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The 2005 PC guide

Technology is advancing at unbelievable speed at our time. The latest cutting edge technology is getting replaced with bleeding edge technology before it even gets to the customers. The scientists have now created a spaceship that can visit space every other day. The first talking Cars are approaching. Robots are now moving more fluidly than ever and some are involved in combat warfare. The gaming industry has finally grown to such enormity that now it's bigger than both the movie industry and the music industry put together. And yet another year with even more advancement looms ahead.

Are we going to pitilessly fall back when the world is advancing like that? Probably.

Still, we could at least equip our PCs with some good stuff… and hence my attempt to guide you in doing that. So…
Buy new or Upgrade?

Tough decision, my friend, because this decision is very important and it's complex. Complex, because it involves all kinds of scary creepy things like budget limitations, hardware limitations and limitations of proper advice/support/knowledge/facts... the only non limited thing is the wish and desire of having the hottest computer. (Yes, computers can be "hot".) But if you have a computer from ancient times year 2000 or earlier than it's most likely that upgrade is not possible without buying everything - processor, motherboard, graphics card, RAM - again. Yes, upgrade is still possible… but it's too complex and there would be lots of opportunities for the salesman to take advantage of you. Why don't just forget about it? Sure, you can't play the latest Half Life game or San Andreas when it comes for the PC, but those games are not that good… the details in Half Life are not as realistic as Matrix… and San Andreas is so big that you might get lost with even a Boeing 747! Bad games. Also they waste your valuable time, think about that!

However, If you own a PC bought later on, and just want to play the latest games - say Half Life 2 - invest on a mid-range graphics card like the ATI Radeon 9200 SE and things will go just fine.

By the way, if you use SD rams and don't have 256 MB yet, try to get one soon… they are conspiring to put the "SD RAM"s out of the market. Then you would be able to enjoy the most minutely detailed thriller ever made (Half Life 2) and lose yourself in the awesomeness of the San Andreas state when the game comes to PC. To sum up: if you got a decent processor, get a good graphics card which your motherboard would support. And have 256 MB RAM.

Well, that's almost all I can say about upgrading. Yes, I only mentioned two things, but a proper upgrade guide suited for Bangladesh would be hundreds of pages… not quite suitable for Rising Stars.

So, next choice: buying a whole new system
When buying, or lets say, "choosing" hardware for a new computer, you'll probably realise that the task isn't exactly rocket science, but it's close. Still, do not go for the complete PC systems… as they almost always lack in some features. Instead, go for choosing each piece of hardware differently… and then having someone assemble it.

The first thing you must decide is what are you going to use the computer for? Gaming for 25 hours a day? Or work and browse internet and download pictures and watch movies, but not gaming? If you choose the latter, then go for a Celeron processor. (Around Tk 3500) Contrary to the popular belief, the Celeron processors although very cheap are good at everything… everything except 3d Animation (that is, gaming). So, if you are not a gamer fire up a Celeron 2Ghz up, a motherboard with built-in AGP and soundcard, 128 MB RAM, a 40/60/80 GB hard disk… and you got yourself a fine PC all within 25000 (when you include the monitors, speakers, CD/DVD drives, modems and other stuff).

But if you are a real gamer, the greatest athlete of our time, a Celeron just won't do. You need a Pentium 4 or the also-quite-good AMD processors.

Go for a 1.6 GHz or more - which would keep any game (of 2004) running smoothly with a good Graphics card - but keep in mind that the hyper-threading 3GHz processor isn't that hyper; it's just twice as powerful as a 1.6 GHz. P4 2.2 GHz is Tk 7200 while P4 3 GHz is Tk 12000. Also get a 256 MB RAM (128 MB are around Tk 1500, 256 MB are around Tk 3000). Motherboards vary so much that very hard to recommend a specific one. Just ask the salesman about one compatible with both your processor and chosen graphics card.

As for the Graphics card your primary and most important arsenal against high-end games the ones the market offers are disappointing. Within the Tk 5000 range, there are only a few types available. I've done some research…
and I found the ATI Raydon 9200 SE with a 64 bit 200MHz processor costing at around 3500 the best of the bunch.

