Wednesday 17th April 2013

A word or two (thousand?) this week about what I`m using PC wise ,and WHY I use my PCs in this manner.

Right! – PC 1 is the windows 8 Pro machine, The specs are:-
Manufacturer – Lenovo 2561
Intel core i5-2320 processor @ 3.00GHz
Memory 8GB
Primary Drive 130GB SSD
2nd Drive 2TB SATA
3rd Drive 2TB SATA
4th Drive 500GB SATA
5th Drive 64GB USB

Intel HD Graphics 1664MB DirectX 10.1
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-This is my main day to day activity computer. I use it for web browsing, watching videos, my flight simulators and listening to music. I use Firefox as my browser in desktop mode, but my default browser is Internet Explorer. The reason for the two browsers is down to microsoft policy, -You can ONLY use Internet explorer in the new Full Screen or “Metro” mode,IF it is the default browser. If you select any other browser as default then it reverts to desktop mode. This is clearly aimed at forcing the user to use a microsoft product, -“if you don`t use our browser , you can`t use the fancy new features”. (It stinks but is a minor inconvenience).
So my “default browser is REALLY Firefox, IE is default in name only, -I use the context menu when opening saved internet links, (`open with`).
For music my default player is Microsoft media player with APE and FLAC codecs added.-I DO use itunes but only to administer my ipod, I don`t like it one bit. (same thing with itunes really -apple want you to use it so its not easy to use anything else with apple products).
All my video links are set to use “VLC Player” as their default media player – VLC is the dogs nuts, it plays ANYTHING, I have yet to find a sound or video file that it cannot play.(and that includes sound files , FLAC,APE & OGG etc.
The situation is slightly different with media files as you can stipulate in windows WHICH program you use to open each file type. If I want to open MP3s in Media player and M4Ps in itunes then I can easily do this via `control panel>default programs`.
With this PC I use a Logitech Touch mouse, because it provides gesture control, – right edge gives the charms bar, left edge switches between open apps, side to side scroll in addition to up/down scroll and two finger gestures, (I`ll leave that to your imagination). I also have an HD Freeview TV receiver attached to this PC, (well two actually) . And of course the AWESOME Dell S2340T Touchscreen monitor.- Won`t say too much about that because it will only make you jealous.
Oh OK then. . .its got a built in webcam, a 2 megapixel HD one… its less than an inch thick, its got built in speakers, 4 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI inputs, VideoPort inputs, aux microphone/headphones socket, and, and, and…well, you get the picture.
(it also folds FLAT like a table)..
This being a windows 8 machine I decided that I needed to help the performance along a bit because of the extra demands Windows 8 would put on the hardware, and I installed an SSD in place of the supplied hard drive. -The SSD is probably the fastest and most effective “go faster” gadget I could have fitted bar actually overclocking the PC. -I advise anyone who has the ability and know-how to do this, – it really has made a big difference to bootup and application loading times.

Keyboard – a lenovo supplied wireless keyboard.

I don`t play games on the Windows 8 machine for a couple of reasons,

1. There are not many games out FOR windows 8 machines yet.
2. The Graphics capabilities of the actual PC (a lenovo) are only “on board” graphics.

“But aren`t the flight simulators games though?” I hear you ask…

Nooooo! – not really, -I have FSX and FS2004 installed and soon will have X plane 10 as well, and they are FAR from games. -Actually the graphics requirements are not that great with these games. If you are just a back seat pilot like myself, then on board graphics will be enough for them, I play (oops) I mean FLY at 1920 x 1080 resolution and the picture is detailed, and frame rates are good so until I get rich or decide I want to take the simulation further, then the Win 8 machine will do.

The OTHER flight simulators I have ARE games, -to list them:-
Pacific Fighters
IL2 Sturmovik
Falcon 4.0 Allied Force
Flight Unlimited III
Blazing Angels -Squadrons of WWII
Blazing Angels 2 Secret Missions of WWII
Lock-On Air Combat Simulation
Combat Flight Simulator 3 Battle for Europe
Battle of Britain
Tom Clancys HAWX 2
Fighter Pilot

and they are played on. . .

PC no 2.

Manufacturer – Hewlett Packard Pavillion P6
Intel core i3-2120 processor @ 3.30GHz
Memory – 8GB
Primary Hard disk – 1TB SATA
2nd Hard disk – 1.5TB SATA
3rd Hard disk – 32GB USB

Graphics card – Palit 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630 Graphics Card with 2GB DDR3 memory, (or it WILL have when it arrives back, – they sent a faulty one).
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I use a Technet M002 mouse for the P6, – its contoured and has side scroll buttons in addition to being scalable between 300-900dpi.Very nice mouse for the price, – £13.00 from Amazon.

