Tag Archives: building a computer

Transferring Files from Mac to PC

Transferring files. The only bad side to the switch thus far.

In order to make my computer worth having I needed to transfer all of my files over to it, but you knew that. This process was quite tedious and full of little road blocks.
The first problem was that my external hard drive was formatted to Mac and was also completely full, as was the hard drive on my computer. This meant I couldn’t dump the 480GB or so from my external hard drive onto my laptop, which only has a 150GB hard drive to begin with. I also couldn’t dump it onto my new computer without formatting it, but it needed to be empty before I formatted it so as to not lose any data.
The solution was a bit annoying. I dumped all the files on my external hard drive onto my work computer, then dumped the entire contents of my laptop’s hard drive onto my now empty external hard drive, then dumped the external hard drive again onto my work computer. I should mention that I share an office and a computer with two other people, but as many as ten or so have access to the machine. Here’s hoping none of them felt the need to look through the folder I marked with “DO NOT DELETE.”
Next I had to reverse the whole process. Format the external hard drive to be read by both Mac and PC, put as much on it from the work computer as possible, dump that on the new desktop I just build, then empty and format it again, bring it back to work, fill it up with the rest of the files, then dump those on my desktop. It took a long time and was tedious. Oh and also not entirely effective.
Probably after three weeks of using the new computer I was on iTunes, trying to pick a new song to listen to when I suddenly noticed that all of the music by artists after the letter N was just not there as well as select favorite albums of mine from other artists. I’m blaming my recent obsession with No Doubt for how long it took me to notice. I never had to scroll past N, because I was just listening to their new Push and Shove album over and over and over and over. And over. Or I was listening to other music on Spotify. I immediately panicked. I had already deleted everything off my laptop and the work computer. Luckily I had uploaded my music to Google Play and had been regularly updating it since maybe May or June. Even luckier, Google allows you to download your music off of Google Play twice. I downloaded everything just to be sure I didn’t miss anything. It took a long time, but now I have all of my music back. Thank goodness for the cloud. I thought Play was only useful because you could play your music on any machine without commercials, but it’s actually helpful for a lot more. Yay!
Other files turned out to be missing. For a project I was working on I needed to use the music I had recorded in High School with Garage Band and the on-board mic on our family’s Macbook Pro. All of the tracks were gone. I had just cataloged it before switching computers so I new that there were probably close to twenty different recordings, but only three of them that I had specifically chosen to use for the project prior to the switch had made it. The rest weren’t on my laptop, my external hard drive, or my computer. I immediately went about trying to recover files. I knew this was possible because our family had recovered files after a computer crash once. That’s the same crash that erased almost all pictures of nearly three years of my life. But that computer had been a PC. I wasn’t sure if you could do the same on a Mac.
I either looked it up on Google or Bing. Or maybe both! Anyways, it is possible, but it turns out that the longer you wait after losing the file the less likely it is to be recovered. This is true of both Macs and PCs. I downloaded a free trial of a program and had it scan my laptop. There wasn’t anything there. I had it scan deeper. Nothing. I had it scan my external hard drive, but of course it found nothing since I’d re-formatted that drive several times since the recordings were on it. So I scanned the work computer, but got nothing. I had it scan deeper. It took… a while. I left it running over night. When you do a really deep recovery scan, it can find files, but not the names of them. So, it was also lucky that I knew what kind of file the recordings were, otherwise it would’ve taken hours to look through every audio file it found. In the end I found the files! Success! For some reason the scan on that machine found files from two or three years ago. Amazing.
Another problem! Because the Mac version of Microsoft Office is so terrible, I’d been using Pages, the Apple equivalent of Word, for the last four years almost exclusively. All of my word processing files were .pages and thus useless on my new computer. Last Sunday I sat down and one by one, opened up each file on my laptop and saved it as a PDF. Pages has a really dumb way of doing this. You have to click Print and the in the Print menu dialog box go to the dropdown menu in the bottom left corner and click “Save as PDF.” It took two episodes of BBC’s Sherlock to finish that task or, in layman’s terms, 3 hours.
I’m hanging on to my laptop for a few reasons. So I can skype with people, since I don’t have a webcam or a microphone for the new computer. But mostly for these kinds of emergency situations when horrifying things happen.
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For My Next Trick I Will Build a PC

Once all of the parts of my new computer finally came in the mail, including the replacement computer case I set about building the pieces.

