The DnD Sanctuary

General => Browsers & Technology => Topic started by: ersi on 2016-05-09, 06:09:15

Title: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-09, 06:09:15
This is my advice to first-time computer builder: DON'T! The process is not easy. The components may be faulty. Accidents happen. And you don't have enough tools to find out where the problem is.

Tutorials on youtube by professionals don't help. Professionals don't get into trouble. Noobs do. Professionals have mostly forgotten how it was to be a noob. Instead, they give you the false impression that the process is easy and fun like a game of Lego with a screwdriver.

Many video tutorials tell you all you need is a screwdriver and the computer components. This is wrong. You will need at least

- two sizes of screwdrivers (preferably with magnetic tips), if your box is anything less than huge,
- pliers (very tiny pliers to pick fallen things up from tight places if your screwdriver doesn't have a magnetic tip),
- cutters (not scissors, but specialist cutters in order to avoid damaging the bundles of wires when you cut them open),
- alcohol for cleaning,
- clean (dustfree) wiping cloth,
- thermal paste (even if the stock CPU cooler has thermal paste preapplied, be ready to install the CPU multiple times, so you will have to clean the parts and apply your own thermal paste),
- a small flashlight to examine things in the case,
- tons of patience and time,

and it will still not be enough. Something will go wrong. They tell you it's max two hours of assembling things. No. It will be weeks of troubleshooting, months if you have nobody to help you.

More thorough video tutorials by professionals tell you to start by choosing the "right" case. This is a strong clue that we are dealing with someone who has forgotten real-life situations, who has lost the capacity to be useful to a first-timer. People in the real world actually already have a computer and are looking for a way to reuse some parts from there to spare money - at least the case should be reusable, if not anything else. Computer cases have been most resistant to change and innovation. There is no "right" case. There is the case you have wherein you want to build a new computer. If you as a PC build first-timer need to buy a new case, then you should not be doing this. You should take a very good look into your old case first and find a way to reuse it (and maybe a thing or two in it), but even so you will remain a noob. You won't become intermediate by staring into a box.

There is no gratification to be had from building a computer. It is not cheaper or better. It is not cheaper because you cannot afford to cheap out on any of the components. You may think you are putting together something precisely for your own needs, something that is best for you, but in truth you don't know your needs. You certainly don't know which parts correspond to your supposed needs, because you are noob. You think your idea has hatched long enough, for months even, but this is a process where no amount of planning will be enough. You will end up in frustration and overpaying on top of that.

Specifications and manuals don't help. They only tell you what things should fit together, but if the things don't fit together in reality, you are out of luck. And there will surely be some things that don't fit together, unbeknownst to you, because some parts require a surprising amount of force to connect, while the components mostly are very fragile and should be treated gently. As a noob, you will never know if you did it right. More precisely, you cannot be sure what exactly you did wrong. Either you didn't press strong enough where needed or you broke or bent something without noticing or, even if you apply the right force at the right times, the surface you work on isn't quite right. And you don't have enough tools to figure out later where the problem lies.

Something will definitely go wrong along the way. There's no escape from it. You will need someone to share the responsibility with. First-timers should be building under expert guidance the first twelve times or so. Otherwise you will be like me, like many other first-timers who did it wrong. They don't get likes on youtube, they usually don't share their stories, so you don't know about them.

Yesterday I tried to assemble my first PC by myself. The motherboard manual that I got doesn't contain anything about troubleshooting. They expect everything to work. A completely unjustified expectation.

I assembled enough things outside the case - CPU onto motherboard, stock cooler on top of it, RAM into its place, PSU connected at the necessary places. Then, outside the case, I attached the monitor and keyboard to the mobo and the PSU cable to the wall and switched the thing on. Fans spin, mobo lights up, cool. But the monitor has no signal. I thought it was something temporary. I disconnected the power and removed the power cable. I put everything into the case, added a DVD drive and a harddrive, reattached the power cable and switched the thing on again. The DVD drive opens and closes. There seems to be power in the harddrive too, so these parts are getting electricity. And the fans are spinning. The other side however, HDMI and USB and other holes, they don't get anything.

Googling I found out that this is actually a common noob problem. Noobs should not be building computers. I tried some advices. I tried removing and reinstalling RAM. I tried booting without RAM. This is the best troubleshooting list I came across http://www.mysuperpc.com/build/pc_first_boot_common_problems.shtml

They say the mobo should beep when you try to boot it up. No, it doesn't. I understand that this is a basic thing, to have a feedback signal whether things are right or wrong, but looks like modern motherboards, certainly the one I have, don't have this basic thing. The manual does not mention it nor indicate where such a beeper could be attached. Also, the mobo lights up in cool colours when turned on, but there's no indicator light to show whether the mobo recognises RAM or such. Pointless.

Basically, I tried everything short of removing and reinstalling the CPU. My next step will be to call someone who has actually assembled computers and who has an electrometre.

Let no one else undertake this useless and frustrating experiment.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-09, 09:55:15
Sounds like a bad motherboard if it doesn't come with basic troubleshooting in the form of lights, codes and/or sounds. In my current ASUS motherboard I neither like nor understand the way you're supposed to seat the RAM, but using the troubleshooting section in the manual I managed to figure out the problem fairly quickly. It has relevant status lights that, in this case, told me something was wrong with the RAM.

