Sanity Check, Please

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Sanity Check, Please

Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 8:37 am

A co-worker of mine about to retire asked me to put together a computer system for him. Once I showed him a pic of a Shuttle case, he was all for it. That said, sound off on my choices. Remember, we're talking a 62 YO with squat-all for computing skills unless I'm there to look over his shoulder. Stability & quiet beat performance in this deal, but he does want some innate ability to handle games his kids/grandkids may bring over, and also has some interest in HTPC/TiVo use.

Shuttle SN45G
Barton 3000 400FSB
2x512MB Corsair Value Select PC3200 CL2.5
Seagate ST3120026A 120GB 7200RPM
Lite-On LTC48161H CD-RW/DVD ROM
Sapphire Radeon 9600 256MB
Hauppauge Win-TV PVR250
Floppy (don't ask)
XP Pro

As for monitor, definitely a DVI-based LCD, but I'm advising him to head to Beast Buy/Staples and pick one that looks good to him.

EDIT: Budget is in the vicinity of $1500. What's listed above comes to $1100 or so from NewEgg w/o shipping.

EDIT 2: I fully expect him to be using this box 5 or more years from now, most likely without any changes.

TIA
Last edited by Captain Ned on Tue Mar 16, 2004 8:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 8:41 am

No computer skills and 1GB of RAM - sounds like a winning combination! :roll: :wink:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:38 am

Captain Ned wrote:A co-worker of mine about to retire asked me to put together a computer system for him. Once I showed him a pic of a Shuttle case, he was all for it. That said, sound off on my choices.........TIA


ZooTech wrote:No computer skills and 1GB of RAM - sounds like a winning combination! :roll: :wink:


Posting a comment like this when he is asking for feedback is really just a waste of time and bandwidth.
If you have nothing constructive to say, please don't post stuff like that.

As to the topic of this post, I think you better realize that YOU WILL BECOME TECH SUPPORT FOR WHATEVER HE NEEDS.

If that is okay with you, then thats cool.
Do not forget to add the price of a OS and any other software.
I think he would be better served by by getting a pre-made system.
You say that "Stability & quiet beat performance," and that his budget is around $1500.00.

In that case, I would look for a nice Laptop with a 15" or bigger screen, maybe even wide screen, possibly with a built in tuner.
Laptops are stable and quiet, because of how they are designed.

With a laptop you get the built in UPS (Battery and built in charger), very quite and well cooled system that was designed that way from the start, a nice LCD, maybe even a widescreen LCD.

I personally would look at a system with a ATI 9600Mobile graphics card.
That $1500 Emachine at Best Buy comes with a widescreen LCD, Athlon 64 3000+, DVD burner, 512 ram, wifi, and 60GB hard drive.
Its small and light and can be placed anywhere.

Second though would be for a Pre-built media center PC that comes with Win XP MCE. All depends on how bad he wants the HTPC/TiVo stuff.

Good luck, and please keep us advised.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:43 am

Dposcorp wrote:
ZooTech wrote:No computer skills and 1GB of RAM - sounds like a winning combination! :roll: :wink:


Posting a comment like this when he is asking for feedback is really just a waste of time and bandwidth.
If you have nothing constructive to say, please don't post stuff like that.


A simple matter of OPINION. He asked for feedback, and I gave him mine. The topic of this thread is "Sanity Check, Please" - so I got the impression even he thinks such a system is overkill for Grandpa. Why don't he throw in a 160HP jet-ski while he's at it! :roll:

Let's try to avoid over-moderation...
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:54 am

I've been his (and most of my other co-workers) field support staff for 7+ years now. It took me 4-5 years just to train them not to bug me until after a reboot. I'm used to it by now.

The reason I didn't spec a laptop is because this guy has killed 3 in 7 years by dropping them. He always claims that the strap on the bag is defective, but I've watched 2 of them go down a stairwell with the strap still on the bag.

OS was built in to that price. Software isn't an issue; we've still got shrink-wrapped copies of Office 97 lying around for the taking. The burner comes with Nero Express (that's going to be a long teaching task) and PowerDVD.

I stuck with XP Pro 'cause that's what he's using now. He's wrestled it to the ground and come to terms with it. I could put 98SE on there (got spare copies of that, too), but it's just not stable enough.

As for a screen, I really want him to pick his own based on actually looking them over. Due to his age, I'm looking for something with a 10x7 native resolution (like our current laptops). Our previous laptops had 12x10 screens and he had to run his at 10x7 to see it well enough to work.

