Open Internet FCC Comment

16 07 2014

In honor of the fact that the FCC had to extend the deadline for comment on net neutrality/ Open Internet because their servers got hammered, below is the comment I sent in. There is still time, send your comment via e-mail to openinternet@fcc.gov until Midnight Friday the 18th.

First, make no mistake, there is no such thing as a “Fast Lane” on the internet.  Senator Ted Stevens was wrong, the internet is not a series of tubes. What Verizon, Time Warner, etc want to do is to artificially limit the ability of the populous to distribute their intellectual property based on whether they can pay a fee.  And this fee wouldn’t, like toll bridges, go to create faster infrastructure that, in theory, would one day be opened to the public after being paid for.  This fee would line the pockets of the companies that run them. Don’t call the paid tier a “fast lane”, say what it is, speed throttling for everyone else.

(For clarity of purpose I won’t REALLY get into the whole fact that someone in your office should CLEARLY be bringing collusion charges against cable companies, given that the CEO of one of the companies argued that a merger didn’t hurt competition because the two companies were not competitors because they agreed not to overlap regions…)

Instead of restricting flow, do what the US should have been doing during this entire economic downturn, and investing in our infrastructure. Create jobs by re-building bridges, renovating our schools, and installing fiber optic line under every interstate highway.  It would cost money, but would give thousands of engineers, architects, landscape architects, IT professionals, and construction workers jobs now, reduce pollution, increase quality of life, and . By giving true high speed internet access to rural communities telecommuting becomes a realistic option for millions more people, which could reduce some people’s commutes from 5 days a week to 1 or two days.  People could buy houses and live where they want, and can afford, not be stuck renting in a place too expensive because it’s closer to work.

Our current communication system is part of what is holding the US back in technology, science, and math.  Letting Verizon or AT&T charge Netflix more for faster movie streaming will not help that, if anything it will hurt it more.  Why, as an upstart 16 year old, should I really dive into computer programming if I know that there is no way I can make my idea for the next social network work because it will be stuck behind a speed throttling wall.

What makes the internet so powerful, and so inspirational, is the fact that it is a 100% open market.  Most things online are free. Nerdist.com has become a mainstay on the internet at this point, hosting tens of podcasts, video shows, and has led to some TV shows.  The founder, Chris Hardwick, has talked about how he started the site as a blog because he thought he could talk about the stuff he liked better then the way it was being covered, and that he always planned that it would be bigger than himself- he would have specialist writers/hosts for different types of information. If he has known that after founding the site, he would soon hit a wall where other sites would become more attractive because his bandwidth was being throttled but that he might not be able to get the revenue to upgrade because of the throttling, do you think he still would have put everything he did into that site?  He probably would have played it safe, and done some great work, but not sunk his heart and soul into it. It would have prevented the creation of a site that has given people jobs directly, and indirectly by inspiring people to go out and work on their passions.

The internet is great because it allows people to put their passion forward for free. To see where they stand with an investment of time alone, and get a true vision of where they stand.  And to be in a community that embraces the competition.  When I started working on developing rendering skills in photoshop for Landscape Architecture, I didn’t sock them away; I went online and not only shared the results but wrote tutorials on how I did what I did. All in the hopes that someone would see it, learn it, figure out some new tricks and get even better than I was. Maybe I would then see what they did in a magazine, and would be able to figure out how they did it.  This circular feedback loop that is so much of the internet could be destroyed by throttling.  The rendering techniques I learned helped get me the job I had before my current one, and the one I have today.  Throttling would pull that rug out from under our feet.





Cosmos- Must Watch TV.

9 03 2014

I would say I’m stupidly excited for Cosmos tonight. But watching it may be the smartest thing you can do. If you love science, watch for enjoyment. If you are skeptical of science due to religious beliefs, watch to see what wonders you are missing out on. I often see religious believers asking atheists what there is to live for, what makes things beautiful if there is no meaning. Watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about science for 5 minutes, and it will be clear that to a scientist, nothing could be more beautiful than a universe created by physics, mathematics, and chance.

