You may or may not need a Crossfire bridge connection on some ATI graphics cards

I’m a budget pc gamer, so I don’t always buy the most expensive equipment on the market when I’m upgrading my gaming rig, because what’s the point if it’s just going to be outdated tomorrow anyway. Well, I bought a VisionTek Radeon HD 5670 1GB graphics card in 2011 on Tigerdirect.com for $64 shipped, which was an amazing deal since that card was such a powerful card for the price. It may not hold a candle to today’s cards, even the budget cards, but it still handles every game I throw at it, with the usual exception, GTA IV. The other day, I decided I was either going to fork over a couple hundred bucks for a new graphics card, or just get another 5670 on the cheap to at least boost my FPS a little bit. So, it was either spend $200 to $250 on a mid range gpu or shell out only $49 for a used 5670 to use in a Crossfire setup. The choice was easy for me…another 5670, even though my Crossfire setup would not be nearly the setup as a brand new single card.

I was a bit dissapointed when I received the new (used but new to me) card and found that it does have the Crossfire bridge connections on it but unfortunately my existing card did not (which I discovered after receiving the new card). I even checked the product page on Tigerdirect for the card I ordered (which is no longer available but the page is still there), and it even says “CrossfireX ready”. Well, fortunately, I ended up with a couple of cards that don’t require a hardware bridge cable to enable CrossFire. All I had to do was install both cards, and then enable CrossFire support in the AMD Catalyst software. I ran a benchmark using the demo version of AllBenchmark CatZilla (which only allows me to run on “CAT” setting for free) and I am now getting roughly twice the FPS as I was with the single card, so I know the Crossfire is working!

I loaded up Dishonored on Steam, and I can now run at Max Settings with no lag! Sleeping Dogs is a different story, but I can now run at High settings, whereas before Medium was my max. And, the beast to end all, GTA IV, now runs fairly smooth…at least smooth enough to play.

In case you’re curious, my hardware is:

AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition 3.5ghz (not overclocked)

ASRock Extreme 3 AM3+ 970 motherboard

32GB Kingston HyperX Black DDR3 1600 (PC12800) (just decided to max out my board since this particular brand and speed of ram was on sale for quite a discount…have not regretted it one bit, nothing ever hangs in Windows 7 now)

And, of course, 2 VisionTek Radeon HD 5670 1GB graphics cards, running in CrossFireX mode.

Hope this helps someone out that was as confused as I was when I discovered that my so called “CrossFireX ready” graphics card was in fact crossfire ready even though it didn’t have the physical bridge connections.

Happy Gaming!

Woohoo! Snow Leopard install works like a charm on my Dell Mini 10v!

I received my used Dell Mini 10v in the mail on Monday, and after 2 days of trying at least 100 times to get the Snow Leopard installer to boot off of a usb disk, I finally got it to work. The problem is, when I got it working this morning, I did nothing different the last 2 days, and it just works. I think I was just frustrated and putting off too much bad energy and was skipping something. Oh well, at least it’s working now!

I’m not going to write yet another tutorial on how to install Snow Leopard on a Dell Mini 10v, but I wanted to mention something:

DO NOT use the Mac OS X Software Update tool (the one you find when you click the Apple in the top left corner of your screen). The reason I say this (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m certainly not an expert in the subject), the last version of Snow Leopard to support the Intel Atom processor (the processor that is in the Dell Mini 10v) was version 10.6.7. The problem with using the Software Update tool is the only version available to you is the Combo Update for 10.6.8, so there is no way to update to 10.6.7 using the Software Update. If you install the Combo Update for 10.6.8, upon reaching the Apple Logo screen when rebooting, you’ll get a nice little Kernel Panic. I’m speaking from experience lol. So, in order to update to 10.6.7, you’ll need to manually download the 10.6.7 Combo Update file. You can google that to find it.

I tried creating a clone of my working 10.6 install drive, but I didn’t realize that the boot loader for the hackintosh is not copied when cloning with SuperDuper, so after getting the Kernel Panic, I held down the ctrl key on the dell mini and rebooted, then selected the superduper backup drive to boot to. I then restored the backup to the main drive and tried rebooting, only to get a “boot0: error” message (by the way, that is a Zero after the word boot..for some reason, the wysiwyg editor in wordpress makes it small) and I cannot boot to the superduper backup anymore after that. So, I’m now reinstalling completely.