- two sizes of screwdrivers (preferably with magnetic tips), if your box is anything less than huge,
Hm, one has always sufficed for me. :)

More thorough video tutorials by professionals tell you to start by choosing the "right" case. This is a strong clue that we are dealing with someone who has forgotten real-life situations, who has lost the capacity to be useful to a first-timer. People in the real world actually already have a computer and are looking for a way to reuse some parts from there to spare money - at least the case should be reusable, if not anything else.
Who says the right case can't be your old case? That being said, if it's your first time building your own computer chances actually are your old case isn't reusable on purpose, at least if it originated from the likes of HP and Dell.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-09, 12:19:29
Sounds like a bad motherboard if it doesn't come with basic troubleshooting in the form of lights, codes and/or sounds. In my current ASUS motherboard I neither like nor understand the way you're supposed to seat the RAM, but using the troubleshooting section in the manual I managed to figure out the problem fairly quickly. It has relevant status lights that, in this case, told me something was wrong with the RAM.
Or cheap. Mine is as ASUS as yours. I just don't understand the differences. A system beep should not be some extra feature that raises price.

- two sizes of screwdrivers (preferably with magnetic tips), if your box is anything less than huge,
Hm, one has always sufficed for me. :)
I had to use three - one flat-headed to stuff cables when they became difficult. But they became so difficult I still had to take the PSU out of the case three or four times to manage cables better in the narrow space I had. This is another tip to first-time PC builders: Before action, think how you would later reverse the action. If you cannot think of a backdoor to a step, it's a step you shouldn't take.

Who says the right case can't be your old case?
In the tutorials I have seen, the right case has something called features. You are supposed to select it for some features and characteristics. Except that the only feature seems to be modularity (ability to take every corner of the case apart easily) and the only characteristic seems to be size (the more workspace the better).

That being said, if it's your first time building your own computer chances actually are your old case isn't reusable on purpose, at least if it originated from the likes of HP and Dell.
I didn't know that. I only know about boxes assembled in Estonia (computer assemblers like Microlink and Ordi). I know too little. Another reason why I should not have wasted my time.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-09, 13:58:32
Or cheap. Mine is as ASUS as yours. I just don't understand the differences. A system beep should not be some extra feature that raises price.
I don't think mine beeps. In fact beeping seems like the most basic (and perhaps most dependable?) form of troubleshooting available. One of my former motherboards, possibly an ASUS from the mid-'90s, practically came with a morse code guide. Does it beep slowly and continuously? Three times quickly in a row? And so forth. My current motherboard just shows a light around the relevant area that isn't working, with explanation in the manual. A previous motherboard I had showed codes like A7. Then you could look up what A7 meant. Same principle as the beeping, but definitely easier to work with.

I think I preferred the code thing over lights, which in turn I prefer over cryptic beeps.

What's your motherboard? It should be possible to check the manual online in other languages.

I didn't know that. I only know about boxes assembled in Estonia (computer assemblers like Microlink and Ordi). I know too little. Another reason why I should not have wasted my time.
Oh, you can tell in a heartbeat. Either it has normal screws or has some kind of punched together thing. You should probably still be able to reuse it, but let's just say it isn't the most user friendly.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-09, 14:30:54
B150M Pro Gaming (https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/B150M-PRO-GAMING/specifications/)

Then there's the thing called POST. From what I understand, when mobo does POST, then it can beep too. My current assembly does not even POST, I guess.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-09, 16:18:38
Huh, that is weird.

If you look at the manual for mine, 1.8, the "Onboard LEDs" chapter, shows you what I'm talking about. Yours, on the contrary, is talking about, and I quote: "an ultimate lighting effect."

https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Z97AR/HelpDesk_Manual/

I guess one shouldn't buy "gaming" motherboards.  ???

Anyway, seating the RAM is really easy to mess up on these newer ASUS motherboards because they only put one of those clicky things on one side. That and forgetting to power the CPU (the 1 on your page 1-3) because they didn't used to have that in the past. Well, and depending on your GPU that might need separate power as well.

I had no idea there was such a thing as motherboards without basic troubleshooting features. I guess it only confirms I'm right in always checking the manuals before buying things.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-09, 16:52:08
I had no idea there was such a thing as motherboards without basic troubleshooting features. I guess it only confirms I'm right in always checking the manuals before buying things.
The manual is silent about missing features. It contains zero tips for troubleshooting. It expects everything to work. A first-timer would not even notice that he's buying as if a car without wheels.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Macallan on 2016-05-13, 16:12:09
Sounds like a bad motherboard if it doesn't come with basic troubleshooting in the form of lights, codes and/or sounds.
PCs in general suck big time in this regard. Or rather, their firmware does.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-19, 05:02:00
In my current ASUS motherboard I neither like nor understand the way you're supposed to seat the RAM, but using the troubleshooting section in the manual I managed to figure out the problem fairly quickly.
My mobo's manual doesn't have a troubleshooting section. I took the parts back to the store (luckily I bought all the parts in one place, so I could take it all there as I had them assembled) and they diagnosed the issue as badly seated RAM. This is not funny, because I tried the RAM a hundred times, and apparently never once got it right. And of course I still won't know how to seat RAM.

