Building a personal computer – selecting the ram

Selecting ram for the computer is actually very similar to deciding on a graphic card. You need to know what will you be using a computer for and how much memory is needed for that task.

Depending on your motherboard you will have 2 or 4 slots for memory. Picking which memory modules are appropriate are difficult unless you have a way to sell any used memory. It is possible to select 4 x 8gb modules and you then have 32gb of memory but if you need more you either have to replace some or all of the memory. It could be possible to remove two of the “8gb” modules and replace them with 16gb modules. This would change the memory from 32gb or 48gb.

As I am planning on running virtual machines lots of memory is advantageous.

In theory all memory is following the same specifications so you should be able to pick any module but the motherboard manufacturer does have lists of memory from various ram manufacturers that is supported.

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Building a personal computer – selecting a graphics card

Picking a graphics card depends on what you are planning on doing with your computer.

  • Play games
  • Mine bitcoin
  • Play super intensive fast pace games
  • Surf the internet
  • Watching youtube videos

Once you have answered which one or more of these you will need a graphics card most of the decision is done. The next question is do you or your games need cuda support. Cuda is a parallel programming library developed by Nvidia and runs exclusively on Nvidia. Thus if you need Cuda your decision of which GPU vendor has been decided.

An up and coming alternative to Cuda is Vulkan. Vulkan is a cross platform computing API which is intended to replace OpenGL or Direct3D and also offers parallel processing.

If Vulkan actually becomes more common it could allow more and higher quality games to be available on other operating systems than windows.

The final piece or the decision is how much money can you afford. Both Nvidia and AMD do have graphic cards that cover the price spectrum. Usually this is selecting either a slightly older model or the latest and greatest GPU. It is just a matter of getting the most GPU that you can afford that fulfills what you need a computer for.

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Building a personal computer – selecting a CPU cooler

I already discussed some about the CPU cooler. There are essentially three different choices you can make

  • Air cooled
  • All in one
  • Custom water cooled

The aircooled cooler is pretty much just as it says. It is a fan that is connected to a heatsink which is attached to your CPU and when it runs it keeps it cool. There are two other somewhat similar air cooled options

  • U-Type
  • C-Type

Both of these CPU coolers have some pipes full of liquid in a heatsink. Attached to this heatsink is one or two fans. The fanes pull the heat out of the heatsink and essentially into your case which is why your case needs to a way to dispose of this heat. The actual name “U” Type comes from how the heat pipes are relative to the rest of the heatsink. In the case of “U”, they are oriented like a U relative to the CPU.

An all-in-one cooler is actually similar to a air cooler on steroids. It has its own radiator full of liquid and pipes that lead directly to the pump which is connected to the heat sink that is mounted on the CPU. The pump pulls cool liquid to the CPU to cool it and sends off the warm liquid to the radiator. The radiator typically has multiple fans which will blow cool air over the warm radiator and thus draw the heat out so it can then return to cool the CPU.

There is really not much sense in me discussion a custom water cooled solution. This tends to be a highly customized solution that is built by the user. They select parts that will fit together and essentially assemble something similar to an all in one cooler. Yet this is only similar, the main difference is that custom water cooled solutions need to be monitored and maintained.

It is possible that an all-in-one solution, after a few years in service, may begin to evaporate. This is a slow process and over time and if this become a problem the entire all-in-one cooler will need to be replaced.

The air cooled solution may not be able to cool as high of a load (think bit coin mining or extensive video editing) but if the fan starts to go, it can be removed and replaced with a new fan. In this situation the heatsink will remain to cool the CPU although less effectively – you mileage may vary.

Dark Rock Pro 4 – installation and review

Note: Make sure that your cooler supports the socket type for your CPU. This might require purchasing additional mounting hardware.

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Building a personal computer – selecting a case

Picking a case is to a certain extent a decision based on your preferences. The CPU or GPU won’t go any faster by having a larger or smaller case.

The only limitations are that the case you purchase does support the size of your motherboard.

  • Extended ATX (E-ATX)
  • ATX
  • micro ATX (mATX)
  • Mini ITX

However, there is yet another couple of considerations when picking a case. The case has to be large enough to contain the motherboard but it must also support a graphics card if you choose a discrete graphics card. Simply put you cannot get a graphics card that is 12” long if there is only space for a 10” card which is the average size.

The available size for the graphic card depends on the case but if you have a tower case it also depends on any internal mounting hardware such as what might be used for hard disks or DVD’s.