I just ordered a slightly used Dell Mini 10v 1011 off of ebay to use as a hackintosh

A while ago, I finally was able to get my AMD system hackintoshed and while it was a stable for a few days, I did have a kernel panic eventually. I know that these things happen, but I figured I would like to have an intel based hackintosh instead, so I have ordered a Dell Mini 10v 1011 off of ebay, because that is considered the best, or one of the best, hackintosh compatible laptops/netbooks out there. It does have a tiny screen, but that doesn’t really bother me. I also ordered a brand new 2GB stick of Crucial PC2-6400 ram off of crucial.com to upgrade the netbook to 2GB (it maxes out at 2GB and only has 1 memory slot). I’ve read about upgrading the ram on this system, and watched some youtube videos, and while it does appear to be a pain in the butt to actually upgrade the ram, everyone says any noob that has patience and is careful, can upgrade the ram with no problem. I’m a bit more experienced than a noob, so I think I’ll be fine. The netbook comes with a 160gb 5400 rpm hard drive, which is more than enough space for all my documents that I work on while designing websites and programming. I will eventually buy a 256gb or larger SSD to replace the drive, which should make the system scream….even though it only has a 1.6ghz Intel Atom processor.

I will also eventually build a new Intel desktop machine to create a hackintosh with, but that will be a few months off. I want to research and get the right parts for the job. I also want it to be the fastest system that I can afford, and would like it to be comparable to a Mac Pro.

Anyway, just wanted to share that bit of info…cause I’m pretty excited about it.

 

Snow Leopard smokin’ fast on my new SSD!!!

In my last post, I mentioned that I ordered an OCZ 60gb SSD to use as the boot drive for my amd hackintosh. I knew that it would be faster than my standard SATA 160gb drive, but it’s ridiculously faster! Not only does it boot in under a minute, but Snow Leopard installed in only 18 minutes (compared to an hour and a half on my old drive)!

My current motherboard only supports SATA II, so my SSD is only as fast as SATA II, but eventually I’ll upgrade my mobo, which will have SATA III and better ram.

I couldn’t be happier and I can’t recommend buying an SSD for your boot drive enough. It doesn’t even have to be a large expensive SSD, just something large enough to install the OS onto, whether you’re running Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, BeOS, etc. Trust me, you’ll love the speed!

Now, I don’t have to wait to click anything once the desktop loads, it just pops up and is immediately useable without lag.

Thank you technology for continuing to be more and more affordable :)

How I was able to get snow leopard working on my amd system

For the last couple of years, I have been really curious as to whether or not I could install snow leopard on my amd system, and after a few failed attempts, I had pretty much given up. I was bored the other day, so decided to give it another try, and began googling amd hackintosh, and voila…I found the perfect article for my situation! It is located at http://www.osxlatitude.com/how-to-install-snow-leopard-on-your-amd-system/

The only thing I had to do differently was restore the contents of my Snow Leopard disc (which I purchased legally from apple…just saying…it’s only $29 guys) to a 16gb usb flash drive (I imagine an 8gb will work too), because my dvd drive is IDE and not SATA, which OSX requires for some reason. I thought since I was having problems booting using the IDE dvd drive, that maybe a usb flash drive would work instead…and it does, beautifully! By the way, as far as I know, you still need an SATA hard drive to install Snow Leopard to…I’ve heard it’s possible to get an IDE hard drive to work, but you’ll have to find another site to tell you how to do that.

The problem I was having when attempting to boot to the Snow Leopard install disc (after swapping the disc out with nawcom modcd after booting to the modcd screen) was that I would see the same error message over and over again…”Still waiting for root device”.

Once I copied the contents of my Snow Leopard disc to the usb flash drive (I used Disc Utility on my mac mini to do this by the way….I clicked restore on the flash drive options screen, and dragged the snow leopard disc icon to the “source” field), I inserted the nawcom modcd disc into my dvd drive, and plugged the usb flash drive into an available usb port, and rebooted. Once the modcd screen came up, I saw an option to boot using my flash drive (which I had labeled Snow Leopard during the restore process), I used my arrow keys to select the flash drive and hit enter.

All the other steps are the same as the article mentioned above, so no reason for me to write a copy of their article. I had to reinstall Snow Leopard once, however, because I kept getting kernel panics after downloading and installing iHack, as mentioned in the article above….so I would recommend trying it without installing iHack, as it works flawlessly for me now. I have had it up and running for two days now, with no errors and no crashes.

