• Rebuilding the home PC on a budget (part 2)

    So there I was, looking down the barrel of having to basically rebuild my home PC. It’s been more than a month since the box stopped working, and after further research I came up with the following revised shopping list:

    Component Model
    CPU AM3 x4 640
    RAM Kingston 4GB Kit(2Gx2) DDR3 1333
    Motherboard GA-870A-UD3
    CPU Fan Noctua NH-U9B-SE2

    That motherboard recently gained an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award from XBit Laboratories, which is nice.

    However, Duncan commented on my previous post that maybe the hardware wasn’t at fault. It was a good suggestion that I should really try and isolate what the cause of this problem is before just “throwing new hardware” at it (as he put it!).

    So I scrounged around and found a spare old hard disk that I was able to plug in to the system and successfully installed a clean version of Windows 7. So far so good, but then I noticed something odd – Windows insisted that I just had a basic VGA adapter. Nevertheless I then installed the most recent NVidia driver (96.85) and rebooted. Eureka! It booted successfully.

    Buoyed by this success, I then swapped back to the original boot disk and booted into “Safe Mode with Networking”, located the display driver in the Device Manager and uninstalled the existing driver. I then rebooted Windows.

    Rebooting worked ok, and I was now in VGA mode again. I then repeated the process of installing the NVidia driver and rebooted again… And it worked!

    So we’re now back working again, and I can leave my shopping list for another day Smile

  • Is it worth going naked?

    Following on from yesterday’s post I thought I’d run through the numbers to see what savings are possible with a change to a ‘naked’ Internode ADSL service and porting our home phone number to VoIP.

    Current monthly expenses | Service | Description | Cost | | — | — | — | | Broadband | Internode Easy-Broadband-Classic (50GB)* | 47.45 | | Telephone | HomeLine® Budget# | 26.95 | | Total |   | 74.40 |

    * – ‘grandfathered’ plan no longer available to new customers. Price includes 5% discount.

    # – HomeLine Budget plan activated before newer conditions were introduced which disallow non-BigPond ADSL providers, and also includes $6 to enable Caller Number Display.

    There seems to be two possibilities – the “Easy” plan (which also counts uploads but tend to have larger overall quotas) or the “Extreme” (which don’t count uploads). I’ve applied the 5% discount to the broadband plans.

    Easy Naked monthly expenses | Service | Description | Cost | | — | — | — | | Broadband | Internode Easy Naked Pure Broadband S :: 150 Gigabytes | 56.95 | | Telephone | Internode NodePhone2-Starter | 5.00 | | Total |   | 61.95 |

    NakedExtreme monthly expenses | Service | Description | Cost | | — | — | — | | Broadband | Internode NakedExtreme ADSL2+ Pure Broadband 60 Gigabytes | 66.46 | | Telephone | Internode NodePhone2-Starter | 5.00 | | Total |   | 71.46 |

    So unless I’ve overlooked something, it looks like there’s an opportunity to save up to $12/month.

    One thing to be careful of – there does appear to be a risk if you choose the “Easy Naked” plan. Turns out that you could end up on either an Agile OR Optus DSLAM, and if you’re not on an Agile DSLAM then I believe that NodePhone isn’t an option. I’m waiting for clarification of this in the Whirlpool forums.

  • Internode introduced phone number porting

    Good news for some Internode customers – this week they’ve finally launched phone number porting, so that if you want to choose one of the “Naked” ADSL products, you can keep your phone number and have it linked to a VoIP service, whilst no longer having to pay separate line rental.

    This is great, except for those of us already on an Agile DSLAM. Turns out that Telstra aren’t being very cooperative in allowing people to move from LSS to ULLS (which is the position I believe I’m in).

    The other problem I’d need to solve would be how to mix the NodePhone service that the phone number would be linked to with PennyTel – the VoIP provider I currently use. For our particular call usage pattern PennyTel has been a good choice. I’ll do some further analysis but I suspect NodePhone’s standard call rate of 18c per call won’t work out as cheap as PennyTel’s 1.6c/min (timed plan) or 8c per call (untimed plan).

    Update 10am

    One option that may be worth considering is ordering a new naked ADSL service on an existing spare copper pair, and then using the Simple Phone Number Port service to transfer the phone number to NodePhone VoIP and cancel the old phone line and ADSL services. The downside is some additional costs up front, but the hope would be over time you’d come out ahead.