As for ZooTech, I wouldn't worry too much. We've got a bit of history in R&P. Besides, I wouldn't build a machine with anything less than 1GB these days. At $80 per 512MB stick, that's cheap insurance, especially if he gets the TiVo bug and starts playing around with the editing proggys that come with the WinTV board.

I'll admit, I didn't really think of going Wi-Fi. That'll be tough on the Shuttle, 'cause the WinTV will take the PCI slot & I despise USB-based networking. Decisons, decisions.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:07 am

Captain Ned wrote:As for ZooTech, I wouldn't worry too much. We've got a bit of history in R&P. Besides, I wouldn't build a machine with anything less than 1GB these days. At $80 per 512MB stick, that's cheap insurance, especially if he gets the TiVo bug and starts playing around with the editing proggys that come with the WinTV board.


My whole point, which was obviously lost by somebody, was that it would make more sense to me to stick with the old K.I.S.S. rule. You have a 62yo guy who, from what I can pick up from your comments, is more or less inept. Why not pick a bit slower (and cheaper) CPU that runs cooler and save the $80.00 from the 2nd stick of RAM and the cheaper processor and have him buy a 34" Panasonic HDTV as his "monitor"? If he's gonna use his new PC as a TIVO unit AND his eyesight is diminishing, a 34" HDTV would serve him well, and it can be had for about $1,000 - while he'll likely pay about $400-500 for a good LCD. If you keep the hardware simple and reliable then you should only be getting calls to fix software goofs or to teach him how to use his remote for the 100th time! :wink:

In other words, if I was handing a system over to a novice it sure as hell wouldn't be a cutting-edge rig. It would be simple, reliable, and stable.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:32 am

ZooTech wrote:My whole point, which was obviously lost by somebody...

Well, there wouldn't be a problem if you had posted what you just posted now rather then that unhelpful bit of sarcasm. Sarcasm is all well and good but I don't feel it's all that appropriate all by itself in a thread where someone is asking for help. And then complaining about over-moderation doesn't really help anything. As it says in the forum rules, when you've got a problem with a moderator, take it to PM.

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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:42 am

He's already got a big TV at home, complete with lots of inputs into which I can jack in the S-video output from either the 9600 or the WinTV card.

At today's NewEgg prices, PC2700 RAM is more expensive ($4/stick 512MB, Corsair Value Select) than PC3200. I did look at a 2500 Barton, but the price delta is only $80 compared to the 3000 Barton 400FSB. I could take $150 out by using a 2500 Barton and 512MB, but since this box is likely to be used for many years, I figured I'd push proc, RAM, & FSB as far as I could in the budget. I'd love to go A64, but that's just too spendy at the moment, adding another $125 or so at current prices.

To me (excluding the WinTV card), this box would look/feel (from a user perspective) much like his current work laptop. Despite the proc/FSB speeds, I don't really see this box as cutting-edge. He's not the type to play with system settings, so once it's running it shouldn't be that much of a support issue. If it is, I'll just enable Remote Desktop and manage the thing from home.

The TiVo issue is up in the air. If he decides against it, then I'll slap a WiFi card in the PCI slot so he can keep this box semi-mobile (which worries me given his dropsy issues).

He's not hot on the trigger for the moment, so I've got time to hash these things out. Maybe by the time he's ready, A64 won't be so spendy.

Thanks for the input; was just the sort of sanity check I was looking for.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:48 am

Heh...if he isnt completely against a CRT you could get him this one..and yes the link still works...and with what you save you could go the A64 Route....worth thinking about :wink: Code 34704 makes it 110 shipped.

http://www.staples.com/Catalog/Browse/S ... SKU=567266
Last edited by LicketySplit on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:49 am

Kevin wrote:Well, there wouldn't be a problem if you had posted what you just posted now rather then that unhelpful bit of sarcasm. Sarcasm is all well and good but I don't feel it's all that appropriate all by itself in a thread where someone is asking for help.


He didn't ask for help he asked for feedback, and there is a difference. While my first post was obviously less detailed than the second, it still got across the same point. Don't build a gaming rig for someone who doesn't even know how to use the OS properly - it's just overkill, wasted money, and asking for hardware failures due to ineptitude - hence my comment "No experience and 1GB of RAM..." That's certainly not a system I would build for my 4yo, and on the same token it doesn't belong in the hands of someone who will never use it to its potential. I use my computer as a TIVO all the time and I'm using the infamous and unpopular ECS K7S5A Pro mobo, an Athlon XP 2000+, and 512MB of PC2700 (running at PC2100 speeds due to mobo specs) and it works just dandy (plus it's stable).

