hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘finances’

My New Custom Designed and Built Falcon Northwest Mach V PC

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 2, 2019

Hello all. It’s been awhile. Those of you still with me know the last four years have been really rough, but this one is topping even last year, which I didn’t think could be done. The point, though, is that I used to post regularly for years, decades actually, but the past few years, I haven’t been able to because of my extremely poor health. I feel bad about that, not only because I enjoyed it and miss it, but because I feel like I let you down, and while I still have about the same number of followers I did several years ago, apparently very few read the rare blogs I post, probably because they’re so darn rare! It’s frustrating, and I’m sorry. So much has happened this year, I would never have sufficient time, strength, energy, anything to be able to relate even half of it. So I won’t. Instead I’m going to do what I’ve been doing, and that’s writing some nonsensical unimportant post few will read or care about, but I’ll like it, as it’s become sort of like my own online journaling experiment now, in terms of helping me remember what I was doing, thinking, undergoing, purchasing, reading on any given day, and I’m grateful for that.

So with that intro, I’m going to proceed to post a new blog that utterly no one but myself will find remotely interesting, but a guy’s gotta show off his new car/house/boat/computer/audio system/etc, and I have no one to do so with, so I’m just posting this here in the unlikely chance someone might read it at pause to ponder it for a mere moment.

 

My new custom designed, custom built high-end “gaming” computer

Falcon Northwest Mach V Icon2

 

Desiring to replace my 2.5-year-old custom designed, custom built Xidax X8 Glacier because I wanted more power, speed and other various reasons, I embarked on an intensive two month search for the right “high quality/reasonable cost” combo machine that wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted, due to unfortunate financial considerations at the time, but which would still be very high-end and would remain so for a decent period of time.

I spent time designing a huge variety of configurations with over 35 PC makers, and ultimately over 200 unique configurations. I decided early that I wanted to go with an established, proven “elite” high-end boutique custom PC company, and while one will find various companies listed in any Top 10 lists of these types of companies, there are generally four that have stood out to me for many years, one of which I had already purchased two rigs from in the past. These are OriginPC, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest and Maingear. All have several desktop models, many starting at very low prices, but are basically barren, so one is forced to upgrade components as they build their potential machines. While I had a price range in mind, which (naturally) increased as time went by, I tried very hard to put together configurations that I would view as compromises, sacrificing components to save money, such as storage capacity and brand, memory brand and speed, audio cards, etc. However, there were certain things I was determined NOT to sacrifice on. These included getting the top of the line Intel X299 processor, at least 10TB of storage, a minimum of 64GB of RAM, and a very solid motherboard, ideally an ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME OMEGA, which is what I currently have, as well as the storage and RAM. I wanted to change some other things though with the new system though.

Falcon Northwest, established in 1992, is the “father” of custom gaming PCs, known for their elite quality and historically insanely high prices. And while that has held true all these years, other companies have risen to their heights in many ways, and a few have surpassed Falcon in price insanity. I posted an example of a Digital Storm configuration a few days ago on LinkedIn that exceeded $40,000. I’ve put together configurations of several machines that exceeded $100,000! All four named companies can go pretty high, along with a few others. However, the most costly configuration I was able to put together for Falcon was just under $30,000. That doesn’t take into account, however, their famous hand crafted, hand painted (with several layers of high quality automotive paint) rigs that can be designed for anything anyone wants, ranging from corporate logos to clouds to actual representations of Picasso paintings, and just about anything one can think of. And when you start talking about those features, the prices jump very high.