The second PC is used for playing games and Bittorrenting, -its permanently switched through a VPN and has specific programs installed for maximum security. These are:-

McAffee Anti virus & spyware realtime scanning, – (Not the best but we get a subscription free with BT).- A proper subscribed anti-spyware is a MUST these days with windows 7 and below.The Windows 8 machine has just the stock windows Defender installed, but for surfing this is OK. – (Your BEST protection is safe surfing habits).
I also own Norton 360 Gold, but have re-allocated it to my vista laptop because to be honest its just a PITA.-Its resource heavy – bootup and application loading times TREBLE with its use, its INTRUSIVE, and it reduced my Windows 8 machine to a useless brick. – I think its idea of “safe surfing” is NOT to surf at all, -it just disabled my browsers completely.

Comodo Firewall – (the best in my opinion)
Truecrypt – All my torrented stuff is stored on encrypted drives-if they can`t find it then I don`t have to explain it.

VPNetmon – This is a program that controls the bittorrent traffic, -if for any reason the VPN drops out, this IMMEDIATELY cuts the client application, – NOTHING gets through the normal IP address. All the bittorrent traffic goes through the VPN, and the VPN only.

The second PC has now got an uprated PSU in situ, – I installed it because of the extra Hard disk, Graphics card and extra memory – (the normal P6 has only 4GB DDR3 RAM).The original PSU was rated at 300W, as this PC is on 24/7/365, I thought it a good idea to upgrade, – the new PSU is 500W. (I could have gone higher, you can get 1000W PSUs now).

I use the windows 7 machine for torrenting, because Windows 7 is a stable tested platform and I can leave the machine to “do its own thing” for most of the time without trying to run programs alongside the torrenting client, – I`m not an avid gamer so most of my time is spent on the win 8 machine and the client has the full resources of the PC to itself when I`m not playing a game.

Screens.
My Pride and joy is the Dell S2340T. I`ve already said enough about it, so all that`s left is to tell you that its used in its 1920 x 1080 resolution (HD video res.)
Which brings me to – the VGA switch.
PC one has both a VGA and a HDMI output from the motherboard.PC two has VGA and a normal Digital output. -I have an HDMI monitor AND a VGA monitor, so I can use PC one with two screens, (the HDMI and VGA outputs routed to both the HDMI monitor and VGA monitor.
OR
I can use the HDMI output to the HDMI screen, and the pc two`s VGA output to the VGA monitor.

The upshot is that I have a VGA switch installed that switches the VGA MONITOR between the VGA inputs on either computer, -I have two buttons, button 1 is two PC1 screens, Button 2 is PC1 and PC2 have a screen each.

I don`t actually have any sound routed through the new monitors speakers because , good as they are, -they are not as good as my main speakers and anyway – I have ALL my sources routed through a common set of amplified speakers and subwoofer. -Thats, PC1,PC2,PC3 (the laptop) my ipod, my Android Tablet, my Android phone and a small FM/SW/MW Radio/MP3 player & recorder. It seems a lot but with careful use of both the Line in and microphone inputs, on each PC, – everything fits and has an input.

USB ports – I have 21 USB ports and nearly every one is used. -Being a Gadget Addict, – I have lots of “peripherals”.
Web cams, Mice,Keyboards, USB Hubs,Ipods,Androids,Kindles,TV Dongles,Smartphone Docks,Radios,Bluetooth Dongles,Graphics tablets, -You name it, -its plugged in to my system.
Web Cams
I currently have SEVEN cameras pointing at me – all of which I use for skyping and are also for when I become brave enough to actually MAKE the video blog I`ve been fantasising about.
I never actually intended to amass so many but the three Androids, the Laptop and the new touchscreen all have them built into their cases, -I`ve only bought TWO cameras. (Well – three, but I`ll come to that in a minute…) I did have an argos “HD” web cam sitting on top of the samsung screen but :-
1. its NOT HD, even if it was advertised as such. (Naughty Argos…)
2. The pictures crap.
3. The software which came with it worked for about 3 months then updated itself and then refused to load until I had downloaded the current (paid for) version.
I managed to find a driver that actually worked with the camera, but only after a long and in depth search. – the driver that worked only did so because the nuts and bolts camera inside argoses branding was a mass produced unit that was sold elsewhere with different branding and cases. On paper (or screen in this case) it should not work.(but DOES ha ha ha…).
The replacement camera is from a brand that I`ve bought other stuff from (`trust`)and is a better camera by far, -its autofocus and its resolution really is HD (1920 x 1080 or 2 megapixels).
The very best camera, quite surprisingly is the one built into the monitor. It too is 1920 x 1080 but the image is just BETTER, the focus is more accurate, the colours more vibrant and being built in, its less intrusive if not as positionable (is that a real word?).
Oh yes… the third camera? – I am a forteana enthusiast and as such, I read a lot about UFOs.
well…. I read an article and saw a couple of videos on youtube showing film and describing UFOs showing up in the infra red spectrum. – its very easy to convert a web cam to infra red, so I bought two very cheap web cameras and converted one – it just involves taking a filter out (U/V filter for those that are interested) and inserting a home made filter to block visible light.The filter cam be made with two layers of exposed and developed 35mm film – easily obtained when we all used film by snipping off the end of a negative that has been returned along with any prints.
For a LONG time I had two cameras pointed at the sky outside my window. (don`t laugh TOO much…)
Not finished – to be continued…..
Edit:- I fibbed, – it IS finished.

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