If that doesn’t make you want to watch, watch for the fact that an understanding and love of science is what will make our civilization thrive. We will run out of fossil fuels. We will encounter other asteroids like the one that hit Russia last year. We will face issues that we currently have no ability to solve. Without a generation that is passionate about science, we will be doomed by ourselves, if not by out interstellar neighbors.

Then, after you watch, DO SOMETHING. Vote for someone who loves science, not someone who tries to mute it in our schools. Recycle and buy reusable shopping bags. Buy a telescope. Plant a garden instead of lawn. There are literally endless things you can do that will improve the world.

“What happens in the first second of the next cosmic year depends on what we do, here and now, with our intelligence, and our knowledge, of the Cosmos.”- Carl Sagan





Gone Home: A masterpiece in modern mystery

31 08 2013

GoneHomeGone Home, by small indie developer Fullbright Games came out a few weeks ago with little fanfare on Steam.  Until people started playing it- then it seemed you couldn’t look at twitter – at least not if you follow as many gamers and game journalists as I do- without being flooded with links about it.  After a few days of hype, I finally gave in and picked it up for $20.  The best advice I saw was to go into it knowing as little as possible.  I did just that, and could not have been happier with the choice.

If you are one of the people who have not been fortunate enough to pick it up yet- here is what you need to know:  You play as a young woman who has just returned from a year abroad.  You get a ride from the airport to the new house your family moved to while you were gone.  You arrive to find the house empty- a note on the door from your younger sister that only leaves you confused.

It Begins...

Beyond that what you need to know is that this game excels in atmosphere, storytelling, and a kind-of point-and-click adventuring set in 1st person which took me back to one of my first gaming obsessions: Myst.  And like Myst the game’s story twists and turns you around constantly, leaving you feeling much like the characters in the story would.  I wish I could describe the game more, but if you have played it, you know exactly what tone it reaches, and if you haven’t played it… you shouldn’t even know that.  It’s $20 on Steam or at their website if you hate Valve for some silly reason (Still angry about Half Life?).  The game will only take you 2-3 hours to play.  Do it in a single shot next weekend.

Many have said this may be their game of the year.  I don’t know if I am QUITE in that camp, but it would certainly enter the discussion with The Last Of Us, and would give it a damn good run for the money.





Quick Hit Review 1

28 02 2013

I’ve been toying with reviewing my current-gen games for a while, but kept putting it off for no reason in particular.  Then, on Tuesday, I wrote my review for Far Cry 3.  Spoiler: I love it. Then the review disappeared into the vapor. No Bueno.  So I figured now is the time to go to my back collection, and start doing some quick hit reviews of games I played this generation.

First up: Little Big Planet

LBPThis game absolutely surprised me.  I am a “creative professional”, and as such, I am always looking for a good outlet of my creativity.  I also love a good platformer.  This game managed, on it’s own, to be the best platformer since Mario 3, in my opinion.  Some hate on the “floaty” controls, but all those things make it feel more old-school to me.  the fact that you could adjust Mario’s direction in midair is part of what made the game WORK.  A decent single player story, with lots of goofy characters, and bright colorful world brought me right back to the days on my NES, back to what made me fall for videogames in the first place.

Then you add in the level creator, which has now made literally MILLIONS of levels? It is simply amazing.  Is every level great? Of course not. Does every level have at least a bit of heart in it? Yes.  There is a reason I was first in line at the NYC Sony Store for the launch of Little Big Planet 2, where I got to play the game with people trying to set a world record for almost an hour, meet Jeff Rubenstein (AKA Zombie Blognack for the IGN fans out there), and get some nice signed swag. But mostly, it was to thank Media Molecule for the first game I got a platinum trophy for.

Gran Turismo 5

GT5This game is a tricky review, as it is so hot and cold in so many ways.  Are you using a control, or a wheel? Do you have a TV for sound, or a sound system? Do you care more about the realism of the driving, or do you want a smooth experience?  Each of these could effect your feelings for the game to a large degree on their own. Together they can create a huge difference.  I happen to have a decent 6.1 sound system, a racing wheel with force feedback, and I LOVE a sim racer.  To me, Gran Turismo 5 is ALMOST everything I wanted.  The cars sound, and FEEL great.  You can, with a feedback wheel, really feel the moment your tires are about to lose traction because you are pushing to far.  You can feather the throttle perfectly into a corner, and throttle up JUST SO on the way out to get even more grip without oversteer.

