Archive for September 2007

Tiger Direct Deal

September 27, 2007

Check it out

 It is actually a very good bare bones kit. THe memory model usually goes for 20 dollars more [figure corrected]. And you have one stick of 1 gigabyte memory, which provides you better upgrading opportunities. Usually for now, 1gigabyte is enough, but if you are using Vista then you will need more than 2 gigabytes. Having to only buy one stick of 1gig or 1gig+ of extra RAM makes upgrade simpler.

You also get a 450 Watt power supply, which is enough to power almost anything you would need and extra accessories as well. The normal power supply is a 300 Watt one.

At 300 dollars after rebate, this is an excellent deal. The motherboard has 8 USB connections and is based upon the nVidia architecture. The processor is Intel Dual Core, the newest CPU architecture. First it was hyperthread, now it is Dual Core.

 The new motherboards operate on DDR2 memory, which is actually cheaper than DDR1 memory.

While you could save 10 to 20 dollars from buying the same motherboard bundled with the same processor from tigerdirect, you would have to install it yourself.

Quick Guide on buying video cards and computers

September 26, 2007

For one thing, given the rate of technological progress, expect your brand new product to lose out around 50% of its status in a year to 2 years. Lower percentage decreases if you bought top of the line 1000+ or 1500+ dollar products for computers or $200+ video card products.
 So in essence while there might be a 20% increase in performance from a 500 dollar computer to a 1000 dollar computer, by buying the 500 dollar computer now, because it is cheap, you will be able to spend the 500 dollars conserved in 1 to 2 years and still be top of the line, nearly anyways. This is compared to the buying strategy that buys top of the line products at retail or slightly less than retail prices when such product lines arrive on the shelves. The difference between relatively modern and state of the art, may be simply 30% yet the cost difference may be far more than 2X. You are essentially buying, if you so choose, state of the art products for immediate gratification. Again, this kind of buying strategy is different from the more conservative strategy I first listed.

[Typically what I mean by "obsolete" is the time frame in which you can buy a computer that outperforms your current one in all sectors, and have it cost 50% less than what you bought your first computer for. A 500 dollar computer in 2000 would become obsolete, in my view, when a 250 dollar computer in 2002 would outperform in ALL aspects the 500 dollar computer. Typically the rate of obsolescence for CPUs are lower than the ones for ram and the obsolescence rate for RAM is lower than that for GPU, graphics cards]

 Concerning recouping of costs or conserving of dollar value, there are some methods people use to make the strategy of always buying brand new state of the art products more cost effective. For one thing, ebay allows you to sell your state of the art products once the “new state of the art” has been reached. Since you paid like hundreds for one piece of electronics and thousands in aggregate computer component costs, you are able to recoup some of your expenses by selling it on ebay. THe users will bid because while your product may not be brand spanking new, it would still be at least one tech level above what most people could afford and would definitely be far <B>cheaper</b> than an equivalent retail product. So this is sort of an addendum strategy to buying state of the art. It requires you to use your own initiative to recoup your expensive buying habits, but in return you get unparalleled performance. Not cost effective for people that don’t use games or their computers a lot, of course. That would simply then be a status symbol, rather than a tool for commerce and life.

Okay, second topic. The guide on buying video cards is sort of similar to the one to computers. I am leaving out the very different models of computers, such as barebones kit, full complete kits, individual assembly of computer with pre-selected parts, etc. There is a rather significant difference between buying a bare bones kit and stocking it up to your standards and needs, and buying a full kit complete with computer accessories and near state of the art memory,video card, monitor, etc. The individual computer assembly strategy is employed by people that already have an economic grasp of what components cost, what they can afford, and what they are willing to pay for. Aside from that, the topic on video cards is divided into similar categories.

 For one thing, there are two primary main designers of video cards for computers: nVidia and ATI. Different manufacturers take their motherboard design and tweak it, thus you get like eVGA cards and whatevers. Then there is the naming conventions such as Geforce 2 TI, Geforce 4 420, Geforce 5 GO 5600, Geforce 6600, Geforce 8800 GT, Geforce 8600 GT XXX. Seems like nonsense code to most folks. It is very important to understand the difference, however, since it will allow you to get the best value for your dollar. I will chiefly focus on nVidia graphics processors, rather than the ATI brand naming conventions. They are similar in design, but the numbers are the same. Both nVidia and ATI use the “series” form of naming conventions, after about series 4 or 5 I believe. The first number after the “GeForce” is the series number. So Geforce 2 is the second generation, Geforce 4 is the fourth, and so forth. THe early generations were sort of industry revolutionary days, so don’t expect much consistency. THey were still figuring out what was what. WIth the advent of ATI as a main competitor, the two companies figured out a sort of “balance of powers” in terms of marketing and advertisement. One area where knowledge of war, strategy, and politics come into play for a short time.
 