One more consideration on the size of case is how large the CPU cooler is, if you choose an aftermarket air cooled fan for your CPU. Some CPU’s are sold with a cooler which typically appears to be a fan that is laying on top of the CPU. As you can imagine this not a very high cooler and would probably fit into all or almost all cases.

After market CPU coolers can be quite tall. The Noctua NH-D15 is actually 16.5cm tall. Thus if you are choosing such a CPU cooler you have to get case that will accommodate such a large cooler.

One of the least important attributes for the running of the computer is how the case looks but that is important for the owner as it displays a sense of style. The Final but probably most important consideration is airflow of the case. Both the GPU and CPU will generate heat when the computer is running. These pieces of equipment last longer and work better when cooled and to major (air cooled) or minor (water cooled) degree you should get a case that allows in cool air. How much air is required depends on the CPU and GPU but also how many intake and exhaust fans are running.

Case Dissassembly and review

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Building a personal computer – selecting a motherboard

Deciding on a motherboard is less of a religion than finding something that you can afford and that supports your processor.

The question of the motherboard is more complicated depending on how high end of a CPU you are planning on using. If you are just planning on a small 4 core/8 thread pc you could probably get away with any of the existing compatible motherboards. It would most certainly be overkill to get the brand new x570 AMD motherboards if you are planning on getting an Ryzen 3 with only has 4 cores.

With certainty you could find a motherboard from last years lineup and use it with even the most current Ryzen 3, well with a few exceptions. If You are planning on going to the other extreme and getting a high end processor you might then opt for a newer motherboard with all of the new functionality. It might not be necessary to have a PCI 4 bus for your new Ryzen 7 or 9 CPU but if you are getting a high end processor you might also be getting a high end graphics card and that would benefit from the faster PCI 4 bus.

In my case the decision was to go with one of the existing motherboards that supports the AM4 and 3rd gen ryzen or to get one of the new motherboards that is chock full of newer technology.

MotherboardMotherboard
x470x570
pci 3pci4
usb 3.1usb 3.2
8 pci 3 lanes20 pci 4 lanes
max 64gb rammax 128gb ram

Depending on the boards you might also be talking about better built in audio, more support m.2 cards, built in Wifi or even 2.5 gigabyte Ethernet port. Other things might also be availble such as newer easier to use versions of Bios or the ability to flash the firmware without even having a CPU.

Both motherboards have the AM4 socket which was released in 2017 and seems to be holding strong. The socket seems scheduled to be in use into 2020. How to actually select a motherboard is really difficult. I have done a lot of research and it is not to difficult to find negative reviews for all of the different motherboards.

My old computer is about 56 years old (in dog years) and I can only imagine that my new computer will also be kept for longer then the normal two or three years upgrade cycle. With this in mind I will be getting the current x570 which supports pci4 which will future proof things.

Wish list
2 x M.2 drive support
128gb ram support
USB 3.2
7 segment display for post codes

A lot of these options are actually available on a lot of x570 motherboards with the exception of the 7 segment display for post codes.

There is of course one additional consideration, the ability to install Linux. This actually falls under the heading of the UEFI bios and the ability to disable secure boot so I can install a non-microsoft signed operating system.

Note: make sure you get a motherboard with the same socket as your CPU.

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Building a personal computer – selecting a CPU

Building a pc tends to be done by enthusiasts and so it is done by people who know the difference between ram and the hard disk. With that in mind selecting a cpu tends to become more of a question of which technical religion do you follow – Intel or AMD. Over the last few decades the undisputed champion of performance has been Intel, after all they did create the processor that made its way into the IBM personal computer from which most pc’s share their common ancestry.

Despite being in the AMD camp for a very long time I had also eyed the Intel I7 processors but never quite had the money for a processor which hasn’t changed dramatically over the last decade. It was only in 2017 when AMD changed the game. Since then I had been hoping to get the 1st or 2nd generation threadripper which would have more than doubled the processing power I currently have if my computer were twice as powerful as it is.

Late last year when I started to have some computer troubles I decided to get started. The AMD 3rd generation threadrippers were coming out but AMD had gone over the top. The new low end threadripper now has 24 cores and despite the relative cost performance to the Intel being quite good I seem to have been priced out of the threadripper market. It isn’t just the processor but the cost of an entire system which was getting a bit rich for my budget. Well not only that but 16 core/32 thread processor was probably more than I could fully utilize.