Finally, after two months, and after getting an Origin and Digital Storm both under $8,000 and a Falcon slightly under $10,000 (I could not at all get a Maingear under $11,500), and while I amused myself a few times by putting together configurations of rigs that would cost more than some houses, I felt like I had 3-4 solid finalists, and I was ready to make a decision. I actually had an Origin Genesis tied with a Digital Storm Velox, but on the final day I felt nervous, so I quickly did some last minute research and dug up quite a few complaints all over the Net about both companies, largely in their post-sale customer service/tech support and problems having warranties honored. While both companies have excellent reputations with the pros, hundreds of one-star customer reviews said something to me, so I quickly decided to give Falcon another chance. They’re incredibly famous for the highest quality, most stable bad ass rigs around, and for virtually perfect service/support and an excellent warranty that other companies charge extra for if you want to add years, etc. My beef with the company had been the lack of very many options at all with most of the components, and the fact that they only offered one motherboard, and IMO, not the best, for their expensive flagship rig, just as an example. In fact, I was very unhappy about this, because the RAM options couldn’t compete with those at other companies, the storage couldn’t compete, etc., yet they were in the same price range as the others – higher, actually – largely based on reputation, I felt. However, fast but thorough last-minute digging found ample reviews remarking on their high quality, their reliability, their computers’ speed and power, their excellent warranty, etc. So I just started pumping out configs, tweaking each just a bit to get an acceptable price with the most acceptable components I could live with. And I finally felt like I had found one. So a few days ago, I called the company (PST), and spent nearly three hours on the phone with a very knowledgeable, intelligent, friendly, experienced, helpful sales rep named Ben. I voiced some complaints I had, particularly about their RAM’s speed, their audio cards, their motherboard options, etc., and demanded both explanations as to their offerings and a reason to choose his company over the others. And he didn’t hard sell me, and didn’t really try to sell me at all. Which makes a big difference to me. He took the time to explain the reason for each component choice, their commitment to what they view as the most stable high-quality computers that can be built, and in some cases, he said he thought he might be able to accommodate a custom request of mine on a couple of components I hassled him about, saying he thought they might have a couple of “unofficial” (typically not available for sale) versions of what I specifically wanted, and he did. So we made a few tweaks over the phone and then I went through the purchase process, spending much more than I originally intended or wanted, but doing so after having found out that my standards were simply going to cost more than I had hoped for. Yeah, I felt some anxiety about that purchase and the charge I’ll be seeing on my credit card next month. (This comes at a time when I just configured and had built a custom PC for my wife, due to arrive today AND buying a new Apple iPhone XS MAX, 512GB to replace my Samsung Galaxy S8+ I’ve grown disenchanted with. It’s been a very expensive week!).

So I made the decision, bought the computer, the ship date is supposed to be August 19th, but due to some custom paintwork I’m getting, it will probably take about two weeks longer. So I’m going to stop wasting all this time blabbing and list the specs followed by a picture or two. I don’t really have anyone around me to tell such things to, here and in person, or at least anyone who would care or appreciate such things – which is why I’m writing this idiocy! You know how most guys like to show off their new car, gun, motorcycle, house, girlfriend, hot PC, great audio system, etc. Well, call me a superficial twit, but sometimes I want to do that and have no one to really turn to, so today, this is my outlet! And now for some specs. Thanks!

 

Specs:  Falcon Northwest Mach V – Designed by and built for Scott Holstad – July/August 2019

  1. Exotix Paint: Mach V

  2. Exotix Paint: Custom

  3. Exotix Color: Red Rain

  4. Exotix Logo: Rain Falcon Northwest Logo

  5. Chassis: Mach V – Icon2

  6. Chassis Parts: Mach V

  7. Chassis Logo: Light-White

  8. Power Supply: EVGA P2 1200W – Platinum Modular ATX

  9. Motherboard: ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe II – ATX

  10. CPU: Intel Core i9-9980XE 18-Core, 36 Threads – 4.5GHz (OC)

  11. Overclock Processor – Extra Testing

  12. Liquid Cooler: Asetek – 650LX 120MM

  13. Liquid Cooler Retention Ring: Socket 2011/2066

  14. Memory: 4 16GB DDR4 3000MHz G.Skill – Ripjaw V – 64GB

  15. Video Card: Two (2) NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2080 Ti 11GB – Founders Edition

  16. Video Card Part: Aluminum Extender Fin – RTX 2080-Series

  17. Chassis Part: Mach V – Video Card Retention Bar

  18. SLI Bridge: NVIDIA – 3 Slot – NVLINK RTX 2000-Series

  19. Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound BlasterX AE-5

  20. MB-Networking: Networking: On-Board (Ethernet)

  21. SSD: Two (2) M.2 2TB Samsung 970 EVO PLUS PCI Express SSD

  22. HDD: 8TB Western Digital Red Pro HDD 7200 RPM 256MB Cache

  23. Optical Drive: ASUS – DVD Rewriter – SATA Black

  24. Software Label: Microsoft Genuine Label

  25. Software License: Windows 10 Home

  26. Software Media: Windows 10

  27. USB Rescue Drive

  28. Warranty: Free Parts/Labor – 3 Year

  29. Tech Support: Free Lifetime

  30. Shipping: Falcon Two Way Overnight Free Service – 1 Year; Free Two-Way Shipping – 2 Year

 

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

Front view of my computer with the color and design I chose

 

 

 

Mach V chassis

 

The overall aesthetic custom design look of my new computer demonstrated on an older Mach V chassis. No two custom paint jobs Falcon does are identical. Each is unique.

