Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Computer Build

It's been a while since I've built a complete computer from scratch, since my RedWire days during college. I wasn't what I'd call rusty but I've definitely been out of the industry for a while. I ended up
using an old ATX case I had laying around which worked perfectly but doesn't have much room for too many more devices. The process was a good refresher and reminded me why I left the business years ago.

I was in need of a new computer for some time, and I was trying to decide if I wanted another laptop or a desktop for my office. My only
computer, the trusty Dell E1405 Laptop has been going strong for nearly six years but was struggling with all of the programs I run at once these days. It's maxed out at 2GB of memory and that just wasn't enough when a quarter was bring used for the integrated graphics rendering which were mediocre at best.

I ended up ordering the following components from NewEgg.com. The goal was to build a machine that would last another 5 years and allow me to run any new application that hit the market within that time.

Motherboard: eVGA Intel P55 Core i5/i7 w/Gigabit NIC & SLI Support
CPU: Intel Core i5-750 2.66Ghz Quad-Core Processor
Memory: Geil 8GB DDR3-PC1066 Dual-Channel
Hard Drive: Western Digital 640GB SATA 3GB/s 7,200rpm 16MB Buffer
Video Card: MSI TwinFrozer 512MB GDDR3 PCI-E x16 SLI Video Card
Power Supply: OCZ 600 Watt SLI Slient Power Supply
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Ti 1128 w/Copper Heatsink & Dual-Ball-Bearing Variable Fan
Optical Drive: Lite-On DVD+/-RW Burner w/Lightscribe
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

The physical configuration went well, even when plugging in the case buttons to the motherboard (usually a pain in the butt). I was able to get everything powered up without too much trouble then started seeing a handful of random blue-screen errors at odd times. I troubleshooted every piece of the machine looking for physical electrical shorts, proper seating of components and updating to the latest Windows 7 drivers. After an exhausting two days of research and testing I ended up determining that I had two bad sticks of memory. To confirm the problem I ran a memory test from www.memtest86.com that told me there were some unidentified errors. It wasn't until I bought a two replacement sticks locally that I confirmed there was in fact an issue. After swapping out the memory sticks and reinstalling the Operating System (for a clean slate) everything has been running great for over a week!

It is really nice to have a new, up to date machine again.

From this process I am certain that leaving the computer service industry was the right move for me. My patience with myself, troubleshooting my own computer was so short I can't imagine what it would be for countless strangers. The good news is that I'm still able to fix any problem... even some of the toughest blue-screen issues that Microsoft likes to deliver when your memory is throwing hidden errors.

Yay to multi-tasking at the speed of life again!

- Mitch G

Microsoft .NET Framework Cleanup Tool

I was working on cleaning up my Windows computer the other day to install some updated Digital Media Rendering software and ran across an issue with the Microsoft .NET Framework versions on my machine. I did a lot of research, tried manually removing all previous versions of .NET and reinstalling only the latest but to no avail.

After even more frustrating time spent browsing the internet for solutions I came across a handy little cleanup tool by none other than Microsoft themselves. I've hosted the small .zip file of it here so that anyone who is having trouble with older .NET versions can fully remove all traces of the .NET operating files and start with a clean installation from Microsoft's web site or the Windows update service.

Hopefully this can be helpful for others! It took me a long time weeding through a lot of junk on the web to find exactly what I needed.

- Mitch G