(I still have to go and get the parts from the store, so we will see if this is really the only issue.)
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-19, 07:17:49
I only meant that the relevant problem light for the RAM lit up. I don't think the manual had a troubleshooting section on RAM, besides the basic instructions for how to put it in. The problem on these ASUS motherboards is that they only have the thing that tells you whether it's seated correctly on one side, instead of on both sides like on all of my previous motherboards.[1] That way you have very little feedback as to whether you put it in correctly. Also, keep in mind that you probably have to push harder than you think. When it's really wrong you can easily see that it's misaligned. When it's a little wrong you might be able to ascertain by trying to pull it out.
This isn't because I haven't previously owned a DDR3 (or DDR4) device. My '09 Gigabyte DDR3 motherboard had 'em on both sides. So does this recent ASRock MB (http://www.asrock.com/mb/AMD/FM2A68M-DG3+/). And this recent Gigabyte MB (http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/465852/gigabyte-ga-b150-hd3p/specificaties/). As does this recent MSI MB (http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/494471/msi-z170a-krait-gaming-3x/specificaties/). In conclusion, the difficult memory seating is a distinguishing ASUS "feature" that must have been introduced sometime in the past decade, for I don't think this '04 MB of theirs had it. This is apparently the pill you have to swallow for their otherwise excellent, dependable hardware.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-28, 12:59:42
With the help of expert diagnositicians, the components are booting. No component was faulty. I allegedly only didn't seat RAM correctly.

Now that the hardware part has been solved, we arrive at the opsys part. Manjaro and Mageia don't boot from USB stick on that machine. Linux Mint and OpenSUSE do. 

This is the first time Manjaro and Mageia don't boot on hardware that I have. Now it seems that in addition to all other research I did before buying the components, I should have checked if Manjaro guys use the same components...
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-28, 13:38:11
Could be that you have to change a setting in the BIOS. That being said, I'm pretty sure that mine booted old stuff right out of the box.

Anyhoo, I reckon this should be the relevant help page: https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php?title=BIOS_and_UEFI
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-28, 13:54:49
My old harddrive (very old with 32-bit Linux Lite on it, which my dad had been using) also booted into desktop no problem, except that it didn't detect internet and sound. And probably other things, such as 8GB RAM.

It's not a BIOS/UEFI thing. I can initiate the boot, but it gets stuck soon and never reaches the desktop. Applies to both Manjaro and Mageia. I think I will not go through the trouble of debugging that.

Edit: Actually, official Manjaro Xfce edition boots okay, but the less official Cinnamon edition doesn't. I would have preferred Cinnamon. Let's see how the faceless NET edition does.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-28, 17:52:52
Can't help you there. All I know is that "bleeding edge" usually equals "bleeding user" and I've heard that Manjaro is "bleeding edge".
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-28, 19:26:33
The problem with Manjaro in this case applies only to some editions. Official Xfce edition works and so does i3 edition, while Cinnamon doesn't. It's not really an issue, because Manjaro has plenty of editions and some work. I guess given that I will be running some rather ancient monitors, I will install the more suitable i3/Openbox for desktop.

By the way, Arch is the true bleeding edge. Manjaro is considerably smoothened compared to Arch. I would not even consider trying Arch.

And it's not about bleeding edge anyway. Mageia 5 is over half a year old and doesn't boot to the end either. That's a shame. I like Mageia KDE better than OpenSUSE.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-29, 07:31:08
Mageia 5 is over half a year old and doesn't boot to the end either.
The bleeding edge doesn't cease to be bleeding edge by aging, but by bugs being fixed. :P
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-05-29, 07:47:59
I didn't know that Mageia had the reputation of bleeding edge. Arch certainly has.

Speaking about bleeding edges, I don't remember having had an occasion of ever having a bleeding accident while handling computers and phones. At the same time, cutting oneself with A4 leaf of paper in office situation can be sometimes quite dangerous.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-05-29, 10:47:55
It doesn't afaik. I think my mind must've substituted Manjaro.  :doh:
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-01, 19:54:03
I discovered that I cannot connect the optical drive to the motherboard. The optical drive looks like this

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hardwaresecrets.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F179_011.jpg&hash=7641c5317a4dd79c39102a20e9e16bea" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/179_011.jpg)

The big 40-pin connector has no correspondent on the motherboard for a cable like this

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com%2Fimages%2Fchap7_9780789750006%2FelementLinks%2F07fig06.jpg&hash=c42d657b3643196784a150aff218aee6" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://ptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com/images/chap7_9780789750006/elementLinks/07fig06.jpg)

I had the power connected to the optical drive and I assumed it was working, but when it came to really trying, then no. Pretty silly if I have to buy a new optical drive or new anything at this point. The motherboard only has SATA data connectors like this.

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fpanam.gateway.com%2Fs%2FMOTHERBD%2FINTEL%2F4006158R%2F4006158R_11.jpg&hash=c125ea8c24063a82570ea091cd739eb8" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://panam.gateway.com/s/MOTHERBD/INTEL/4006158R/4006158R_11.jpg)
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-01, 20:41:24
The name of the problem is IDE to SATA. And possible solutions look like this (in the order of worseness)

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fstatics.exclusiveone.com%2Fexone%2F04612-4World-One-way-adapter-from-MB-IDE-to-SATA-drive-608693366--large.jpg&hash=b8a660d5303f4f65fe20a9563022ca2c" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://statics.exclusiveone.com/exone/04612-4World-One-way-adapter-from-MB-IDE-to-SATA-drive-608693366--large.jpg)

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.highspeedbackbone.net%2Fskuimages%2Flarge%2FC250-3890-main2.jpg&hash=e356e874f3ff9e413f5b7702a1a037c1" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://images.highspeedbackbone.net/skuimages/large/C250-3890-main2.jpg)

(https://thedndsanctuary.eu/imagecache.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.compusb.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Fimages%2Fproducts%2Fp-992-image_1024.jpg&hash=ba965876f4d2e38426fd7714877363a7" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click here to view original" data-url="http://www.compusb.com/wp-content/uploads/images/products/p-992-image_1024.jpg)

Completely unnecessary hoops in my opinion. I should have bought a slightly different motherboard.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-02, 09:35:58
I too had to retire my old, trusted IDE drive with this new motherboard. However, I already had a spare SATA drive lying around.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-02, 17:25:53
SATA optical drives are not too expensive, but it's a blow to the idea of my project, which was to try to re-use as many things as possible. It's utterly senseless to have to replace a perfectly functional DVD RW drive. I knew that 3.5" floppy disks had become an irreversible past, so I had to trash that old component and buy a new card reader, but DVD technology has not changed a bit and shows no signs of going out of fashion.