 

 

 

And I guess that’s it! Not my ideal rig if I had the money, but still pretty good overall, and should be quite good for awhile to come, especially with that CPU. And of course, most components are expandable, meaning I can double the RAM, more than double the number of drives and drastically increase storage, upgrade the video cards, etc. Which is always one of my requirements. Price? Not saying!

Cheers!

 

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An Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 25, 2013

So after our break in of two weeks ago, we now have a home security system in place. We signed with ADS Security, a regional home security company with a good reputation and we now have an alarm system in place on all four doors, as well as interior motion sensors. We also have signs in our yard. We feel a lot safer now. Yeah, you can have all kinds of weapons in your house and plans for robberies when you’re there, but those don’t do any good when you’re not around. The break ins in this neighborhood have been happening between 10 AM and noon on weekdays when people aren’t around. Ours was on a Tuesday in broad daylight! How brazen. ADS responds in 45 seconds or less, so we feel like this security system is a good investment and we feel a lot safer now.

Meanwhile, we’re still trying to get used to Dad’s death three and a half weeks ago. It still feels so unreal. I can’t believe he’s no longer around. And I can’t get the image of him on the ground gasping and moaning as he died out of my mind, and of my mouth to mouth as he was obviously dead by then. I feel helpless and guilty. I feel a great sense of loss. And my mom is trying to do her best, but she’s been overwhelmed and is a little OCD about many things. I’m trying to be patient with her.

Mom had a DVD made of Dad’s funeral service and we got a copy. We watched it a few days ago. It seemed surreal. I’m glad we have it, but it’s a little weird too.

We got the items that were stolen replaced, and my external backup worked for my computer, so I’m happy about that. There was only one software program I had to buy again, as it didn’t transfer over. That’s okay.

I had a lot of poetry submissions to Ray’s Road Review to go through. They had really piled up. I accepted poems from two people and rejected many from quite a few people.

Yesterday we went to a seminar given on the Affordable Care Act to educate people about the details. It was pretty informative. Since neither of us has employer given insurance, we’re hoping this will really help us out come January.

Mom sold Dad’s car. That was kind of sad. Next up, it’s time to sell his fishing boat. I have no idea how to find out basic information on it and how to determine what to ask for it. I need help with this. Mom’s going to be donating Dad’s books to the library of their home church in Knoxville and I guess she’ll be giving his clothes to Goodwill. She’s going to get rid of his tools, although I think I’ll take a number of them myself. Mom’s freaking out about finances, because she’s never had to worry about this before, but I’m trying to remind her that Dad left her in good shape. She doesn’t seem to get it sometimes.

We didn’t go to church today. Gretchen went biking and I want to cut the grass, but it poured last night and I think the grass is too wet to cut. I think we’ve had one day all summer long without rain. It’s been crazy! You’d think we live in Seattle or London. I’ve never seen a summer like this. I can’t wait for fall. At least football’s here. That’s something. I do think, however, that my Steelers are going to suck this year, and I have no idea how UT is going to do with their new coach.

I guess that’s all for now. Just wanted to give an update. More book reviews to come later this week. Cheers!

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Dad’s Frugality

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 16, 2013

My parents have always been frugal. When I was younger, I thought of them as cheap. Miserly often. Don’t get me wrong — there was always food on the table and I had comforts I took for granted, frankly. It’s just that I graduated from an affluent high school where my peers were driving Porsche’s. I drove Chevy’s. A 1966 Impala my junior year and a 1979 Chevette my senior year. I was mortified. My friends would fly out to Colorado over winter break for some skiing and would go down to Panama Beach for spring break. I stayed home. We took occasional summer vacation trips, usually to visit family, but otherwise my parents took very few trips, instead depending on television and movies to fulfill their travel fantasies. When I went to college, I pledged the most prestigious fraternity. It allowed in two public school kids a year. I was one of them. Everyone’s parents were country club rich and they all seemed to drive a Mercedes. By then, I was driving an Olds. I was mortified. We wouldn’t go out to eat or to movies. Dad believed in putting money away for retirement. He hammered that home to me so many times, that if I had a dollar for every time he told me that, I’d be rich now. Unfortunately, I’ve always had bad spending habits. When I had the money, I spent it. When I was out of work, I cashed in my 401K to make it to the next job. I don’t have much saved. My parents lived in a modest house, although it was nice and in a distinctly middle class neighborhood. When they moved from Knoxville to Chattanooga to be near me, they “down sized” to a smaller house and saved money that way. They were retired by then, so it mattered. Dad spent a lot of money on one venture, and I’ve been worried about their financial future. Dad apparently had been too. He spent the last two years looking for a job, before getting a part time job as a driver for Enterprise three months ago. It had to be humiliating for him, because he’d been in a position of authority in a white collar business for 50 years. Still, he said he needed the money. I haven’t been able to work due to health concerns, although I’ve been looking recently, so he had been helping me out financially, which made me feel guilty, because he could ill afford it.

