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July 10, 2010

First post. Excited, nervous, slightly itchy in a place that I can’t scratch because someone might see me and I’d be all embarrassed. Oh hey, it’s gone now. Sweet!

So I’ve done some preliminary thinking and comparison shopping, along with the requisite boning-up on the latest hardware developments and predictions for future trends. I have learned many things, and in the time that it would take to share them with you, at least half of them would have already become obsolete. Or at least old news.

First of all, I’m only considering Intel CPUs (as if you didn’t already know from one or two of my previous pages), and I’m 99.9% sure that I’m going with ATi for the video. I know that I’ve just alienated or enraged half of the PC gamers out there, and for that I am most abjectly unmoved. I don’t really feel like arguing about it, especially since I already know every single little pro and con by heart.

So that leaves me with a much smaller playing field: the Core i series CPUs and the Radeon 5000 series cards. I guess I could open it up to the last-generation 4000s too; I know more than a few clockers who can get amazing results out of the 4850 and 4870 especially, much better than many of the mainstream 5000 cards so far. However, the prices on the best of the 4000 series aren’t really that much better than most of the 5000s, so I feel like I could be getting a better-performing build with the 4000s but possibly shortchanging myself on the upgrade path in years to come. Always a trade-off!

My real dilemma right now is whether to go full-on x58 mobo and CPU, which requires a 1366 socket, or stick with the far more available-and-affordable P55 (1156 socket). My resistance to the bleeding edge is effectively negated by my desire to upgrade in small stages rather than replace the whole mobo and CPU in a year or two…

Though I’ve built about a dozen PCs (and done work/play on countless others), the rig that I use on a daily basis is almost completely unchanged since 2003.

Incredible! How have I managed to resist the allure of (among other things) two Windows operating systems, multi-GPUs (i.e., Crossfire and SLI, in fact PCI express in general), DDR3 RAM (all speeds), and quad core CPUs (even discrete dual cores would be a step up from my current Pentium with hyperthreading)?

It’s a fair question. As the months and years go by, I have lived vicariously through the users who receive my creations. I’m like the mother of a thousand wunderkinds, cursed to give them away immediately after they are delivered, doomed to live with only the oldest and slowest of the offspring along with an alcoholic partner who is really dragging me down.

Ewww. Bad metaphor. But at least it gives you the sense of where I’m starting from. And especially why I value future-proofing my new build as much as possible…

Well, that is only partially true now, having discovered a web site called LifeBac that looks as if it will give not only my partner, but also me, our live’s back. This site touts a program that offers a reliable cure for alcoholism. That sounds pretty pompous, I know. However, LifeBac is not a rehab or treatment clinic, but a collection of modern, science-based tools to empower people not just to avoid the downward spiral, but to better themselves and their relationships permanently. My partner was willing to try the program since it didn’t require going to a rehab facility or to attend AA meetings. Those two options along with taking Disulfiram, also known by the brand name Antabuse, had been spectacular failures. Considering that the success rate for AA and other residential 12 step treatment programs is about 10% and my partner was definitely part of the other 90% who failed, I was impressed she was willing to give this new approach a go. The drug she started is called baclofen which doctors in Europe have been prescribing for some time as the primary treatment for people who drink excessively. Baclofen removes or strongly suppresses cravings for alcohol in 92% of people. Initial clinical trials show that Baclofen has a 65% success rate for treatment-resistant alcoholics, allowing them to return to low- or medium-risk drinking. That’s right, this treatment doesn’t require abstinence. Wow that blew my mind, but the medication actually seems to be working so I am keeping my fingers crossed for both my partner and my creations.

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