I’ve just ordered a new PC

Cube 247 Scorpius ST10

I still can’t quite believe it: I’ve just ordered myself a new PC from Cube247.

My current PC has been slowly dying over the last few months. Even after a complete reinstall it falls over during the most mundane of tasks: watching video online, ripping CDs to MP3, erm … checking the time.

It did it again this morning. I complained (again!). Lovely Jane turned to me and said “Just order a new one!” So I did.

Having been pricing it for the last couple of months, and doing a bit of digging around for the right spec, I decided in the end that convenience would take precedence over adventure and I’d just order a complete system rather than build and tweak it myself.

I’d been impressed with the reviews that Cube247 were getting and it turned out to be cheaper too (to buy rather than build) for the kind of spec that I wanted.

I wanted at least an Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, and the recent CPU group review in Custom PC magazine this month helped me to choose. The Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 scored second in the “Bangs per buck” category (E6750 was first), and 13th in the “Overall” category (E6750 was 17th).

Here’s what I’ve ordered, it’s based on the Cube247 Scorpius ST10:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Intel Core 4 Quad Q6600 Processor
  • 4096MB Corsair DDR II 667 Memory
  • 1000GB SATA II Seagate Data Storage – RAID Stripe
  • NEC 7170 Multi Format DVD/CD ReWriter
  • nVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB PCI Express Graphics Card
  • Creative Labs XFi Xtreme Gamer Sound Card
  • Asus P5B-E SLI Motherboard
  • 600w Silent PSU
  • Sony Floppy Disk Drive
  • DVD/CD ROM Drive
  • 2 x 19″ TFT 8ms Flat Panel Screens
  • Logitech Multimedia Keyboard
  • Logitech Optical Mouse
  • Creative Inspire 6100 5.1 Speaker System
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
  • 12 x USB2 Ports
  • Firewire

That should be just enough bang-for-buck raw power to allow me to write a couple of websites, surf the ‘net and use Microsoft Word. What do you reckon? 😉

I might even be able to get in a full game of Minesweeper quite comfortably on that setup.

Quite a step up from my current AMD Athlon XP 2800+, 1 GB RAM, ATi Radeon X700. But as you can see from the spec above I’m sticking with Windows XP Professional for now.

It’s worth pointing out too that this is the first time in my desktop PC-buying experience that I’m going for an Intel/Nvidia combination of CPU/graphics card rather than AMD/ATi. Just goes to show that Intel and Nvidia are clearly ahead of the game right now.

All being well, it arrives on Thursday.

Safari 3.0.4 Beta for Windows upgrade?

Screenshot of Safari 3.0.4 Beta

Today I upgraded to the latest version of Safari for Windows, version 3.0.4 Beta.

Unfortunately, for some reason it’s completely unusable. I can’t read any of the menus, and the displayed web pages are corrupt.

I guess that’s what “beta” means, then.

Update

I’ve uninstalled Safari, and then reinstalled 3.0.4 Beta but I still get the same corrupt screens.

I’m back to version 3.0.3 Beta and it’s all working fine, so I guess the problem really must be with the 3.0.4 update. Which is a shame.

10 reasons why I don’t need Windows Vista

XP vs Vista
Image from CustomPC feature: XP vs Vista

The Christmas edition of PC Plus arrived this week. This month’s issue contains a “Wishlist 2007” booklet, at the back of which is an article entitled “Wow! 10 reasons why you need Windows Vista”.

  1. The interface looks amazing

    It does. I’ve used Windows Vista, not for long, but long enough to know that it does indeed look lovely and cool. But in truth, I don’t really care about looks. Windows XP looks fine for what I need.

  2. Simple but powerful photo gallery functions

    The tagging facility would be quite cool, to be honest, but it would require me to manually tag the 40,000+ images I already have stored on my PC, which is why I don’t use that facility with Google Picasa or Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI at the moment. I’m an information architect — I have a way of organizing my photos which works perfectly for me.

  3. Supremely fast file-searching facilities

    I really do know where most of my files are — that’s years of working out a filing system that works for me. For the few files that I can’t find I use Agent Ransack which is way quicker than the built-in XP file search.

  4. All you need for top class gaming

    The article argued that Vista treats games differently. So do I: I have my own dedicated games partition running XP.

  5. You can get Windows Media Center built in

    I don’t want Windows Media Center. I watch the odd DVD on my PC using WinDVD, and listen to MP3s with WinAmp. That’s about it.

  6. Speed up in a flash

    Does ReadyBoost really work? Besides, I’m quite happy reinstalling XP every year. I really am. I can decide what I want and what I don’t. It’s like a spring clean.

  7. Foolproof to set up

    The XP installation is simple. I’ve got it down to a fine art now. And with Norton Ghost 2003 the job is made much simpler and quicker.

  8. Parental controls

    I’m not a parent.

  9. The super-handy little Sidebar

    One word: Yahoo! Widgets. Okay, that was two words.

  10. A secure safety net for you to perform over

    I admit that Vista is more secure. But perhaps at the cost of asking too many questions: do you want to allow this? do you want to allow that? Some friends have said that it’s more annoying that ZoneAlarm’s ever constant pestering! If you’re careful though, you can make XP pretty secure.

So … that article hasn’t convinced me that I need Windows Vista. I may be forced to buy Vista in the future, but at the moment I certainly don’t need it.

I can do everything that I want to do, quite comfortably with Windows XP SP2, thank you very much. And besides, XP happily talks to my Psion via PsiWin 2.3.3 (some Vista users have had terrible trouble getting it to work).

Into the deep

Only a few days now until Deep Impact 2005 in Aviemore and the scene in the Saunders’ household is much the same as prior to the previous two Deep Impact weekends, in 2000 and 2002: one of controlled panic and frantic session writing.

Believe it or not, I’ve never used Microsoft PowerPoint before. My old PC, a Time AMD K6/2 500MHz running Windows 98se, had a dodgy graphics card driver that would always crash whenever I ran PowerPoint. I tried to update the graphics card drivers and whenever I did the PC would refuse to boot. It did the same with the presentation software on the Lotus Smartsuite too, Freelance. And the OpenOffice.org Impress. So in the end I just gave up. My new PC, a NetHighStreet Athlon XP 2800+, doesn’t have the same problem — I would expect not with a Radeon 9800 installed.

So, this evening I’ve been creating a presentation, in Powerpoint 2000, for a session I’m co-leading with Struan Gardner called “Gems among the rubbish: a guide to the web”. The focus? Web standards, Accessibility, Open Source, and Mozilla Firefox. Of course!!