Category Archives: general

Times of Trouble: I have bad luck with computers.

Until 2006, my family used the same computer we bought in 1996. In ’06, we bought a new one from Best Buy. It died, they refused to take it back, and we ended up on scavenged parts for a bit.

In ’10, I bought a laptop off Craigslist. It had some troubles, including being down for a few months because a clamp or something detached inside and grounded the machine out (!)

I replaced the power adapter with one from sib-usa. It worked for about a month, and then started giving me electrical shocks, culminating in shocking the crap out of me one day and dying.

I bought that a6-3400m as a replacement for it, since I was in the middle of a web design job that I still haven’t collected on. Now it’s down due to the screen being cracked.

I got bored today and decided I’d try the old laptop with a new adapter, and it booted. The ethernet and wifi are both completely ruined, but I’m using an ipod touch with pdanet ( http://junefabrics.com/iphone/index.php ) as a modem.

I have weird luck with computers. It’s too bad Toughbook won’t design a gaming-grade one and toss it to me as a tester!

Don’t buy from Gateway.

I have a Gateway NV55S02U. Two days ago, I went to my psychiatrist’s office, sat down, and took it out of my bag. When I turned it on, I noticed an odd discoloration at the bottom right of the screen, and a tiny crack.

Which then spiderwebbed and spread a bit, rendering the system completely unusable as anything but a desktop with an exceedingly odd form factor.

If I hit it on anything, it was soft enough that I didn’t feel it, and it should have been padded by the bag. I don’t think I did.

I had a bit of a panic attack, and I decided Office Depot would be able to help. So I went in there. I was then told that it was a “hardware issue” (see: your fault), and that their warranty was 14 days. Oh boy! I shrugged and decided maybe customer service would help. I called the customer service line, talked to them about how this is my only coping mechanism and all, and was then forwarded…

To the store’s phone number, where they recommended that I use my credit card to buy another laptop from them while mine was being repaired, then return it and say I wasn’t satisfied with it when I got mine back.

Alright, okay. Office Depot won’t help and their manager’s offered me something weird. I’ll go to Gateway, I thought.

I’ve had a bit of a history with Gateway. My first laptop was from them, and I continued using it even when it was giving me electrical shocks through the metal trim. It ended up grounding itself out and dying, and I never got around to shipping it to them to fix because I don’t have the S&H most of the time. This low-end laptop’s the best computer I’ve had, but I don’t exactly ever have funds.

I used their live chat for help, first. Their phone gave me the exact same result, them stating that anything that’d gone wrong with the screen was customer error and that it’d be a minimum of $200 to fix my $400 laptop. Great job!

Don’t buy from Gateway.

I’ve emailed Office Depot’s “customer relations” department but I’m not expecting a reply. I might end up harvesting a screen from an older laptop. :/

UPDATE: Harvesting a screen from an old laptop is a really dumb idea. Do not try it.

Office Depot’s corporate office just called and told me to bring it in for a replacement of equivalent power :v Hopefully it’ll go well! Thanks, Office Depot!

Update 2: I went in and they offered me two B960 Pentium Dualcores and an E-350 as possible exchanges. I walked out. :/

Unicru is disgusting.

I’m currently filling out an application for a job and they’re getting me to do a Unicru test.

I’m using an answer key that’s on another site because I don’t know what they want me to pick half the time, because there’s no way they’re being honest with the questions. The guide mentions being Ned Flanders is a good thing.

I don’t know if they’re honestly against the very concept of hiring someone with any form of depression, anxiety, or emotional capabilities, but this test really shouldn’t be asking some of the questions it is.

These are just from the key, ignoring the new ones on the test itself. I’m ignoring the swath of them simultaneously demanding you focus on problems until they’re solved and never get bothered by them or mistakes, ever.

I’m wondering if they really understand what they’re trying to hire, or if this should count as discrimination against people with any sort of mental difference.

Strongly Disagree requirements according to key:

Many people cannot be trusted
You are a fairly private person
You do some things that upset peopleĀ  (There is nobody who can say they’ve never upset people.)
You do what you want, no matter what others think
You get mad at yourself when you make mistakes
You sometimes thought seriously about quitting highschool (Sweet! I have a GED that’s a legal equivalent of a HSD, but I can get looked down on for this still!)