Kevin wrote:And then complaining about over-moderation doesn't really help anything.


Sure it does. Complaining about stuff led to the pilgrims moving to America. Nothing would ever change if people didn't complain about crap.

Kevin wrote:As it says in the forum rules, when you've got a problem with a moderator, take it to PM.


I don't have a problem with the moderator, just the abuse of power. If we can't air out our dirty laundry in public than what's the point? If I prove him or you wrong in private would you post a thread stating so? At least allow me to defend myself in the same venue I'm being attacked in.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:51 am

I just want to say you probably don't need XP Pro - save some money for him and go with XP Home edition - they only real difference between the two is multiprocessor & and some advanced networking features, that the person you are buying for probably won't need.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 11:04 am

Is that ATi 9600 card also be fresh? If so, what is the price difference between a 128MB and a 256MB one? Anyway, my advice would actually be to go for a 128MB 9600XT card instead. It will at least perform respectively for a while longer.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 11:13 am

Based on the front page story about Shuttle going into the full system business for itself, I'm gonna hold off until they're in the business and I can see what they'll be offering.

Thanks for the advice, though.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 11:17 am

As a frequent reader and an in-frequent poster I have to admit that ZooTech called it EXACTLY. An opinion, not a fact, was asked and given, it is YOU Kevin that is wasting bandwidth!
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:19 pm

ZooTech wrote:Sure it does. Complaining about stuff led to the pilgrims moving to America. Nothing would ever change if people didn't complain about crap.

I'm not saying don't complain. Complaining is great. I wish people would complain to me more often so I can get feedback. Amazingly enough, I get few compliants. But choosing the right time and place to complain to maximize your point is critical, as I explain below.

ZooTech wrote:I don't have a problem with the moderator, just the abuse of power. If we can't air out our dirty laundry in public than what's the point?

If you think the moderator is abusing power, then you have a problem with the moderator. As far as airing dirty laundry in public, we've all seen what always happens when that is done. It's been my experience that 98% of the moderation in the forums is applicable and not abusive in power. In fact, I would tend to say that we usually under-moderate and let things get too far in most respects. So airing these things out in public is often quite detrimental to the forums. Now, this applies to using an existing thread to sound off against the powers that be. If you want to start a new thread that has a specific complaint, then that's different. I'd rather that it be aired in a PM but I'm not going to forbid people from making general forum complaints. But don't drag down someone else's thread. However, starting a new thread every time you have a complaint against a moderator isn't very useful either.

ZooTech wrote:If I prove him or you wrong in private would you post a thread stating so?

Yes, if your complaint has merit and the admins think that the moderator was in the wrong, then we'd certainly air that out in public. This isn't the spanish inquisition. I'm not going to cover for the mistakes we make.

ZooTech wrote:At least allow me to defend myself in the same venue I'm being attacked in.

First of all, you aren't being attacked. You're being reprimanded. There's a difference. Secondly, I've been thinking about stuff like this for awhile now regarding chastising people in public and I haven't been able to find a nice "happy medium." On one hand, it tends to piss off the person receiving a reprimand and they take it personally so that lends weight to the idea that such things should be done in private. But on the other hand, such reprimands tend to set an example for all the other users so they know what's acceptable and what's not. It's a touchy issue and I don't see an easy "right" answer. In fact, I'm discussing that with the mods right now.

mrfixitx100 wrote:As a frequent reader and an in-frequent poster I have to admit that ZooTech called it EXACTLY. An opinion, not a fact, was asked and given, it is YOU Kevin that is wasting bandwidth!

See, it's posts like this that just make it clear to me that such things need to be aired out in a PM. This just confuses the whole issue and tends to put people on the defensive. You don't want me on the defensive. I consider myself very open minded and I always want to understand where people are coming from. But running a forum isn't easy. And I certainly can't make everyone happy all of the time. That's just not possible.

In this vein, further conversation about this in this thread is OVER. If you want to talk about this particular case of moderation, take it to PM. If you want to talk about abuses of moderator power in general, go start a new thread. If you want to post pictures of fat ugly ladies and call me a nazi admin, you know what to do.


Captain Ned: My apologies for this huge segue in your thread.

Kevin
Last edited by Kevin on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:22 pm

Kevin wrote:Captain Ned: My apologies for this huge segue in your thread.

