes running on an XP machine by right clicking the tasks bar and choosing "Task Manager".

An XP machine by default will have approximately 25 processes running. If you have an XP machine that has more than 30 processes running at startup, you need to take a look at what is running and cut back.

The lowest number of processes that can run at startup for an XP machine outside of safe mode is 14 if my memory serves correctly.
Typically, if you go fix an XP computer and see more than 30 processes running at startup, from my experience either they have way too much stuff installed or they are infected with some type of malware. Nearly always the latter.
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How do I know if I'm having problems with RAM? [13 Jun 2005|01:21pm]

Symptoms: Random crashes of programs that used to run fine before. Random crashes of your operating system. Computer not starting up without error messages. Operating System not installing or running.

Is this you? This could be a sign that you might have some bad RAM, amongst other problems that I won't get into here.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is a somewhat cheap yet necessary component in your computer. There are really two major types in use today - SD-RAM (Single Density RAM) and DDR (Double Data Rate) SD-RAM (DDR-RAM as it is most times called). If you have an older computer, it may be using normal SD-RAM. New computers all use some type of DDR-RAM.

Testing RAM is really simple. Personally, I use a free program called memtest86. Download the CD image, burn the image to the CD, and restart your computer. It will run the test by itself, you don't need to do anything. The more RAM you have, the longer it will take, but it will just keep looping the test so you'll need to look at the computer every so often.

The results will be on the screen.

0 errors: Well, your RAM is fine. Start looking for other solutions.
1-20 errors: It could have been a slight glitch, let it test again to see if you have those errors.
More than 20: Typically, if you have more than 20 errors, it isn't like 21 or 22, but more like 450,610 errors or something. In this case, there is something wrong with your memory.

If this is a new stick of RAM, try swapping the new stick with an old stick's slots to see if that works. If that doesn't work, try testing just the new stick and just the old in all of the slots. If they work independently correctly in all of the slots, most likely you have just gone past the maximum capacity of the motherboard for RAM. If one slot causes the errors, you may have a damaged slot on the motherboard.
If one stick doesn't work correctly in your computer at all, either your computer cannot handle that particular stick of RAM (too slow, too large) or it is a bad stick. Either way, return it immediately.

If this is an old stick of RAM, first isolate the stick through testing to find it (just putting in one stick at a time, test, if it passes move on to the next), and then return it to the manufacturer or buy a replacement.

I hope this helps!
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How do I tell when my hard drive is dying? [09 Jun 2005|10:58am]

You hear a clicking sound from your computer. Shrieking, you see error after error pop up, and then nothing.
Everything is gone. Your documents, your music, your programs, all gone.

... and then some tech geek turns around and tells you that you should have backed things up before everything died.But how would you know when it is dying?Collapse )

Well, I hope this helped!
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Why are computers hot? [08 Jun 2005|12:29pm]

Knowledge level: Anyone that knows that the box is the computer and not the monitor should be able to follow.

Somewhat related to the last post, why are computers hot and what parts are creating the heat?

Well, this one is really simple.
Pretty much, there are five sources of heat in your computer, listed below from hottest to coolest in typical computers.
1) Processor. The thingy that makes things run. This is also including the processor on your video card.
2) Hard Drive. The thingy that lets you store stuff. You might have more than one.
3) Power Supply. The thingy that converts the Alternating Current (AC) from the plug in the wall to Direct Current (DC) that your computer uses, and provides power to it.
4) Northbridge. Kinda hard to explain, it is basically a chip on the motherboard that controls extra functions of the motherboard.
5) RAM. The thingies that your computer or video card uses to temporarily store stuff.

Basically, these are the things on your computer used the most often. CD drives don't really produce all that much heat because they aren't constantly being used unlike these things.
The reason why they produce heat has to do with wasting power. The more power something takes, the more it wastes, in general. Wasted power is wasted in the form of heat, so components warm up. Sure, it is a really simple explaination, but it works.

Typically you have a fan on the Processor and Power Supply. New high end motherboard have fans on the Northbridge as well. The powersupply fan (or fans, higher end powersupplies have 2, with an extra intake fan on the inside) is an exterior fan blowing air out of the powersupply. Case fans can be purchased in order to have more air coming in or going out of your computer as well.

However, normally the only intake comes from small holes towards the front of your case, typically on the bottom. Cooler air comes in through those holes and comes out warm towards the back - so if you happen to have your computer in an airconditioned room, it might help to put the computer facing the air conditioning vent in a colder air path. Don't make the computer take intake directly in front of a heater or other heat producing devices, and make sure the computer has plenty of space for the exhaust fans to dissipate heat.

There ya go!
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What do all of these processors mean! [08 Jun 2005|09:35am]

Welcome to the first entry of spoonpc. If I'm going too complicated or too simplistic, just let me know in the comments, I'm new at this type of thing. :)


Anyway, the latest big news right now is Apple's announcement to use Intel x86 processors in the new Macs. This is a big shift, as they used to be using processors made by IBM, and before that Motorola.

With all of these processors though, some people are bound to be confused. What is the difference between them? What would I want in a desktop? How about a laptop? Budget? Expensive? I'm so confused!

Relax. Today I'll cover the different major processors and what the differences are in mostly simple terms. This is a general overview though, so if you think I should cover it a bit more detailed, just let me know. The post is already long enough though. :P

Knowledge Rating: Probably not for new computer users. While I tried to explain things simplistically, a lot of new people will be lost. You are welcome to try though!
Processor DetailsCollapse )
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