Even for me, however, the UI and menus seem straight out of GT 2.  Some things are better, but a racing series that really guides you through most of the series in the game would be a huge improvement.

And from what I hear, if you don’t have a pretty good sound system, the audio can get pretty mediocre.  Not a game changer, but it can be an issue.

All in all, I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a sim-racer, but not an arcade racer fan. It’s not… fun… in the same way Mario Kart 64 or Need For Speed Underground was. It’s fun in the way Battletoads was. It kicks your ass, without cheating, and makes you want to keep going back to shave off seconds, because you are making yourself better, and the challenge itself is a BLAST.

inFamous

InfamousThe first inFamous was the second game I platinumed, and with good reason.  I was always in a weird in-between place when it came to superheros.  I LOVED anything I could find on TV- TMNT, X-MEN, Batman: The Animated Series.  But I never had access to the comics for some reason, and therefor I never fully got into the medium.  inFamous gave me a chance to enjoy the true origin story of a superhero in it’s original form. And I could shape the character into a hero or villain as I saw fit! Sure, to really rack up trophies and get super powerful you had to play a “good” and a “bad” playthrough, you couldn’t really walk the grey moral line. But also most of the choices were pretty black and white, so there were rarely things that in my “I’m me, a nice, decent, non-asshat” where I wanted to make the “bad” choice.

This game gave a great story of being accused of being a criminal, only to find, slowly, that you have superpowers, and have to make the choice: do you return the vitriol humankind is giving you because they are scared? Or do you rise above it, and help them to spite themselves.  Either choice is a tough one, and is legitimately made of dozens of smaller choices.  This was the first game I played that gave me that kind of organic choice, and it 100% pulled me in.  It will always have a special place to me as the first game that made me feel like I had control of the universe I was in.

OK, that’s it for now, but there will be more of these quick hit reviews to come, with more custom box-art too.





Walking Dead: The Game

6 01 2013

WalkingDeadWalking Dead is a very difficult thing to describe for the uninitiated.  It is a comic that has been turned into both a game and a TV series.  The game takes place within the same reality as the comic, where the TV show is essentially a reboot- same characters, but different timeline.  It also, on the surface, is a zombie apocalypse game.  In essence, however, it is a human civilization apocalypse game.

My wife asked me last night why I like all the zombie stuff I do: All the Walking Dead iterations, Shaun of the Dead, older Resident Evil games, the game Day Z; while I generally hate scary movies.  I realized, while trying to explain it, that the whole zombie genre does a few things very differently than any other horror movie. There is the superficial layer where zombies are unique because they are dumb, slow monsters with a glaring weakpoint to be exploited- their only strength comes in numbers… and actual strength I suppose.

There are three ways zombie media interests me: primal survival, choices, and people. First, there is the CONSTANT question of if you could outrun the hoard. I’ve been hunting a few times, and was a boy scout, but if I was in the woods, could I make a shelter, hunt for food, and find drinkable water, all while NOT being eaten alive? Secondly, in zombie movies, I am constantly thinking about what I would do in a person’s situation- hiding in the house could mean starvation, running to loot a grocery store could mean getting attacked by hoards, and running to the country could mean being killed by bandits. Now, I am not one of those people who has a Zombie survival plan, FYI, I am well aware that zombies are fake. I just cannot help but think “Oh, no man, its only two!  Throw a brick to distract the far one, kill the first one then sneak up and kill the second. Using a gun right now is just DUMB!”

