Spending some time looking at new computers, again…

It was one of those days that looking at new laptops happened again… this time around I took a look at two different ones including:

https://system76.com/laptops and https://hpdevone.com/

Both of them circle back to being able to run the Pop!_OS (a linux based operating system). You can spend a lot of money using some of the configuration tools for those laptops and desktops for that matter. Over the years, I have mostly built my own custom computer desktop. This Dark Base Pro 900 powering the keyboard being used to write this weblog post is a custom built set of computer parts that I selected over the years. 

My next build is likely going to be into an entirely new computer case and be entirely different parts. If you have been reading these posts long enough, then you might remember the Storm Stryker case which has since been discontinued. You can see a picture of it here: https://www.coolermaster.com/catalog/legacy-products/cases/stryker-se/

I’m going to tell you upfront that the Dark Base Pro 900 is a much quieter computer case. I have been really happy with it so far. Managing the thermals did involve installing a Corsair Commander Core XT which is currently controlling 5 fans and collecting data with two different temperature probes.

Replacing my Pixel 5 smartphone

You may have guessed from the title of this post that my smartphone got replaced. It was a warranty replacement of a Pixel 5 smartphone with another one of the exact same make and model. Yes, this is a replacement of the 128 gigabyte Sorta Sage (mint green) phone I have had since 2020. Overall it has been a perfectly serviceable phone. Zero complaints exist from me about the device build or operation outside of the recent battery related incident. Apparently, unbenounced to me at the time the battery in my Pixel 5 smartphone was swelling up within the enclosure. The swelling was bad enough to actually separate the screen from the body housing by about two guitar picks. Generally the phone sits in a thin sort of clear plastic case unless it is being cleaned to help protect it from falls. This problem became noticeable for me based on the degree of rapid battery degrediation. I had to start charging the phone a couple of times a day which was undesirable. Online searches occurred and I was about to get a new portable battery pack. That action however would not have fixed the underlying problem. Based on the battery degradation symptom I ordered a replacement phone. 

It arrived yesterday and the process of switching phones was reasonably painless. It was better than I remember the last time around. Both phones had to be mostly charged and connected together using a USB-C to USB-C cable. At this point, all of my cables are from the Google Store. After I started using the charging stands for the most part my cables have lasted a lot longer. The old phone provided charge and sent over a bunch of data to the new phone. Apparently, I have well over 100 applications that need to be downloaded and installed on the new phone. Really the only applications that are problematic for me are the 2 factor identification applications that have a unique key association. As you start to dip into the passwordless world of managing things by approval in applications you want to really make sure that your smartphone never gets lost or breaks. Keeping stacks of backup keys is generally problematic. 

In practical terms, for the 2 factor identification applications and keys I had to make phone calls to talk to people about resets and other authentication things. That of course was a solvable problem and just took a bit of a commitment of time to resolve. You can certainly imagine the next problem beyond managing the 2 factor authentication concerns was entering passwords for accounts. The phone to phone transfer process did not sync all the accounts to be ready to rock and roll. That was not even an option during the process. I’m sure it is an option that does not exist for my own protection. The only thing I forgot to work out during the setup process was to enable bedtime mode to prevent unwanted chips, alerts, and other notifications overnight. That problem has been resolved this morning.

A photo of the battery swelling case separation

Selling a computer case on eBay

Winning that graphics card in the Newegg shuffle involved having to purchase and take possession of an unwanted computer case. It arrived yesterday basically in the box from ASUS with a shipping label on it. A lot of people are selling brand new listings of this case on eBay.[1] That tells me that a lot of the other people who purchased this case immediately turned around to sell it online. I’m probably going to end up selling mine at a loss, but I really wanted the graphics cards so that is the cost of doing business with Newegg and the shuffle system. The ASUS ROG z11 mini-itx/dtx mid-tower pc gaming case is smaller than any computer case I have ever used to build a machine. Sometime next year I will be replacing a few parts in this computer that I’m using right now. As of right now, the Windows Insider preview build of Windows 11 Pro has flagged that my computer does not meet the minimum hardware requirements. 

For some reason Microsoft has decided to come up with a hardware requirement standard for WIndows 11 that will literally make more than half of all computers obsolete. The environmental cost and consequence alone of such a decision is mind boggling. Whoever came up with this decision should probably have to develop a method to handle all the elecontics waste they just created worldwide. That is a problem anyway for the computer industry. A good portion of the precious metals used to make a computer are very difficult to separate from the build making recycling very difficult. A large portion of old computer hardware ends up in landfills. 