GenerationModelCoresCost
1Threadripper 1950x16617€
2Threadripper 2970wx241033€
2Threadripper 2990wx321979€
3Ryzen 9 3900x12517€
3Ryzen 9 3950x16979€
3Threadripper 3960x241400€
3Threadripper 3970x321999€
3Threadripper 3990x 643000+

This is a tremendous jump in capability over just a few years which in itself would be amazing but AMD’s entire line has taken a jump in abilities but they have also just released their own enthusiast chip Ryzen 9 3900x. This chip has 12 cores and 24 threads and the bigger brother 3950x has also been released. This chip will have 16 cores and 32 threads which is just as formidable as the first generation threadripper.

The Ryzen 9 3900x is an amazing chip which is quite muscular and should be relatively future proof for my particular uses.

The decision of the processor allows me to move on to the next decision which is which motherboard I should purchase.

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Building a personal computer

My experiences of building my own pc’s has been somewhat mixed. I had considerable help building the last two machines I have had by my friend Mikhail. When I say I had help building that means I created the requirements and he waded through the technical jungles to come up with a compatible parts list.

Oh, sure I helped to assemble them. My last one I assembled in its entirety including all the backwards fans. Once I was done my work was reviewed which is when some of my missteps were discovered and then corrected.

This time around I have to fly solo and do everything myself. I am both good with my hands and not afraid of electronics so how hard could it be? It did take a lot longer to come up to speed on all the changes in technology than I thought it would but I thought I would. Not only does the internet is full of all the information you need to know but it is also covered in a greater depth than I am prepared to go.

I know a couple of people who are considering building their own computer so I am pulling together a general list of the technology as well as a basic explanation of each. I am listing what I learned during my research. This will highlight a lot of the interesting or tricky steps as well as include links to a lot of supporting material.

Over the next few days I will be writing up my notes on the entire process and a quick summary after the process is over.

This series contains links to some of the resources I used as well as a few hardware vendors. I have not received anything from any of the vendors or websites. This information is included as it was either described better than I could do it or by someone who could be considered to be an expert.

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Artificially Intelligent or Creepy

I guess it happened a few years ago when I became a bit more cognizant that those helpful computers were a bit smarter than they first seemed. Perhaps smarter isn’t the right term, perhaps intrusive. The exact incident was when I was sending an email off and had forgotten the attachment. The email service that I was using had analyzed the text and pointed out that I had forgotten the attachment that I had mentioned. Indeed it was nice to get this oversight corrected but it was a bit disconcerting, what other keywords or phrases would my email provider be looking for. Would a question about insurance bring on an avalanche of insurance spam ? What about other topics of a more personal nature? Will I start to get mails about midwives and baby supplies? Perhaps mails about switching gynecologist.

I was actually relieved so far not as not to see anything like that, well based on my emails, I don’t think that this is the case based on my browsing history. It is difficult to have no browsing history but I have tried to no longer be logged into accounts and keep as few cookies as possible. Well, imagine my surprise when I logged into a seldom used email account to see this mail.

Not really remembering what a google map timeline was I took a look and it was stroll down memory lane. This thing has been on for some time and although it doesn’t have all of my movements I can see in a lot of instances which countries, cities, addresses or businesses I have visited. If you zoom in on a specific day you can see what time you started your journey and from which location. The addresses are amazingly specific and correct, which how long you spent at or near a location and how long it took to get to the next location. If this information would be available to a criminal it would be amazing.

You can probably guess that your “victim” worked at a certain location as they seem to be spending about 8 hours a day between 8 and 6 pm during the week at that location. You can see if that work location is close or far away. If you have somehow gotten this information you might already know that this victim is someone worth robbing but this information might also clarify that. Do they eat out a lot? Do they visit expensive stores or shops? What is the best time of the day or day of the month to “visit” their home. If you were a divorce lawyer this might also look pretty interesting. Your client’s husband claims to simply work late or be out of town on business when he is actually been tracked to a specific address across town during that same frame.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/

This information might also be quite interesting as a form of corporate espionage, where did the head of global acquisitions go? We know that she deals primarily with automotive industry.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/

You might be thinking that if I am dumb enough to leave my GPS on as well as enable this feature from Google I deserve all the tracking. This would be true, especially about the enable the feature from Google but it turns out that rarely have my GPS enabled, all of this information appears to have been gathered using either wifi or tracking via the various cell towers of the mobile network.

