Posts By Roy

Its been a while since I wrote a post for our family blog.  Kinda fitting that my last post was about computers and my new one is going to be about the same  stuff.  Three days after my CPU cooler post we finally  got our tax return and I built not just myself but Jody a new computer as well.  That’s all  really for a different post but I’ll roll it into this one to make matters a little easier.

My new computer specs are quite amazing:

  • Core  I7 2600k over clocked to 4.5ghz
  • 16 Gigabytes of Ram
  • 120 Gigabyte Solid State Hard Drive (Boot)
  • 1 Terabyte Hard Drive (Storage)
  • Antex Kuhler H20 620 (think a beefer H60)
  • 3x Evga Geforce  580 GTX graphics cards
  • 3x ASUS 24 inch Wide Screen monitors

Yeah, 3 graphics cards and 3 monitors.  You see that setup had originally came  to mind from a Tom’s Hardware story about gaming across three monitors  and I thought “Wow, now that is cool! I want to do that too!”  So, when Jody and I agreed on a build budget for my new computer, I had sourced out the parts in order to do that. Let me tell you, the graphics are great and the views can be quite stunning. People at work think I’m crazy. Jody thinks I’m crazy. But so far no one who has seen it in  action has denied how purely awesome it is.  At work my machine has been dubbed “the beast” and I have become the  official guy to come to for all things hardware.

I built this computer with really only a hand full of game types in mind.  First Person Shooters (FPS),  Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s) and Simulations either racing or flying (Sims).  After getting home from  Iraq I bought Need for Speed Shift 2 for the PC (this was before building “the beast”) and that was pretty much the first thing I downloaded and ran on “the beast” which I semi happily played with a hacked PS3 controller for lack of anything better to play with.  A few weeks later I bought  an Xbox  360 controller with  the PC adapter and I play with that for a bit.

Then (fast forward to our family trip to Canada) I discover that my laptop can’t play Shift 2 or half  my other games and I’m more or less stuck with playing WoW or doing chain-mail and I was running out of rings quite fast since I was doing about 100 rings a sitting.  Then I  run across a story about a service called iRacing on one of my random web surfing adventures.  So I  headed over to there website to check it out and at first I’m a little put off from the cost of it all (I’ll get into that  in a bit).  I think about it and look into things a bit more, find out that they have an official NASCAR series that’s even reported on the NASCAR website where the winner gets 10,000 dollars and a championship ring.  In case you didn’t catch that TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!.  I thought to myself “Well, I’m a decent enough gamer and I would love a shot at that!” so I signed up and played a bit in Canada with my game pad.  For my birthday Jody got me a Logitech G27 racing wheel with pedals (even a clutch pedal) and 6 gear with reverse shifter off of Newegg since we had a promo code to knock some of the price a bit.

When I first  got the setup, I clamped it to my glass desk and immediately knew this wasn’t going to work well so I went in search of a way to  make it work.  I ended up with a board C clamped to my desk with a rug from the girls bathroom to hold the pedals still.  A bit later I then added the weights from our out door awning as well to keep my chair from moving while using the clutch.  I called it my “ghetto rig”.   While not my ideal solution it worked well enough but the setup and take down of it all was just awful.  I was able  to get it  to where it took me about 2 min to set it up and take it down again but it was just bad doing it that way and with my wheel and shifter mounted to a board leaning up against a wall by my desk any time it wasn’t in use it was  just a matter of time before something got messed up.  Since the my ideal solution (The Obutto) would cost me about 600 dollars with shipping and the triple monitor mounts I decided to turn to a different solution and started looking online for something “do it yourself”.  The problem with doing it myself is I don’t own a saw so I talked to a coworker and he said, if I could find a design that I liked, he could probably build it for me. I put the limitation of it costing me only  about 50 bucks (yeah I’m cheap) and he said that it was doable.  So I came up with the design below and he built it for me.

I can comfortably say this rig  is about 100 times better than my earlier “ghetto rig” and it only takes me about 30 seconds to slide it across the floor, plug it all in, and then slide my chair into the specially cut out notches for the wheels (so I don’t roll back every time I push then clutch peddle) and I’m off to the races!