The only thing I am going to change, is: I ordered a great little 60gb solid state sata drive from newegg, and  I’m going to reinstall Snow Leopard to that drive, because it will be ridiculously faster than my current 160gb 7200 rpm drive I used out of a G5. In fact, I get a benchmark score of 298 when using XBench (http://xbench.com/) and I unchecked hard disk. I received a abysmal score of 34 when I checked the hard disk option, so I think it’s safe to say my hard disk is a huge bottleneck. If any of you are interested in buying a solid state drive, I got a smokin’ deal on this drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227737 . I bought it for $47 shipped after the promo code and mail in rebate offer…however, these are only good for the next few days, so chances are the price will be higher when you’re reading this post….but it’s still a great deal at $74.99. Although, you may be able to get it a little cheaper at Amazon.

By the way, for those who are interested, the motherboard I have is the Asus M477D which has an AMD chipset (an nForce chipset motherboard also works with the setup mentioned in the article linked above) and my processor is the AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition Deneb 3.5GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor

My next upgrade, other than the solid state drive, is I need a new motherboard and new ram….the motherboard only supports DDR2 up to 1066mhz and I only have 4gb of DD2 800mhz, so it’s pretty slow. I would love to get a new mobo that supports DD3 up to 32gb and just max it out.

Anyway, my whole point with this post, is it’s entirely possible to get Snow Leopard running stable on your AMD system, assuming you have an amd or nforce chipset motherboard. I was totally convinced that the only way I would get a hackintosh to work is to build an intel system, and I’m glad I was totally proven wrong!

Sony giving away 12 full games today to Playstation Plus members!

It’s been dubbed “Your Instant Game Collection” by Sony, and I have to say, the game list is pretty impressive.

Here’s the full list of games:

1. Virtual Fighter 5: Final Showdown

2. Infamous 2

3. Little Big Planet 2

4. Ratchet & Clank: All For One

5. Warhammer 40000: Space Marine

6. Just Cause 2

7. Saints Row 2

8. Lara Croft and The Guardian Of Light

9. Hard Corps: Uprising

10. Choplifter

11. Zombie Apocalypse

12. Sideway: New York

If you’re already a Playstation Plus subscriber, such as myself, I highly recommend taking advantage of this deal. Just boot up your PS3 and head over to the Playstation Store, then open Playstation Plus to find the downloads. I just added all of them to my cart and started the download.

If you’re not already a Playstation Plus member, I’d say this deal is a pretty good excuse to shell out the $50 for a year’s membership. Remember, as with any free game that you’re given on Playstation Plus, if you ever cancel your subscription, you will no longer have access to that game.

Happy gaming!

I’m sore today, but not down!

Last night’s CrossFit workout was probably the toughest I’ve experienced so far, but I’m still standing today! I have noticed that over the past month, each workout has increased my stamina and strength, and while I still struggle to get through each workout, recovery is so much easier now than it was a month ago.

I just had to share the WOD (workout of the day) that we did yesterday:

It was a partner WOD, which means we rolled dice to determine each group. I happened to be paired with the owner of the gym, and CrossFit machine, Coach Nikki. The workout was as follows (if you don’t understand the lingo, I’ve linked each term to an explanation):

There were 2 workouts, each consisting of 2 different exercises. Partner A started with Workout A and Partner B started with Workout B, then once a partner finished their workout, they would wait til the other partner had finished theirs, then they would alternate.

2 times 5 sets of:

Workout A

10 – Burpees (I can only do a couple regular pushups or about 10 knee pushups in a row, so I opted to do wall pushups in place of regular pushups)

10 – Kettlebell swings

Workout B

10 – Air Squats

10 – Toes To Bar (But, since I’m still working up to this, I did 10 Knees To Chest instead, which I still had trouble with, as I can’t yet bring my knees all the way to my chest)

So, when we were all said in done, everybody did 100 burpees, 100 kettlebell swings, 100 air squats, and 100 Toes to Bar (or in my case, knees to chest). Now, that’s what I call a WOD! I was so exhausted afterwards, but Nikki did me a favor and poured water over my head, so that woke me up a bit :).

I’m really surprised that today I’m able to move, let alone walk, so my healing is becoming less of a problem at this point….so awesome!

