For general computer guru and geek stuff, I always use a newsgroup called
It is provided through the news server called:
It's free but you have to register with an name and email address. I used
an anonymous name and a hotmail.com email address to sign up. Then, like
any other newsgroup, you can set up an anonymous username and fake email
address to do the posts.
Information about how to sign up is at:
On that page, you can also click on "Newsgroups" on the right and see all of
the available newsgroups that they have. You have to scroll down pretty far
in the newsgroups list to get to the one that I am recommending --
I am pretty sure that none of their newsgroup posts are archived by Google.
Higgs Boson wrote:
Thanks to you and the other kind members who posted sources of help.
I see my mistake: I originally searched the NG HIERARCHY for my needs,
but did not think of searching FORUMS. So I will try a few of those &
see if my 3 q's can get answered.
Somebody on this thread suggestged I might post the probs. on this NG,
but that might be an abuse of the OT factor. Still...if I get
BTW: This is a classic example of thread drift. At a certain point
it took off into a discussion of OSs. When I was on Agent's (former)
NGs, the convention was to change the name of the thread once it
veered off course. e.g.. "Compare OSs (was Computer NGs),"
Dunno if that works in other free-standing Email clients, much less in
a Google-type NG.
My mother (my main support caller) got a Win7 machine when her old XP
one died (turns out it was from that capacitor leaking problem). Since
I have a Win7 box also, support has become very simple. There is a
built in utility (find it by searching for Remote Assistance). Mom
emails me the Invitation that is produced, reads me the 12-15
character check code, and I'm into her machine. It really couldn't get
any easier. It's better than the old PC Anywhere and saves my
I'm curious about what problems you would solve by remotely entering a
Win7 system. Seems to be a solid system.
OTOH, it has a decent backup/restore utility, so just going in to do
backups on a regular basis would allow you to do a restore if your Mom
got caught by a malware problem.
Remote is no help for hardware failures.
What I did with my dad (he's in Florida) when I set him up with his
first PC was leave him a Ghost floppy and an image on a second drive.
He actually used it once with me coaching him on the phone, then got
support from PC savvy family down there after that.
It's amazing what people can do with PC's now. Even with no concept
of how the disk drives or file systems are organized, they install all
kinds of software and steal music and movies, make tons of DVD's of
same, email and facebook photos, etc, etc.
When I see all the crap on my Dad's computer, I kind of get sick.
It must have every damn toolbar ever created on it, on multiple
They have cable, but also still have AOL because of something related
to mail and some game my stepmom likes to play.
Buzzers and dings sounding off, crap popping up on the screen.
But it doesn't bother them.
Anyway, I'm glad I'm not maintaining their PC, and they should be glad
that my BIL the PC repairman lives right across the street from them.
He's a real saint, he is.
It's way out of warranty for those motherboards that died. I mentioned
this briefly in another post, but I had built a PC for my mother using
an Asus MB (A7N8X I think). After many years, she started having
various complaints, such as long hesitations, just plain slowness,
things working one day and not the next. She's in FL and I'm in NY so
I'm trying to troublehoot this by phone. Finally I told her to take it
to some local guy because I had no idea what was wrong.
He did a couple of things, then tried replacing the PSU. After that it
wouldn't boot at all. He felt bad but there was nothing more to do.
She got a new Win7 machine and plugged the old drive in so she could
get most of the data over (with my help of course).
I went to visit her last year and she had saved the old machine so I
took it apart for spare parts, and I saw the capacitors and just
groaned. That was why I couldn't figure out what was wrong. The local
guy should have spotted it but I guess he wasn't too good. Yup, death
On Tue, 4 Jan 2011 10:35:28 -0800 (PST), email@example.com wrote:
One thing everyone forgets in the DIY vs store bought machine debate
is the PSU. They use cheap crap power supplies in most of the
commodity machines and that uses an enormous amount of power over
time. I once tested a machine with a typical PSU with one of those
Save-A-Watt type things and compared it to an expensive Seasonic PSU
that I was putting into my new box which runs 24/7. Of course it
varies by how much you leave your PC on and what electricty costs in
your area, but all you really need to do is feel the hot air pushed
out by the cheap PSU compared to the cool output of a quality PSU.
I figured out that the difference between that $25 piece of crap and
my $120 Seasonic would pay for itself within 9 months or so. I don't
have the numbers anymore but it as quite significant, significant
enough so that I tried to get my congressman to stick a minimum
efficiency rating for computer PSUs into the energy bill that passed
Congress a few years back. But it would raise the price of the typical
PC by, I guess $50 or so. It didn't get in of course.
