Cheap PC upgrade with 2nd Generation Intel Core i3 Processor for less than 300$

intel_i3_logoIn January 2012 the time has come for my old PC to die. For a day or so I was confused to identify the root cause—as I thought it could be the video card fault due to the BIOS beep pattern (endlessly repeating two short and one long) —but it turned out to be my super-hot (literally) motherboard ASUS A8N32-SLI. I assembled the PC in 2006, back in Switzerland, and since then I upgraded only the hard drives. Obviously, together with motherboard the other important  components were doomed: CPU and memory. It was an old AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 for socket 939 working with DDR memory. But I thought it would be a good chance to upgrade. So I would keep my roomy ATX Thermaltake Swing Case, Gainward GeForce 7800GT PCX 512MB with fanless design, Thermaltake Toughpower 600W PSU, and all the hard drives. As this breakdown was unexpected, the budget was going to be miserable, very thin in fact. I also understood it had to be reasonable, as I was not going to buy crappy stuff. So I went down to the exploration part on the internet.

AMD new Bulldozer offer did not impress me at all, it was a fake cores feeling somehow. Intel on the contrary has opened new vistas with their successful 2nd generation Core CPU line. I was thinking about something close to 100$, and I found the fastest 3.30 GHz Intel Core i3-2120 Processor with 3M Cache. intel-core-i3-2120

The motherboard became a nice AsRock H61iCafe in LGA1155 ATX package with cool  AMI UEFI BIOS, SATA3 ports, USB3 and other good stuff for less than 100$. CPU and motherboard are both based on new Sandy Bridge platform. But AsRock reinforced Intel H61 chipset with USB3 and SATA3 support, which is great for saving money.

The rest is DDR3 8Gb (2x4Gb) 1333MHz DIMM Kingston [KVR1333D3N9K2/8G] and a Cooler Master Hyper 101 PWM. Again altogether for just 300$.

Then couple of hours for hardware assembly, getting Windows 7 Sp1 64-bit installed, and here we go—almost new computer:


Eventually I will change the video card as well, but not now.


Convert DVD movie to iPod Touch or iPhone format with Handbrake

Handbrake logoMy favorite serial is British “Fawlty Towers” with brilliant John Cleese as Basil Fawlty. All twelve parts are full of sharp-tongued hilarious dialogs. As people say: “the best farce ever written in the English language.” I wholeheartedly recommend. Anyway, I wanted to convert the DVD I bought few years ago on Amazon to m4v format, suitable for my iPod Touch (previous generation) to watch “Fawlty Towers” during the business trip. The key requirement would be to keep the subtitles, as I like to savour the wording (that movie in particular) along the watching these episodes. The hard part was to choose the right program to convert DVD into iPod Touch format as the selection looks excessive at first glance.

In the past I used to convert with CloneDVD, so I started this time with it. Unfortunately CloneDVD did not recognize the subtitles. I tried also Nero 10, Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate, Xvid4PSP, Aimersoft Video Converter, and DVDFab with its ugly monkey head. No luck. That is the conversion was OK, but no way to put subtitles together. Almost at the moment of desperation I tried a program called Handbrake, which is an open-source converter available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It supports video in following formats: MPEG-4 (ffmpeg), H.264 (x264), and Theora (libtheora). Handbrake also supports chapters and all kind of subtitles (Vobsub and Closed Captions). I used version 0.9.5 for Windows.

So here’s the screenshot of the settings that did work with my iPod (click to enlarge):

Handbrake settings to convert DVD movie with closed captions

That worked nicely. So in iPod Touch (or iPhone) you just select subtitles in the menu:

And enjoy the movie:

A little disappointment is the capital letters of the subtitles — that I could not fix yet.

Culture & Entertainment

Make Your Life Richer with Escentric Molecules

Countless hours spent at computer may turn you off the real encounters, meeting real people. Social life is difficult to hack, yet some may try to simulate. The simulation brings you back to the computers, and that is a trap. So let’s try to facilitate the way you could approach the other individuals or attract them like a magic magnet, and I would like to talk about fragrance. I’m not going to highlight the importance of taking the shower twice a day or that aphrodisiacs tricky stuff. Nothing like that.

I experienced few years ago a scent under name Escentric Molecules, and that perfume struck me deep. I’m obsessed with good scents in general, but that was very special. The brand was very much a niche article with limited distribution. Now I’ve noticed that the product line was extended and in my country it is becoming much more available (yet not that much affordable).

Escentric Molecules

So what is the buzz? The first scent named Molecule 01 contains only one (!) ingredient “ISO E Super” which is a trade mark of one very long (both name and molecule structure) artificial chemical 7-acetyl, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-1,1,6,7-tetramethyl naphthalene, well-known in the fragrance industry. Molecule 01 was introduced by a German perfume designer Geza Schoen.

Let me quote their website It’s just a clinical dose of a single aroma-chemical with a name as long as some distant galaxy’s. It comes in a menacing bottle with strange light effects. The aroma molecule is so complex, the body can only metabolize it very slowly so it appears to vanish, then re-appears hours later, hovering like a stealth bomber over your skin.

To support my point about socializing: ISO E Super has a pheromonic effect (pheromone — secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species). I think you got the point.