So far on iRacing I have only won one race but I’m learning lots about racing and reading other drivers intentions in the way they move their cars. Most important of all is that as long as I run a clean race, and don’t end up getting crashed out by retarded people who cant hold a line, I’m having loads of fun.  Today alone I have ran  7 races witch account for almost 455 laps.  Currently, I’m running late model Monte Carlo SS for ovals and a Ford Mustang FR500S for road course.  Right now though, my extreme guilty pleasure is Ovals and I really look forward to racing the truck my Mom bought me for my birthday. (iRacing eGift Cards are awesome!)

Now I did mention earlier about the cost of iRacing. It costs 12 dollars a month and your first month & that gets you 6 cars and 7 tracks. Basically, all the cars and tracks you need for your first rookie season which will last you about a month (maybe less depending on how good  of a driver  you are).  After that for every new car you’ll need to pay $11.95 and tracks run between $11.95 and $14.95 each.   The one saving grace is buying a number of things in bulk all at once because they’ll give you a discount. Three pieces of content gets you 10% off, 6 gets you 20% off and if you buy everything at once and you’ll get 25% off.  So you do need to be a little choosey when starting out on what series you want race in.  Oh, and if anyone reading this signs up please use my email address roy.lasley (at) gmail (dot) com as your referral so I can get a $10.00 credit.

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This is the first of a few reviews I plan on doing in the coming months on computer parts.  I hope that this objective review helps our readers in chooseing a good cooling solution for their computers.

When I first built this machine I have now, it was a medium to high end gaming setup with a Q6600 quadcore, 4 gb of ram and an EVGA 8800 GTX.  The 8800 got fried in our move from California to Florida and was replaced with a 285 GTX.  Stock speeds of the Q6600 are 2.40 ghz. I currently have it running at 3.10 GHZ.  So my computer does require some upgraded cooling.

I didnt overclock the machine untill I got back from Iraq durring that time the machine ran fine on the standard Intel Box Cooler.  It ran fine on this cooler for proxamitely 2 years.  When I got back from Iraq and I went to boot my computer the machine would shut down due to it over heating.  I opened the case and found that the cooler had come loose and the thermal paste had dried out / evaporated in the months of my abense.  But it wasnt so simple as to just replace the thermal paste and go, because the push pins that attach the cooler to the motherboard were broken too so the entire cooler had to be replaced.

I went to Best Buy and bought a cheap after market cooler much against my better judgement.  It worked well for a bit and it gave me some hope for overclocking my cpu as I needed some experance in overclocking it for my new computer that I have planned to build when we finally get our tax return.  So I came up with my 3.10 ghz overclock and the cooler worked well for a little bit.  Im not sure what happened, maybe the thermal convection of the heat pipes deteriorated, or the thermal paste with the cooler wasnt that great. To make matters worse it also had those stupid plastic push pins to hold it to the motherboard.

Last weekend I moved my intake fan to exhaust with the hopes of improving airflow since my case has a huge fan on the side for intake. I had been watching my cpu temps slowly climb from the mid 40s to the upper 50s and lower 60s.  Needless to say that didn’t fix any thing. As my motherboard temps did drop a little bit the temps inside the case rose & the cpu fan would spin faster and faster causing my computer to sound like a small jet airplane about ready to take off though the wall.

Now I will say that the CPU cooler design was ment to be set up with two fans in a push pull method but the fan size at 100mm is very hard to come by with out specially ordering the part from the internet.

Last night, when we all went to dinner at TGI Friday’s I figured I‘d go into Best Buy and get another intake fan hoping that having cold air pulled in from close to the floor would help the machine out.

I found the fan that I needed then noticed that they also had Corsiar H50′s in stock and thought to myself that I should have gotten that in the beginning instead as its a better cooler by a company that I really trust and it’s the little brother to the cooler that I have planned to buy for my new computer.

I considered it durring our wondering around Best Buy, going over the features and draw backs of an ipad, helping Jody realise that while its cool it doesnt quite work for her (although I later found out that we can get an adapter to pull pics off of an SD card from Apple which then made my arguement of not getting one rather mute but that‘s not the point of this post…). I in the end chose to go on & get the Corsair H50.