Then again, to review the details, the gigantic flat IDE cable from the old optical drive was ugly and unmanageable in the former assembly. The hoops in my previous post would be unmanageable in the current assembly (not enough space). I will have to buy a new optical drive and hope that if I ever build another computer, it will be viable to select a motherboard so as to make use of that old drive.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-02, 18:51:46
Before taking apart my computer a few months ago I hooked up a floppy disk drive to rescue some old floppies. Making images of them was quite easy, but the fun didn't stop there... I'll tell you about it when I'm not on my phone.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-03, 21:28:29
I didn't own either computers nor data storage things during the floppy era, so I had nothing to save over from floppies and the floppy device in the box was completely superfluous to me.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-04, 07:24:59
Right, I'm not on my phone. You didn't have floppies? How did you save your documents?

Anyway, apparently back on Windows 98 I had used something called DriveSpace to greatly increase the storage capacity of floppies. It's basically like a ZIP archive, but completely transparent to the OS. I was badly surprised to find that Windows 10 does not support it anymore.

I then proceeded to acquire a technically illegal[1] already set-up VirtualBox version of Windows 98. After some automated installing of drivers, rebooting once or twice, and installing DriveSpace 3, I could finally load my floppy disk images into Windows 98 to retrieve my files. And I think I may have had to export them onto a regular floppy image since network support wasn't working. In any case, I've got my files.

Since I'm older and wiser now I already have a strong preference for uncompressed Markdown, i.e. plain-text files that will almost certainly remain legible for long after DOC(X) and ODT are lost to the sands of time.
I own legal versions of Windows 3 and the Windows 98 upgrade, but they're at my parents' place. Or technically my parents own them; same difference. You're probably only allowed to install them on one computer, but no one's using it anyway so that's not the issue either.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-04, 08:14:25
You didn't have floppies? How did you save your documents?
Ctrl+s.

Floppies are not for saving documents, but for transporting. I hardly ever needed to transport them. When the need arose, I got by with emailing for a long time and then sometimes by making CD's (those I did a lot, music for friends and such).

Anyway, apparently back on Windows 98 I had used something called DriveSpace to greatly increase the storage capacity of floppies. It's basically like a ZIP archive, but completely transparent to the OS. I was badly surprised to find that Windows 10 does not support it anymore.
Right, just like I was surprised that my new mobo doesn't support IDE optical drives. The good thing in this is that I got to know that I had an IDE drive. The bad thing is that I must ditch it.

Since I'm older and wiser now I already have a strong preference for uncompressed Markdown, i.e. plain-text files that will almost certainly remain legible for long after DOC(X) and ODT are lost to the sands of time.
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper. And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-04, 08:43:24
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper.
I fail to see how you made this into an either or kind of thing. I have many digital-first documents in paper form, but I also have them (alongside just about everything else I ever wrote or drew on the computer) with me wherever I go if I've got my netbook with me. And more than just that: the other day I couldn't quite remember something I learned in computer linguistics several years ago, so I pulled out the reader and found it within less than half a minute. And I could've done that anywhere on the planet. Meanwhile, back home I'd have to go digging through a mount of papers, assuming I didn't throw it out because I didn't foresee ever wanting to remember the specific name of some experimental video game (Façade). My biggest mistake about the obligatory introduction to Western philosophy course is that all I have retained is my paper printout. Quickly finding something will at the very least take minutes, assuming I'm at home in the first place.

And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.
"Documentation" doesn't have value. Documentation is something you throw out after the legal ten years. Even so, in digital form there's hardly such a thing as being "loaded with documentation". It's completely hidden out of sight in the relevant folder unless you specifically look for it.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-04, 09:49:28
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper.
I fail to see how you made this into an either or kind of thing.
It becomes an either or kind of thing when you have to deal with the kind of older and wiser people that I have to deal with. For example, I know an old dude who, every time he receives a bill by email and the email says "to view this document you have to have Adobe Reader installed, click here," he installs Adobe Reader. Meaning, he installs Adobe Reader every time he receives a bill. And as soon as he manages to open the bill, he prints it out to take a "closer look" at it. This is how it's an either or thing, ironically enough.

And there are creative writing projects where I prefer to draw plans and make notes on paper. I'm that old.