Footnotes:

[1] It looks like this case has 16 listings on eBay and none of them have any visible traffic https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=ASUS+ROG+Z11+Mini-ITX%2FDTX+Mid-Tower+PC+Gaming+Case&_sacat=0&_sop=15 

Adding one computer case fan

The only addition to the Dark Base Pro 900 Black rev. 2 from the “be quiet!” computer case I had to make with the new graphics card was the installation of a noctua NF-A20 computer case fan right at the front of the case between the normal front case fans and the hard drive cages.[1] That very large premium quality 200mm computer case fan barely fits in that spot. The other changes that I ended up making after installing the new graphics card happened at the bios level. First, I had to load up the ASUS UEFI bios utility to run the QFan control settings which ended up displaying, “All fan calibrating.” Second, I turned off the XMP element of the overclocking and allowed the CPU to run at its normal out of the box clock speed. My CPU is being cooled by a Corsair water cooling block and it exhausts up and out of the computer case. That means the heat generated by the ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB graphics card is mostly centered in the middle of the case. The addition of that 200mm noctua computer case fan to push air directly across the case toward the open back has helped considerably. 

The rear of the Dark Base Pro 900 only has one case fan and that was probably the root cause of the problem. Instead of having the heat exhaust out the back of the case the airflow from the fans at the top of the case was pulling the heat from the graphics card up into the water cooling block area where the CPU heat persists until thermally exchanged by the top fan exhaust. This entire blog post has been about adding one computer case fan. At some point, I’m going to need to take the fan out and file off just a little bit of the edge facing the glass window. I was able to secure the glass wall back on with the four thumb screws, but the fit was very tight and would benefit from a reduction of just a little bit of plastic edge on the noctua fan. 

Footnotes:
[1] Here is a direct link to that noctua NF-A20 fan https://noctua.at/en/products/fan/nf-a20-pwm

New graphics card setup adventures

Throughout the week I have been making little updates and modifications to the Substack post for this week. All of that pre-work was really smart this week to help ensure quality for the next issue of The Lindahl Letter that will come up on Friday. Right now this computer is running my new ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card that arrived yesterday. Overall it is much louder than my last graphics card and it required a totally different power cable setup. I had to do some work in terms of cable management yesterday to get ready for the graphics card installation. A trip was made to the basement to find the bag of extra Corsair modular power supply cables and fortunately they had included a lovely Corsair Type-4 PCIe 6+2 cable. With the right cable in hand the only challenge was removing the power supply shroud in my award winning Dark Base Pro 900 Black rev. 2 from the “be quiet!” computer case. Right now the shroud has been put back into place without the middle section 3.5” solid state hard drive section. That space now supports a direct path for the power cable to run up to the graphics card. At some point, it might be prudent to do some better cable management, but that will be a project for later. Everything works right now and that is good. 

All of this brought me to the world of trying to figure out and manage my myriad of case fans. I’m still shocked that my Windows 11 instance does not have an easy way to manage computer temperatures. I installed the software associated with my motherboard manufacturer to examine and control the fan speeds. After looking at that dashboard for a few minutes I installed the ASUS GPU Tweak II software. That was easier to understand and it had a few profiles related to gaming and silent modes. The GPU temperature scale goes from zero up to 131 degrees celsius which would be insanely hot. According to the docked monitor my graphics card is running with a minimum of 38 and a maximum of 49 degrees celsius. I have been watching it for a few minutes and it appears to be running at around 39 degrees which seems fine.

A new graphics card arrives today

A trajectory statement was reviewed at the start of the day. You can consider today day 1 of 7 within that challenge. I’m considering printing out the trajectory statement written on September 18, 2021 to make it easier to complete that challenge. 

Trajectory statement:

Tomorrow will be considered in due time. Be present in the moment and strive to make a lasting contribution to the academy today. Review your research paper progress grid and make substantial progress on a section today. Remember to unlock your potential by taking the time to focus on delivering by closing out objectives.

Before starting the day review your core beliefs:

  1. A vibrant civil society is intrinsic to a functioning society. 
  2. The intersection of technology and modernity will fundamentally change what it means to be human. 
  3. We have to learn more than we lose to be successful. 
  4. Kindness foments civility. 
  5. We have to work to understand and consider intergenerational equity within policy decisions.

An alert from Newegg arrived yesterday and it turns out I had won a Newegg Shuffle for popular products. Alerts from both the Newegg application on my smartphone arrived via push notification and an email of congratulations arrived in my inbox. It turns out that I won the right to buy an ASUS branded TUF gaming GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB GDDR6X graphics video card. Pretty much every day I open the Newegg Shuffle website in a browser tab to watch the countdown window and enter the contest to be able to buy a graphics card. Over the course of the last few months I might have missed a few shuffle events by accident. You have a limited amount of time to enter the shuffle. Sometimes I would just miss the window. It would have been easy enough to set up an automatic entry system, but that seemed wrong given my interest in playing fair in the question for a new graphics card.

However, this time around randomness was on my side and victory occurred. Later today this very computer right here in front of me will be powered by the latest generation of Nvidia graphics card technology. You might be wondering if I had to buy one of those horrible power supplies they were bundling with it. Fortunately, the answer to that question is a hard no. For me the bundle in question included a new ASUS ROG computer case. It looks like a nice enough computer case. I’ll probably try to sell it or just put it in the basement for my next computer build. 

