New PC! And a full year of blogging

Posted by under Technology, on 10 October 2012 @ 11:51pm.

It came to my attention just now that in 2 days I will have been posting to this blog for a full year – the longest I’ve ever kept a blog going for. I wanted to post weekly but I knew from the beginning that wouldn’t happen, but I’ve made sure I’ve posted at least once a month so that’s an achievement.

It was my birthday yesterday and as a present to myself (seeing how I don’t get presents like when I was a kid where I was spoiled more!) I bought myself a new PC! My last one was built 4 1/2 years ago with money from my first job as I had never owned a decent PC before then. I can’t believe this one has lasted me 4 1/2 years and it was still fairly quick. The only upgrade it’s had since it was built was Windows when new versions came out and a new HDD and later an SSD. Nothing else was changed in that entire time, not even memory or graphics card.

I’m not a patient person and computers being slow annoys me the most. If I click something, I expect it to do it instantly. Even though I grew up in the age of Celeron processors and 256MB RAM as a main PC, I never did learn to live with the slowness.

So you might ask what I had before and what I upgraded to. Well here’s a quick run down:

Old PC
Core2Duo E6750 2.66GHz
4GB OCZ DDR2-800
Sapphire HD (ATi Radeon HD) 3870 O/C Edition 512MB
Hiper 580w PSU
2x80GB RAID0 (replaced with 64GB OCZ Vertex 2e SSD)
2x250GB RAID0

New PC
Core i5 3570K 3.4GHz
8GB G-Skill DDR3 2133MHz
Sapphire HD (AMD Radeon HD) 7770 O/C Edition 1GB
Hiper 580w PSU
64GB OCZ Vertex 2e SSD
2x250GB RAID0

Total cost: £430 delivered from (cheap compared to a year ago, and compared to my old PC which was £620 new!)

As you can see I’m re-using some parts between machines as there is nothing wrong with the old HDD’s or the PSU. The next thing on my list might be a nice case or two new full HD monitors, I’ve not decided yet since it’s all about money! I also want to find the right deal on the monitors since I’ll be wanting 2 for my dual screens.

The speed difference between these machines is quite large. Boot up time had dropped by 2/3 down to just 24 seconds to the desktop, including BIOS and password screen. The machine is instantly usable when it hits the desktop even though it’s loading in the background still, which the old PC would make you wait about 5-10 seconds before it would open anything.

Installing Windows 7 SP1 tonight took 4 minutes! And it included 3 reboots! That took at least 3-4x longer on the old PC, so I was quite surprised. The difference a new CPU, memory and motherboard can make is immense. The SSD certainly helps any machine however so that should be your first upgrade point if the rest of your hardware is fairly good.

I’ve tried a few games, but one of the games I really wanted to try was Flight Simulator X, one I could never run on decent graphics because my system was too slow. Now I can happily run it on full graphics and still get about 30fps! The big downer is that it’s not multi-threaded, so it just maxes out a single CPU core. I suspect the CPU was always the bottleneck on my old PC.

Minecraft (as crap as Java is) now runs with virtually no lag compared to random bouts of it on my old PC. That’s pleased me a fair bit as the lagging often made it unplayable.

As for others, I’ll get to test those properly at the upcoming LAN party at my friends house in a couple of weeks.



Another car update

Posted by under Life, on 5 October 2012 @ 9:19pm.

It’s been almost a month since my last blog and a similar amount of time since I contacted the finance company, so here is an update on what has happened since then. Bare with me, it’s a bit wordy.

I opened a complaint around the same time as my last blog and since then I’ve not had great news. The finance company had contacted the dealer and they refused to fix any issues on the car. This is hardly surprising given the fact that they’re not a very large company. Because of this the finance company was obliged to investigate further. In light of that they arranged for an independent mechanic to come out and assess the car. Basically this involves confirming the faults I have mentioned as actually existing. Of course when he assessed it they all existed without a doubt.