My Rocketfish cooler ran my pc this last week in the upper 60s low 70s. My Corsair H50 is currently running my computer in the upper 50′s under the same load.  Currently I have the machine running the folding @home client maxed out to all four cores of the CPU.  To me that is a sizeable differance in cooling between the two coolers and to make it better Best Buy currently is running the H50 on sale for $59.99 plus tax (in stores), so if you live close to Best Buy and need an new CPU cooler and dont want to wait for a high end aircooler or the 100 dollar H70 to come in from NewEgg or Amazon, then this cooler is your best bet.

Do make sure you have at least 1 x 120mm fan opening near your CPU in order to mount it though.

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It’s not just cars or computers or the stripes on your sleeve that get upgrades that make a large difference in your life. Its also the simple things like… well… beds.

I think my dislike for my old mattress has been well documented. I even went as far as to buy an 8 dollar foam topper to try to make the mattress better. While the topper did in fact make a difference in the end it still left me with a crappy mattress just with a topper on it. So Wednesday when the opportunity came up to go on a covert op to get some new mattresses not just for myself but a few other NCO’s… well I jumped on it!

We went to an abandoned building here on base and found a few foam mattresses in some unlocked unused rooms and took them to replace the mattresses in our CHUs which had the springs poking out of them. I’m actually a little astonished that the military has let the CHUs here get as bad as they are. Its not just the mattresses it’s the whole set up. The floor on my side of the CHU has some serious sagging areas not to mention that over that there are large gaps in the trim. But I digress. After sleeping on my bed last night I will say that I slept about 100x better and more restful than previously. I even put the foam topper on it too so it’s pretty great and I love it. The bed is firm in a good way and it’s extremely supportive.

It’s not only my bed this week that is getting upgraded. For the last two weeks or so I have been sharing a gator (think a little larger than a golf cart with a gas engine and a truck bed on it). I’m going from that thing to an up armored HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or hummer). I was trained at CST to drive these so its pretty cool that other than for the 30 days I was at CST that I can really use the training and skills that I developed there to at least do something. I like the HMMWV’s as while they handle like a brick on wheels they do have one thing over the gator. The up armored ones have air conditioning and while the gator is fun to drive when its between 105 and 110 every day I would still take air conditioning over fun any day.

(The Gator)

(The Hummer)

For the most part my days have basically been like the movie Groundhog Day. I get up at about 0530 brush my teeth and shave. Go back to my CHU, talk to Jody till about 0645 then go get the keys to the gator. Be at work by 0700, go get breakfast at about 0800, work till about 1230 ~ 1300, go get lunch and run whatever minor errands I need to run, go to dinner at 1900 and then head back to the CHU to talk to Jody till about 2300 ~ 2330, go to bed and get up the next day to do it all over again. For every 4 days I do this I get 1 day off. My day off is smoothie day. That’s the day that after lunch I walk over to the PX area and get me a Strawberry Banana and Raspberry smoothie. It cost me $5.50 for a large and its probably the greatest thing ever here. Sadly, due to being under manned I do not get any PT time. Hopefully things here will stable out here pretty soon so I can easily start hitting the gym again.

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Well of all the things about Iraq that I have disliked a major one has been the lack of creature comforts in our rooms. Yeah sure, we have beds and a place to store our stuff but other than that there is very little.

My roommate and myself have scrounged up a TV (which we haven’t hooked up yet) and a fridge that we do have hooked up but we found it with God knows how old of food in it…

I had other issues however, namely with my bed. See, my mattress really sucks. It was honestly causing me back issues and I was only really sleeping every few night as it was so uncomfortable that it wasn’t allowing me to actually get some rest. My pillow and sheet set I bought in Kuwait because I was afraid that I wouldn’t get anything when I got here, but the pillow that I bought is pretty thin. The sheets thankfully are pretty comfortable and fortunately they issued me a blanket when I got here.