In order to prep I watched this lovely video, care of Newegg. – Side note. Is Newegg supposed to be two words or not? Is it Newegg or New Egg?

It wasn’t really hard at all. The toughest thing was figuring out which direction some of the single-prong plugs were supposed to go. This is what motherboard manuals are for. This is also why the trial and error method of problem solving exists. It was cool and pretty fun putting all the pieces together. I love the click when the plugs lock into place. It’s so fulfilling!

Of course the build was not without a hiccup. Everything was plugged in, but when I did the test boot the lights and fans would turn on for a second then turn off again. After a pretty long while of unplugging everything and plugging things in one at a time, the solution became apparent. Everything was connected except for the plug that gives power to the processor. Hahaha! When I was pressing the on button I was basically just turning the fans on and off over and over again. So, yeah, don’t forget that the processor needs power too. Ya know, because it makes everything go.

The thing that surprised me the most about putting together the computer is how long it took to install the operating system. For some reason I thought it was going to be really quick. It wasn’t. And then there were a lot of updates to install. This took longer than the physical building itself. By a lot if you don’t count the time spent discovering that the processor wasn’t getting power, which I suppose you should count. But some of that time was actually just me watching the last half hour of Mean Girls.

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Rookie Mistakes and A Stupid Question

Sometimes things just go wrong.

The case I bought came dented and uneven. It didn’t happen in the shipping process, because the biggest dent was on a part that was covered by thick styrofoam and the smallest dent was coming out of the case. It was uneven. We even whipped out a leveling app and yeah, it was uneven. Luckily it was a manufacture problem and not shipping damage or I wouldn’t get a new one for free. I sent it back and luckily the new one has already shipped. It should be here no later than next Tuesday! Perhaps even on Monday. So, that was anti-climactic, but not a big problem. I just get to be patient now.

I live in an old house that has one ethernet plug, but managed to forget about a wireless card. In fact, I didn’t even remember that was a thing until my computer wizard asked me if there was a ethernet plug near my desk earlier this week. He sent me a link for one and I promptly bought it. Luckily it was on Amazon Prime so it came already. Holler atcha, Amazon. I just remembered that when I was a kid my Dad a laptop that he had to plug a card into to get the internet. Of course wireless cards are a thing! I remember now! Also, good save, computer wizard. Good save.

The big problem and mistake I made was the stupid monitor I bought. That was a bad move. I bought the cheapest, good quality monitor I could find on Amazon around 20 inches. It was refurbished and made by Dell, a good brand. It was late at night and I was being impulsive. I had to force myself to be impulsive to finally click buy on all of the good decisions I’d made and maybe I was on a high from that. Well, it came and I excitedly pulled it out of the box only to be greeted by this sight.

My first thought was, “Oh, hell no!” My smile died immediately. It’s square! I had been careless in my excitement for a computer. I hadn’t made lists about what I wanted from a monitor. I hadn’t thought about it at all. I’d only been thinking that I needed one and that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Turns out, I did want to spend a lot of money. So, I put it for sale on several web sites. Let’s hope it sells. I’ll probably use it in the mean time, while I look for a nicer monitor. I just can’t imagine watching my two blu-rays over and over on this square old guy. John Carter and The Tree of Life deserve better.

What do I want from a monitor? Widescreen. HD resolution. Internal webcam, if possible. Less than $150. Any suggestions? Even just good brands, would be helpful. Is my price point even realistic? – Let me know in the comments below.

Oh and I’m still missing speakers. Another forgotten thing. My plan is to get something at Target or another store that I can drive to. I’m sick of shopping online for now. My plan is also to not make the same mistake I made with the monitor and buy some crappy ones that I won’t be happy with. Spending a little bit more makes a big difference, especially with sound quality.

Sometimes trying to save money just ends with you getting something you don’t want.

Clearly I’m learning. Some of you who have built computers before might think I’m an idiot. Perhaps I am, but really I’m just a rookie. I’ve never done this before so I ask stupid questions. Better to ask them and look foolish than to not ask them and regret it later. Someone recently mentioned sound cards to me. So I said, “Computer Wizard! Do I need a sound card?” And Computer Wizard said, “No.” And I said, “Oh.” And Computer Wizard said, “People haven’t needed sound cards for a long time. It’s integrated into your motherboard.” And I said, “That’s what I thought! They must just be for people who love amazing sound.” And Computer Wizard said, “Your motherboard supports 7.1 sound.” And I said nothing, my jaw just dropped, because that – that is awesome.