Kevin


No problems. It had reached its end anyway. It was fun to watch, though, in a slow-motion train wreck kind of way. :D
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:43 pm

One thing i gotta say Kevin....Agatha Christie your NOT :roll:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:54 pm

anyway, go with A64 if u can, at least there will be an upgrade path, and i think it's only about 150 more than the athlon xp setup.

you would even be better served going with 512 ram instead of a gig if you need to save more money, you can always add ram later, the a64 doesn't need dual channel, so you don't need 2 sticks, and I don't see a guy who is learning internet and e-mail needing a gig.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:57 pm

Kevin wrote:His whole life story...


Look, he asked for feedback and I gave it. You and the moderator obviously don't get my brand of commentary, but that's no reason for "reprimand". A gig of RAM for someone with "squat-all for computing skills" as Ned put it seems like overkill to me - along with half the proposed hardware. Am I only supposed to post feedback if it praises the one asking for it and their "wise" purchase decisions? Hell, I'm just trying to help the guy out. I too have been bitten by the upgrade bug when it was for SOMEONE ELSE and ended up talking them into way more than they needed/wanted/could use - and it ended up biting me in the ass! Why doesn't he just build the guy a dual-processor rig with a RAID array and water-cooling while he's at it?! My suggestion was simply to tone it down a bit for stability (and sanity).

*Ned - sorry if it sounded like I was coming down on you just now, I was just trying to make my point.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:01 pm

Got it...just figured it out...you know who you remind me of Zoo? Jack Nicholsen from the movie One flew over the Cukcoo's Nest.... :roll:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:06 pm

LicketySplit wrote:Got it...just figured it out...you know who you remind me of Zoo? Jack Nicholsen from the movie One flew over the Cukcoo's Nest.... :roll:


Two movie charactor references from you in one thread... well... at least mine was male... :lol:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:18 pm

ZooTech wrote:Two movie charactor references from you in one thread... well... at least mine was male... :lol:
What was the other one?

Back to the original topic, yes, the target user doesn't look to be all that knowledgeable, but the few things that he wants to try out can be rather system-intensive tasks. The guy's going to be stuck with the same gear for quite some time, it might be best to pay the small marginal costs to get a faster system now in the interests of having a bit better longitivity. You or I might not spend quite as much on a box for the guy, but there is definately a valid train of thought for building the box as specced.
Last edited by mattsteg on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:21 pm

mattsteg wrote:
ZooTech wrote:Two movie charactor references from you in one thread... well... at least mine was male... :lol:
What was the other one?


Okay, so Agatha Christie wasn't a movie "charactor" per se, but her books were made into movies. Details details... :roll: :wink: :lol:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:23 pm

I wrote:In this vein, further conversation about this in this thread is OVER.

So does no one listen or what? Fine. If you want to keep hashing this out in the open, so be it. Captain Ned doesn't seem to mind anymore. Funny, I almost think that he's enjoying himself. ;)

ZooTech wrote:Look, he asked for feedback and I gave it....Am I only supposed to post feedback if it praises the one asking for it and their "wise" purchase decisions?

No. You posted a wisecrack that did nothing to enlighten anyone. If you actually posted something useful, like you did later in the thread, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. The only problem that the moderator had with your first post was that it was nothing but pure sarcasm. That isn't needed out here were people actually are looking to accomplish something. In the Back Porch, fine. But not out here.

ZooTech wrote:You and the moderator obviously don't get my brand of commentary, but that's no reason for "reprimand".

Would you have cried out against over-moderation if I had made that remark instead of Dposcorp? I think not.

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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:37 pm

Kevin wrote:So does no one listen or what? Fine. If you want to keep hashing this out in the open, so be it. Captain Ned doesn't seem to mind anymore. Funny, I almost think that he's enjoying himself. ;)

Kevin


Yep. :wink:
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:37 pm

Kevin wrote:
I wrote:In this vein, further conversation about this in this thread is OVER.

So does no one listen or what? Fine. If you want to keep hashing this out in the open, so be it. Captain Ned doesn't seem to mind anymore. Funny, I almost think that he's enjoying himself. ;)


Yes, after all, the discussion is always over once you've had a chance to make the last post then lock the thread. Chalk another one up for Kevin after this post no doubt...

Kevin wrote:
ZooTech wrote:Look, he asked for feedback and I gave it....Am I only supposed to post feedback if it praises the one asking for it and their "wise" purchase decisions?

No. You posted a wisecrack that did nothing to enlighten anyone. If you actually posted something useful, like you did later in the thread, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. The only problem that the moderator had with your first post was that it was nothing but pure sarcasm. That isn't needed out here were people actually are looking to accomplish something. In the Back Porch, fine. But not out here.