Essentially, every new generation of video cards come with new technology, new shader model versions, and better chip architecture and memory/ram/ramdac/core speeds (in mega hertz and soon gigahertz). So the value is determined by the performance and generation your product comes from. Performance is determined by the market the company seeks to address. For rich folks and power gamers, nVidia provides the upper number systems, the 800+ such as 8800 or 7800 or 6800. The first number is the generation number, the second number is the quality of the card in terms of how much raw power they stuffed into it. It is like an up armored humvee in a sense. Instead of a newly designed jeep, we get the old one and spruce it up with extras and bells. That would be the x800s and x900s and anything above. For folks on a lower budget, in the 200-300 range, they have the below x800 line. They remove some of the power (like horsepower and cylinders in engines) and reduce the memory bandwidth and core clock. Still better than the last generation’s stuff, but now it becomes more difficult to tell.

 To give some concrete examples, Tigerdirect.com sells Geforce 6600 card, a low budget card of the 6 generation series which had a very nice value especially since it was the lowest end card you could get that had Shader Version 3.0 (minimum required by Bioshock), at 79.99. In comparison, tigerdirect.com also sells Geforce 7300 LE at around 69.99. The x300 series are a really low budget card compared to the x600 or x800. I mean, they strip much of its power away, leaving the main GPU, graphics processing unit, with little memory speed or processing pipes to work with. In practice, a 7300 would definitely be outperformed by a 6800, even though the 7300 is a generation higher on the scale of things. Now take a look at the more expensive line of Geforce 8800 line of cards. The reason why it is more expensive is because those cards DON’T have most of their power stripped away like the x300s. It is why typically a 6800 card can outperform a Geforce generation 8 card of the 300 series. Typically speaking of course, since there are a lot of overclocking, memory size, memory bandwidth, etc issues that could affect speed.

Anyways, the value of the x300 series is pretty low. In that, before long you will have to replace it if you wish to play the more modern games. It’s 50, 60, 70 dollar value will be replaced by the new generation’s x300, thus requiring a very high turn over value that still won’t let you play most games well. However, the x600 series I have found are very affordable and are of average value. The 6600 which I bought had shader version 3.0, which allowed me to play Bioshock without upgrading. I had to play it at the 640X resolution, but it was good for a year and a half for most things. It was good value for a card that only cost around 55 dollars one bay. Now the 8600 is the newest generation card, and it prices around 110-220 retail in US dollars. Typically a x600 card is obsolete by the time two generations of new video cards have been produced. That takes about 2 years all in all. That still has more [affordable] endurance than the 8800 card that costs 300-800 dollars. That might conceivably last 3 years to 4 before becoming obsolete.

Obsolescence for video cards are a tricky phenomenon. Framerates, meaning performance, is important while playing games for with a fps below 20, you will get slowness. SLowness equals more time spent on game and less value. Ebay typically sells new cards for 25-50% off if you can get a good deal. My friend Phileosophos bought the new nVidia Geforce SLI cards that cost something to 800 dollars total for two cards in SLI. He usually sells old video cards on ebay after a year or two, since Phil likes maximum performance and he is willing to pay through the nose for such. Buying retail gives you warranty, usually eBay doesn’t have warranty unless you buy from some kind of select shop rather than an individual. I am okay with Resolution 800X600 or 1024X860. Others prefer 1600X+ resolutions or 1980X resolutions. The higher the resolution, the greater the demand on the video graphics card. A card that might be able to play games well at 800X could have its fps,  or performance, value decreased by maybe 50% once the resolution is bumped one level to 1024X.

Visiting Chicago II

September 25, 2007
Chicago has a jack load of pigeons and those smaller brown colored whatever you call it birds. I’m directly in the center of Chicago, more or less, southwest of Lake Michigan.

 Trees aren’t too high around here, probably 1st or second generation, except for the park trees, which are spread amongst several numerous in-city parks.