The most annoying part about this so far, is that the mechanic agreed with everything I said. You’d think that would be good, and don’t get me wrong it is. I was happy to hear that he agreed with me, it’s what I expected. Given the history of the faults you can’t deny it. Whilst driving he mentioned the fact that he had owned the same vehicle not long ago and admitted it did not drive properly because of it’s faults. This was great, the finance company can’t say no now.

How wrong I was. When I spoke to him he said the faults were clearly inherent because they occurred such a short time after purchase and that faults keep developing. However when he wrote his report and sent it off to the finance company, he wrote completely the opposite. I have a copy of his report and it says the faults are not inherent. That really pissed me off reading it. He had lied to me, and he has lied to the finance company. I can only imagine he has been paid a bonus to say they weren’t inherent because that’s cheaper than them allowing me to reject the vehicle.

I received the final letter from my finance company who were “not upholding my complaint”. What struck me was the fact that they also noted down the mileage I had done since I got the car. Bearing in mind that I do about 1000 miles a month, of which 95% of it is commuting to work 30 miles a day, I thought it was odd. They had tried to use is as part of the excuse for not upholding the complaint, stating that because I had done around 6,900 miles since purchase the faults are due to normal use and not due to any inherent faults. Hello?! The faults began less than a month into my ownership!!! You obviously have NOT read any of the information I gave you and went on the word of a single person! Absolutely ridiculous.

As you can imagine I was fuming after reading that letter. I was angry for several days and I may have even taken it out on friends/colleagues (sorry by the way!). Thankfully just because they have told me where to shove my complaint it doesn’t mean that’s the last of it. There is a service called the Financial Ombudsman Service that is there to regulate and deal with complaints about businesses who offer finance or other monetary services. I have now opened a complaint with them in the hope that given the evidence I have to support my complaint, that they will over turn their ruling and turn it to my favour. Given the fact that these issues started so early, and so many have developed, I whole heartedly believe they will go in my favour, but given my luck recently I’m not holding my hopes up just yet.

I’ve sent them a full detailed account of everything that has happened between myself, the dealer and the finance company to date and I’m asking for them to uphold my original request for rejection of the car and a full refund of all money paid minus reasonable costs. This means I should get back at least the £2,000 deposit I paid, plus extra for the part exchange, and perhaps some money back from the finance company too.

In terms of what I’ve sent them, almost everything I said to the dealer is in e-mails as that was how we communicated most of the time. I also had phone call recordings from the dealer but these didn’t have any useful information in them (yes, the dealer was aware I was recording calls as I did ask for his permission. I did white lie saying that it was for other reasons but he still agreed). Given everything that has happened, including the dates they happened of which most were in the first 3 months, I can’t see how they can turn around and say the faults are not inherent.

The only thing that concerns me now is that if they turn around and say no, I’m stuck. I can’t do anything with the car until I pay the finance off, of which there is around 18 months left, or if the finance company agrees I can sell it on and keep paying the finance (unlikely). Slap that on top of the repairs needed to keep the car on the road (most likely the clutch/dual mass flywheel which costs £1000 on it’s own), we’re looking at a minimum of £1000 and up to silly money if I need to go as far as gearbox replacement/rebuild, diagnostics of the electronics to find the fault with that, and diagnostic of the air intake or whatever it is causing the air noise. Keeping the car at this point isn’t really worth it. I’ve invested in this car on the understanding that it was in good condition. On the outside it certainly looks it but under the bonnet and underneath it certainly is not.

I wish I had researched this model of car more before I jumped in and bought it. I wish I had test driven a few more other cars rather than jumping in and saying “I want X car and nothing else”. I do blame myself partly, but at the end of the day these faults weren’t my fault. My faithful old little Peugeot 306, RIP =(, never had anywhere near the problems this car has had in its entire life. As they say, they don’t make them like they used to…

I’ll keep the blog updated when I hear back from the Ombudsman, but in the mean time please keep your fingers crossed for me so I can get rid of this God awful car and get something worth my investment.