I’ll keep updating my blog with more tales of CrossFit, because I’m totally hooked now. In fact, I’m going on vacation next week and will be gone 3 weeks, but Nikki emailed me a list of body weight workouts that I can do while I’m away from the gym, so I’m not going to miss a beat while I’m away.

 

I’m attempting to learn c++ again after a 9 year absence

I graduated college with my third degree (in Computer Information Technology w/emphasis in Visual Technologies)  in 2003 from Dixie State College of Utah. Some of the Computer Information Technology (CIT) courses that I took were Intro to C++ and Data Structures. Well, I took the web development road, and have been developing in PHP since graduating, and have not written anything in C++ since.

I’ve finally made up my mind that I’m going to follow every online tutorial I can find, and read the books that I can find, until I can develop fully functioning software in C++. I’d really like to learn it well enough to build a game at some point, just to prove to myself that I can do it. It doesn’t even have to be a graphically awesome game or anything spectacular, just a fully functioning game that anyone can play.

I was never really great at programming in C++ to begin with, in fact I struggled with it quite a bit. I eventually changed my degree emphasis from software engineering to visual technologies, which I think I was even worse at. However, developing dynamic web applications in object oriented PHP has really made me a much better programmer, and I think I would make a pretty good C++ programmer now.

I took a class in Java development a few years ago, just for fun at the local community college, but have since forgotten it as well because I haven’t had any use for anything other than PHP in my career. I was going to attempt to re-learn Java for fun, but after reading so much negative comments about java programming, I’ve decided to focus on C++ for now since it seems to be a much more widely accepted language.

Anyway, here’s to hopefully learning how to develop applications in C++ :)

 

How I almost died from blood clots and have since changed my life

Let me start off by saying I’m extremely lucky to be alive and sharing this with you right now.

At the beginning of January 2012, I started to have a little soreness behind my left knee, and I initially thought I had just strained it, but it kept getting worse over the next couple of weeks. It got to the point where I bought a knee brace to help me walk.

Around January 10th or so, I was lying down on the couch watching TV, when out of nowhere I felt a horrific pain behind my right shoulder blade, so bad that I jerked up and couldn’t catch my breath for a few seconds. I figured I had pulled a muscle and was just now experiencing the pain. I moved to the other side of the couch so I could lie down on my other side, and thought nothing of it. A couple of hours later, when I finally got up to go to bed, as soon as I stood up, I could barely breath. I could only take really short breaths, and could not take a deep breath. I was only able to catch my breath when I would lay down.

I wish I had gone to the hospital right then, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Over the next 3 days, I had the same problem breathing when I was up and about, so I spent most of those days lying down so I could breath. About the fourth day, I was able to breath again but I was still a bit sore on the right side of my back, where I had experienced the pain.

While the breathing issues was happening, my knee kept feeling worse, and it was becoming very hard to extend my leg. About 3 days after I was able to breath properly again, I noticed my left leg was swollen to about double the size as normal I freaked out, and began searching online for my symptoms and voila, I found an article that explained both why my leg was swelling up AND where the pain in my back/problem breathing came from. I was a very lucky individual to have experienced a Pulmonary Embolism and lived to talk about it. The Pulmonary Embolism (or PE) was due to a blood clot in my leg, and part of the clot had broken free and traveled to my lung, which hit me like a brick.

I called my dad and told him I was on my way to the emergency room. Looking back, I should have called 911 instead of driving myself to the ER, but luckily I live about 5 minutes from the hospital. I checked myself in and was being emitted within 15 minutes or so. I wanted to make sure the doctors knew what they were talking about before explaining I had figured out what was wrong with me, so I explained to the ER doctor what my symptoms were and immediately, he said it sounds like I had a PE due to a blood clot in my leg. The condition is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (or DVT). I was relieved to know that more than likely I was correct, so at least we knew what to look for. He explained to me they were going to perform an ultrasound on my leg and a CT (CAT) scan on my chest just to be sure. He also said that if I wasn’t in such good health otherwise, and due to the fact that I’m only 32, I probably wouldn’t be among the living.

An ultrasound was performed on my leg, during which they saw a large clot running the length of my leg was blocking one of my veins, which caused the other vein to have to work overtime to pump the same amount of blood, which is why my leg was swelling up. Next, I had a CT scan of my chest performed, and they discovered multiple clots in each of my lungs.

So, at least I was alive, but I then had to stay in the hospital for a week….borrrrrring! :).