Myth: "The memory of the graphics card (64 MB, 128 MB) is the most important thing in a graphics card."Fact: The memory hardly matters anything as you can always share as much memory as you want from your RAM. The real thing that matters is the Core Processor Speed measured in MHz (don't confuse it with the bus speed). Every graphics card has a processor in it… the faster the processor is, the better and more capable the card is. However you wouldn't find it written down in the packaging box of the card… it's usually hidden in the manual. It's a part of some marketing ploy of theirs.

CD Drives are good, but DVD drives are tempting. The combo drives (DVD + CD RW) are pretty good too. Hard disks are cheaper now… so you should invest on a 80 GB 7200 RPM one (around Tk 4000).

As for the sound card, the one that came built in with your mother board would have been enough… but if you have a set of 5 speakers to feed then go for something from Creative. And choose your speakers according to your need. Go for the Prolink internal modem (around Tk 500) if you need a modem. Now get a casing and have your PC assembled!

It helps to know… Love your eyes: get a glare guard. Glare guards (often mistakenly called "screen filters") are a must if you wish to use the PC for more than 2 hours daily yet don't want to be horribly short-sighted.

Go for all black: when buying a new PC, buy everything in black (casing, monitor, CD/DVD drives, keyboard and mouse). Not only it looks cooler than an all white PC… but when it gets dusty, the dust would be less visible.

Steer clear of "porichio" shops or shops recommended by someone: unless you want an actually-working warranty. In almost every case, the "porichito" shop would charge much higher for everything. On the other hand, as he's a "porichito", he would give better customer support and a warranty that would actually work. Non-"porichito" shops usually charges lower… but don't guarantee its warranty.

Look out for extended warranty: many shops offer extended warranty three years instead of a year but you would have to ask for it. Often, they charge an extra Tk 300-500 for it.

Windows XP is better: No matter what you knew earlier (or what the salesman says), the XP is actually way better than other older Windows.

Note: the prices mentioned here are subject to change

By Lord Niloy

I know what the martians did last summer

The following is an excerpt from a conversation between two Martians (little green men from Mars) about Bangladesh.
Hey mate. How are you doing? Guess which place on Earth I visited last summer?

Where? Where did you go?
This tiny little country called Bangladesh. But my goodness! The population sure wasn't 'tiny'! The country is flooded with people. From above, it looked like tiny ants crawling all over the country. Speaking of ants, I was hoping to see some wildlife. You have heard about the Sundarbans, haven't you?

Oh yes! The famous mangrove forest. I have heard that it is the home of a famous cat.

You mean the Royal Bengal Tiger? Well actually, it's not technically a cat. But these days you wouldn't know the difference! There is so little food for these tigers that they are almost as thin as domestic cats. There are hardly any of them left in the forest. These stupid humans! They don't know what they've got, till it's gone.

And what about the rest of the country? Are there lots of trees around?

Well mate, I visited Dhaka, their capital city, and I hardly saw any trees. All I could see were these hideous structures called 'apartments' growing everywhere. They must be the new brand of trees, or something! I did notice a few good old-fashioned green trees here and there, but for some inexplicable reason many of them had their bases painted white! Now mate, why would you want to paint the bottom of a tree white?

What else did you see?
Well I saw these strange three-wheeled vehicles called 'rickshaws'. They sure looked interesting. Probably, one of their better inventions. They don't pollute or make any noise. But the streets were filled mainly with those horrendous things that humans use for transportation cars! There are so many of them on the streets. On the same road, I saw them go in four different directions. There seems to be no order whatsoever. And my friend, you won't believe the state of the city's streets. I can't understand why these humans can't even keep their own cities clean. Even if everyone kept their own backyards clean, then the city would be a much nicer place.

So, what are the people like?
Well, they seemed nice enough. But they also had a few unusual traits. They are crazy about some silly game called 'cricket'. I mean, honestly, it's just a game! I think they won one match in four years or something and the entire nation went crazy. Oh well. I suppose it's something for them to be happy about.

And did you learn anything new?
I sure did. I learned about this thing called 'democracy'. It's a strange system in which two women fight every four years to earn the right to give loud speeches and make false promises for the following four years! Sure is an unusual country, Bangladesh!

The views and opinions expressed in the conversation do not necessarily reflect those of the author's.

By Ayesha S. Mahmud


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