Trying to buy the RTX 3090

6:00 AM (Denver, Colorado): Here in about 55 minutes I’m going to try to buy one of the NVIDIA RTX 3090 graphics cards when they go on sale. What might be a concerning sign about that is that NVIDIA has already apologized for the online sale that happens in 55 minutes. Apparently, they have a very small supply and things are not going to go well…

7:00 AM (Denver, Colorado): I tried to buy one of these cards using the website this morning. At just after 7:00 AM mountain time it looked like the website changed and then went almost directly to an “OUT OF STOCK” message in all extremely disappointing capital letters.

Oh that new GPU sale

The team over at NVIDIA will put the brand new GeForce RTX 3090 aka the “BFGPU” on sale in the morning on Thursday September 24, 2020. Apparently, the team over at NVIDIA has publicly apologized for the frustration caused by the 3080 launch last week. It was a terrible online product sale launch. Simply terrible. The attention of people worldwide was focused on it and things did not go well. Even thinking back on it is frustrating and disappointing. I’m probably going to try to buy the 3090 this week during the launch window. My bet is that I won’t actually be able to buy one and it will be an exercise in trying to do something that should be simple and failing miserably at it while knowing the entire time that is the most likely outcome. I’m not sure an exact word exists to express that emotion, but if the team over at NVIDIA is not careful it is entirely plausible that their brand name will become synonymous with that feeling. It has to be a word that conveys a certain type of exasperated emotion that is somehow worse than futility.    

My Corsair Air 740 cube computer case is already ready for the installation of the new graphics card that has not even been purchased at this time. I have the special 8-pin Corsair cables on my desk and a special support bracket for GPUs that came with the ASUS TUF X299 Mark 1 motherboard. None of that will help one of these new 30 series graphics cards show up. I’m not entirely sure exactly what I want to do with this new graphics card. That is one of those things that need to be considered. I’m probably going to spin up some type of TensorFlow instance on this computer and do some things with it. Generally, I could just use the Google Colab notebooks to do that type of thing and it would be a lot less expensive, but at the same time it is a lot less fun. That second part cannot be understood when it comes to buying a new GPU. The excitement part of the whole thing has a certain appeal. Being ready for the inevitable 8K monitor that I’m going to buy is also a big plus, but the 3090 is probably overkill for that type of effort alone.

Checking some Zip disks

Last night I finished listening to Walter Isaacson’s, “The Innovators,” audiobook (2014). Instead of listening to books from the Dune franchise I have been listening to non-fiction efforts recently before going to bed. 

My internet browsing has been rather aimless this weekend. I keep checking a variety of news sites hoping for better news. This effort seems misguided, but it was oddly reactionary to a year of ineffable debacles. 

My next effort for the day is going to be to plugin this new USB to IDE cable to see if my classic Zip 250 drive from my Lian Li cube computer case will work. This is all part of an adventure to see what is on the five Zip 250 disks sitting on my desk. Not knowing what was on the disks has been bothering me since they arrived on my desk. Dealing with legacy storage media is increasingly challenging. Now that things are going to the cloud and physical storage is generally a problem for cloud providers to deal with that older storage media is increasingly becoming harder and harder to manage.  

Cable used: StarTech USB3SSATAIDE USB to SATA IDE Adapter

Note: This adapter came with a stand alone power supply for the drive being connected. Keep in mind that this was extremely helpful to plug in the Zip 250 drive with power.    

Transfer update:

Zip 250 disk 1: It had files from 2008 and only two of them failed to transfer. Given that it has been about 12 years since the disk has been in a drive that is not bad. 

Zip 100 disk 2: This was just some garbage software backups from 2002. This disk was totally useless, but the data did transfer off of it without any issues. That was surprising given that it was 6 years older than the disk with two file failures. 

Zip 250 disk 3: The only file on this disk was a 4kb readme.txt from 1999. I mean obviously it had to be opened. It contained the, “Getting the Most out of Your Zip Disks,” instructions. 