My mattress on the other hand is pretty thread bare. I bet it hasn’t been replaced since its gotten out here several years ago. I was starting to be able to feel the springs of the mattress through it. So, yesterday I went and bought me an 8 dollar foam mattress topper and another pillow. These two things seemed to have made all the difference in improving the quality of my bed. I still miss my king sized bed back in Florida (and having my wife sharing it with me) but really for the most part this is now tolerable. That combined with a second pillow seems to have made the quality of my bed that much better.

Nothing much has happened here this last week. I had an issue with one of my troops where I needed to send her back home to the states as she had a death in the family. Other than that there hasn’t been a lot going on here. Its been all quiet which I really like.

(My laptop screen got broken during my travel here so my sister sent me a temporary one to use while I send mine in to HP for repair)

The pickings this week at the chow hall hasn’t been all that great, which is good for me I guess as I’m looking to lose some weight. At this point I’m looking to restart going to the gym quite often as I want to leave here in great shape. But this last week I haven’t done too well at going to the gym mostly because I’m still getting use to the area and the ungodly heat that is the typical weather here.

There have been a few things that have annoyed me greatly. Mostly, when I’m at work we have to have the TV on to the news and AFN runs these stupid commercials. Now granted they do give some good info but really I don’t need to see a domestic violence commercial AND a sexual assault commercial every other commercial break. The other thing is the temp in my room. My roommate insists that we have the temp at 20C or approx 68F and it sucks half the time. I’m in my room literally shivering because it’s so darn cold in there that at times I can see my breath. Now it is a desert and I do understand that but sheesh, it’s just way too cold in there!

Anyways, I’m also finding that I really enjoy some of Kid Rocks work. I like his rock and country songs particularly, but not so much his rap. The song below in particular meant a lot to me & makes me think of Jody. So this is for her:

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Well here I am attempting this again. I had quite a long post typed out but I came back from lunch to find some one rebooting my machine to test something out. That really ticked me off as unprofessional considering that there was other machines in the office in order to do the test, but no… they had to use mine and I lost everything that I had typed out.

I have honestly been pleasantly surprised by my stay here in Iraq. I had expected it to be worse than this and was fearing that every day would be hell. For the most part however, its pretty easy and laid back here… until the help desk that I’m helping run gets busy and then it seems all hell breaks loose. It also doesn’t help that we have a Captain that wants to change things just to change things so he can leave his mark here before he leaves to go home in 2 weeks or so. I’m hoping once he leaves that things will calm back down here again. I’m currently not NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In Charge) but I’m being trained to take over for the outgoing guy which is a good thing considering by the time the outgoing guy leaves the Captain will be gone too and then hopefully the climate will be a little more susceptible to some of the changes I want to make in the shop.

(A pathway between sleeping facilities)

It doesn’t help that the current Staff Sergeant in charge here picks and chooses the rules he operates by… even though he is subject to the same ones as the rest of us, then gets defensive about it when someone calls him out
on it.

So far nothing bad has happened here. Well other than being chewed out twice for perceived wrongs from people who didn’t have the whole story about some jokes I cracked etc. I’m amazed at how relaxed it is here though. Well other than when it comes to my female troop walking alone in the dark then its not so relaxed, but that’s a story for another time.

(Shower facilities on the left, some storage on the right)

The Mt dew can here are amusing. I was a little shocked and still attempting to learn to drink from them as its kinda difficult to get use to. By now I’m sure you guys have seen the pictures from Jody’s previous post about it.

(Random piles of free bottled water for us)

I’m irritated with and at the same time loving Sniper-Hill which is my ISP here in Iraq. I love being able to contact my wife pretty much anytime she is awake I love being able to check my personal email and my Facebook ect. However, I hate the fact that it costs so darn much for a 512 connection ($150.00 a MONTH!!!). I could go with a lower connection rate for less money but then I couldn’t use Skype with my wife which in the evenings has become quite the treat for me to be able to do.

(Some Army art)

I really don’t like having a roommate. My roommate works from 12 to 8 at night. Witch under normal circumstances would be great but under the current ones when I come back to the CHU in the evening its really a pain in the ass as hes asleep for about an hour and half to two hours when I come home, so Im sitting in the dark with my laptop either playing star craft 2 or talking to Jody.

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