Best Price to Perfomance Ratio PC for Summer 2011

This build is for people who want a good quality system but do not want to research the components themselves. There is nothing taken into consideration for future upgrades. This is a PC for 2 to 3 years that will perform well and play games decently.

I have decided to pick an Intel CPU since for most purposes it outperforms AMD and I like Z68 chipset features. As you may notice there is a small SSD drive on this build. This will allow you to use Smart Response Technology (aka SSD caching). It will speed up your system automatically without having to deal with all the nuisance of small SSD maintenance or SSDs in general.

I want to provide an overall great experience so I still want good quality on all components. There are plenty of areas where money can be saved like input devices but they make PC usage more enjoyable. Most people skimp on a good UPS but I strongly recommend getting one especially for areas with a lot of thunderstorms. It helps and increases your components’ lifetime. The whole enchilada comes down to about $1450.

Components list after the break:
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The end of the Blockbuster era

For Lease or Sale

As you have probably already noticed if you are a baby boomer that still goes to Blockbuster, it has gone bankrupt. The franchise name was sold to Dish Network. We still don’t know what they are going to do with the brick and mortar stores, maybe sell you satellite dishes. They are, however, keeping the brand for online and mail-in rentals. It is sad though that growing up I used to go there with friends, sometimes just to socialize or talk about movies with people knowledgeable in the subject. You would get great recommendations especially from more mature people that could steer you away from “Glitter” or “Crossroads.” It was a place where you could buy snacks, walk around, and our movie hobby wouldn’t be just being a couch potato.

I miss these days, not to mention that streaming still has not caught up with physical media. No streaming option can match the quality of Blu-rays. Most are on par with DVDs, a more than a decade old standard. The Surround Sound and HD Audio availability is very limited. Streaming services have done a terrible job of providing Closed Captioning and their prices are quickly going up. Coincidentally, right after Blockbuster bit the dust, Netflix increased their prices to up to 60% to keep your previous plan, with little to no improvements to the service.

Video is going through many changes, just as audio did in the last decade. MP3s are not nearly the same quality as formats that did not prosper such as Super CD or DVD-Audio. Even though storage is very cheap nowadays, we have not even moved to slightly larger lossless codecs or uncompressed audio. I understand most people do not have equipment to appreciate the difference since iPods are the most common/convenient audio player out there. This leads me to believe that eventually great video quality is simply going the way of the Dodo (and Blockbuster). One day, I will tell stories to kids of how we had much better video and audio back in the day.

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Facebook was making me dumb

Facebook Fail LogoAs if I don’t have enough stuff in my life to make me dumber, friends and family micro-blogging (aka Facebook) was not helping at all. Therefore, I decided to quit Facebook and you might be wondering why. Well, probably not but bear with me, let’s say you do. I completely skipped the whole MySpace era because I was in college in graduate school so I barely had time to breathe. I had no time to waste online, and the little time I spent on the computer not coding or writing papers was spent checking my email and cleaning up the spam or clicking on the “unsubscribe” link that actually tells spammers that it is a valid email.

Anyways, I would actually read forums where knowledgeable people would gather and discuss topics and most of the time this was productive. There was a certain level of anonymity that encouraged people to be more open and actually ask questions in order to learn something. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to have these kinds of conversations in social networks. This could entirely mean that my “friends” are retards.  Plenty of them are geeks that can’t admit they are wrong and end up trolling. But, they might also just pretend they know something when in fact they are clueless and make it up as they go. The problem arises mostly because access or interest to the thread is limited to your dumb friends.
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A Letter to Congress

My wife decided to send a letter to our local government officials who include Rep. Steven Palazzo, Sen. Thad Cochran, and Sen. Roger Wicker. This was because she was concerned about government defaulting in our debt. I would like to share this letter with you. She writes:

Dear Congressman Palazzo:

My name is Michelle Rios and I reside in Hattiesburg, MS. I am a longtime Mississippi resident with a deep love for our beautiful State.

I am writing you to ask that you help with reaching compromise with members of Congress and President Barack Obama.  Our current situation and lack of resolution regarding the debt ceiling and debt crisis are very worrisome to me and many other Americans. I guess you could say we are part of that “silent majority”. The current political games taking place in Washington by members of both parties are endangering the American people.