That's my point, it WASN'T just "sarcasm" or a "wise-crack". It expressed how I seriously felt. Mrfixitx100 got it, and I'm pretty sure Ned did too. Just because I didn't use up a screen's worth of space with my opinion doesn't mean I'm just being an a$$hole. I laugh at the idea of giving a 62yo with no computer skills a gig of RAM just as I would laugh at giving the same to my 50yo Dad. Ned asked for a "Sanity Check", and I was "checking" the "sanity" of his decision.

Gee, sorry for existing... Guess I'll take my red-headed step-child self and crawl back into the Back Porch where my radical right-wing crackpot views, lack of PhD, and I belong...

Kevin wrote:
ZooTech wrote:You and the moderator obviously don't get my brand of commentary, but that's no reason for "reprimand".

Would you have cried out against over-moderation if I had made that remark instead of Dposcorp? I think not.


Yes, after all, this argument is obvious proof that I shiver in your presence... :roll:

No no, don't ban me from TR! Even though it's essentially gone to **** lately!
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:38 pm

ZooTech wrote:Look, he asked for feedback and I gave it. You and the moderator obviously don't get my brand of commentary, but that's no reason for "reprimand". A gig of RAM for someone with "squat-all for computing skills" as Ned put it seems like overkill to me - along with half the proposed hardware. Am I only supposed to post feedback if it praises the one asking for it and their "wise" purchase decisions? Hell, I'm just trying to help the guy out. I too have been bitten by the upgrade bug when it was for SOMEONE ELSE and ended up talking them into way more than they needed/wanted/could use - and it ended up biting me in the ass! Why doesn't he just build the guy a dual-processor rig with a RAID array and water-cooling while he's at it?! My suggestion was simply to tone it down a bit for stability (and sanity).

*Ned - sorry if it sounded like I was coming down on you just now, I was just trying to make my point.


Understood. However, since this is likely to be the guy's last computer, I was trying to future-proof as much as possible.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 1:48 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
ZooTech wrote:Look, he asked for feedback and I gave it. You and the moderator obviously don't get my brand of commentary, but that's no reason for "reprimand". A gig of RAM for someone with "squat-all for computing skills" as Ned put it seems like overkill to me - along with half the proposed hardware. Am I only supposed to post feedback if it praises the one asking for it and their "wise" purchase decisions? Hell, I'm just trying to help the guy out. I too have been bitten by the upgrade bug when it was for SOMEONE ELSE and ended up talking them into way more than they needed/wanted/could use - and it ended up biting me in the ass! Why doesn't he just build the guy a dual-processor rig with a RAID array and water-cooling while he's at it?! My suggestion was simply to tone it down a bit for stability (and sanity).

*Ned - sorry if it sounded like I was coming down on you just now, I was just trying to make my point.


Understood. However, since this is likely to be the guy's last computer, I was trying to future-proof as much as possible.


A wise decision to be sure, but what sort of "technical service" warranty is this guy going to expect? Do you want to be married to this thing once it's built? I'm married to several right now because the owners keep doing things to get viruses and/or screw-up the software or OS trying to install something stupid. (For specific examples just ask...)
Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant
like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?
ZooTech
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 2:03 pm

ZooTech wrote:A wise decision to be sure, but what sort of "technical service" warranty is this guy going to expect? Do you want to be married to this thing once it's built? I'm married to several right now because the owners keep doing things to get viruses and/or screw-up the software or OS trying to install something stupid. (For specific examples just ask...)


As I alluded to above, I've been stuck with this guy for 7+ years already. I have no illusions whatsoever that I can deliver this box and be done with it. I fully plan on getting Remote Desktop working on the thing before I deliver, though.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Captain Ned
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Postposted on Tue Mar 16, 2004 2:07 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
ZooTech wrote:A wise decision to be sure, but what sort of "technical service" warranty is this guy going to expect? Do you want to be married to this thing once it's built? I'm married to several right now because the owners keep doing things to get viruses and/or screw-up the software or OS trying to install something stupid. (For specific examples just ask...)


As I alluded to above, I've been stuck with this guy for 7+ years already. I have no illusions whatsoever that I can deliver this box and be done with it. I fully plan on getting Remote Desktop working on the thing before I deliver, though.


Well, do us all a favor and keep us posted on the carnage. It will help us all develop our own drop-proof, water-proof, peanut-butter-proof, noobie-proof, fire-proof, toddler-proof rigs. :wink:
Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant
like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?
ZooTech
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2935
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 2:37 pm
Location: Putting the "Bop" in the Bop-Shee-Bop-Shee-Bop

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