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Laptop to Desktop. Plus the Hardware

I had a hard and fast plan to get a laptop a few weeks ago. I was looking at 14-15in laptops for about $700. The more I looked at laptops the harder it was for me to pick one. They all seemed fine, but there were so many choices it was paralyzing. My brain was like, “This seems good for me. Oh, but so does this one. And this one looks nicer. Oh, but it’s more expensive. But looks are important to me. But should it be? Well, it is. Even if it shouldn’t be. But what about this other laptop? It also seems good for me. I guess I should also look at this other brand. Oh, they have a lot of different laptops!” It was like that. Endlessly. So I came to the conclusion that I would wait until my computer died to get a new one. Putting off the inevitable seemed like a good plan.

I commenced conversations with plenty of computer-savvy people while continuing to search the internet for the best laptop. Ya know, so I’d be ready when the time came. Everyone I talked to had built several computers, had just built their first computer, were currently building a computer, or knew stuff about building computers. Could I build a desktop from scratch?

But, wait. I wanted a laptop. Wait again! Did I need a laptop? What an idea! What did I do remotely on my computer? Honestly, nothing. I’d gotten used to not being able to use my laptop anywhere because of the terrible battery life. Maybe I should build a desktop…

I decided. I would build a desktop and later get a tablet (probably a Surface) for when I did want to use a machine remotely. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities… and choices. Choices that were terrifying and paralyzing. I decided again to wait until my computer died.

But every day as I used my computer I would be mad that it couldn’t do things that a PC could do. I was mad that my version of Word was so bad. But mostly and always I was mad that computer didn’t have the snapping feature from Windows 7. You know, this:

So, I decided to make a leap. I watched a great tutorial from Newegg about how to build a computer. If you have any interest in  knowing what parts are inside your machine, check this video out.

From there I tried to look around, but got confused, lost, and frustrated. I asked several people for help and eventually came to a final decision. Here’s how my build is going to look. Click on the pictures to be directed to Newegg where you can look at the full specs if you like.

First, it’s going to be in this pretty case. It’s a Rosewill Redbone mid-size case. Isn’t it purdy?

I decided to go with an Intel processor. I wanted an AMD at first because it was cheaper, but I was soon informed that Intel is much better for media while AMD is better for gaming. I plan on watching a lot of movies, using Adobe Creative Suite programs like a crazy person, and pretty much never gaming, so the extra $20-30 is worth it. I got a duo core i3 chip. It should do the trick for now and I can always upgrade later.

For my motherboard, I went with this Biostar TZ77B. It has the same specs and plugs as an ASRock one that was recommended to me and is quite a bit cheaper. So, here’s hoping it performs the same. It’s got two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, along with some other great stuff I’m looking forward to using. It supports up to 32GB of RAM, which sounds like a freaking heck of a lot to me!

I bought two 4GB sticks of RAM made by Crucial. My favorite part about these is that they’re called Ballistix Sport. I laughed when I saw that. I guess sticks of RAM have a “sport” category. I may not have a sports car, but I have sport RAM!

I’m getting this EVGA GTX550 Ti graphics card for free from my friend who is a video editor/gamer/nerd. He assures me it’s a good one, though a bit old. I believe him because it costs a considerable amount more than the one I was planning on getting. Yay for friends and spending less money!

For a hard drive I got this 1 terabyte drive made by Hitachi. It rotates at 7200 rpm, so that means I’ll get good performance from it, even if it’ll get a little hot.

I’m also getting an LG Blu-ray disc player/burner. That I am super pumped about. I only own two Blu-rays, but you best believe I will watch The Tree of Life and John Carter until the laser on the Blu-ray player doesn’t work anymore. Yes, I know, lasers don’t work like that. It was hyperbole.

I bought a 19in monitor on Amazon.

So that’s what my computer will look like. All in all I spent less than $600 including shipping. Ka-boom. Take that $700 laptops I was looking at before! Take it!

Get excited for some sad stories about getting damaged equipment, ordering something I don’t want, and forgetting something important!

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