This accidentally fell out of her pocket when I bumped into her. Took me four goes.

Sunday, September 21


Well, That's A Surprise

Now that I have a working PC again, I wanted to get some games reinstalled on it.  The Sims 2 already went on - thanks to a utility that recovered my license keys from the registry on my old PC.

I wanted to reload SimCity 4 as well, because you need it to create custom regions in The Sims 2.  I had my whole games directory from my old PC backed up, but clearly there was no way SimCity was going to work without the correct keys in the registry.  And while I had all the disks, I couldn't find the license key for the original game.  (I did find the box, manual, and key for the Rush Hour expansion pack.)

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I restored the directory and tried it.  And it worked.  Perfectly.  First time.  Under Vista 64, an operating system undreamt of when the game was released.  So points to Maxis and to Microsoft on that one.  (Part of the reason it worked is that SimCity 4 was designed to run on Windows 95/98/Me, which didn't have a registry at all.  But part of it has to be good coding.)

SimCity 4 was the thing that lead my to build my previous PC, because the machine I had at the time couldn't cope with its absurd memory requirements.  I had a whole 512MB, and as my city grew, the game would grind to a halt.  Surely it couldn't be using all that memory?  Surely it was.  So I added another 256MB - all the motherboard could take with the modules available then - and it ran better, briefly, before I collided with the Windows Me 512MB memory limit and the machine corrupted its own operating system and fell down and died.  (I later rebuilt it with 1.25GB and XP, used it as a development box at work, and eventually gave it away.  As far as I know, it still works.)

Anyways, the last time I played SimCity 4 in any depth was on a 1.2GHz Athlon with 512MB of memory and a 128MB GeForce 4600.  I now have a 2.6GHz Athlon 64 X2 with 8GB of memory and a 1GB GeForce 9600.

It's pretty darn zippy.  I'd love to see a SimCity 5, but this will do for now.  (Maybe I'll try SimCity Societies some time, but reports are that it's pretty much an abortion.)

I've also got Railroad Tycoon 2 and 3 on here.  Expect productivity to plummet.

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Thursday, September 11


Once More Into The Breach

Visited Capitol Square at lunchtime today, and came back with an Asus 9600GT, 1GB version.

I will try not to blow this one up.

For two weeks of effort and about $120 more than I originally planned to spend, I'm getting half the performance.  But at least I've evaded the sharks.

Update: Seems to work.  (Tiptoes away very very carefully...)

Update: Still working.  Card temperature is hovering around 35ºC (95ºF), compared to about 60ºC (140ºF) for the short-lived 9800GT.  The cards are supposed to be roughly comparable in performance and power consumption - the 9800GT a bit higher on each.  Makes me wonder if my card was faulty even before I destroyed it.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:10 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Turns out that while modern graphics cards have temperature sensors, when something goes wrong - like, say, a stray cable caught in the fan - and they overheat, they, well, overheat.

And burn out.


I almost bought a passively cooled 9600, but no, I had to go for the fancy 9800, which is now a $200 paperweight.  My PC won't even turn on with the card installed.  Fortunately, it runs fine now that I've yanked the card out again.

Back to the trusty - and passively cooled - 6600.

Update: Just thought of something.  My case - a Lian-Li V600 - mounts the motherboard upside-down, as it were.  So in a normal case, the fan would be facing downward, much less likely to get fouled by a loose cable.  Just my luck. sad

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:36 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Wednesday, September 10


Close Enough For Pixy Work

The 9800GT works.  And yes, it's fast.  I don't have anything that will actually stress it at the moment, but for stuff that doesn't require a card like this, it's great.

Unlike the 6600, it doesn't automatically come up in dual-screen mode, so I had to download and install the drivers to get that working.  Except that the downloaded drivers didn't work at all - the installer insisted that I didn't have a compatible video card.

Back to the CD that came with the card.  That work, fortunately.  Only, while I was messing about trying to configure things correctly, I made a discovery - my two identical monitors have different brightness, contrast, and colour temperature levels when identical setttings are selected.  Not different enough to worry about, but at some point I'm going to spend an hour microtweaking until they are identical, goddammit!

Meanwhile, though, it works.  It works!

Update: Uh-oh.  Pale blue screen of beep-beep-beep!  Looks like my baby UPS can't power both computers any more, so I've taken the Windows box off it.  I think there was a power glitch when it overloaded and that caused the card to lock up, because it started beeping just afterwards.

