Adding A Video Card To Your Computer

Although I know I’m supposed to be working on the method of watching your TV over the Internet, I’ve had a hardware breakdown of my 7.1 sound system, so I thought I’d show you how to upgrade your Video Card on your computer.

First, let’s examine why you’d want to upgrade your computer’s video card. With Windows Vista , if you’ve bought a computer without a dedicated video card, you’ll lose a lot of speed in the Operating System as Vista needs a lot of computer resources to draw the screen on your monitor. In Windows XP, not having a dedicated video card wasn’t as big of a deal, as the OS wasn’t as big of a resource hog πŸ™‚ In Vista, if you don’t have a dedicated video card, then the OS uses both processor cycles and your computer’s memory to draw the screen. The idea of having a dedicated video card means that the video card does all of the work, freeing up processor cycles and memory for real work.

In this instance, I’m using a Vista launch machine that did not have a dedicated video card. It’s now my wife’s machine, and the main goal here was to speed up Vista/Windows 7 and to allow her to use a dual monitor setup (she’s jealous of mine) :)So to order the right video card, I need to find out what available expansion slots I have on the computer. If you don’t know by looking (or didn’t feel like cracking the case right this second), then just go to the manufacturers website (in this case HP) enter your model #, and the system as originally configured will tell you what available slots there are. In my case, I have a free PCI-e slot, so that’s what type of video card I looked for.

A word about NewEgg. This is where I order any computer part that I may need. Although I’m too lazy to have an affiliate click thru link on this blog πŸ™‚ I’m of the position that they are the best place to purchase needed computer parts. So I need a PCI-e video card. One with memory, a PIC-e interface, and cheap:) I decided on the ASUS EN8400GS. At 41 dollars after shipping, it’s a pretty good deal. It has 512MB of RAM, and three outputs. You can spend as much as 600 dollars on a video card, but in this case it’s a bit much.

So now, let’s’ crack the box and look at the card

Instead of a fan, this video card uses a Heat Sink to disapate the incredible amount of heat that a video card creates. This makes the video card quieter. So now let’s crack the case of the computer

And now to insert the card. A word of caution here…I usually don’t use a grounding strap, but should, and I usually wear a hat when doing this in case I happen to be sweating. πŸ™‚Additionally, make sure the computer is UNPLUGGED not just turned off for this.

Generally, you just place the card in the slot and gently (but firmly) place the card in the slot. And you may want to be a bit careful. This card can easily be broken if you aren’t careful. If you take a look at the next slot over, you’ll see that the open slot next to the PCI-e slot is now pretty useless. πŸ™‚ After screwing in the card, put the cover back on and restart your computer.

Once you restart the computer, just put the driver CD in, and you should be set. This procedure took me about 15 minutes including the taking of the pictures.


The Case Against Vista Part 2

The last time I was ranting about Vista, I was explaining that when Windows ’95 came out (and honestly, this wasn’t complete until Windows ’98 SE) there was a glaring need for businesses to migrate from Windows 3.11. Let’s take a look at the pluses

  1. Windows ’95 offered long file names. For those of you who don’ t remember, when you saved a file back in the day, you needed to name it to fit the DOS 8.3 naming convention. I had users that lost files because they couldn’t remember what they named the file J
  2. Although not perfect, Plug and Play (plug and pray back in 1995) was a big leap forward as far as business operating systems go. We are used to now just plugging in a camera, usb drive, etc into the computer and for the most part, it works. That wasn’t the case until Windows 95 came out
  3. Windows ’95 relieved a lot of the old DOS 640K memory limitations. It didn’t take care of it all, but it was still a lot better than Windows 3.11
  4. Built-in network support for TCP/IP, Banyan, and Novell. This was HUGE as far as network administration was concerned. No more loading clients on each workstation

There were some negatives, mostly in the fact that plug and play wasn’t always reliable, and the system did crash some J. Additionally, a lot of old software didn’t play well with Windows ’95. The end result that until Windows 98 SE, many businesses ended up using Windows NT 4 Workstation. Soon, though, Windows was about change everything with the advent of Windows XP

The Case Against Vista Part 1

Today, I am here to start to make the business case against Microsoft’s new Operating System called Windows Vista. I will consider this topic from the point of view of a business entity. I’ll take a look at the history of the OS and the features that are different between Vista and XP, we’ll also look at some of the costs involved migrating to Vista.