Lastly, the place where a really good piece of zombie fiction gets me is when the zombies are only a backdrop.  The real threat in great zombie fiction is people.  The more I thought about it, I realized that Zombie fiction is the new forefront of sci-fi.   Sci-fi has a long tradition of pushing boundaries  addressing social issues, and confronting political wrongs before the rest of culture can in a realistic setting.  In most sci-fi this was done by taking you to a future where either a social injustice was corrected (Star Trek), or where it was made far worse via slippery-slope (1984).  Great zombie works have the same ability, because it allows humanity to be stripped to its bear bones.  What happens when someone watches their loved-ones turn against them? How hardened and unemotional do people get? In a time when the only hope is to band together, how tough is it to trust ANYONE?

What makes Walking Dead the comic great is that it hits all three aspects extremely well. Zombies are a threat, as is nature, but so are people, and choices have consequences. It works very well.  Walking Dead the game does the same things, except you are the one making the choices, and with limited time. You have to make choices that could cost a life, or just effect a friendship. However, that relationship may later mean someone lives or dies.  Walking Dead is a great zombie game, but it is more.

Without spoiling to many plot points, you play as Lee, a history professor from Macon, Georgia.  You start the game in the back of a police car, after being arrested for murdering the man your wife was cheating on you with. Suddenly, the world is changed. Soon, you stumble into a house and find eight year-old Clementine home alone. Her parents are in Savannah, and you take her in to protect her.  This is where the game really turns.  You are no longer living for yourself alone, you are trying to protect this innocent girl.  And you will get attached to her- this game is part zombie-game, part parent-simulator. Do you try to lie and comfort her, or do you tell her the scary truth? Do you yell at her for doing something risky, or stay calm and ask her not to do it more?  All of these choices will have consequences, and combined with the fact that most have to be made in the span of 10 or so seconds, they quickly become very real.

Walking Dead is a great game. It has fun, engaging gameplay.  There are some bugs occasionally, but most I had were minor.  The thing that makes Walking Dead stand apart is it isn’t just a great game.

Walking Dead is one of a very few games that I would recommend to anyone who says games cannot be art.  I challenge you to play this game, and not be moved, to not be emotionally connected, to not feel.  It transcends its media and becomes more than a game, it becomes an experience.

And it is, in my opinion, the second best game of 2012.

Updated: Added Game Graphic





Game Reviews… Who Am I to Judge?

18 12 2012

I haven’t really written any game reviews, so you may not know much about my gaming history, unless we were friends on the old IGN blogs or Tinychat.  I plan of writing reviews in the coming weeks, and I think one of the most important things to know about any reviewer is what they like and don’t so you know how to skew your view based on how you compare to their views.  For instance, I generally pay more attention to the reviews at IGN then at other outlets.  It has little to do with who I think writes better, or is more professional, and everything to do with who I know.  On my podcast subscription list is some stuff from Nerdist, WTF, Science Friday, and about six IGN podcasts.  I have spent 400+ hours listening to Greg Miller talk about games (and Ryan Clement’s future death via boating accident). Greg and I have similar tastes in games, save for the fact that I am a racing game fan (which he is not), and he is a wrestling game fan (which I am not).  I know that if he loved Metal Gear Peace Walker, there is a DAMN good chance I’ll like it a ton. I also know if he says he cannot get into Gran Turismo that it doesn’t matter to me much.

If you are going to read my reviews, I want you to have context to put my review into, so here is my gaming history in a nutshell: I had a TI-99 since I can remember.  I mostly remember a game titled “Alpiner”, where you climbed a mountain endlessly avoiding landslides and abominable Snow-monsters. My dad also had a PC back then, which today is shocking because the family ONLY had one PC, but in the mid 80′s it was kind of a big deal.  I mostly played a game called “SOPWITH”, a side-scrolling WWII plane game. “Castle” was a game that was semi-graphic (to avoid ogres who were just Angry-face text objects), and semi-text (to look for lockets and the like).  I spent all the time I could looking for necklaces in fountains, blowing up tankers, and running from bears.