I was checked into a room by myself, and was given all kinds of meds, including a shot called Lovenox which had to be injected daily into the side of my stomach…fairly painful. The lovenox was used to speed up the process of another medication called Coumadin (generic form is called Warfarin). Every morning around 4am, a very lovely girl would come in and play vampire, and take multiple vials of blood from me for tests. Each day, I would get a report of what my current INR (International Normalization Ratio) number was. The goal was to get my INR between 2.0 and 3.0 and when I was emitted, it was 0.8 so it took a while to increase it.

I believe it was the 2nd or 3rd day I was in the hospital, I was taken in for surgery, to have a Vena Cava filter installed in my jugular. This was to help prevent additional clots from entering my lung. That procedure only took about a half hour or 45 minutes, and was painless. The only problem is, apparently the filter will only be effective for 6 months. I can have it removed or keep it in after 6 months, so I’ll probably just keep it in.

After a couple of days, the swelling in my left leg started going down. After 7 days, my INR was finally 2.2, which is on the low end but I was so stir crazy that I didn’t think to force the hospital to keep me until it was closer to 3.0.

I was doing fine, and feeling fine, once I was released, but on the fourth day out of the hospital, I looked down and noticed my left leg was swollen again….crud! My step-mom happens to be a hospice nurse and I asked her to look at my leg, and she said it’s definitely swollen and called a doctor friend of hers and he agreed I should go directly to the ER again. I happened to be at my dad’s that day and he was heading into town, so he took me to the hospital and once again, I was emitted.

Same story as the first week, all kinds of blood tests and meds, except this time they decided it best to remove a portion of the clot in my leg. I thought that was a good idea too. The only complication from that procedure was the blood thinner they used was really potent and caused me to have a ton of blood in my urine for 24 hours after the surgery. That was normal, however they did tests to make sure nothing else was causing it, which there wasn’t. I did have to see a urologist recently, as a follow up, to have another urine test done to make sure no blood was present, which there wasn’t.

After yet another week, I was released again, and I haven’t been back since :). I have to watch what I eat, because certain foods tend to counteract the Coumadin (Warfarin) and can increase or decrease the effect, depending on how much you eat. The doctors said to make sure I eat the same amount of dark greens each day or completely stay off of them. This is because dark greens contain a large amount of Vitamin K, and Vitamin K is what can cause problems with Coumadin.

Since I was released from the hospital February 5th, 2012 I have gotten my blood tested twice per week, to make sure my INR was in the therapeutic range (2.0 – 3.0). It has remained good, so no worries yet.

If this happens to you, just be sure to pay attention to your vitamin k intake or you could bleed out or have another clot form. And for the record, I really hope this doesn’t happen to you…trust me.

Oh, another thing, is my condition (Deep Vein Thrombosis) happens to be a genetic problem. My grandmother (My dad’s mom) had blood clots, and my Factor V Leiden test came back positive, which indicates a genetic disposition for clots.

One thing that the doctors said I should do is get more exercise, and don’t sit down for long periods of time. This means, because I’m a programmer and sit at my desk for at least 8 hours per day, that I have to get up at least once per hour and exercise to some degree.

I took my exercise to a whole new level, however. A buddy of mine, Mikey Patriquin, mentioned that he had joined his sister’s gym (she’s a trainer there), and maybe I should check it out, because I was thinking of joining a gym to get a little exercise. So, I decided to head down to the gym to check it out. It’s the Champion Athletic Club in Kingman, AZ and they are a CrossFit certified gym. I talked to Kris, one of the head trainers and a part owner of the gym, about signing up. He scheduled me for 2 weeks out to start their On Ramp program, which is a 3 time a week training session for 1 month with a trainer, to make sure you can handle their workout routines and lifts. I didn’t know what I was in for…it turns out CrossFit is the most elite and demanding workout regiment that a human being can put themselves thru! :).

Just so you have an idea of what CrossFit is all about, here is a video of last years CrossFit Games, which is a yearly competition in which tons of CrossFitters from around the world compete and a single man and and a single woman each walk away with a check for $250,000 and the title of fittest on earth.

Anyway, to make an even longer story short, CrossFit has changed my life. In just a month, I have gone from being a total weakling to being able to perform feats of strength that I had no idea I was capable of. Every day, I thank myself for taking the initiative to give it a try. I will never stop crossfitting, it’s a way of life for me now!