 The police can’t be bothered with petty theft, which is classical of an urban location. It is convenient in one sense, in that the locations are very close together so you don’t have to travel far by car or bike to get to useful places. Apartment renting costs, however, is very steep for very little space and little to none technical maintenance support.

There seems to be McDonalds here everywhere and no sign of Sonic, Checkers, or any of the store brands. At least in our general location. Space is a premium, so I suppose it was more profitable to go to metropolitan Atlanta or sub-urban areas. After all, McDonalds had a time advantage on the competition.

WWII: Taking the Eye Off the Ball

September 24, 2007
There was actually a debate going on about which target to hit first, Africa or the French coast. Marshall and the other JOINT chiefs primarily favored the French coast, probably because it was uncertain how long Britain could hold out or how many casualties would have to be suffered if the Germans were given more time to fortify the French coast. American public opinion called for action.

 Roosevelt chose Africa, which the generals thought was a misdirected and wasted effort. Elections were coming up, and Marshall wrote rather bitterly that he had forgotten that the President of the United States must keep the people entertained.

 History plays out differently out, but the people never change.

The Light and the Dark

September 24, 2007

The light and the dark

Flickr Photo

September 22, 2007
Cute eyes

Visiting Chicago

September 21, 2007
I’m visiting family in Chicago for the next week and a half. Will be back on the 1st of October

JFK: Heroes and Myths

September 16, 2007

This is an interesting look back, historically, on the JFK administration

During his interview with WorldNetDaily, Doyle said the entire episode dispels the belief that the Kennedy brothers were “willing civil-rights heroes.”

“I think this demonstrates clearly one of the fundamental realities of that amazing period in our history, which is that John and Robert Kennedy may have had nice feelings toward the concept of civil rights as a theoretical goal in the distant future,” Doyle said, “but they did not see it as an immediate policy objective.”

He added that “they had to be forced to deal with this by the real heroes of that era – the James Merediths and [Martin Luther] Kings and the people in the streets.”

“The way they dealt with this crisis is proof of that,” he said.

Noting that “it may be easy to look at 1962 in 2001 terms and say, ‘Well, that was a different era – the whole country was different,’” Doyle said. “But in point of fact, the Army was functioning as – in most cases – a very well-running, fully integrated American institution in the front ranks.”

The Kennedy’s “did this to avoid political embarrassment,” he said. “John Stennis, a very powerful Democratic senator from Mississippi of the time, called up the Kennedys and basically said, ‘You damn well better not send us any black troops down here.’ They essentially replied, ‘Yes, sir, Mr. Stennis.’”

“The two Kennedy brothers were ‘segregationist collaborators,’ like most white Americans were then,” he said. “To understand the period, I believe we have to understand this crisis and the unknown drama of this crisis.”

Calling Meredith “a personal hero of mine,” Doyle said it was a “joy” to talk to him about the incident that occurred so many years ago and that “he’s still in action.”

Check out the beginning. Heroes often never measure up. Military heroes, however, do often measure up, at least in the American experience. America would not exist as it is without the military institution. Yet people believe war prevents unity and progress. What prevents human progress is that people want to hear what they wish to be true rather than what is true. What is true is that humanity was born from the fires of war and we will progress or not in the fires and forge of war. The fact that desegregation occured in the military after fighting together in WWII, a decade sooner than it occured with riots and assassinations later, speaks the truth that people do not wish to hear. That wars cement bonds, as often as it breaks them. Peace is no clear superior, except for the fact that less people die.

UPDATE: I kind of wrote an addendum in the comments section, complete with quotes and links, even. The first draft was a bit rough so I fixed some things in Part 1 and Part 2.  Part 1had a whole new section added to its end, even.

A Recap of Massoud’s Assassination

September 16, 2007

If we are ever going to win, it will be with the help of people such as this.

The Perfect Storm author spent a month with anti-Taliban warrior Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2000. Now he offers his reaction to the recent murder of the Northern Alliance leader—and the subsequent attacks on the U.S.
In November 2000 Adventure sent contributing editor Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Reza (see photo gallery) to profile Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. The resulting article (read an excerpt) appeared in our March/April 2001 issue and has just been reprinted in Fire, a collection of Junger’s journalistic work.

On September 9, 2001, suicide bombers killed Massoud. Two days later the U.S. was under attack. Here Junger offers his thoughts on those two days of terror and their implications.

THE ASSASSINATION

On the morning of September 9, 2001, guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud sat down with two reporters at his base in Khvajeh Baha od Din, in northern Afghanistan, to give one more interview about the unending civil war in his country.

