New PC for work

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Next Friday I'll be receiving a new PC at work:

  • AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ (dual-core)
  • 1gb RAM
  • 160gb SATA-150 HD
  • DVD reader (I already have a DVD burner to throw into it)
  • Asus Geforce 6800 video card
  • Creative Labs Audigy LS
  • Mitsumi 13-in-1 floppy / memory card reader
  • Windows XP Pro
  • MS Office 2003 Standard

A pricely machine, but one with enough horse-power to keep me going for a good while.

One thing I'm not sure on is what motherboard it have. Given that they offer SLI I'm going to assume it is an nForce4 SLI of some sort, but there's a tonne of them so it coould be anything.

So why did they decide to get it for me? At work I tend to do a lot of extras beyond my description of "web developer" - general IT work, etc. Lately they've started doing more and more with videos - making DVDs, editing & converting video footage, etc, and then it became apparent that my old 1.8GHz PentiumIV wasn't doing so well they offered to let me order a replacement.

The PC is being built by Vision Computers in Atlanta, my boss' boss has been listening to advertisements for them on the radio for a while now and wanted to try them, and given that the machine will be delivered in a week after being ordered (most built-to-order places take longer than that just to build it, never mind delivery times) I must say I'm impressed so far. Along with that comes 3 years parts & warranty service (you cover shipping charges) as standard it becomes an even nicer deal for management, who are always concerned about these things. I must say, though, I was surprised to see them offer only one AMD option whereas they had eight Intel options for desktops, along with their eight Intel-based servers and nine Intel-based laptops.

Anyway, it arrives next Friday and I suspect I'll be spending most of that day installing the beastie with all the software I currently use - Directory Opus, Dreamweaver, Window Blinds, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc, etc.

Yay! :-)

WindowBlinds TIP: Explorer using too much CPU time

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A quick tip if you're noticing that Explorer is using too much CPU time when you're using WindowBlinds.

On my system I was seeing Explorer using upwards of 90% CPU time, bringing my PC to a crawl. I didn't want to uninstall WB so I tried tweaking the settings a bit. In the end I found that if I disabled Skin the quicklaunch taskbar buttons in the Basic Settings tab that it stopped going bananas and everything went back to normal.

Microsoft Outlook won't show contacts

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Another weird one today. A co-worker's install of Microsoft Outlook 2002 wasn't showing any of the contacts he had in his "contacts" address book. As it turns out, this is a bug in Outlook, at least when its running in Exchange Server mode. There are two steps to this, first you add the contacts folder to Outlook then you add it to the email popup window. To fix the problem:

  • In Outlook go to the Tools menu and select Email Accounts.
  • Select Add a new directory or address book and click Next.
  • Select Additional Address Books then click Next again.
  • Under the Additional Address Book Types list select Outlook Address Book and select Next.

At this point you'll get one of two responses, either it will say that Outlook needs to be closed to accept the changes or it will say that your selected folder is already present and can't be added again.

The second part is pretty simple:

  • Right-click on the Contacts folder within your Outlook Folders list and select Properties.
  • Click over to the Outlook Address Book tab.
  • Select the Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book box
  • Type in a relevant name for this particular contacts folder under Name of the address book.
  • Click OK and you're done.

One thing to remember on this is that if you have multiple contact folders, e.g. if you separated them into one folder for personal contacts, one for vendors, etc, you need to go through the second set of steps above for each folder, adding the main Contacts folder won't add all of the other folders; this is actually what turned out to be the problem at work, the main contacts folder was added already but the sub-folders were not.

SmarterStats - excellent website stats program

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Just a quick blurb to mention that this evening I installed SmarterStats on our website to give it a spin, and so far what I see I really like. The download lets you run stats for free for any one site which is perfect for personal sites or for doing a test run against your company's main site. The only requirement is that the .Net v1.1 runtime must be on your machine, but you don't have to install it on your server, you can instead put it on your desktop and just download the logfiles. Give it a spin!

Brighthouse launches tiered Internet services

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Brighthouse Networks, who we use for our Internet service at home, just sent out their price list for 2006 which had a surprise in store: they've finally added tiered pricing on their Internet services. In plain Engrish this means that you now have a choice of three different packages for high-speed Internet from them:

download speed upload speed price comment
256KBps 128KBps $29.95 A minimum of 5x faster than dialup and enough for most people.
5.0MBps 384KBps $44.95 What we've had for years, very fast.
8.0KBps 512KBps $59.95 Really fast, I recommend it only if you are running servers at home.

The basic $30 deal is really fast enough for the majority of people, unless you're big into downloading large files (e.g. Linux ISOs), as it's going to be five times faster than dialup, you don't have to worry about the phone lines being busy, you don't have the problems of not getting a good connection, and its not much more than the major dialup services anyway. Oh, and they give you free dialup access for when you need it.

Actually, ever since about two years ago when they upgraded their standard service from 3MBps to 5MBps I've been waiting for them to do this. It is a good sign that they realize that not everyone needs the higher speeds or want to pay that much but would still like something faster than dialup. I think they'll really clean up in their market.

Personally I wish my parents had options like this, I'd gladly pay for their service if they could, but they live so far away from service providers that they'll have to wait for someone to offer a wireless service; still, for everyone else its worth going for.

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