First, let me introduce myself from a systems administration view. I presently am a systems administrator for the State of Delaware (I don’t think the specific agency I work for is important so I’ll not disclose that information). I have been an admin for over 12 years. I have handled migrations from Windows 3.1 to Windows NT4/Windows ’95, Windows 98 to XP, and Windows 2000 to XP.

Before we get to the nuts and bolts of Vista’s features (and I don’t plan for this to be a review of Vista), let’s look at some of the history of the Windows OS. Windows 3.1, as anyone who ever dealt with this OS on a regular basis would tell you, was a nightmare to administer. For those of you who are new to the computer game, I’ll tell you that for Windows 3.1 you had the following problems:

  1. There was no built in network support. So, in order for you to allow it to use a network, you had to load a Novell (or whatever Network Operating System you used) client on the machine at startup. Additionally, Novell did not use TCP/IP to communicate, so if you needed TCP/IP on the machine (for connectivity to other non-Novell network devices or to the Internet) you also had to load a TCP/IP client at startup.
  2. You had the 8.3 limit on file names. This was a huge pain in the butt for new users to grasp.
  3. Windows 3.1 was built on top of DOS, so most of your programs had a 640K memory limit. As mentioned above though, you had to load the network clients. This impacted your DOS memory limit.
  4. No Plug and Play hardware support. This meant that every hardware device (CD ROM’s, modems, NIC cards, etc) needed to have settings (and sometimes DIP switches on the device itself) set. An interesting aside: When people ask me how I learned my computer knowledge, I always tell them that I’d love to give them an old Packard Bell SX-25 and have them hook up a modem, video card, sound card, and then get either Lucas Arts games or DOOM to properly work. Then they’d understand how a computer geek 20 years ago learned his craft. He had to. It was the only way to get the damn thing to work!
  5. With the DOS memory limit above, you had to use edit config.sys and autoexec.bat so that your programs might work. When installing a new program/game you needed to check your XMS and/or EMS memory so that your computer could run the program/game without crashing too much J. This entailed editing the config.sys and restarting, then rinse and repeat, until your EMS/XMS was right. Most of the time, I had a boot menu that entailed different loading scenarios in order to get my software to work right. For instance, if I was playing a game, I’d only load stuff that I needed. No printers, no crazy fonts, no network protocols, etc.

My point with all of this rambling, is that there was a BUSINESS NEED to replace Windows 3.1 when Windows 95 came out. My next post will cover that

Vista at Home

I’m blogging this using my new home computer with Word 2007 and Windows Vista. I’ve been running Vista at home since yesterday and I have a few insights (I think)

  1. I’m still lost, but I am slowly finding my way around this new operating system.
  2. User Account Control (UAC) is still a pain, but I’m going to leave it on for now.
  3. I’ve run into next to NO crashes yet, and I’m hopeful that this will stay the same
  4. Although using Word 2007 seems OK, I find that I’m using the help function for a lot of things that I know how to do in Word 2003

I’ll deal with more detail as I go along. Feel free to comment, rant, etc.

Vista or Not?

As part of my day job, I am in the middle of evaluating Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Tommorow (Jan 31st) I am driving up to Philly for a Microsoft Launch event where I’m looking to get all the free stuff πŸ™‚ I can grab.

I’ve been using Vista for a few days at work, and here are my first impressions:

  1. I now have no clue where anything is anymore.
  2. The new User Account Control (UAC) is a real pain.
  3. I doesn’t seem any faster (or slower either).
  4. I’m not sure I see the point (more on that later).

When I get back tommorow I’ll blog some more about some of my thoughts on this topic.