And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.
"Documentation" doesn't have value. Documentation is something you throw out after the legal ten years. Even so, in digital form there's hardly such a thing as being "loaded with documentation". It's completely hidden out of sight in the relevant folder unless you specifically look for it.
I didn't mean documentation in the static sense. I meant the rate of bills you receive per month, projects you run in parallel, etc. I prefer to keep all such running stuff in my inbox sorted/searchable, no other folder. The wisest people don't need to do this, not excessively anyway.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-04, 10:49:49
And there are creative writing projects where I prefer to draw plans and make notes on paper. I'm that old.
Everybody should. If they think otherwise they're wrong. Sometimes I start digitally, sometimes I start analog, but revising has a big necessary analog component. If eInk were any good it might not need to be analog, but I'd need A4 with a proper digital pen for that. (I think Sony sells something that might kind of do that for upward of $1200... so I'm not even the least bit interested in giving it a try.) I actually tried a vague approximation of that in Xournal as well as a couple of Windows applications, but the experience is just too poor. I do think paper has the potential of being obsoleted for this purpose, but certainly not anytime soon.

People also severely underestimate the inherent value of the natural editing that comes from typing up your initial written-down notes. It's a chore, but one you have to perform anyway. Starting analog to some degree forces you not to skip the step.

On the flipside, those notes can be awful to keep track of, even when done properly (i.e., in the type of binder where you can swap pages around etc.). I've incorporated Git as a major part of my editing process as well. For me it comes down to importance. The more important the text, the more analog components my process entails. Because I can concentrate better on paper, and because the process of getting my revisions back from paper to digital makes my text better. Or as the old adage goes, writing is rewriting.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-04, 17:26:39
Yes, when you have first learned to write in silence on paper, it's a habit hard to give up. A computer whirls and sucks mental energy away from the writer.

There are also more prosaic reasons to prefer plain paper. For example, I often need to put down very different fonts, notations and scripts in one mix. Computer software is still woefully inadequate to handle this situation. For a moment I became interested in Latex which was supposed to be a good markup for scientific writing, but soon enough I discovered it's only for math and it is an outright obstacle in simple cases like umlauts, not to mention when you need to put Cyrillic, Greek, Uralic phonetic transcription, and Devanagari all in the same document.

Somehow there is still no better tool for my use case than office software. That's why I don't see plain paper ever coming obsolete.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-04, 18:48:05
Umlauts should be very simple, even in LaTeX. The problem is you need to know some basics about package handling. I can give you some pointers if you're interested. How to properly type things like IPA I haven't really figured out, although there are some pretty nice web-based keyboards out there (first random result in a search engine is http://ipa.typeit.org/full/).
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-04, 19:11:46
How to properly type things like IPA I haven't really figured out, although there are some pretty nice web-based keyboards out there (first random result in a search engine is http://ipa.typeit.org/full/).
I always knew how to type things, in principle at least. In computers, the problem is how to preserve things, save it so that the next person who opens it will see the same thing.

In Latex, when I researched the umlaut problem, the answer was to define in the document a font with a broad Unicode base, such as ttf-linux-libertine. And if you want more, add more packages and extensions to Latex.

This is wrong in my opinion, or wrong for my writing purposes. If a markup language claims to be for scientific writing, it should be able to swallow and preserve whatever I scientific stuff I type into it. Linguistics is a science, so Latex should deal with it out of the box. It's not good when I have to pioneer new Latex packages just to be able to type and popularise new standards to be able to share what I wrote. This would leave no time for actual writing.

Office software and PDF are still unbeatable in this area. Their main problem is convertibility. When you convert them to HTML for example, the result is often crap for no good reason. Where functionality is the same, it should be cleanly convertible between markup languages.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Belfrager on 2016-06-04, 21:10:21
A friend of mine builds computers. He knows things that no one knows, things far beyond logical reasoning.

Things like how so many components from official brand sellers are falsified and simply don't work. Things as how many new computers have already original components substituted.

Building computers is not accessible to everybody, it demands the knowledge you extract from trying to build and repair hundred of computers, not one.
Such is the f_cking computer industry.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2016-06-05, 05:40:24
Building computers is not accessible to everybody, it demands the knowledge you extract from trying to build and repair hundred of computers, not one.
Going through the trouble of building some computers will make building/repairing computers ever more accessible to you, if you are the kind of person who grows along with the stuff you do. There has to be a broader purpose of course, then there can be growth towards mastery. Here's a guy who is a champion on the level of mobo components.


Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-05, 10:51:14
I always knew how to type things, in principle at least. In computers, the problem is how to preserve things, save it so that the next person who opens it will see the same thing.
Well, when I say "properly" I suppose I really mean "easily". I can type your regular French/Dutch/German characters (ç, ß, ë, ï, etc.) without resorting to any kind of character tables. I'd like to be able to do the same at least for the most common stuff like ɛ and ɪ. I think some compose key magic should be able to handle it, but I certainly don't care enough to try to come up with my own standard.

This is wrong in my opinion, or wrong for my writing purposes. If a markup language claims to be for scientific writing, it should be able to swallow and preserve whatever I scientific stuff I type into it. Linguistics is a science, so Latex should deal with it out of the box. It's not good when I have to pioneer new Latex packages just to be able to type and popularise new standards to be able to share what I wrote. This would leave no time for actual writing.
It's still easier than word processors imo. As far as proper character support goes, either use XeTeX or LuaLaTeX with \usepackage{fontspec}. (That's the kind of thing that's hard to figure out as a n00b.) The rest mostly sorts itself out although you might want to use some hacks (http://fransdejonge.com/2015/12/lualatex-font-hassles/) for typographic consistency among different alphabets and character sets. But that's no easier in LibreOffice or Word or whatnot. Also see http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/latex.html

Office software and PDF are still unbeatable in this area. Their main problem is convertibility. When you convert them to HTML for example, the result is often crap for no good reason. Where functionality is the same, it should be cleanly convertible between markup languages.
LaTeX is basically just a convenient way to generate PDF (or originally PostScript). PDF is often the way to go, with some form of HTML a distant second. Anything else (e.g., DOC, ODT)? Hell no! That's just for during the editing process. I'd prefer if we could edit files in plaintext markdown, but unfortunately that only works among people with a certain affinity with programming for now.