From Giantbomb.com

Then in 1988 or ’89, I my parents got us an NES (WITH THE POWER PAD!!!!). That’s when gaming really took me.  It helped that I got it with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The original.  A game so hard I still have not beat it to this day.  I made it to the Mousers once, maybe twice, and lost both times.  It’s where I learned to enjoy a challenge in games (along with American Gladiators, which my friend Josh and I would rent every few weeks, and Battletoads, which we never got more than 50% through). I also had games like TMNTII, which the code for 9 lives and level select I remember to this day (B A B A Up Down B A Left Right B A), and Kirby’s Adventure, both of which I could have played for days on end. These, along with titles like SMB and SMB3 shaped my young gaming self, and had me locked into Nintendo’s clutches. The ORIGINAL console, and the games, are on a shelf behind me as I type. If I can get my stupid lockout chip working again and the contact board clean, it will rise again.

I’m not the only one who thought April was naked, right?
From http://nesmemories.blogspot.com

Next came the SNES. Super Mario World, and Super Mario: The Lost Levels, were great.  Super Mario Kart brought me into the world of racing games, and Quarterback Club made me start seeing the “AMAZING REALISM” that football games could bring.  StarFox was probably my first “flight sim”, and it is probably part of why I love a good flight-sim to this day.  I beat that game COUNTLESS times, and never got sick of the amazing 3-D graphics, the crew of wingmen… it was simply amazing. The SNES is back at my parents, along with the N64.

I always preferred my N64 it to Josh’s Playstation because the PS was primarily a single-player machine, where the N64 had good single-player games with AMAZING multiplayer modes, though I did love going to his place and spending hours controller swapping for Gran Turismo and listening to Garbage (that was a band back in the 90′s). Goldeneye, and Mario Kart 64 were my go-to’s, as they were for most. I spent countless hours with Mario Kart, finding every shortcut on Rainbow Road and Wario Stadium.  And this was in the day when college email at Iowa State University (which was ranked in the top ten most “wired” schools or something at the time) was done through Tel-net… Basically you checked your email via DOS prompt. There was no Youtube walk-through to consult for the fastest route on Moo-Moo ranch, you had to find it yourself through hour after hour of repetitive play and an occasional friend who knew a guy who saw a thing in a magazine.

This overlapped with the GameCube/PS2 era- Gamecube came out just as I was leaving for college, where the N64 would keep power in the common room for years to come.  I started with the gamecube only, with games like Rogue Squadron, Mario Kart Double Dash, Resident Evil 0, and  the Metroid Prime series.  This is when an ugly trend reared its head for a while.  I had trouble finishing games, not because they were too hard, but because now with 10 hour games-but a lack of extra content-I never wanted to finish a game, because at that point, it was over, and I knew I would probably never go back to it.  I knew I wouldn’t put another 30 hours into Metroid Prime, so I didn’t want to lose my ability to drop an hour by beating it.  It was a dumb, stupid cycle, but one that didn’t really end for another generation and a half… Its also when the trend of internet piracy was at its peak. Napster was a thing- there was a guy on the Iowa State intranet with something like 2 TERABytes of movies! This is in the days when having a 32 GB Hard-drive was a big deal.  Needless to say, I suddenly found that I could play ANY game I wanted on my PC, ALL FOR FREE! So I did… a lot.  I soon was no longer attending Iowa State…

Midtown Madness 2- The game that made me FINALLY love European cars.
From a site with popups. I’m not sending you there.

I got a Wii on launch Day.  The first system I ever bought on Launch Day (the Vita is the only other system I ever bought at launch), and it had some great games.  Everyone loved Mario Galaxy, but it also had some great underrated titles like Endless Ocean and Elebits.  This is the time that I started becoming and IGN fan, with the Nintendo podcast hosted by Matt Casamassina and Mark Bozon. I loved how I could connect to them as reviewers by listening to the show and getting to know their tastes. I took a chance on No More Hero’s because of IGN, and never looked back… it was a blast. Soon, the question came: 360, or PS3?

The long and short of it is, after listening to months of both TRL and Beyond! on IGN, I sided with PS3.  The exclusives won me over. I knew I wanted Gran Turismo, and I loved the first Metal Gear on my second try (I was to young and impatient for a stealth game when I first tried it in High School).  I do now have a 360, I played some of Halo Reach and Gears 3, but they just don’t grab me- Halo is to spray-and-pray for me, just like COD Multiplayer.  I like my shooters strategic- like MAG or Battlefield 3. Between UnCharted 1-3, Little Big Planet, the PSP Patapon series (Sony… really… get ON this! Where is Patapon Vita or PS3/4?), InFamous 1-2, Heavy Rain, and now Journey and Unfinished Swan; I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made in the first place.

