Monday, September 22, 2008

Computer Issues, TV and PS3

Hmm well I guess it's been a year so time for a PC post.

My desktop computer is being more picky than an old car these days...Before Quakecon 08 it needed a speed boost. Hmmm Athlon 64 3500+, 2gb ram, 256mb geforce 6800gts, aah probably need a new video card. It's great living close to both a micro center and fry's electronics. Micro Center is having a deal on Geforce 8800GT 512's so I pick one up and when I get home it looks like everything is great. Quakewars and Flight Sim X look great! Lots of detail in flight sim and...what's that sound? My airplane's propeller sound should be constant but it's stuttering like it's going to quit... But it's not the game. My entire computer seems to come to a halt for just an instant, but it's constant. Every single second, exactly once a second there is a little stutter. It's most noticeable in games where smoothness is key, but it's happening in windows too. The mouse stutters, music is interrupted, and by a few days I'm paralyzed with rage at this little tick my computer has developed. It's unusable! In safe mode without drivers it works fine, so I'm thinking it must be a software problem i.e. driver or resource conflict. I would remove everything but the barebones components of a computer (Proc, 1gb ram, vid card, mobo, 1 hard drive w/windows) and it would work! The stuttering was gone! I would begin to add things back into the computer to see where the conflict was and the stuttering would come back randomly.

Sometimes I would start it up, it would work and when I rebooted it stuttered again! And removing whatever it was wouldn't stop it until I took away everything. Other people online had reported similar problems with driver fixes. I tried new drivers, beta drivers, 3rd party drivers... And I was so sure it was a software problem since it worked in a barebone config and safe mode. Not having another desktop system (Alison has an iMac) I was finally to the point of shelling out another 200 bucks for a new video card to see if it was really a hardware problem. So I got a new one and it worked perfectly... I had a bad card all along. I returned the old one disguised as the new one and got my money back. Woohoo.

But that's not all! Just about a week ago my windows hard drive, the 200gb maxtor PATA drive (same drive) started clicking itself to death after a power outage so I went and bought a 350gb Western Digital SATA drive on the cheap to replace it. My computer wouldn't auto detect it and after a few hours of painful testing I decided that drive was bad too. A quick exchange at Fry's got me a Seagate 500gb for about 15 dollars more. Quality control is not up to par these days. Chinese products, gotta get rid of them. Anyways new drive works fine but reinstalling everything is a pain and there's some stuff on my old c: that I need to figure out how to access without it booting off that drive. I'll probably bring it to CLE in Oct and have Jo extract it to a flashdrive or something.
Also my Razer Copperhead laser mouse seems to be quitting on me. It will suddenly stop for a few moments. You'll hear windows drop it and redetect it. Sometimes it'll drop and that's all you get until a reboot. Why can't I just play my games? :( :(

On a more upbeat note, 50 bucks bought me a row of LEDs from ikea with some neat features and different colors. I laid them out behind my desk and they complement the blue light inside my computer pretty nicely. I can change the color depending on my desktop background or have them rotate colors automatically. Some pics and the one on the right is a 20mb video of it auto changing colors:

Changing topics away from my desktop, Alison and I were recently trying to get a nice flatscreen HDTV. And well...sorry schultz don't mean to steal your thunder but I know you know your stuff. So we ended up getting the same one, the Samsung LN40A550. It looks great, and can't just get an HDTV and not get an HD player. Enter....the PS3

That's right, I have a console.

I got a Ps3 because it has blu ray. I guess I would have preferred the xbox360 since I could pay money to play online with friends despite being able to play with them for free on the computer. The fact that it plays games and acts as a decent media client is extra. I got gran turismo 5 and alison got harry potter. GT5 looks pretty good with the high res. There really aren't many good games for ps3. About half of them are sports games and the other half are GTA IV and Guitar Hero. Might get GH3 later though. Don't really have the money to grab a few games yet after the tv and ps3... I also don't want any games I'd rather play on the computer like FPS.

The unit itself is pretty nice. I got it used on craigslist with 2 wireless controllers, a bluetooth remote and hdmi cable. It's a 60gb model so it plays most ps2 games also, a big plus. I like the black and silver and it complements the TV nicely. It sits inside the TV stand we have and when it has been on for a while it will get hot and the fans turn on and it's pretty loud. We had to rearrange the living room to put the couch a lttle further away from the screen cause it would give us headaches, so the wireless is nice.

To get the media client stuff working, BobOmega pointed me to a program called tversity which is a streaming and transcoding service that runs on your PC and will stream video, music and photos over a LAN and even the internet. It also can connect my ps3 to steaming video such as Skynews and NASA TV. The best part is that it will reencode your divx, xvid etc files into a DLNA compatible format on the fly. So I don't have to reencode everything to get it to work. There are some downsides to it, such as the service can't run as an admin, only a local user. That means I have to log into my computer for tversity to start. I want to just be able to hit the power button, walk away and have the service run like file sharing. This way I could keep a password on my computer but people could still access media. The other downside is that tversity takes an itunes approach to content and builds a database of all videos and music. Now you can have a folder view only - and no streaming content, or you can use metadata to arrange everything and frankly who has the time for a beta program such as this. That's what you get for free I suppose. Ok some pics and then this post is finally over..

Posted by eclipse on 09/22/2008 at 02:06 PM
TechPCGaming • (2) CommentsLink to this entry