Strongly Agree requirements according to key:

When someone treats you badly, you ignore it
You are always cheerful
You have no big worries
You have no big regrets about your past
You know when someone is in a bad mood, even if they don’t show it
Your moods are steady from day to day
You try to sense what others are thinking and feeling

The Llano platform, AMD, and laptop gaming

Laptop gaming is a minefield. It’s not a hopeless thing like some people’ll convince you, but it’s never a substitute for a desktop unless you sink a lot of money into a system.

Laptops are, in general, kind of a series of price traps, designed to lure you in with promises of huge storage or large amounts of RAM, both of which are cheaper to buy and install yourself. Most of these trap systems tend to have extremely poor GPUs (the Intel HD3000, the GeForce 320/310, the AMD 6370M), a budget CPU (the Pentium Dualcores, the E-350/E-450, the Atom), or other bad features. These things cannot be replaced and the performance of them is terrible for anything but basic internet usage and non-entertainment tasks.

The budget gaming line’s been devoid of any merit whatsoever for a long, long time. You’ve basically had to shell out a minimum of $700 to get an acceptable experience, or have to deal with nightmares like the Intel GMA series of GPUs. Feel free to go over to Youtube and search for something like Intel GMA game and boggle at some of the stuff people’re going through to run games.

This may have changed to an extent with Llano, but I’m not entirely happy with the platform yet. Llano’s a platform that’s designed around having an AMD Llano core with an integrated Radeon GPU, which promises faster speeds than the HD3000. Does it live up to what it’s promising? Sure, I guess.

It’s most definitely faster than the HD3000 in GPU tasks, at least.

I’m falling into an awkward area with mine, though. If it’s a game that can use the quadcore (1.6ghz -> 2.1ghz turbo boost on mine), it tends to run badly because of how it’s bottlenecked by the GPU. If it’s a game that can’t use the quadcore, such as Killing Floor, it tends to have much larger problems, as the weak CPU can’t keep up with the GPU or with the game, leading to sub-20 framerates in any hectic moment.

I’ve been doing game tests over on http://www.youtube.com/user/ArcaneCossack?feature=guide and almost every game runs into the same problem. It’s either bound by the underutilized or underpowered CPU (Bethesda games, Starcraft 2, GTA4, Killing Floor), the GPU (Space Marine, Just Cause 2, Crysis 2), or both. I’ve actually had issues on here with the 5400rpm HD not being fast enough to stream textures and models, as well, which is totally new to me.

I got this a6-3400m/6520g machine for $434, though, and there are many games it can run. I’ve dumped 20 hours into Dawn of War 2 and Borderlands, Defense Grid: The Awakening runs fantastically, and Super Street Fighter 4 runs absolutely flawlessly at high settings. It’s a valid platform to play many games on, it’s just oddly picky about which ones it can handle.

I feel like AMD’s close to getting it, but the entire platform’s underperforming. I don’t know whether it’s inexperience with the concept or just the limits of technology, but if you’re on the market for a system, you might want to save and skip this. If you absolutely need a gaming laptop for under $600, the Llano line’s definitely worth looking into, but please, please try to get a system with a dedicated chip (like the k53ta) or a better processor, like an A8.

It’s definitely worth waiting to see what happens with Trinity after using one of these. AMD’s got potential, but it’s going to take some effort to claw out from under Bulldozer.

edit: 2/18/2012 thoughts: Don’t buy one that doesn’t have another GPU. Try not to buy one that’s not an A8 or a higher A6 than the 3400/3410.

What I do

I’m mostly just floating around right now.

I’ve been trying to learn web design, but it’s not going well. I’ve done a single semi-professional web design job, over at http://bnaiisraelnc.org/ , for a synagogue in town. It’s a handwritten theme for WordPress. It wouldn’t have taken me so long, except for the whole breakdown and seeking therapy in the middle. The entire site’s nothing but CSS, HTML, and PHP, aside from the slider and a few sparse bits of image, since I’m utterly inept with graphic design.

There are themes out there like Roots and Coraline that seem to be good basises for a full site, but I have no idea how exactly to use them. I can write from scratch, but I can’t use a baseline.

I’m wondering if it’d be easier to just get a bushel of premium themes and offer them as site baselines for businesses in town. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to reinvent the wheel when I could soak the cost, offer a better product, and spend a hugely lower amount of time on the site.

The downside of that’s that I’m not very good at customizing other people’s work like that, and couldn’t offer more personalized stuff.