The two men were apparently from North Africa—Algeria, Morocco, or Tunisia, no one seems to know for sure—and said they worked for an Arab news agency. They had been at Khvajeh Baha od Din for more than a week, keeping to themselves, eating the rice and mutton provided for them, waiting for Massoud. They had a TV camera, but no one thought to inspect it, and they came recommended by people within Massoud’s own government.

Just before noon, with Massoud seated before them, they started the interview. Seconds later everyone in the room was either wounded or dead.

The attackers had packed the camera with explosives and blown themselves up. Nothing remained of one but his legs; the other was killed as he fled.

Massoud was horribly wounded but still alive. His men tried to rush him to a helicopter for the short flight to Tajikistan, but he survived only 15 minutes.

Ahmad Shah Massoud—hero of the war against the Soviets, implacable foe of the Taliban regime—passed from this life in the back of a battered Land Cruiser, racing through the mountains of Afghanistan. It was a sadly fitting end for a man whose life had been entirely dominated by war.

PRECURSOR TO THE U.S. ATTACKS?

I found out about Massoud’s death as I walked into the small, walled garden of photographer Reza’s house in Paris. It was a week after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and I was en route back to New York. I had called Reza from the airport and said I’d like to stop in to see him.

Reza knew Massoud well from the war against the Soviets, and he and I had spent a month together with Massoud last year.

I’d seen the reports of an assassination “attempt” on Massoud just two days before the U.S. attacks. But I’d also been told that he was going to survive. It was a lie, though—a desperate effort by Massoud’s Northern Alliance to retain control of the situation.

Reza stepped out of his kitchen to greet me; his face was broken with grief, and I knew. For a few minutes there was nothing to say. “We have many works to do,” Reza finally said. “There is too much to be done.”

It was a terrible moment. Thousands of people had died in the rubble of the World Trade Center, victims of the same extremist perversion of Islam that Massoud had been fighting.

Like all Americans, I was worried about further attacks. And I was saddened that the most powerful military in the world was contemplating a campaign against one of the poorest nations on Earth. The irony was that there appeared to be no Afghans among the 19 hijackers.

It seemed to me that Osama bin Laden had ordered the attempt on Massoud’s life before going ahead with his attacks on New York and Washington. He would not have dared provoke the United States the way he had, I believed, were Massoud still alive to make use of the military aid that might have finally been offered to him.

“AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN”

Reza and I sat at his kitchen table with a bottle of wine. Someone had sent him an e-mail that day that said, “You must be a happy man to have met Ahmad Shah Massoud.” And in fact we knew we’d been incredibly fortunate to have met him.

Massoud—who loathed the extremism of the Taliban as much as he did the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union—once told me he was fighting not only for a free Afghanistan but for a free world. There was something about him—the slow nod of his head as he listened to a question, the exhaustion and curiosity engraved on his handsome, haggard face—that made it clear we were in the presence of an extraordinary man.

Addendum to Tom Kratman’s article

September 16, 2007

My short addendum and thoughts on what Kratman said, is that true cosmopolitanism, which I see as closely related to classical liberalism and the philosophy of Aristotle and military science implicit in the study of war by such noteworthy figures as Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, etc, combines both the might of security and the right of liberty. Duties and freedoms, responsibilities and power. They go together in a way. Light and Darkness. Matter and anti-matter.

Both the Roman and Greek models tried to contain a good hybrid mix of militarism, in order to beat back the barbarians and maintain social order against wannabe Revolutionaries or greedy neighbor city-states, and also forward the elements of progress on the human condition so that the day tomorrow is always better for humanity and its children than the day before.

Obviously, Book, this “mix” I would call it, was running on a shoestring budget. How much can you really do in freeing the serfs if you are only freeing them so that they could be free to starve because the economy is so shoddy that they can’t get work or the conditions are so bad they might as well be serfs in all but name only? Without the technological progress, slavery would still be popular and is still popular in Europe, Balkans, Asia, Arab oil states, and so forth. As people can see with the War on Drugs, pseudo fake war on drugs that is, it is very hard to stamp out things that is economically profitable since the greed motive will always be more effective than the “live clean” motive, especially when the greed motive is backed by Columbia mafia and Mexican drug lord armaments while “live clean” is backed up by DEA “arrest and get out of jail soon’ cards.

(more…)


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