Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I built a new PC.

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I used to build, repair, and upgrade PCs as a hobby growing up. I haven’t really bothered with PC gaming or building for nearly ten years because I got used to console gaming and having laptops for everything else. Also, with the convenience of smartphones and tablet PCs, there really wasn’t much need in my life for a dedicated PC till now. I built it as a home media center/mid tier gaming system. I am not ready to jump into the PS4/XB1 foray and find nothing either side offers interesting as of yet. So till then, this PC will tide me over just nicely.

I went with an economy build which set me back about $400 because I had some parts on hand already from other things. I probably could’ve gotten the same things cheaper in the US, but I had to buy all my stuff in Japan, mostly online. I think the system screams and plays 3D games well enough on my Sony Bravia 1080p 42 inch display. It’s good enough for me, and that’s all that matters.

Specs:
AMD A8-6600 3.9ghz APU with Radeon HD 8570D graphics on shared memory
MSI A78M-E35 motherboard SATA3
DDR3-1866 8gb of RAM
LG 16x Blu-ray multi-writer
1TB Western Digital SATA HDD (used to be external)
Transcend 128gb SSD SATA3
Mini/Micro ATX/ITX case with 300 watt PSU (gets the job done)
Windows 8.1 64bit PRO (had a key from the initial launch sale)

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It's a bit cramped inside as I opted for a micro case, but I think I did a good job routing the cables and wires. Airflow is good enough and the PC under load doesn't go above 75c. Not bad for its compact size. I don’t plan on overclocking or doing anything fancy for a while. If I want to expand, I can drop a better CPU/heat sink into it or even get a larger case and an additional graphics card to run in parallel with the APU.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowpocalypse now! Please stop snowing! Halp!

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I live in that red circle in the above picture… It was the absolute worst place to be.

After watching an unbelievable amount of snow fall the day and night before, I was unprepared for what I saw in the morning. It was still snowing at 7am and coming down in big fluffy chunks. Everything was covered in a few feet of snow.

The night before-

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Morning after-

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So now this is my new benchmark for snow and I hope I never see a day like this again here. While it was beautiful and serene, it was also a nightmare because the national and local government botched rescue organizations. I could understand some unpreparedness as this is heavy snowfall for anywhere, even places that commonly get snow. But the place where the ball was dropped hardest was not closing the highways and roads the day before, leaving thousands of cars stranded on the highway and free roads which completely cut off Yamanashi from any relief services. It was like having flashbacks from 3/11/2011 after the earthquake and tsunami. All the stores were stripped bare and all the gas stations sold out of gas. It was even worse as if you wanted to get anywhere you’d need to walk it. Nothing was plowed out for at least couple days later.

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The snow was just over my waist and I am a 6 foot tall male. So, yeah it was high. I donned my Mt Fuji snow gear dry suit and started shoveling straight after breakfast. I didn’t stop shoveling till dinner. I even helped the local old folk dig out the driveway and part of the road in front of our homes the next day after spending this day doing my own apartment by myself.

My body ached so much but we got quite a bit done. I ended up shoveling for the week to clear out the rest of the packed snow in the driveway because my idiot neighbors all got stranded away from home and when they did end up coming back they just parked on top of the packed snow making the lot even harder to get in and out of…

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So yeah, no more snow like this please. Once in a lifetime is more than enough and it appears this record snowfall hadn’t fallen for over 100 years. Go figure.

Looks beautiful but sucked to live in…

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What it looked like even after a couple days on city roads (left) and highway (right)

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow on Valentine’s Day, how thoughtful.

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Nature this year is on a roll. It knows I love snow and it gave it to me as a present for Valentine’s day. What made this day even more special was that it was a Friday and I got a half day of work because schools closed early due to the incoming snow storm of which everyone was unprepared for…

But before I get ahead of myself a blog post, let’s start at the beginning. So, the forecast the night before called for snow again. After experiencing what happened a week before on the 9th I was ready with a second shovel for my neighbors just in case. I woke up to some light snow but nothing like the time before so I headed to the mountains for work as usual. I had a somewhat easy time getting to work although on the way up I saw another car had fallen into an open roadside gutter. When I say open gutter, I mean it. These things are 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep or more sometimes. They can swallow a car tire or a bicycle if you’re not careful. Usually these things fill up with leaves but today it was snow. I would've stopped for the lady but she was on the phone standing by her car. I was sure a tow truck was coming for her.

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The snow didn’t stop falling and by lunch the teachers at my school had an emergency meeting. They received a city wide warning to close schools for the rest of the day and to be on call for further instructions. So they sent me home after lunch. I had a heck of a time getting down the mountain from my school near lake Chiyoda. I usually take a steep switchback road that goes toward Shosenkyo but had to take the long way back and poke out near Chizuka. It was a very unsafe drive even with my snow tires. I never experienced anything like this before as I had my wipers on full speed trying to clear my vision for the road ahead. It was nearly a whiteout with all the snow coming down. 

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I made it home safely without slipping but I saw tons of stranded vehicles. It appears not many people invest in proper season tires here. This caused all kinds of problems for weeks to come… Maybe they’ll learn their lesson and buy some so they don’t make the roads any more dangerous than they already were.

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I tried digging out the driveway as best I could but the snow kept falling so I gave up and spent the night in my warm apartment watching YouTube expecting the snow storm to subside overnight. I was not prepared for what I saw the next morning…

Saturday, February 8, 2014

First big snow of the year! Not only first, but BIGGEST EVER!

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This entry was written in the middle of the summer, so it’s not as fresh a memory as I’d like, oh well.

I always look forward to days like this since I come from southern California where there isn’t any snow unless you go to the mountains. The forecast called for some sleet but nothing like what I woke up to. I got nearly a whole night and morning of snow. I have never seen so much snow fall here in the last seven years of living here. I was in heaven!

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The snow ended up killing plans to go out with friends but at least I got the snow I always wanted. I really wanted to see more but it barely falls in my part of Yamanashi. We usually get maybe at most 5-8 inches of snow. The problem about snow here is that nobody shovels it right. It ends up getting piled up and freezing into ice. That or it forms nasty ice ruts in the roads because the city doesn’t have any money invested in road salting or plows due to it barely snowing here maybe twice a year.

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I was the only one who was prepared in my apartment complex. I ended up shoveling out the driveway and parking lot by myself. I wasn’t too happy about that but I knew it had to be done or I wouldn’t be able to get my cars out for work on Monday.

Little did I know back then that I’d regret wanting more…