If I think about it, I want my games to have a creative hook. It can be literal creativity (Little Big Planet and Mod-Nation Racers), Strategic shooters, racers that are either straight simulation (Gran Turismo) or off the wall (Burnout Paradise or Mario Kart), Sports games with depth (I prefer NCAA to Madden, in part because I can take a team ranked 123rd in the country and make them a POWERHOUSE), or an amazing story.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my simple pleasure games too- I probably logged 300+ hours into Day of Defeat on Steam- a simple WWII themed FPS that was based on flag capture (which is still my favorite multiplayer mode in shooters)- but in general I want there to be something to grab me, to make me think about… something.

This was probably more than you really wanted to know, but now you do. So when you see me say that I LOVE “X” about game “Y”, you have SOME idea of what that means compared to your tastes.  I hope to have some time to not only review newer games, but also some older titles soon to really let you get a feel for who I am as a gamer.





An Advanced Course in PC Hardware: $1,000 Performance PC with Style- Part III

23 10 2012

So far I have given you a break down of what I need overall, and most of the system specifics. Today, I am going to run down the rest of the build.

Component #6: Power Supply

Part of planning for it is getting enough power.  New Egg has a calculator ( http://c1.neweggimages.com/BizIntell/tool/psucalc/index.html) to help you figure out your power supply needs. One thing to keep in mind is to look at both what you are building now, and what your optimal load out is.  I built MY machine knowing that I was going to overclock my PC and add a second graphics card, so I got a massive power supply.  This machine will not be overclocked, but might get a second card, so I will plan ahead for it.  I put the specs for the build in (I put a performance MB in to play it safe), and got a moderate 477 Watt rating.  This is fairly middle of the road, but already can give you a sense of one of the advantages to building your own system vs. buying a pre-built with plans to upgrade later.  Pre-built systems often have the smallest power supply possible, so if you want a new, or second graphics card, you are also buying a new power supply.  So for a baseline, right now, I need a 500 Watt power supply.  If I add that second graphics card, and go to 4 sticks of RAM? 674 Watts.

Now you know the size you need, but how do you pick one? Hell if I know.  This is where looking at customer ratings is key. New Egg is pretty good about it’s ratings, actually sending out emails asking for reviews of items you have bought from the site, and when looking at the text reviews you can choose to only see verified owners (the people who bought the component from New Egg).  Take the Corsair brand TX750. I picked a Corsair because they are a well known brand, and I bought one of their supplies for my own build.  This has enough plugs to run two graphics cards, and enough power to run them, plus a second optical drive if I go nuts. The second thing to do is look at the ratings. I always start by reading the low rated reviews first. This will give you an idea of if people had the power supply frying on them after some use, if people were getting units that were dead out of the box (therefore not hurting other components, and returnable), or if people were buying the wrong thing.  This has a rating of 4/5 with 300+ reviews, 47 of which are 1/5. About 1/2 of the bad reviews were for DOA units (which seems to be fairly average), and some more had issues running out of the box and then died.  I’m not to worried, so I would still go with it, but this is where you have to just do some homework, pull up some alternatives, and see how things compare to each other.

Component #7: Hard Drives

As I mentioned before, the trick with a hard drive is finding the balance of speed, power, and price.  What some people don’t think about is the fact that this isn’t necessarily an all or nothing game.  If you need a LOT of space, and have a moderate budget, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to slow speeds.  One of the more popular things now is to get two hard drives.  One, a very large, moderately fast, but affordable drive to keep all of your files on, and most of your programs on.  Second, you get a smaller, much faster Boot drive (What they Operating System boots off of).  Depending on the size, you may also be able to put a few of your more important programs on here.  The key here is to remember that programs, when it comes down to it, are massive libraries of files.  When you use something like Photoshop  every-time you decide you want to use a filter, it needs to run the program for that filter.  Unless the filter’s program is in the RAM because you are using it for a second/third time, the computer needs to run around, find that part of the program, and run it.  If you have the program on a slow drive, it will take a bit longer to find and retrieve. However, if you are running thousands of these subroutines a day(which if you use one program often, you probably do), this will add up.