So basically in my preferred workflow you have

1. (Pandoc) Markdown, always readable on basically every computer ever. This is used as the basis for PDF.
2. PDF, typographically etc. perfect and pretty much your best bet as an archival format.

If desired, the initial Pandoc Markdown can be easily converted to something like DOCX instead, in order to accommodate an inferior but more cooperative workflow.

The advantage of LaTex is that it has remained stable for something like three decades, so your source files can still generate the same PDF decades later. The advantage of Pandoc Markdown is that it's much easier to write. The disadvantage is that Pandoc Markdown is much less stable.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-11, 14:35:20
i was thingking to build lga 1155 pc.


but i want to keep my graphic card from lga 775.


hmm..

what is some good mobo with pcie slot and ata hardisk slot.

Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-11, 20:20:47
How old a GPU are we talking? A modern built-in model might equal or outperform with significantly better efficiency.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-12, 21:50:27
its zotac of nvidia.

1gb vram,  64 bit.

open gl 2.0 -  4.2
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-13, 07:34:33
You left out perhaps the most important part (the name) ;) but I suppose 1GB VRAM means the thing is probably post-2010? Basically you should take a look at this list: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gpu-hierarchy,review-33383.html

You can see that the latest integrated Intel graphics (HD Graphics 530) are already roughly on par with my old '09 GPU, a Radeon HD 4850. This means that if I built a new computer right now, my '09 GPU would offer no or at best an extremely marginal improvement.

Of course it's different if you go for AMD. For instance, here's the Tweakers.net recommended budget system: http://tweakers.net/reviews/4553/2/desktop-best-buy-guide-mei-2016-budget-en-basisgamesysteem.html#budget In that one your GPU would be useful no matter what. I imagine every motherboard mentioned in that guide should be a good one. Generally speaking I like ASUS and Gigabyte.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-13, 08:16:36
its geforce gt 610
 i bought that for $50.

not a decent gpu,  however its just works.


used to set the core clock at 1000mhz.
and memory clock 600mhz.

more than that it will crash the system.

perhaps its because voltages deficit.

and hence,  i cant find voltages control,  even in msi afterburner

Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-13, 08:39:58
hmm  have checked the link.

really helpfull,  however there is price differences.

in example the gygabyte mobo  ,  its said  50euro.

and at here the cheapest is $100.


saphire nitro is 194 euro.

at here the cheapest is $400
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-13, 19:42:47
its geforce gt 610
 i bought that for $50.

not a decent gpu,  however its just works.
Yeah, from what I can find (http://www.futuremark.com/hardware/gpu/NVIDIA+GeForce+GT+610/review) that's roughly equal to what's built-in to last-generation Intel motherboards (like mine) and should've been surpassed by the latest.

Anyway, not that it really matters. All motherboards come with PCI-e and will be able to use your old GPU. I mostly wanted to point out that you might be able to save some electricity.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-16, 12:11:07
The Volkswagen scandal also applies to GPUs: http://www.hardware.fr/news/14693/gtx-10x0-asus-msi-bios-special-presse.html

tl;dr ASUS and MSI GPUs are sent out with a special press BIOS which is ever so slightly overclocked compared to the regular retail BIOS. Gigabyte doesn't do this (yet).
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-29, 08:33:44
So bought secondhand mobo,  lga 1155 american megatrend.

Intel core i3,  and 2 gb ram as starter.

I hope i doing it right.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2016-06-29, 08:43:32
I'd say 2 GB is a bit low for a new(ish) build but I suppose it depends on how you use your computer. :)
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Sparta on 2016-06-29, 11:12:53
I dont do video editing.

And most of games using video ram,  rather than system ram.

Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-01-12, 16:45:49
Is there a way to insert a graphic card on the motherboard so that you don't have to reinstall the operating system?

Finally I found a nice graphics card for the computer box I've been building. It fit easily into the chassis, but the opsys got stuck booting at some silly stage like Network Manager. After reinstalling the opsys everything works.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-01-12, 17:00:56
I went from Nvidia (7600 GT) to ATI (HD4850) to AMD (R9 270X) with possibly a minuscule Intel sidestep (HD Graphics 4600) in Windows & Linux without any issues.[1] Occasionally you might need to uninstall or install something,[2] especially if you installed any proprietary drivers, but you should generally be able to do that even if X fails to start? The important thing is to uninstall or remove whatever's causing trouble; the computer should always be able to boot in some kind of basic VESA mode.
I believe the Debian install I'm using dates back to 2011, and besides three motherboards and as many graphics cards it has also lived on two or three different HDDs and more recently two different SSDs. Linux just doesn't care. Windows is unfortunately a tad less pleasant to work with motherboard & storage-wise, but changing GPUs is something it seems to tolerate.
Or remove a customized Xorg.conf if it pertains to your GPU
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-01-13, 07:02:28
Okay, I'll try to figure out some cleaner course of action next time. This time, reinstalling was the fastest and easiest option, so I did it.