So, when you compare the price of buying vs building, or at least
ordering one to spec, don't forget the price of actually running the
I don't doubt it. I've run across an interesting feature. I have two
used Sony VAIOs, both old P4s w/ Asus mobos. The older will run
constantly as older computers do. The newer one not only has the HDDs
wind down after long periods of non-use, but the P/S fans, too. Is
this feature common now? Does it have a specific name?
Some hardware manufacturers include software on their machines that
allow users to tweak power management settings. On my Toshiba laptop,
it's called the eco-utility. However, similar adjustments can be made
within Windows as well. Win 7 default power management settings can
occasionally create issues with certain older hardware that is not
(quite) Win 7 ready. A very common example of this is the hard drive
sleep setting causing the internet connection to shut down. Certain
older routers will not recover from this after it happens, so that the
user has to reboot the pc in order to restore the internet connection.
The solution is to disable the sleep function, or delay its
implementation - or just buy a current router and be done with it.
Quite often you will see it in your BIOS and if enabled in the BIOS, the
OS power management software app will control the fans. The power
supplies will usually have a label indicating a smart fan along with a
connector and wires for a spot on the motherboard. I'm running XP and
it's called "APM" Advanced Power Management. You will see specs for a
motherboard and/or power supply listing APM support.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. Hardware and software are
constantly changing, which eventually leads to compatibility issues
between newer and older parts or programs. Hardware, for example:
Cases are designed to accommodate mainboards of a specific size and
shape - and those continue to change. CPUs have to be matched to
compatible mainboards. Power supplies have to fit the case and the
power needs of the boards running in the box. Hard drives have changed
size (thickness) somewhat, which may be an issue when trying to fit a
new drive into an old slot. Connections have changed - you can't just
plug an IDE drive into a SATA socket or vice-versa; you'll need an
adapter. Contemporary graphics cards won't even fit into old slots.
And, of course, RAM has changed tremendously and is not at all
What this means in the long run: the older the pc, the less available
are the replacement parts *and the more they cost*. SDRAM nowadays is
easily two-three times the price of DD3, with a fraction of its capacity.
There comes a time when it simply does not make sense from a financial
and performance standpoint to keep putting money into a dinosaur -- no
matter how much you paid for it in the first place.
On 1/4/2011 12:35 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I wouldn't bother with a custom build if one's needs were met by a
basic build, and if there was no expectation of a need to upgrade or
expand in the near future. In that case, an off-the-shelf model would
On the other hand, if one has specific needs that must be met, or has
hardware preferences, then the ability to tailor one's pc to one's
needs _and_ budget is a definite plus. Not to mention the pleasures of
a clean install without any crapware.
I've never had that problem. If you have the slightest idea of what
you're doing, you won't. If you don't, well, DIY is an excellent way
to learn more about pcs, if you are willing to risk encountering some
issues and having to work them out as you learn. Heck, that's the way
a lot of us on alt.home.repair prefer to learn.
And then if you
Dude. You don't know how to shop. Actually I figured that out when you
mentioned ebay. There are far better online sources for hardware and
software. If you prefer to buy locally, generally the small computer
stores will have much better selections and prices than most big chain
stores (with the possible exception of Frys and Microcenter), since
their customers are more knowledgeable than the run-of-the-mill pc user.
It's like buying parts for the kitchen sink. The average home owner
will go to a big box store like HD or Lowes. Those who are a little
more savvy may shop at their local hardware store. Those who really
know about quality, selection, and price will hit a plumbing supply
Or you could install the copy you had bought for your previous pc.
Or, you know the options allowing you to legally acquire a copy of the
latest version for less than $100. Or, you purchase another version or
brand that better fits your needs. Or you buy a multiple-pc license
for that same software and pay about the same price as that
single-user license. You know what the options are, where the casual
user does not.
3 years of Norton, $30.
You probably won't buy anti-virus protection once you know about all
the excellent options out there for free. Or you'll buy a product that
better meets your needs - which the off-the-shelf pc doesn't have on it.
So, there's zero chance that the MB you bought from place X and the
hard drive you bought from Y, and the memory you bought from Z will
be deffective? And where do you buy stuff? Do they just take
on sensitive electrical eqpt, where you could cream it with a static
not to mention other way, with no questions asked?
Some people used to prefer building their own color TV from a kit of
parts from Heathkit too. If you want to do it because you enjoy it,
fine. But putting together my own PC, only to have it cost me the
what I can buy a box from HP or Dell, doesn't appeal to me.