So imagine my surprise when Mom and I went to meet with Dad’s financial adviser after his death and found out he had stashed a pretty decent sum of money away all these years! Mom won’t have to worry at all, and I’m hoping she’ll be around for 20-25 more years. (She’s 83.) He did well. His frugality paid off. He was a great example and I feel like I’ve been a disappointment to him because I wasn’t able — and in some cases, willing — to follow his example. I have an average life insurance policy, so that if I should die, Gretchen would have something, but it’s not enough and I know it. Of course, we all wish Dad were still here. It’s been over two weeks now and I’m still trying to get used to the fact that he’s dead. We all are. But Dad did well. I’m proud of him. And now I’m somewhat upset that they didn’t use some of their money to take some of the trips they wanted to take. Oh well. Life goes on.

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New Job!

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 11, 2013

I started a new job today! I’m very excited. I’ve been unemployed for a VERY long time, not counting some part time contract work I did out of the house for awhile last year. Didn’t bring in much money. I’ve been looking for awhile, but it’s been frustrating because in my small city of Chattanooga, there aren’t very many positions for which I’m qualified.

I have three degrees and years of experience as a writer and editor, mostly as a technical writer. I also have some experience as a project (and program) manager with several companies. Awhile back, I interviewed for a proposal writer job with a company that managed prisons, but for whatever reason, that was not meant to be. In November, I interviewed with a large government agency for a technical writer position and my first interview went very well, but the second one was a bust. Seems like they didn’t know what they were looking for. The main guy seemed to want a developer, which I’m not. Back in L.A., I could have gotten a tech writing job any day of the year, and in many places, there are project management jobs too. Chattanooga’s a different beast. Just not much to choose from. So, I’ve been using Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and others, but I found this job on Craigslist, of all places! It was for a technical writer/project manager position with a company based out of Atlanta that would allow telecommuting for the right person. I applied immediately.

I usually wait to be contacted, but I hadn’t heard from this company in about a week, so I sent a follow up email and got an immediate response from the CEO, telling me he wanted to conduct a phone interview. I was elated. So it happened. And it went pretty well. I think we hit it off and we talked about a lot for a good long while, and then he told me he was going to forward my information on to the Director of Project Management, for whom the position would be working, and I would hope to hear from him. I heard from him that evening. He set up a phone interview for a couple of days away, and that worked out pretty well. We also seemed to hit it off and talked a lot about his company and his needs from this position, and he asked some tough questions, but I think I did OK in answering them. He asked me to send him some writing samples, and he especially was interested in anything I might have that was translating technology to a non-technical audience. Well, I have a lot of that sitting around! I emailed him four articles I wrote while at EarthLink that translated techie stuff into easy to read info for our non-techie customers. One was on TCP/IP and another was on secure file deletion utilities. In addition, I emailed two user guides I wrote for some products I worked on while in the engineering division of a company that manufactured specialized telephones. He must have liked them, because he wrote back and wanted another interview and wanted me to do a writing exercise for him. He emailed me some details that he wanted me to use to draft a project change order, fairly detailed. I spent three days on it before getting it back to him. I was pretty detailed. I had no idea whether he would like it or not, but I got a call from the CEO asking me when I could start, offering me the job!!! I told him I could start today (that was two weeks ago), and so I did.

Now, it’s not a perfect job. It’s a contract job, so no benefits, but it’s a long term contract, for something like three years and with the way this company creates its contracts with its clients, it’s quite possible I could be there for awhile longer, if they like me. It’s a very good situation. Last week, they asked me if I could participate in some conference calls with a new client of theirs, so I could get in at the very beginning and be a part of the process from start to finish, so I did. But today was my first official day and it went well. I mostly read tons of documents, mainly dealing with quality management from their perspective. It was highly enlightening. I’ve been preparing for this by catching up on reading some project management books. I especially have to dive into a book on Agile project management methodologies, which this company employs, and an area I’m sorely lacking in. It’s all the rage, but I’ve never worked for a company that used this method before, so I really need to get up to speed quickly. But the net result of all this is I’m very grateful to be employed again, and I think this will be a great company to work for and I think it’s a great opportunity and I couldn’t hold it in anymore — I had to spill. I have a new job! Awesome.

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