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Invitations and Upgrade Plans

Morning all! I think I'm going to have to make a minor change to the way I use names online. Jake has now established himself an online presence, and now that I'm getting advice from PC hardware guru Cameron K at work, I want to avoid confusion between himself and my old mate Cameron. So, henceforth, Jake shall now be referred to by his nom de Net, EvilHayama, whilst Cameron (the old mate one, not the PC guru) shall be referred to as Cazman, or the Cazman, whichever works.

Vickie won a competition! She did, she did! As a donor member of the Art Gallery of NSW, Vickie received an entry form in the e-mail about a pair of competition for some free tickets for movies at Fox Studios' Cinema Paris. Vickie entered immediately - and was notified in short order that she'd won both! She scored herself four tickets, two to see Real Women Have Curves on Tuesday, April the 8th, and two to see Nowhere in Africa on Monday, April the 14th. She'll be taking me along to see both. ;-D

And on the topic of movies, I had a phone call from Gav last night - he was off to see Daredevil at Hornsby and wanted us to go along with him. Not thirty seconds later, Boots, with whom I was chatting via ICQ when Gav called, told us he and Jacinta were off to see Ned Kelly at Hornsby and that he'd like us along! We had to decline both - Vickie has a middle-ear infection, and was feeling especially wonky last night. Instead, we spent the night in, watching the Stuart Little 2 DVD we'd bought at Kmart that day.

We nipped over to Dan's yesterday; he was out, but his wife Lesley was, thankfully, in. Her job had just moved offices, and she had some furniture that had not been taken with them, including a bookcase. We're in need of a new one (too many books, you know), so she gave us hers. Whilst there, I had a look at Dan's PC case to see whether I could use it in the upgrade I'm planning for him; it's a little small, though, and the way it's laid out, a new motherboard for an Athlon just wouldn't fit. I told Lesley about the problem, and she said she'd get the server case that they have in storage.

As you've probably guessed, the Upgrade Bug has bit, and I've been spending time over the past week looking at parts, options and prices, and have had some fairly far-out ideas on what to do, including a pair of Shuttle SN41G2 cases and a Radeon 9700 video card. However, our current fiscal constraints (after the repairs, rego and CTP for Madam Lash) have brought me back to Earth, and I'm keeping to some fairly modest goals:

  • Give Dan an AMD Athlon XP 1800+.
  • Get Vickie a new PC case that can properly fit an 8mm case fan (her case, which housed a P3-500 until last year's upgrade, doesn't have the proper mounting for one).
  • Assemble a working P3-500 for Vickie's granddaughter Brook in Melbourne.
  • Procure a working 10/100 Ethernet switch.

My current plan may change after I get a good look at Dan's server case, but at the moment, I'm thinking of keeping things simple by putting a 20GB hard drive in my current case (AMD Athlon XP 1800+ with 64MB GeForce3 card), installing a new copy of Windows XP Home Edition (which I should be able to get cheap alongside a PC parts purchase) and giving the whole kit and caboodle straight to Dan.

In the meantime, I'll buy myself a new processor chip (most likely another 1800+, although I occasionally attempt to juggle the budget and incorporate a 2200+), motherboard (ideally with an nForce2 chipset; if not, a decent KT400) and RAM (either a single stick of KingMax 512MB PC2700 RAM or two sticks of KingMax 256MB RAM if I do get an nForce 2 motherboard; I'm going with KingMax, as I want to avoid using generic RAM). A new case will go to Vickie, as well as some new RAM (a single stick of KingMax 512MB PC2700 RAM; her existing stick of 256MB RAM will either be kept spare or go into Dan's machine) and I'll put the P3-500 back in her existing case with a spare hard drive. We have a spare monitor (after my upgrade of Trish's PC), keyboard and mouse, which we'll ship to Melbourne with the P3-500 for Brook. I'll also procure myself a GeForce4 MX400 video card (as my current one will be with Dan) and a 350 Watt power supply. If Dan's server case doesn't look as though it'll fit an ATX motherboard, I'll have to squeeze another PC case into the budget.

I'd still like to pick up the Radeon 9700 and a pair of Shuttle cases sometime (as the latter would solve a lot of space issues, especially on Vickie's desk), but as I'm going to start seriously saving for a month's trip to Britain and the States for the both of us sometime late next year, I think the Shuttles can wait for a couple of years yet. As for the Radeon... well, I'm going to wait until Tron 2.0 hits stores in August/September (when I can probably afford it); god knows, either the PRO model will be much cheaper, or there'll be something else better around the $500 mark by then (probably not the GeForce FX, as nVidia seems to be having problems with it, and the cooling fan is apparently as loud as a hair dryer).

Boots has also mentioned he's planning an upgrade after he flogs his Subaru. (Did we have any takers in the IMAGinewS group for it?) He's confessed to having little PC knowledge though, so perhaps I can give him some mentoring and guidance... (Buy a Shuttle SN41G2, an AMD Athlon XP 2600+, some Corsair TWINX RAM and a Radeon 9700 PRO, Boots! You'll be the envy of all your geek friends! More importantly, you'll run Battlefield 1942 smoothly!)

Of late, I've found my current banking setup to be awkward and inefficient, not to mention expensive. I have an account with HSBC (I actually opened it with NRMA, who sold their building society business to HSBC, which then absorbed it into their banking operations) that I get paid into, and a St. George account that I pay the rent and bills from. It means I have to budget, but I'm not particularly good at it; I've been hit with honouring charges more times than I'd like (when something's come out of my St. George account that has put me into a negative balance, and I don't have any overdraft facilities). So, I'm taking my business elsewhere; I'm going to wrap pay, bills, etc. up in a single Credit Union Australia account (No bank fees!), and add a Christmas Club option in which I'll be depositing Christmas funds and my savings for our trip overseas. It should make things easier and simpler overall.

After having to go into the CUA branch to join up on monday morning and then dropping Madam Lash off at Kmart again on Thursday to get her further leak problems fixed (they did; apparently, a short oil conduit of rigid pipe had been replaced with a non-rigid one; the heat had fused it shut and the oil, under pressure, was leaking out of one end), I wound up missing three-and-two-thirds hours of work; to make up, I'm working from home today. I have some database things I can do without dialling up, thankfully, and at least they'll be fairly interesting. Vickie will be sanding down the bookshelf we got from Dan and Lesley, and applying a coat of varnish; it turns out it fits exactly where we wanted it, with little room to spare.

Vickie also has some stuff from Cairns that will, fingers crossed, be arriving here before we go to Melbourne this week for Katie's school day. We'll go through it and probably have a spring (well, autumn) clean here, then hold a Garage Sale for all the stuff we don't need. You guys will get some advance notice once we know what we want to be rid of, so you can get ahead of the crowd and make us an offer!

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