My current computer case is the award winning Dark Base Pro 900 Black rev. 2 from the “be quiet!” case building company. Obviously, based on my purchase of an award winning computer case within the last year I do not need the new case being shipped, but I have been trying to buy a new graphics card with the latest Nvidia RTX 30 series standard since they released the GeForce RTX 3090 on Thursday September 24, 2020. Which as you can tell from the date of this missive was about a year ago. To be more exact it was roughly 4 days short of an entire year of trying to get one of these graphics cards. I’m rather excited about testing out this new graphics card later today.

Oh those monitors and such

Earlier today I spent some time looking at computer monitors again. It seems to be a cycle that happens a couple of times a year. This time around I’m waiting for the Dell UltraSharp 40 inch curved monitor model U4021QW to naturally reduce in price. That seems to happen on a roughly 2 year cycle as new models arrive. My office setup currently includes two Dell UltraSharp monitors of slightly different sizes. It took me a little bit of time to get used to having the 38 inch and 36 inch monitors sitting right by each other. Key to coming to grips with that size disparity was making sure the bottom edge of both monitors was aligned to the same height. Most of the time when I switch from looking at one monitor to the other I look toward the bottom of the screen and aligning it that way makes the discrepancy less troublesome. Sure that is not a major concern, but it really does tend to get on my nerves from time to time. When I’m not using two different computers I can switch over my primary Dark Base Pro 900 housed computer to run both monitors and that is a rather immersive experience. Most of the time I just use the monitor with two different pieces of content split down the middle of the screen vertically.

My intention when I sat down today to write was to produce a solid page of prose. It does not appear that is going to happen. I just locked in and produced that one paragraph about computer monitors. Sometimes at the start of the day I can end up writing some very stilted and tactical prose instead of getting into the deeper end of philosophy and strategy. 

A weekly posting frequency

Right now I’m typing with my new keyboard from @Corsair. This mechanical keyboard seems to be working well enough. It is the Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% smaller mechanical gaming keyboard with CHERRY MX SPEED keys. This is my first mini keyboard. It took me a few minutes to get used to the smaller form factor. I probably should have opted for the silent version, but the mechanical key travel sounds are somewhat endearing. I’m not sure how long that nostalgia for the clickity clack will last, but at the moment it is fine. During this blog post I’m trying out cutting and pasting the content from Google Docs into WordPress with images embedded directly into the weblog interface.

Picture of my Corsair K65 RGB mini keyboard

The copy and paste of the first section of this post worked out well enough. I might even go ahead and post this content out on the weblog today. Earlier this year the entire content library for my main weblog was taken offline. While that was not an easy measure to take. It was probably the right thing to do at the time. My efforts are going to be focused on writing weekly content for delivery instead of a series of daily missives. My new posting frequency is going to be weekly and I’m just going to write and work out of one document during the week and publish the finished product at the end of the week. This type of posting will be in addition to the content being generated for Substack. That platform is going to host the Lindahl Letter and distribute my weekly newsletter.

Oh that Code 43 error

Right now my record player is completely separated from anything digital. It is 100% analog at the moment. For some inexplicable reason my Audioengine D1 digital audio converter purchased back in 2015 is throwing a weird Code 43 error. It uses one of those weird USB Type-B connectors (like an old printer cable). I have tried 3 different cables to get it working and a host of different USB ports. One of the cables was an older USB 1.0 standard and a couple of the other ones were USB 2.0 standard. None of them worked. I even tried plugging the whole thing into a USB hub to try to make it work that way, but nothing worked. Right now I’m listening to things on my monitor speakers. I’m not a big fan of that type of audio. It lacks the depth of my Audioengine A5+ speakers. Those speakers are now sitting on a credenza behind me plugged into a record player. That is working out well enough for records, but the rest of my audio needs are not being met very well with the monitor. Trying a host of different cables and ports did not seem to help at all. Sometimes troubleshooting fails. At this point in time, I send a note over to Audioengine to see if they have any idea how to defeat this horrible Code 43 error. It is entirely possible that my 5 year old DAC gave up the ghost and it may be time to purchase a new one at some point.

Still pondering graphics cards

For two consecutive weeks I have tried to order one of the new NVIDIA 30 series graphics cards. First, the RTX 3080 sold out in seconds last week. Second, the RTX 3090 sold out almost instantly this week. At this point, NVIDIA would have been better off just listing the tiny supply of graphics cards they have on eBay and allowing the market to take care of things. Whatever they did as a course of business failed miserably. I still do not understand why they did not just set up a method for preorder that accepted payment and put people on a waiting list for delivery. The people that really wanted one of the first graphics cards in this new series would have just waited in line to get the card. Demand was that strong on this one. That would have been the best and most fair way to share this graphics card with the world. At this point, I can say the launch process has been rotten. On October 15, 2020 the last NVIDIA 30 series card will go on sale. I’m not expecting the sale process for the RTX 370 to go any better based on the previous two examples.