Republicans need to find a way to compromise with the President and other Democrats so that we can move forward to a better future. I agree with Republicans that we need to get our fiscal house in order and spend a lot less, but I do not agree with this idea of never adding a new tax or never letting tax breaks expire. Both parties need to look at each other’s points of views, work together and COMPROMISE.

I think extremes do not get us anywhere; we need to find the right balance and keep an open heart and mind. Please do your best to find common ground in Washington and avoid extremist views and positions.
Thank you for your time and considering my request.

Michelle Rios

************** UPDATE Jul 29, 2011 **************

Sen. Roger Wicker responded after the break:
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Did you know.. why your primary drive is labeled C: ?

If you don’t remember the days we rolled down car windows, watched the Thundercats, or actually had to remember stuff because of lack of smartphones, you might have wondered (or not!) why your main drive on a Windows box is assigned the letter C:. Anyways, I will tell you that the letters A: and B: were usually reserved a decade or two ago for floppy drives and sometimes for removable media such as tape drives. Apple was the first one to release a desktop without it and it is usually credited with the floppy’s demise. However, it would be common to have a 5 1/4 inch A: and a 3 1/2 inch B: drive. Now, this raises the question, why aren’t USB thumbdrives assigned these letters? Hence, they have to fight with optical drives and secondary hard drives for other letters. It is sometimes a guess to figure out which letter my thumbdrive is assigned to (or not!).

Passing the buck Comcast style!

Problem: why is my port 8080 blocked?
Christian > My Issue: why is my port 8080 blocked?
Lim Un > Hello Christian, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Lim Un. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Lim Un > Hi! Welcome to Comcast! How may I help you?
Christian > I am hosting a WHS 2011 in my computer in port 80 without problem but Comcast is blocking 8080 79 81 and other ports. I can not host a SVN server at the same time. Can you please unlock these ports for me?
Lim Un > I understand how frustrating this might be, Christian. I apologize for the inconvenience. Rest assured I will do everything within my means to address your concern today.
Lim Un > For me to further assist you, may I have your account number, account name and the last 4 digits of your SNN.
Christian > acc# XXXXXXXXX acc name CHRIS RIOS ssn XXXX
Lim Un > Thank you for the information, please give me a minute or two to pull up your account.
Lim Un > Oh by the way, do you know that you can protect your computer, files and your identity without slowing down your PC (or Mac). Get Norton Security Suite, a $160 dollar value, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST with your Comcast High-Speed Internet subscription. You can check out for more information.
Lim Un > You want to unblock the other ports for you to be able to access other sites, am I getting this right>?
Lim Un > Are you still there?
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Simple way to customize pushpins in Bing Maps for WP7

Having trouble finding a quick and simple way to customize and add images to pushpins? I came up with the following.

The stardard pushpin looks pretty bad, as you can see, it is just a black square with a pointing arrow.

The easiest way to get rid of it is to set the template of your pushpin to null.

Pushpin myPushpin = new Pushpin();
myPushpin.Template = null;

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How to get your PlayStation 3 to see your hard drive?

Running out of room to backup some of my stuff. I went to Best Buy to pick up a 2TB external hard drive but then I realized that hard drives nowadays have NTFS partitions on them. This was not always the case, it used to be drives were partitioned with FAT32. PS3s however are not able to read or even see NTFS drives. It might have something to do with the fact that Sony does not want to pay licensing fees to Microsoft. Sadly, Microsoft won’t make it easy for you to format your drive to FAT32. The only options you get from the GUI are NTFS or exFAT, and neither will work on a PS3.

If you go to the command line and do the following command (assuming I: is the drive you want to format) this will only format drives up to 32GB which is a limitation set up by Microsoft on Windows 7 rather than FAT32 itself.
format I: /fs:FAT32
After a little searching I found the solution to this dilemma in this little guy called fat32format that can format drives up to 2TB with no problems. I copied this file to my C: drive and I just typed:

fat32format I:

I was finally able to backup the 500GB drive in my PS3 to an external drive 🙂

For more info on this program check out