Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More PC problems

This week my computer has really been pissing me off with its failure to wake up from Power Save mode. Actually it wakes up, I know it does, because I can shut it down using the Keyboard (in XP, it's Window key - Up - Enter - Right - Enter) and it shuts down, so it must have been awake to Shut Down, right? The problem is nothing appears on my Monitor when it's awake. In fact what is odd is that while in Power Save mode the LCD's power light will be orange, but as soon as I jiggle my mouse to wake the computer up the LCD's power light either flashes green, or turns off completely, and the screen goes black as if the PC is off, when it's not.

At first I thought it was the LCD dying on me but now I'm not so sure. Now I think it's one of two things. Either my Power Supply is failing and not providing my 8800GT with enough juice, or the 8800GT itself is dying.

Now I could buy a new video card, but if my power supply is dying that's obviously not going to fix my problem. And if I did buy a new video card it would probably need more juice than what my current PSU can deliver anyway, so either way, I think my first step should be to replace the PSU. As PSU's are cheaper than decent video cards (like a 9800GT), if it is the problem, that's the more cost effective solution. And if it's not the PSU, well, I probably need a heftier one anyway.

So why don't I think my 19" LCD is the problem any more?

Because my 8800GT has dual video-out and this week I hooked up my daughter's CRT to my PC, while keeping the LCD hooked up as well. And the same problem I was having with the LCD was reflected on the CRT. Of course when I finally got my computer up & running there was nothing on the CRT, until I enabled dual output mode on my video card, and a blank desktop with nothing but my wallpaper appeared on the CRT.

Is that how dual screens are supposed to work? I thought to myself. How is that useful. Where are my icons? Where's my Start Bar? Why doesn't that second screen have a duplicate Mouse Cursor?

And then I had an epiphany.

What if...I move the mouse cursor...to the edge of the LCD...and keep moving the mouse.

And the cursor disappeared from my LCD and appeared on the CRT.

I stared in wonder for several seconds while moving the mouse cursor around on the second screen, then back & forth between the two.

Ok, that's neat, but still not useful...unless.

I right-click/dragged my Firefox icon to the edge of the LCD and...on to the CRT's scren! And created a Shortcut there! Ok, now this is more useful. Until I double-clicked the new shortcut and a Firefox window opened...on my LCD's screen o_O

What's the point of that? Why would it open on my primary screen?

A second epiphany (or maybe it was my third? Or fourth? I've lost count by now).

I clicked the Title bar of the Firefox window and dragged it to the right and...ONTO THE CRT's SCREEN!!!

Now I had two Firefox windows open on two separate screens!

Forget Tabbing between them. It's just a jump to the left. And now a step to the ri-ii-ii-iight.

Yes, sometimes it's the simplest things that amuse us the most.

I left my computer with its dual screens running for a while until it entered Power Save on its own, and when I returned & jiggled the mouse I had nothing. Neither screen came up. Which was good.

That meant it's the Video Card or the Power Supply, but not the monitor. That's good because a PSU is cheaper than a Video Card, and a Video Card is cheaper than a new Monitor.

I know the latest, super-duper video cards run for $300-$500, but I could also buy that curved screen from Alienware for $10,000 if I really wanted to. Moot point. I don't like paying much more than $100 for a video card, so I'm usually a generation or two behind cutting edge but a decent monitor will set me back around $150. Of course if I end up buying both a new PSU & a video card I'll spend about that (or more), but at least then my problem should (hopefully) have been resolved.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Father's Day


I know, I know, it's not Father's (or should that be Fathers'?) Day yet, but I just got this in my email and thought I'd share.

Beretta's products are a little on the pricey side (for me, or maybe I just don't buy outdoors gear at full price) so any chance to save a few dollars is always appreciated. I'm also very happy with my Beretta products, and they're a name I've come to associate with quality. You don't have to support Beretta if you don't want, this is just one choice of many available to you to help make this Father's Day a little more special, while also saving you money.

One last word of advice from the Cap'n. Treat every day you spend with your parents as if it's the last, because one day...it will be.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Not a bad PC

Dual Pentium 2.0GHz CPU
288GB HDD
4GB of RAM
GeForce 9600GT w/ 512MB GDDR3

Not too shabby. It's a pity that's my 8 (going on 9) year old son's PC, and with tonight's addition of the 9600GT (poor kid had been using the onboard GPU) his PC now kicks my PC's arse up the block and back.

I've got a dual-core Athlon 4200+ which clocks in at 2.2GHz. Yeah, 10% faster than my son's; huge difference there. But I've only got a 160GB HDD and half that RAM, and I suspect his RAM smokes mine for breakfast. I'm also scared to benchmark his PC in case my 8800GT dies of embarrassment...then again, that would give me an excuse to get a 9800GT ;)

Except my monitor is dying by degrees so my upgrade fund will have to go towards a new monitor rather than hardware. Speaking of monitors, my son has a 19" Widescreen LCD. I have a 19", too, but it's standard, not Widescreen. Yep, chalk up another victory to the (almost) 9-year old with the kick-arse PC :(

At least Bloodbowl and Diablo 3 are coming out later this year, so it's a good thing the boy has a beast of a PC to play them on. Maybe by then I'll have a 22" LCD TV instead of my 3/4 dead 19" monitor. My 40th birthday isn't too far away ;)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Update on the War on Starbucks

It's (almost) a month down the road and I've heard nothing back from Starbucks. Zip. Nada. Absolute Zero (which is technically less than nothing).

I had a couple of $2 gift cards for Subway I got in the mail (as a result of a Class Action Lawsuit) so I thought I'd eat there today. I couldn't pass up a (as it turned out) $1.46 Footlong Sub. It was funny walking over there because they're right next to the Starbucks...which I almost walked into. By sheer force of habit I started to walk into the Starbucks store and had to stop myself and continue on into the Subway.

Where I ran into one of the Starbucks' girls getting her lunch.

I told her I hadn't heard anything back from Starbucks and she said, "You won't, they don't care" and she's probably right.

At the very least I expected something along the lines of:

"We're sorry you feel this way, but this is a long standing policy of Starbucks. Please note that we only request our staff cover any tattoos, we do not discriminate against our customers."

I've been steadfast in my resolve, and while I've only been to Coffee Bean a couple of times during the last month, I've also not given in and gone to the much closer Starbucks.

The natural result of this is I've also greatly cut down on my coffee consumption, both at work and at home, with the result that when we went out for breakfast last weekend and I drank my typical 4 (or 5) cups of coffee I could feel it kicking in. It wasn't pleasant, and actually left me feeling nauseous, or maybe it was just that breakfast was at IHOP :P So now I have one or two cups of coffee from our machine here in the office, and a couple of cups during the weekend, and that's it.

To Anon (who disagreed with me in the comments of the last post, but was so polite about it) - I really hope you weren't serious and you didn't ramp up your coffee purchase (& consumption) on my behalf. While that was a noble gesture, it would seem Starbucks don't care about me not going there any more, and they probably don't care that you're going more often, either. We're just a drop in the ocean to them.

That said, I'm going to send them one last letter, explaining what I've done so far, and how I'm disappointed that I haven't received any response from them at all, so clearly they don't care about losing me as a customer. I don't really expect to receive a reply to that second letter, and yet I've done things like this before with different companies and have received responses, so if other giant corporations can take the time to respond to concerned customers, why can't Starbucks? Perhaps they've been losing so much money that they've laid off their Customer Service staff...