Zip 100 disk 4: This was just a bunch of 2002 documents related to coursework 

Zip 250 disk 5: Strangely enough this disk was a different batch of 2002 and 2003 coursework documents.  

Documents were backed up and then I ran the “Permanently erase with Webroot” command.

Those sold out GTX 3080 cards

Yesterday morning like a lot of people I was ready to buy an NVIDIA GTX 3080 graphics card when they went on sale. Worldwide demand was fierce and this roll out was not managed very well. Over the last 20 years the only company that purposefully does this type of scarce supply launch is Nintendo and that is a poor model to follow. If the market shifts, then you missed the window. Trickling out supply is a questionable strategy to maximize benefit. It really just prevents loss from unsold inventory. Instead of doing the right thing on this one and just having a pre-order method setup and either billing people at the time of shipping or charging the early adopters upfront the team over at NVIDIA online simply opened sales with a move to cart method and things devolved very quickly from that point. You can still hear the collective groan from a worldwide audience by reading the reactions from disappointed people worldwide. 

Obviously, based on the previous prose you can tell that my experience was not good. I could see the webpage change from the standard presale page to the for sale page. That part seemed to go ok and then everything was sold out. I really don’t understand why they did not just take pre-orders and ship them to people in the order in which they were sold. Maybe they are trying to divert the bulk of the sales revenue to 2021 or they are trying to clear out the stock of older models and are allowing the current generation of cards to have a very scarce supply. Either explanation is infuriating as a customer. Just to be clear for the NVIDIA team the super infuriating part is that I could not even get in line to complete my purchase with a preorder. I have not even started the buying process. I got locked out from even being able to start the purchasing process and will have to try again or face the reality of horrible secondary market prices.

Graphics card decisions

During the course of the day yesterday I started looking at the Thermaltake Level 20 HT computer case. It looks pretty amazing and the teardown videos related to it were completed enthralling. I had no idea how much computer case teardown videos would capture my attention. At the moment, I do not need to purchase a new computer case. My Corsair 740 Air cube style case is working just fine. The other consideration is the size of this case. I took a look at the dimensions then immediately got out my tape measure. At 24.13″ x 18.43″ x 19.8″ this computer case would take up a lot of space under my desk. It is markedly bigger than the Corsair 740 and way heavier at around 45 pounds without any parts in it. I’m glad that making a decision about a future case is a problem for the future. Speaking of the future, tomorrow is the day where I’ll have to make a decision about buying the NVIDIA GTX 3080 when it first goes on sale. I would have to wait a week to buy the GTX 3090, but it appears to be literally 2x as epic as the 3080. Decisions are going to have to be made. It’s entirely possible that I will not login fast enough tomorrow to get one of the graphics cards and will have to wait and try again the following week. My guess is that these graphics cards are going to sell out very quickly.

Dealing with Zip disk archives

The whole archive process has been a real challenge. Some of the legacy formats are getting harder and harder to work with as technology changes. I was able to order a USB driven IDE adapter cable. In theory, that should let me access any of the older hard drives and maybe the floppy and Zip 250 drive. If this cable based connection method fails, then I’m going to have to pay the $50 price on eBay for an old Iomega Zip 250 external USB drive. They seem to be selling around that price right now for an original one of those drives with the right cables. It is amazing how the price on these old storage management technologies stays so crisp. People apparently run into the same thing that I discovered. Knowing what is on the 5 Zip 250 disks sitting on my desk is really a true curiosity at this point. I’m pretty sure that none of the files on them are interesting, but I still want to know. I did a quick search on my content archive for “zip 250” and only two results popped up. One from this month and one from back in January of 2018. That reference was not relevant to this series of adventures. It is entirely possible that I have not accessed these Zip 250 disks since that Lian Li computer case with an original AMD Athlon chip was my daily driver as a computer.

