Vista finally up….and its amazing

Vista is up an running on my new machine and I love it. Still sitting at work right now waiting till I can take it home. The last two nights its been raining here so wasn’t willing to risk carrying it to my car in the rain. And I couldn’t leave right after work because there is no stopping in front of my apartment on Utrechtsestraat till after 7 I think…and I am certainly not going to carry this thing far because it weighs a ton.

Getting this machine running was a bit more difficult than I expected. The first problem I ran into was getting the machine to power on. I plugged in the standard 20 or 24 pin power cable and didn’t realize I also had to plug in an additional 6 pin cable as well. That took 2 hours to notice. Then the machine was TERRIBLY slow. And each time I wanted to try rebooting, Vista wanted to install an update. But since it was running so slow, each update step took over an hour. Two days of trying different things later, I solved it: I waited for the machine to power down, took out one of the 2 GB memory chips (its not a chip but a….what are those things called….they aren’t DIMMs anymore, are they?), booted it, shut it down, put the chip back in and booted again. Now everything works!!!

Anyway, its up a running now. So I am starting to load up what I need. Like Scott, I am trying to keep it to a minimal set of software. I will then load up everything else in virtual machines.

Pretty much everything else is going to live in a series of virtual machines. The two versions of VS (2005 and 2008) go into different VMs. Each of the Captaris products will go into one or more. And the Hardware Virtualization features of this Core2 Quad processor make these VMs absolutely amazing.

My main complaint is that the video card is so damned loud. Its the one thing I can hear in the case…from 15 feet away, with the case closed! Its a MSI NX8600GTS and the fan is ridiculous. I have seen forums that say I could switch to the other voltage connector on the card, but there isn’t one. I see that there are some passive cooling options, so I may try one of those instead.

Time to Copy Hanselman (or Why It Sucks To Build A PC in Amsterdam)

About a month or two ago, Scott Hanselman talked about wanting to build a new developer rig. He worked with Jeff Atwood to come up with a list of components to solve all his needs. My needs are a bit different but the requirements in a PC are fairly similar and I am getting a bit tired of working with my old box (a 2.4 GHz P4) or loading personal projects on my work Thinkpad T41 so I decided to copy him and build a new PC. Its been a while since I did this. My last machine was a Dell but while it is fairly quiet, its downright noisy compared to the one I built myself in an Antec Sonata case. But last time I built my own PC I was in the US and more importantly in San Francisco. This was going to be my first opportunity to build a PC in Amsterdam.

Although I had a list of components from Scott and Jeff, finding places to buy this stuff was going to be a challenge. In the US I used sites like pricewatch to find the cheapest source for components. Here in the Netherlands I found a similar site called Tweakers.Net which has a pricewatch section. There are also reviews and other info on here, but its all in Dutch which means I am not going to be able to get much out of that stuff. After lots of searching, I ended up buying the majority of the components from EMPC along with a few other items from Komplett.

One of the problems with buying things here online is that paying is often very inconvenient. Many of the online stores don’t take credit cards. In fact, there are lots of physical stores here that don’t take credit cards. I don’t know if this is across Europe, but the Dutch seem to be scared of the whole idea of the credit card. Sure, they can be bad if you are stupid with them, but they can be oh so convenient. Instead, many require that you do a electronic funds transfer from your bank to theirs. EFTs in the US are a pain, but here they are fairly easy. The downside is that the receiving party may not recognize the funds for a day or two, delaying the shipment of your stuff.

To make things worse, it seems that most of the computer component retailers are simply middlemen getting components from bigger distributors rather than holding on to any stock themselves. This means that there is yet another delay of a few days while they order the components from their suppliers before they can send them to you.

So the best you can hope for from many of these vendors is to get your stuff about a week or more after you pay them. Now this isn’t the case with all of the vendors out there. Komplett accepted credit cards and it seemed that they had stuff in stock because they ship very quickly. They cost a few Euros more, but its a tiny price to pay to get what you paid for. I ordered from Komplett a couple days after I ordered from EMPC. The order from Komplett came on Thursday while I am still waiting for the EMPC order.

So what did I get? Well the list is almost identical to Scott and Jeff’s list:

  • Antec P182 Case
  • Corsair 520W Power Supply
  • MSI P6N SLI Platinum
  • Intel Core 2 Quad CPU
  • MSI NX8600 GTS HD OC video card
  • Scythe Mine Cooler
  • WD Raptor 10000 RPM 74 GB drive
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 500GB drive x 2
  • OCZ Gold PC6400 2048 MB RAM x 2

The total for this came to about 1300 Euros which is far less than I paid for my last couple of machines and will blow them both away. In fact, after this I may have to try to figure out how to get rid of them. I knew what to do with them in the US but I have no idea what to do here.

We’ll see if my PC is as fast as his after I get it built. Hopefully I will be able to get to that after a Workflow class I am teaching next week.