Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't pick the flowers!!!

I thought this view was a little ironic; beautiful flowers, deadly mines. I guess spring is here in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WD Caviar Green VS. Caviar Black (updated)

Today is Earth day. In honor of today I’d like to use my virtual soapbox coupled with my electronics expertise (sort of) to talk about my new hard drive. It’s the perfect hard drive for a discussion today because it’s green. That’s not just a fashion statement either; it’s actually eco-friendly.

Over two years ago I built a desktop computer for basic household needs that was also a decent gaming computer. I didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount on it, but I also didn’t want it to be out-dated before it had even been shipped to my house. The best way to do that is to buy the absolute top of the line motherboard with plenty of expansion slots and all the other parts just get what you need staying middle of the road.So now that two years have passed, it’s time for a little bit of an upgrade. I’m going to be doubling the ram, replacing the video card, striping the two hard drives I’ve already got for improved speed, and then on to the point of this post, expanding the storage capacity by adding another hard drive. Since most of the parts I’m buying are the very best of slightly older technology, and the economic slide has lowered prices even further, it will cost me almost nothing to upgrade. Shopping at Newegg it will all only cost me about $200 and I should see a significant improvement that should make the computer last for at least a few more years.

Whenever I purchase hard drives, I tend to stick with Western Digital unless there is just a phenomenal deal on something else. Western Digital may not always be the fastest (although always very close), is definitely not always the cheapest, and doesn’t even always have the longest warranty, but I’ve never had one fail. Part of that is luck, and part of it is just good craftsmanship, but that’s the brand I stick to. So first thing on Newegg (another brand that time and time again hasn’t failed me) I did was narrow the search down to internal hard drives, 3.5 inch form factor (desktop size), SATA 3.0 Gb/s (the connection for my motherboard) , and Western Digital. I was looking to have a lot more storage space, and trying not to spend more than $150. If you narrow the search down further to 10,000 rpm drives only, you get a faster drive, but not much storage space and it’s a little pricey. If you narrow it down to 7,200 rpm, you get a much better compromise of speed, storage and price. Looking at all the different drives I decided that a 1Tb drive would be plenty of storage space for a long time to come, and on sale at $109 it was well within my price range. Now some of you may remember that I’m not in the States right now, and some of you also know that my wife isn’t very technical, so you may be wondering why and how I’m upgrading the desktop computer that’s on the other side of the earth. Well, I also need an external hard drive right now, but probably won’t need one when I get back, so I’m going to use a USB to any type of hard drive adaptor that I’ve already got to use the internal hard drive as an external while I’m here. All of the other upgrades will wait until I’m back at home, probably at an even better price.

Whenever I buy something, I like to think about it awhile before I actually make the purchase. It helps get rid of the impulse buy if I wait a few days, and it also gives me a chance to think about it a little more. There’s nothing like ordering a new “whatever” and not getting the right one, or forgetting to get “X” accessory with it that makes it work. So, I waited a few days and good thing! I forgot to order the SATA cable which I will eventually need once it goes into my desktop. I also narrowed down my search in a different order, and discovered a drive that will actually do better for my uses, and thus the point of this whole post. The original drive I was going to order was a WD Caviar Black, but when I didn’t narrow down my search results by speed, but instead by size, I discovered another WD drive, the Caviar Green. I compared the two drives, and they are virtually identical except for the Green drive being ten bucks cheaper and not saying what the drive speed was. I did a quick Google search of the two drives and found a nice review on Tech Report of the Caviar Green that went into great depth on the drive and compared it with dozens of different tests with the Caviar Black, and a bunch of other similar drives. Basically, the Green is an eco-friendly drive because of its lower power consumption. It’s not made from recycled parts or anything like that, it’s just designed to be more energy efficient and also happens to be quieter too. It is a slower drive than you can get, but in most cases the difference was negligible, and for the applications I need it for, storage and redundancy, it’s the perfect drive. It’s huge at 1Tb, and significantly more energy efficient. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but if you are interested Google or the Tech Report review aren’t far. If you are looking for a new hard drive, especially for storage, then check out Western Digital’s Caviar Green 1Tb hard drive, and help save the world at the same time (or at least save a little energy and change).

Update : 23 Feb, 2010 - I bought this hard drive and received it a few days after this post. I used it as an external for a few months, and then when I came back to the states on mid tour I installed it in my home desktop. Other than not connecting the power plug all the way in (my fault), this drive has given me no issues at all. The actual usable space on the drive is 931Gb. I have a bunch of movies on it right now and I don't get any lag on it when playing them across a G router to my PS3 in the living room. I don't however have any HD videos, they are all standard DVD quality, so I can't say if it is fast enough for HD, but wouldn't be surprised if it is. All in all, I'm extremely satisfied with this drive. Hope that helps!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I finally got a copy of Religulous. I was a little worried that I had hyped it up in my head to be better than it could be, but I wasn't disappointed. I should have known better. I already like Bill Maher, and my favorite topic is religion, so how could I not like it? It was a very well done movie. It was funny and it had a good message. I recommend everyone with an open mind to watch it. It's probably not what you think. I would say that if you are a non-believer, then it is kind of preaching to the choir, but might encourage more timid non-believers to be a little more open. It is rather funny even if you aren't changed in any way by it. If you are a staunch believer, you probably won't watch it, and if you do, you probably won't have a change of heart. The people that are on the fence, might actually be influenced to think about it a little more. Captain Phantasmic, after watching it, said, "wow, I think I believe in god much less than before".

Captain Phantasmic you see, is only recently an atheist. I guess you could consider him my first convert, but I wasn't trying to convert him and he was basically an atheist already, he just didn't call himself one. Just listening to me BS with fellow friends, watching religulous, and thinking about all the things he's seen in the world he realized that he was basically an atheist, or maybe at most a deist. He definitely things that if there is a god, he doesn't give a shit about us, or is an asshole. I don't want to speak for him and his beliefs, so if I got it wrong, or if he wants to clarify, I sent him a link to this post and maybe he'll post a response.

So to sum it up, a really funny movie, with a serious undertone, that just may make you think.