Ordering another power cable

Yesterday, I already ordered a new test run of an 8-pin Corsair power cable. It was hard to tell from the packaging photographs if the item being sold contained one or two of the cables. I’ll find out sometime next week when the package arrives. I’m gearing up for the release of these new NVIDIA graphics cards and as you can tell I’m pretty excited about getting one of these next generation cards. After a quick search of the epic cord bins from the dustbin of history stored in the basement 3 different cable options were discovered. This is one of those things you really want to have sorted out before the graphics card arrives. Actually being able to go out and buy this type of cable is next to impossible even in a city the size of Denver. Only a few stores may or may not have the cables needed and getting to them at the right time of day is always a challenge. I’m going to have this sorted out way before the graphics card ever arrives at the house. It does remind me that keeping all the extra cables that arrive with things is sometimes very useful and other times extremely cumbersome..

Some graphics card measurements

I spent a bunch of time watching videos about the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3090 Founders Edition  graphics card yesterday. Today I’m going to need to get down some practical considerations of considering what would actually happen when this card arrives. It needs to have supplemental power connections in terms of 2 PCIe 8-pin cables. That should be ok based on my power supply setup at the moment. I’m going to swap out two graphics cards for this one graphics card. That should free up the right power cabling and slot space. However, the card dimensions are another point of legitimate concern. This new graphics card is rather big at 12.3″ (313 mm) by 5.4″ (138 mm) and takes up 3 full PCI slots worth of space. The graphics cards currently in the case take up 9” (228.6 mm) by 4.1” (104.14 mm) and one PCI slot each. Which is much smaller than the RTX 3090 card footprint. My 2018 computer build is based on a Corsair Carbide Series Air 740 high airflow ATX cube case. I’m going to need to get out an actual tape measure and see if this new graphics card will even fit. During the course of doing that I’m going to need to check to make sure those power cables match the right counts for connections. 

I’ll be right back…

Based on my initial measurements the card will fit in the case, but the two power cables are 6-pin not 8-pin cables. That means I’m going to need to go dig out the power cables that came with the power supply and locate some alternative cables to use. I guess some adventure awaits on that front. This weekend I’m probably going to need to uncable the case, clean it, and check the possible alternate power cabling setups. The power supply needs to have the right connection slots and I need to have two 8-pin cables that are long enough to power the new graphics card. 

A graphics card decision

Apparently, the team over at NVIDIA decided to spend some of my money on a graphics card upgrade. I’m now saving up to buy the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3090 BFGPU. This card looked intense in the demo based on the sheer size of it and the design aesthetic. I do really like the Founders Editions of the NVIDIA graphics cards. My GTX 1060 is still running right now after doing years of work. I supposed the next piece of the puzzle with this pending purchase is planning enough machine learning on my local machine to make use of the 10,496 NVIDIA CUDA cores this card is rocking. You could buy 3 of the Geforce RTX 3070 cards for that price, but housing all 3 of them in the case would be a lot more work. A nice alternative might be running two of the Geforce RTX 3070 cards which would net you double 5,888 Cuda cores or 11,776 total Cuda cores which is obviously more than the 10,496 cores the RTX 3090 card contains. 

https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/graphics-cards/30-series/rtx-3090/

Reviewing the Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone

The phone arrived via FedEx delivery on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Ordering the phone from the Google store was pretty easy. I ordered it on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 during the Google hardware event. For those of you keeping track of my phone orders you are probably aware that I have had every major model of the Pixel phone. The 3a is not a major model version and I did not purchase one of those phones. Anyway, I have had the Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone in my possession for 48 hours of testing. 

Observations:

  • Google Photos is having all sorts of problems updating/syncing. It is seriously confused by the 20,000 photos I have stored online. When you load the Google Photos application it just says, “Getting your photos…” obviously that is not ideal or acceptable. 
  • The camera does take really great photographs. I have been really impressed with it so far after a couple days of Halloween costume pictures. 
  • Day one from the start of using this new phone, I was a little worried about the battery life. Those worries were well founded. The battery life is really not very good at all. The Pixel 3 XL would make it to about dinner time without being worn out. This new phone is burning battery so fast I’m looking to charge around lunchtime. That is a massive step backward.