New PC: Musings

The new computer is up and running with everything working well. I thought I'd go through some of the things I've noticed and learned.

Setting drive letters in Windows

Windows sucks at drive selection. When I first installed Windows I had two drives in there that had already been formatted. These came up as C: and D: and the newly formatted drive, after taking into account two DVD drives and my card reader (that comes up as four separate disk drives), my Windows partition was listed as K:. The C: drive, for some bizarre reason was a "system drive" even though I hadn't installed anything on it.

I understand the Windows drive system is a legacy but it's really just downright crazy. Why can't I use A: and B: as drive letters? Why does a card reader come up as a set of drives even though there are no disks in it? Why is the drive letter so damn important? I much prefer the Unix way of mounting partitions as directories in the filesystem hierarchy – it's far more logical and has responded better to changes in the way we use computers.

Antec Sonata III

This is one very, very fine case. Currently it's on the floor next to my desk and I can barely hear it. Quite impressive considering there's a quad-core CPU, a massive graphics card and four hard drives in there!

I highly recommend this case for your next PC.

Getting Windows working

I'd forgotten how much stuff you need to install to make a Windows system actually workable. Multimedia codecs, an office suite, a PDF reader, an archive program (eg. WinZip), CD/DVD burning software, iTunes for managing my iPod, a desktop search application, decent web browser and email programs, a proper text editor, a calendar and so on and so forth.

Being Windows you also need anti-virus, anti-spyware, a firewall and other anti-malware programs. Even though these degrade the functionality of your computer rather than enhance it.

Almost all of these things come included with the base operating system (or are not needed at all) on Linux or Mac OS X. Most PC vendors have to make up for this problem but end up bundling in all sorts of crap so personally I'm happier if Microsoft choose to include fewer programs rather than give me more crap I don't want. Such as Internet Explorer.

Cables everywhere!

Even with the Sonata's nice internal layout you still wind up with cables running all over the place. I wish all PSUs could be like Antec's NeoPower? Detachable cables are the way to go.

I'm just glad I went with the SATA DVD burners. Nice thin cables are so much nicer than the huge IDE cables.

The more things change…

Even with all the crazy fast hardware in the computer, for day-to-day operations I don't notice anything different from my old computer. Boot up and program start up is slightly faster but that will probably change over time. I can watch 1080p videos now but I don't have many of them anyway.

Video encoding and playing games are really the only two areas I've noticed the massive increase in hardware power.