My step was from no graphics card to a graphics card. And when the graphics card was not inserted (not inserted because I wanted to boot into the opsys again), I could not find a fast way to install Nvidia drivers, whereas a fresh install detects the graphics card and installs the driver automatically. Being in a hurry does not help.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-01-13, 10:25:43
On Debian and derivatives the most important basic drivers should already be preinstalled. For Nvidia that's called Nouveau.

xserver-xorg-video-vesa <- probably the most basic driver, works with just about anything
xserver-xorg-video-nouveau <- open-source Nvidia driver, kinda meh (blame Nvidia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYWzMvlj2RQ)) and you'll likely need the Nvidia binary blob to get proper res/performance but it should generally at least get you a picture and on some cards it actually works quite well

There's a slew of other things (radeon, trident, r128, etc., etc.) for all kinds of cards.

If a distro doesn't do something similar I'd probably avoid it as deeply user-unfriendly. We're talking hundreds of kilobytes here, megabytes at most.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-01-13, 10:50:54
If a distro doesn't do something similar I'd probably avoid it as deeply user-unfriendly. We're talking hundreds of kilobytes here, megabytes at most.
Sure, if your user experience involves graphics cards. Mine didn't until now.

Besides, Manjaro does do something similar. I had the vesa driver. The boot got stuck, as far as I could see, at NetworkManager, which should not be related, but occurred specifically when I inserted/removed the graphics card. I reinstalled because it was the fastest option I could figure out, I had the settings backed up already, and I had to run somewhere else the same evening.

There are very different Manjaros and, for this particular system, I had gone through, for example, changing the init from systemd to openrc, just for fun. I cannot generalise that Manjaro always fails when you add/change the graphics card. This is my first experience ever with a graphics card. I did no research prior (except checking that the card fits the motherboard), no research afterwards, and the whole operation took an hour. Good enough, I'd say, even though of course I'd want it to be smoother. For that I need more experience and research to know what precautions to take.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-01-13, 18:54:18
It always involves GPUs in the sense that you want things to be painted on the screen smoothly. Without the right drivers it can take seconds for a window to show up.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-09-05, 10:39:46
Right, I'm not on my phone. You didn't have floppies? How did you save your documents?

I had no need to save things to take them elsewhere. I saved it and reopened it on the same computer. When ready, I e-mailed it for whom it was designated. Occasionally, but rarely I indeed needed to move things for myself between computers, and then I e-mailed stuff to myself. From this you can deduce that I had nothing to do with computers prior to e-mail era and for a long while I treated them like a static writing desk, not a mobile multi-tool on the run the way it is now.

Back to computer building. The machine I started in the beginning of this thread came out excellent and was in good use with myself first and now at someone else. Meanwhile I bought another used machine, but this turned out pretty unfortunate. Once I get rid of that purchase, I will be ready to build a permanent machine for myself, finally. Now I know what I want and how to achieve it.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-09-05, 12:49:17
E-mail, how fancy. :) (Although I've always thought of mailing to yourself as less elegant than simply carrying a floppy/USB stick around except as a kind of backup.)

Now I know what I want and how to achieve it.
Excellent! What do you want? :P
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-09-25, 10:54:31
Now I know what I want and how to achieve it.
Excellent! What do you want? :P
A computer with a graphics card that can run three displays, with a processor that can handle a 4K video while a graphical webbrowser (or two or more) are up at the same time. This way buying a 4K monitor would make sense.

I currently have a 21:9 aspect ratio monitor. Not 4K, but better than FullHD. Quite good for watching the movies of the golden era. It's also great for examining Google maps and having three-four docs side by side. So I basically have everything I need, but I want it a bit more updated/upgraded, because right now it's sometimes a bit of a burden on the hardware. It would be nicer without hiccups.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-09-25, 12:49:14
A computer with a graphics card that can run three displays, with a processor that can handle a 4K video while a graphical webbrowser (or two or more) are up at the same time. This way buying a 4K monitor would make sense.
I'd say every halfway-decent CPU from the past five years should be capable of that. The admittedly slightly overclocked '09 AMD Phenom II X4 955BE I ran for about a year before acquiring my current computer could almost deal with a high quality UHD video -- at least in mpv.[1] In VLC it couldn't manage at all. Anyway, point being if you get something sensible like an Intel Core i5-4590 (admittedly that's slightly older now, so the successor) or one of those nice new Zen CPUs you should be set (given enough RAM, which is currently at some kind of record high).

The GPU part of that is a lot more complicated.
That means smooth video at times, too slow but watchable at others. And we're not talking silly YouTube "4k"; every computer can handle that nonsense. :P
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-09-26, 12:12:31
The admittedly slightly overclocked '09 AMD Phenom II X4 955BE I ran for about a year before acquiring my current computer could almost deal with a high quality UHD video -- at least in mpv.
I happen to be stuck with the exact same processor (or maybe X2, I cannot check right now). Unfortunately the box (bought used) has given me troubles - not the processor, but some other part or combination of parts that I cannot identify - and I am doomed to sell it at some point somehow. That would be a good moment to make the next acquisition so that everything would be cool for a very long time.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-09-26, 14:28:36
The playback codecs also increase in efficiency, even without GPU involvement. Back in '07 my Core 2 Duo E6600 could barely deal with HD video, whereas by '14 it was a breeze. I never had a GPU that did video decoding in that machine.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-09-26, 15:06:30
I know little about the chemistry of video. I know that intensive processes require muscle and that's CPU and RAM. Whereas when buying a GPU you have to observe how many monitors it can take in at the same time (often it's limited to two, despite the number of available holes) and the greatest resolution and framerate sometimes depends on how many monitors are plugged in.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-09-26, 17:06:05
Most GPUs can offload H.264 decoding to the GPU now. It's how something puny like a Raspberry Pi or slower cellphones can still playback video well in spite of their slowness. But even on a proper computer it's still helpful because it saves your CPU for other tasks. The same built-in chip can often help encoding video, but unfortunately such hardware decoding is often rather limited in scope.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-10-22, 11:21:09
Here's another experience of building a PC (with Linux), worth reading in full https://lukas.zapletalovi.com/2017/10/ryzen-and-linux-is-a-disaster-2017.html
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-10-22, 11:37:47
It's unclear to me from the post how much of that has to do with Linux. Someone who works at Red Hat is probably sufficiently knowledgeable, but it should be obvious that to use a brand-spanking new CPU you should also use a brand-spanking new kernel and such.[1] Or as one of the comments says: use Gentoo, not Fedora 25 from November of 2016.