So, tell us where to get a legitimate copy of Win7 cheap. I've seen
it for ~$100
As for buying locally, again screwing around with the local mom/pop
stores to find out who has what and at what price, isn't an adventure
So, just price out a system like this for us and show us where to get
the parts so cheap:
Intel I7-870, quad core
MB from a major mainsteam company
8GB DDR3 133 Ram
1.5 TB HD
Avg video card
Multi format memory card reader
Microsoft Office starter version, ability to get full version for
3 years Norton Internet Security
I find it hard to believe that local computer shops are going to have
much better prices than
all the low cost guys selling stuff on Ebay, perhaps the most
competitive place on the planet.
Not that I think it's worth the risk or hassle of dealing with
either when I can buy a box for the
same money or less, with a warranty and support from a major PC
If I had a relatively new system that had a component fail, I'd
definitely replace that by buying
just the component. But IMO, there is no significant cost advantage
to doing your own integration.
There are, however, a lot of very real potential problems that could
lead to aggravation and $$$.
Don't have a previous version of Win 7, so let's compare Apples to
Show us how much less than $100 I can get a copy of Win 7 for.
Running Windows here, as is most of the world, so let's stick to
apples to apples. pun intended.
Great for an integrator, not of much use to 99% of us.
Norton Internet Security fits my needs perfectly and I'm very happy
Not at all convinced that there are free options that are better and
it's not worth
investigating, when I can get what has worked for me for $30 for 3
with a new PC.
On Fri, 7 Jan 2011 06:43:51 -0800 (PST), email@example.com wrote:
I've built about a dozen PC's and got 1 bad component out of hundreds.
First one I built had a non-working MB keyboard controller.
They sent me a new one - no problem except I had to strip the box down
to get the MB out.
Maybe I've been lucky.
My impression about component returns is most are from people who
Like you mentioned, zapping with static, but probably most because of
ham-handedness, and not doing the up front study work to ensure
I feel for the retailers that have deal with this, but they price it
I only buy new/unopened components - just how I am.
Mostly from Newegg, but if their price is way off I go elsewhere.
Your call. I wouldn't be happy with them.
And mine don't cost the same as Dell or HP - they cost more.
Pretty much what I put together and am running now, except I7-920,
but you have to add case, PSU, DVD writer, floppy, and much better
than average video. Maybe $1500.
Nobody said it was cheap to get what you want.
And I'm always a few notches away from the bleeding edge.
hehe. Depends on your "upgrade path."
But built-in software is a big advantage and good reason to go the big
box and buy a major brand.
There's a reason Bill Gates is filthy rich.
There's a difference between build-your-own and the local computer
shop. The local shops I've been in had shelves full of cheap
components, and I've also heard many unflattering reviews of boxes
built by them. You pay for what you get.
They can't compete with factory-made PC's and big retailers.
Their bread and butter should be fixing, though I have no direct
knowledge of them, and I'm sure some have managed to be profitable
doing PC builds.
Ebay is a crap shoot. Sometimes it has had competitive new computer
parts. I probably bought half a dozen new HP CD-writers off Ebay at
half the price of anywhere else about 10 years ago.
And a few new hard drives too, and about 6 ATX cases I liked.
I hardly look there anymore for anything computer related except
games. Too many suckers there willing to pay more than retail.
Wouldn't buy used electronics anywhere. My son just went through a
big hassle with a "hardly used, working fine" video card he bought on
Ebay. $+200 card. But Ebay got his money back.
When you build your own, you provide your own support.
Others can spend hours on the phone talking to Indians.
Think about it. Most who build their own have better than average
Void your warranty?
But IMO, there is no significant cost advantage
Nobody said it's the right path for everybody.
If I didn't want to build mine, I'd just go to the store and buy one.
No big deal. Different strokes.
On 01/07/11 01:01 pm, Vic Smith wrote:
If I get to the point where I can no longer build my own computers, I
know I won't go to the store and buy an HP/Dell/Compaq/eMachines. I'll
do my research into components and get the local computer store (or my
son) to build one to my specifications.
I rest my case. The computer I spec'd out can be bought from HP for
with free shipping. It's listed at $900 and there are $50 off coupons
available on the internet.
I can order it with the standard video, and if I want a hotter video
card to run games, I can
get one for $125 bucks. Std DVD burner can be added right from HP
For that amount, I could also buy a Blue Ray DVD writer and add it
As for floppy, they're pretty much useless today. A memory card
reader makes more sense, and that;s included in the HP Box. Along
Win 7, Norton Internet Security for 15 months,. and MSFT Office
So, let's take $850, plus $250, that's $1100. Why again would I
instead spend $1500 and
then have to do the integration, take the risk, have no warranty
covering the whole system,
etc? Sounds exactly like buying that Heathkit color TV or stereo and
then building it
yourself. OK if it amuses you, but not cost effective.
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