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New PC and the end of the quarter


…and of course I’m talking about my first college quarter at Cal Poly, not a financial quarter, or perhaps a 25-cent coin. Would that kind of quarter even have an end? Sides perhaps…but ends? I think not.

I haven’t written in forever on this thing. I have a slightly more regularly updated blog/journal at my SectorFej site, which I will try to mirror here for those (2) of you who might actually care. :-p Anyway.

Today marks the very last day that I have to go to college for until January 7, 2008, which is the beginning of the Winter 2008 quarter. I had three classes this time around, and all of my finals were done as of the end of Monday, but today I had to go back to review my Java final with the teacher. It was kind of an optional thing, and only about half the class showed up, but it was worth it–I disputed something and got a 15-point increase on my final exam grade. Needless to say, I passed that class. I have yet to find out what I got in my other two classes, logic and statistics. I don’t know when they’ll be posted though.

Another cool thing that happened lately is that I got to recover a whole mess of space under my desk, as well as greatly reducing my overall power usage for the various stuff I do with my computers. Specifically, I replaced three regular desktop computers with one little one, thanks in great part to my wonderful new friend Virtualization. Virtual machines are the coolest thing I have found out about relating to computers in quite some time, I think.

Anyway, I had a P4 2.6 GHz Windows XP Pro machine which I (used to) play Myst on, an old P3 800 MHz hosting personal Exchange mailboxes on Windows Server 2003, and an even older Athlon 650 MHz running Gentoo Linux and acting as a router/firewall and general Linux playground. The XP machine also hosted our music and picture repository. All three of these were running 24/7/365, barring power failures (I have a 350VA UPS, but the battery is completely worthless at the moment, and it’s only powerful enough at full capacity to save one computer from dying). Assuming an average 350W power supply per desktop, that’s a combined total of roughly 1KW all the time, though at average load I’m sure it was less than that. That’s approaching the refrigerator range, seriously. Now, electricity isn’t as expensive here as it is some places, but why waste it?

So, I spent an hour or two configuring a small, efficient PC to take their place: MicroATX motherboard, 2.6GHz Core Duo CPU, 4GB RAM (no skimping here, lots of VMs!), one 360GB hard disk, DVD-RW drive, small case, memory card reader, and the little pieces required to make everything work together, all from Newegg and all with very good reviews. (Side note: Newegg is awesome. Really.) The case looks like a VCR and fits neatly on top of the 3-drawer unit under my desk. I have all of my floor space back. It’s quiet, faster than all three of the old ones, small, and ended up only costing about $650 for everything I had to buy. I’ll can sell the old ones, and even see if I get lucky with PearPC so I can virtualize a Mac OS X installation on this thing and sell my Mac mini too.

For the curious, I’m running Ubuntu Linux 7.10 as the host OS, then Windows XP Pro in one virtual machine, and Windows Server 2003 R2 in another one. Occasionally, if I’m feeling nostalgic, I might open up a DOS 6.22 machine and play some Descent. :-p Man, I love virtual machines. Anyway, I have created for your viewing pleasure–assuming it would give you any pleasure at all–a photo set of the assembly process, including some of the before/after arrangements of the old PCs vs. the new one.

One other exciting thing is that I get to go back and spend almost the whole Christmas season with the people I know and love in VA, starting next Saturday! I’m definitely looking forward to that a lot. Tomorrow is about three Christmas-related parties, one of which is a family reunion on my dad’s side, one is for work, and one is just some friends.

This is going to be very busy, in a good way.

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tuaqmuk March 19, 2005 - 9:43 pm

wow jeff, you’re so clean and organized.
i can’t even see my desk.

yesterday i was looking for this huge packing tape dispenser and i looked EVERYWHERE in my house, garage.. everywhere. and this morning i found it under a pile of empty starbucks cups, a hairbrush, overdue library books, and a section of the newspaper. true story 🙂

bombaypig March 25, 2005 - 9:33 pm

duuuude! i totally can do that math homework!


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