My Debian Stretch, for example ­-- that's a no-go.

Code: [Select]
$ uname -a
Linux frenzie-desktop 4.9.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 4.9.51-1 (2017-09-28) x86_64 GNU/Linux

I'm pretty sure you need at least 4.11 for Ryzen. For such purposes you can get 4.12 from stretch-backports.

Or maybe you get that standard in Fedora?
https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Fedora-Linux-4.12
Although to be fair I would only expect gross inefficiencies, like not throttling up or down. Not crashes.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-10-22, 11:51:20
It's unclear to me from the post how much of that has to do with Linux.
It's to do with Linux because Linux was the first OS to be installed on the hardware and ended up with the described problems.

Or as one of the comments says: use Gentoo, not Fedora 25 from November of 2016.
Since works for Red Hat and with Red Hat, Gentoo is out of the question. But I assume he knows how to install the newest kernels for Red Hat.

My own (first lengthy) experience with an oldish AMD was about as frustrating. Being a noob, I was unable to figure out the problem and wasted a lot of money changing RAM and the graphics card, which were pointless expenses. The problem affected all Linuxes I tried, but I most definitely wanted Manjaro. Eventually, either Manjaro's kernel updates and modifications fixed the problem (because I complained on the forums too) or some other miracle happened and I am free of freezes now.[1]

My box originally came with Windows, which was probably unaffected (I looked into Windows too briefly to be certain). The end of the article says that Ryzen is not smooth even with Windows. 
Incidentally, when I was having these woes, I noticed that Arch guys had made custom kernels tweaked specifically for that AMD CPU. So I grabbed them and installed them, but it turned out that Manjaro does not play well at all with those kernels. Manjaro and Arch are not too close for all purposes.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-10-22, 13:38:45
Since works for Red Hat and with Red Hat, Gentoo is out of the question. But I assume he knows how to install the newest kernels for Red Hat.
I wouldn't be inclined to use Gentoo over precompiled alternatives like Arch, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro, Ubuntu, etc. anyway,[1] but I wasn't quite able to glean from the text to what extent AMD is to blame. I actually got more of an "Intel didn't bother testing their stupidly expensive SSD" and "ASUS messed up their motherboard" out of it. Which to be sure isn't good for AMD -- they should be on that ASUS thing like hawks -- but who knows. :)
It's pretty much just a waste of electricity and time at best if you ask me.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-10-22, 14:48:04
wasn't quite able to glean from the text to what extent AMD is to blame. I actually got more of an "Intel didn't bother testing their stupidly expensive SSD" and "ASUS messed up their motherboard" out of it. Which to be sure isn't good for AMD -- they should be on that ASUS thing like hawks -- but who knows.
Well, here's what I gleaned: After the (Intel) SSD issue was identified and bypassed, the CPU problems (AMD's Ryzen) became evident and were deemed unsolvable. As he was waiting for a replacement CPU, he tried lots of different settings with the (ASUS) mobo.

After getting the replacement CPU, another set of problems became evident (earlier there were freezes on load, then freezes when idle). This is similar to the issues I used to have with my AMD computer, and even though I am not competent in debugging and identifying the source of problems very well, I can say that the issue must have been CPU most likely, because the HDD did not pose problems when installing/booting, and changing RAM and graphics card had no effect on the user experience. Until everything became okay after a certain update from Manjaro. So there was something in the relationship of CPU with the kernel.

The quality of hardware can be random and extremely hard to solve.
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-10-22, 15:44:57
the CPU problems (AMD's Ryzen) became evident and were deemed unsolvable. As he was waiting for a replacement CPU, he tried lots of different settings with the (ASUS) mobo.
Of course, but hardware failure has nothing to do with Linux. The title of the post is "Ryzen and Linux is a disaster". But the post itself is "Ryzen had a bad hardware revision, Intel SSD underperforms for price, and ASUS mobo needs BIOS updates." The "and Linux" part feels needlessly restrictive. :P
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: ersi on 2017-10-22, 17:14:30
Hmm, I guess you are right. It should be "Building a computer is a disaster".
Title: Re: Tips for computer builders
Post by: Frenzie on 2017-10-22, 18:01:19
Maybe so. :lol:

I've been lucky overall, except on my/my wife's ASUS motherboards I think the way they did the RAM is really confusing.

On the old '09 board, also DDR3 (an early one), you still have the two clicky things on both sides so you know exactly when it's in properly and when it's not.

On the '14 motherboards, only one side has that. Because -- motherboard maker logic I suppose -- that's all you need to get it out. But seating it was a lot harder than it always used to be.