In Search Of Genuine

It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote an editorial, part of it is my inherent lack of time to do anything lately, but mostly it is my incessant view that I must write something meaningful, and not just dribble on and on about nothing. This made me think more about something which I see every day, namely people’s searching for the next thing to talk about. It seems to me that media is driven to provide us with an abundance of topics for our idle chatter. However in the age of always-on Internet, it is getting harder and harder to come up with anything, cause the Internet is faster than any one else, and so people are always trying to find ways to beat each other on the next big topic. This is the main reason why websites like Digg and services like StumbleUpon are so popular with bloggers and everyone else for that matter. But I can’t help thinking that after a couple of days of digging and stumbling, for news, does it not just become pointless?

Something similar to a critique made of Apple’s iMovie software. If iMovie really is so easy, where are all the new movies that people are making? The fact is that many people do not invest much time in being creative. It is easier to sit back and criticize. Without a doubt the most popular medium for people of all ages are movies, we rent them, we go to the theater to experience them, we even watch them on television. Yet as our insatiable appetite for movies grows, we also complain about them. About their predictable plots and their outlandish conclusions. There seems to be no appreciation for how difficult a feat it is to make even the most mundane of films. We in a sense gorge ourselves on other people’s genuine work and then insult it for not being genuine enough in our eyes. This leads us to an over developed sense of self and perhaps secretly if we ever did try to be creative we would not blame ourselves for not having any creative powers, but our tools. It isn’t that I can’t draw or have vision, it is that Photoshop is too hard, or my camera sucks, I need a better one. We tend to believe that artists need to suffer for their art, yet after viewing their art we scoff at their efforts. So what is it? Did they not suffer enough? Our answer is usually that so and so work copies off another greater more genuine work. There’s that word genuine, again. We tend to believe that genuine works are some how better than just good imitations. Perhaps this is something akin to our post-modern era, but lets face it everyone copied everyone else. Without Eric Clapton, we could not have Van Halen. And we would never have had Clapton without the guitarists that preceded him.

I guess why we even search for things of a genuine nature, has more to do with us than the artists behind the work. We might feel more genuine ourselves if we are the first to point out something unique and authentic in world that seems to be moving on to the next big thing before we even have time to appreciate what we found yesterday. Life may seem boring and not very unique, but it is mostly because we are speeding our way through it, instead of appreciating what we have in the moment.

AMD Athlon XP 3200+

Last year, I started WebKeyDesign as a way to learn more about web site design and hosting, and at the same time I purchased a Shuttle XPC to serve as a server for my home office. An XPC is a small cube shaped computer; it is Shuttle’s version of a small form factor PC. In reality it is a very nice PC for people who do not like full blown tower computers. The specific model that I got was the SN41G2, which features an NForce Socket A motherboard. Even last summer Socket A seemed to be on its last legs, and the price of the computer was very cheap. With the included Sempron 1800 processor, it was around $220. Compare that to a Mac Mini or even a used G4 Power Macintosh, and the XPC wins hands down. The XPC was really my third PC, I had an old Compaq P133 before, and a Socket 7 AMD machine I had built years ago. The AMD machine mostly sits in parts on my office floor as I use it mostly as a junk and spare parts machine. In all, I have to say that the XPC, (which I named Titan), is the first PC that I really fell in love with. It costs a fraction of my G3 B&W Power Mac and it matches my 15 inch Powerbook. The Powerbook is the best computer I’ve ever owned, but the XPC has allowed me to like PC computers.

Titan was upgraded with an Athlon 2600+ processor last winter, and while 1.9GHz was good, I still thought about one final upgrade. The Socket A processors were no longer being made by AMD and the motherboard did not have any overclocking options, so I either had to find the fastest Socket A processor AMD ever made or consider replacing Titan with a newer XPC model. This summer though, AMD is coming out with AM2, their new socket format and so 939 boards won’t are going to be obsolete pretty quickly. Most XPC models that feature 939 boards, have not really come down in price, so there really are no bargains in the XPC world right now. I decided on trying to find an affordable Athlon XP 3200+, and give Titan one last cpu upgrade.