These markedup map examples are a markup using openstreetmap.org, the actual google maps are much scarier. The google map has wonderful detail listing ATM’s, coffee shops, barbershops, and even links to the various establishments. It is possible to get address, telephone number, opening hours and more.

I really like the openstreetmaps.org site and the information that it does provide but it does pale in comparison to Google Maps.

If this is the type of tracking that can be done with just some passive cooperation I now understand now how during large government investigations are able to have a detailed list of the “criminal” and all of his or her associates as well as detailed movement prior to the crime.

Getting clear of tracking

Well, there is probably no way to be truly clear of being tracked by your cell provider, the phone OS provider or the apps themselves but it is possible to turn off a few of the most direct tracking settings.

  1. Turn off location collection on your email account.
  2. Stop collection gps and wifi information
  3. Remove old history data

1. Gmail

Log into your email account and go to the settings.

Change the location (Standortverlauf) from On to Off.

This should stop that particular email account from wanting to track you.

2. turn off tracking on your phone

Turn off the collection of data on your smart phone (Auf meinen Standort zugreifen). This has the advantage of not tracking you and may also extend the life of your battery charge.

3. delete the history

I was quite surprised at this one. I was looking at my email account in an attempt to delete this information only to find out that does not seem to be possible. You can delete the history but to do that you need to do it on your cell phone. However, once you delete the history there your timeline as visible from your web browser no longer has any information on your previous travels.

Note: Openstreetmap.org simply provides the maps, they don’t track you and the example above was showing something similar to a Google map. Why not a google map? Well, there are other restrictions of displaying a Google map and I also do not wish to share my location data.

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The great firewall of china

China apparently has a cyber wall since 1997. Who knew? Its role in internet censorship in China is to block access to selected foreign websites and to slow down cross-border internet traffic. The effect includes: limiting access to foreign information sources, blocking foreign internet tools (e.g.google search, facebook, twitter, Wikipedia and others) and mobile apps, and requiring foreign companies to adapt to domestic regulations. It also nurtures domestic companies. The great firewall was formerly operated by the SIIO since 2013 it was officially operated by the Cyberspace administration of china. Its job is to translate the Communist party of chinas will into technical specifications. The SARs* are not affected. The SARs are Hong Kong and Macau because they have their own governmental and legal systems. The word was firstly used by Geremie Barmé an Australien writer who officially wasn’t famous but many people think of him as famous.

Tell me in comments below what you think of the great firewall

Sources:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall

*Special administrative regions

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Gatling and file variables

At the same time you might wish to replace some of the hard coded values (ie usernames and passwords) with variables as well. It is possible to create lists of values which will be used by Gatling.

These feeder lists will be iterated through with each cycle of your test and the values from that line will be used everywhere that variable name is located.

Partial Soap message

    <soapenv:Body>
       <v1:getAccountData>
          <v1:contributor>
             <v1:contributorId>k.marx</v1:contributorId>             
          </v1:contributor>
          <v1:account>
             <v1:id>${ csvAcctId }</v1:id>
             <v1:idType>acctId</v1:idType>
          </v1:account>
          <v1:keyList>
            <v1:key>keu7</v1:key>
          </v1:keyList>
       </v1:getAccountData>
    </soapenv:Body>
 
 

In this case the “${csvAcctId}” variable is filled from the data file. What makes this really powerful is that this variable can be evaluated by Gatling as part of another variable (string)

Code sample

 val zipgetscenario = scenario("zip test get ")
 .repeat(iterations) {
 feed(csv(AcctFilename).circular)
 .exec( 
 AreaObj.getAccountData
 )
 } 

This one feature is so powerful that it alone could easily be the most important and flexible feature. With a single string body and a csv file you can pass in a lot of varied messages.

In one sense, Gatling, is a similar to LoadRunner for creating load and performance tests. It is similar as you need to write a test program which is run and the analysis of the run is graphed. One difference between LoadRunner and Gatling is that Gatling uses Scala as the scripting language.

There will be people who are either pro or anti Scala but from the standpoint of creating scripts in Gatling it is the language that you use – get over it.

The it doesn’t really matter which programming language or script you use. It may take a while to become familiar with the syntax but all programming languages are to a certain degree arbitrary.

Just like any other language it is possible to create a collection of routines that can be used again and again. Unsurprisingly this is true in Gatling as well.

In my next article I will discuss how this can be done so you can create some reusable building blocks to making the testing process easier.

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