So, my advice would be to get one large traditional Hard Drive, and one smaller Solid State Drive to boot off of.  For the large drive, I am picking a Terabyte- it’s what I got for my build, and 2 years of Photoshop and 3D models later I still haven’t had to run around clearing space. It’s a beautiful thing. For the main storage drive I am selecting the Western Digital 1TB Black SATA III.  Western Digital and Seagate are the longtime brands for Harddrives that I tend to lean towards, and with a 5 year limited warranty,  2000 reviews averaging 4 /5, and a forty dollar discount at the moment, that’s good enough for me.

The Solid State drive I would shoot between 50 and 100 Gb.  This will be enough to take your O/S and a few programs, but shouldn’t be getting into the insane price ranges.  For this build specifically I want SATA III for at least the SSD, as that will allow me to take advantage of the faster drive speed with faster data transfer speed (When in doubt, look for bottlenecks in speed.)  Right now on NewEgg I can get the OCZ 2.5″ SATA III 60Gb (AGT3 model).  It is a moderately priced 60 GB SSD drive from one of the most well known SSD makers around.  This drive has 4/5 on NewEgg with 546 reviews, and its on sale for $62.

Misc.

This stuff is based a bit more on sale prices and brand name/reviews for me, so it’s pretty flexible.  You need a Media drive, and a wireless card, plus a mouse, keyboard and monitor(or two) if you are building a rig from scratch.  You may decide that you want to go with a Blu Ray drive, and forgo the burner option, or you may want to pony up the big bucks so you can burn BluRays (burner’s are in the $70-$130 range), but I am going to stick to a simple DVD-RW.  Realistically, find a drive from a brand you know, with decent reviews, that is cheap.  You should be in the $15-$25 range with no problem.

When you get a wireless card, the main thing to keep in mind is what your signal needs are. WiFi is rated as A, B, G, or N. A and B are kind of hard to find, and slow.  Today, you will mostly see routers and cards that are G, or N.  One good thing is these are all backwards compatible to the less powerful ratings (A is lowest, N is highest).  So if you have an N router and a G card, or a G card and an N router, it will still work, it will just be throttled to that G rating.  For most everyday use, G is fine. However, N is roughly 10x as fast, and has 2-3 times the range. So if you are moving big files, especially within a local network, or if you have a tricky time getting a great WiFi signal, move up towards N for both your adapter and your router.  I have a G router, and this is a local work machine, so it won’t be downloading any movies either, so I am going to stick to a simple G card (PCI Express) for around $20.

Another thing to keep in mind: the number and configuration of the PCI slots on your motherboard. Because I went with the Micro-ATX, the board I picked only has 3 slots, which are arranged in a way that means if I do run two graphics cards, there will not be room for my WiFi card.  One solution is to get a USB adapter, another is to buy an ethernet cord and hard-line your connection.  Its not a huge issue, but it’s an issue that you need to think about before you start buying things.

Picks:

CPU: i5-3450                                                                                                  -  $195

Motherboard: GIGABYTE G1.Sniper M3                                            - $170

RAM: (DDR3 1066 240 Pin,) Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4Gb) – $52

Graphics: GIGABYTE GTX 560                                                               – $180

Case: Fractal Design Define Mini Black                                                - $100

Powersupply:   TX750                                                                                - $110

HDD:   1TB  SATA III  WD Black                                                               – $110

SSD: OCZ 60 Gb SATA III                                                                           – $62

Optical:    DVD  burner                                                                                - $20

Wireless:                                                                                                            - $20

Total:                                                                                                                   – $1020

With a DECENT mouse and Keyboard, and a couple of good ~20″ monitors, that should put you right in the $1,600 wheelhouse.  For a machine you should be set with for YEARS.

Next time: Putting it all together.








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