Also, that card produces a fair whack of heat.  I have a 14cm case exhaust fan, but even so it's getting kind of warm in there.  Okay, I was playing a game on one screen and watching TV on the other, but I expect it to handle that without freaking out and falling over.  We'll see.

Update: The card comes with an overclocking utility, which also allows you to underclock it - and pretty drastically, if you so desire, right down to one quarter the default speed.  I've got it set to two-thirds right now, and I'm watching the temperature tick down.  We'll see how that goes over time.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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For the lack of posts.
For the slow responses to emails.
For the not-exactly-rapid progress of Minx recently.

I turned into a pumpkin.

Back very soon, with a little luck.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:06 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, September 09


Half And Half

Got word back from the shop about my 4850: It works perfectly.

For them.

For me, of course, it's a pile of poo.

Over the weekend I dug out a GeForce 6600 and tried that, and that also works perfectly - and is actually slightly faster than the onboard video.  So it's not that my motherboard is broken, it's just some weird incompatibility between my ATI chipset and the ATI video card.

So I asked for a refund and in it's place I'm getting an Nvidia 9800GT.  That only delivers half a teraflop and half a gigabyte of RAM, but it's still twenty  times the speed of the 6600 (give or take).

It's also a hundred dollars cheaper than the 4850, so I snaffled an eight-port gigabit switch at the same time.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, September 04



The official Spore website is down.

Not that I have the game in any case.

What with not having a video card and all. sad

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:54 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Wednesday, September 03


Governor Palin's Daughter Phoebe's Best Friend's Cousin's Hamster Reported Pregnant

New York Times, Washington Post ask "What did McCain know, and when did he know it?"

Update: Fox reports: "Hamster" actually guinea pig.  Also, male.

Update: Zogby reports: McCain polling lower with Hamster-American households.

Update: Andrew Sullivan demands to see veterinary records.  "How do we know that this hamster is really a guinea pig?  How can we trust this, when we've made up so many...  Uh, been lied to so many times?"

Update: Fox reports: Hang on, Governor Palin doesn't have a daughter named Phoebe.

Update: New York Times, Washington Post ask "What did McCain know, and when did he know it?"

Update: Gallup reports: McCain polling lower with Charmed-American households.

Update: Daily Kos reports: Risque MySpace photos of Phoebe's best friend's cousin discovered.

Update: Protein Wisdom reports: "Uh, dude, that's an armadillo in a wig.  And believe me, I know an armadillo in a wig when I see one."

Update: Huffington Post reports: Right-wing blogs caught in cover-up!

Update: Ace reports: Left-wing blogs hit bottom, keep digging.  "Believe me, Jeff knows an armadillo in a wig when he sees one."

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:19 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, September 02


Keeping Score

Bought three new toys.

Two work perfectly.

The other one destroyed my computer.  (Just blue-screened again.)

So, about average.


If it's not the drivers, it's likely the memory, sayeth net wisdom.

So pop in Memtest86+, wait a few minutes, dum de dee, uh-oh.

I did have memory issues with this computer when I first built it, but after swapping modules around a bit and a few all-night runs of Memtest86+ it's been good for eight months.  Maybe something got nudged out of alignment.

Popped the DIMMs, cleaned the contacts, aligned the spark gap, and put them back in in the opposite order.  Memtest86+ is off again.

I also tried putting the video card back in.  Nope!  Display corruption all over the place - in text mode! - with Memtest86+ reporting no errors at that point.

I may have a faulty DIMM, but that card is just plain stuffed.

Update: Yep, faulty DIMM.  I'll replace that too.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:07 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Monday, September 01


Shark Attack*

My PC blue-screened again, with an IRQL-NOT-EQUAL or whatever it is.

Likely causes for this, according to the wisdom of the 'net, are bad memory or bad drivers.  Since my PC bluescreened while I was reinstalling the video drivers, my first port of call was to uninstall those drivers.

Which I did.

My PC has an all-in-one ATI motherboard.  I was installing an ATI video card.  It's the same drivers.  I just uninstalled my motherboard drivers.

And, after reboot, everything seems to be working perfectly.

Either I've reached shallow water, or the sharks are just biding their time.


Update: They're circling.  I can tell.  (The DVI port on my motherboard seems to turn off every now and then if the chipset is busy.  I'm trying to format a 1.2TB external drive, which takes about 16 hours at the best of times.  Bleah.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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