The Athon XP 3200+ runs at about 2.2GHz and the Barton based models feature 400MHz front side buses. This would only be about 300MHz improvement over the XP 2600+ which had a 333MHz bus. The hard part is of course AMD no longer makes any Socket A processors so I had to find a used cpu. I tried eBay, but every time I tried to bid on something on eBay I would lose the auction, plus the 3200+ was going for around $175 in most final bids. That was pretty outrageous, so I kept looking at PriceWatch.com and seeing what the smaller online vendors had. Their price was about $150, but still kind of high. Ironically, some cpus actually become higher price once they are out of production. The 3200+ originally sold for $480 and was sold for as little as $125 at one time. It’s value was actually climbing now. Luckily I was able to find it on ComputerGeeks.com who got some in stock for a short time. They claimed the cpus were new too, not used. I was able to purchase one at $140.

Once I got the package from ComputerGeeks, I opened it up and found a white cardboard box inside a plastic one. Inside was a 3200+ cpu wrapped in foam, and with a crooked labelling sticker. After carefully removing the sticker and cleaning the surface with some rubbing alcohol, I had my new 3200+. There is something rewarding about knowing that you have the best and fastest processor AMD ever made, even if it is outdated by a few years.

While the XPC form factor is great, it does have some drawbacks and you are reminded of this every time you open one up. When I opened Titan up, the dust inside was incredible. It was everywhere and took a lot of compressed air to clean out everything. The other downside is trying to install anything in such cramped spaces. The processor upgrade especially requires removal of drives, the cooling heatsink, and some cables. Some patience is definitely required.

Eventually everything got put back together and after a few BIOS changes, Titan booted up with the 3200+ and ran fine at 2.2 GHz. The most evident change was in web browsing, as Titan is primarily a server, about the only real desktop use it gets is Remote Desktop. Firefox rendering feels immediate and less lagging. I don’t have any benchmarks but if you want to see that type of stuff, I suggest reading Sharkyextreme.com’s Athlon XP 3200+ review, which includes some nice benchmarks on how the 3200+ compares.

Probably the biggest detterent to getting a 939 motherboard and cpu, was that most AMD cpus are still around 2.2 GHz, and the entire computer industry is still stuck right under 3 GHz in general. The G4, the Pentium, the Athlon 64, and G5 are all still pretty much in the same range, so on sheer speed comparisons, an outdated Athlon XP 3200+ still compares pretty well to the current processors out there.

Ben Wallace Signs With The Bulls

In the NBA there are players that dazzle the senses with their incredible offense and then there are players that work very hard and never forget that the game is still a team oriented game. In the 2006 playoffs, players like Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, and Ben Wallace brought their game. They did what they were suppose to do and gave it their best. For me personally the emotion when the Spurs lost to Dallas was real, even if I was rooting for Dallas, I still saw that Duncan gave it everything he had. Then there was the incredible one handed block that Ben Wallace had on Shaq in the Pistons-Heat series. What Duncan and Wallace showed in the playoffs is that they had heart and they tried their best, even when the rest of their teammates were not in synch. It was heart breaking to see the Pistons lose to Miami this year. Detroit was a better team than the Heat, but the Pistons somehow lost their interest in the game and their season boredom became their downfall in the playoffs. Ben Wallace was pretty vocal about some of the relaxed playing style, but alas the Pistons never regained their sharpness and lost to the incredible Dwayne Wade.

Now Ben Wallace has signed with the Chicago Bulls to make for one of the most interesting lineup changes in a long time. For Detroit, the Pistons starting five no longer will have the determination and spirit of Ben Wallace. By all considerations, the Pistons are now a lot more weaker team, not just in defense, but also in attitude. Chicago is a young team and they have something which the Pistons have not had for a year, namely attitude and heart. The Bulls with Wallace will come out tougher, more defense oriented, and a lot more resilient on both ends of the court. What this means is that the Bulls coaching staff will have less excuses this coming season not to excel in the playoffs. They just got the defensive player of the year, which means more offensive rebounds and more fast breaks. If Chicago can’t win with Wallace, then it certainly means there is something broken with the Bulls.

As for the Pistons, exactly what kind of a team will they be without Ben, remains to be seen. Detroit can certainly play both a half court game and a fast tempo game, but let’s be honest, without Ben, they will definitely have to play quicker defense, since they won’t be able to stop some offensive players in one on one situations. Then there is the question of who exactly is the leader of this team now? Rasheed seems to have rejected the role in the past, Rip and Prince are the energy players, and Chauncey is the guard, so essentially it is his team to lead. Whatever Detroit does, they will need to make their new persona known, as the breakup of the starting five only sheds doubt on what exactly is Piston basketball now.

I’m sure the Chicago fans are smiling right now, thinking their Bulls are finally back! There’s a new man in town and he aint no rookie. He’s Ben Wallace: Defensive Player of the Year.