Hey buddy! Wanna buy me a computer?

The computer on which I'm writing this is still the dual-core Athlon I wrote about in early 2006. Since then, it's had some new RAM, a new video card and about as many hard drives as I could stuff into it, but the faithful old mildly-overclocked Athlon 64 X2 3800+ has kept on chugging along.

I've been planning to upgrade for ages, but my income's taken a serious dip lately. Most of my money comes from ads of one kind or another - annoying ones from Burst Media, less annoying ones from Google, and my various you-can-buy-this-from affiliate links to Aus PC Market - and the global economic slump has hit all of these sources pretty hard. I'm currently making maybe 60% of my income a year ago, and less than half of what I made a couple of years before that.

So I've been putting off upgrading, and putting it off some more, and continuing to put it off, on account of how computer gear gets cheaper and faster pretty much by the week. But lately, my income has been dropping faster than component prices. 50%-tax-deduction-bonus or no 50%-tax-deduction-bonus, I just can't swing a new computer, and see no real prospect of being able to in the near future.

The sensible course of action for me now is, of course, to stop complaining and just keep my old PC. Maybe, to minimise the chance of catastrophic failure, I should buy a new boot drive and clone the old one onto it; I've already done that once, and I've similarly upgraded a couple of data drives. (If your computer is more than a few years old, I strongly recommend you upgrade the boot drive, too. Every hard drive will die one day; people often add more drives to their PC, but they seldom upgrade the boot device, because it's a hassle. But a dead boot drive can be really, really annoying. Waiting six hours for a clone operation is greatly preferable.)

I'm in no danger of actually running out of money, you understand. The cats, and staggering numbers of freeloading cockatoos, are going to keep getting fed. And my life remains ludicrously luxurious compared with that of most of the world's population.

I also keep perversely doing unprofitable things, like picking fights with scam artists and expanding my reprinted magazine columns (like the one I just put up, or this vastly expanded one from last year).

But many of you seem to quite like that stuff. And I haven't had a donation drive since September 2008. And back in 2002, you suckers faithful readers together donated up the not-insubstantial purchase price of...

Tamiya Pershing tank

...a 16th-scale Tamiya Pershing tank kit.

So what the hell.

Anybody want to pitch in a few bucks to buy me a shiny new computer? If you do, my PayPal donation page is right here. Or you can just click this button:

You can send me an Amazon gift certificate too if you like, but all I can do with that is buy books and DVDs, since Amazon ship nothing else outside the USA. Oh, and if you're in Australia and would like to bank-transfer some money to me, e-mail me and if you sound trustworthy I'll give you my bank details. Since those bank details are sufficient to make fake cheques, though, I'm not putting them on public display.

NOTE: I'm not the only person tightening his or her belt at the moment, and I'm far from the most deserving recipient of your charity. If you're tossing up whether to send $5 to Amnesty International, Oxfam, the ASPCA/RSPCA or me, for pity's sake support human rights, poor people, or furry animals, not some dude who just wants a new computer to go with his vast monitor.

But if, on the other hand, you should decide to forego a nice breakfast at a cafe for toast at home, and then send the money you save to me, I'd be very grateful.

I would also be perfectly happy to accept a portion of the government stimulus money you would otherwise just blow on a plasma TV, or indeed a cut of the cheque that arrived addressed to your dead great-aunt.

However and whenever I get a new PC, I will, of course, whip up an article about it, like the one about my current computer and the one about the computer before that.

In the improbable-but-delightful-to-contemplate event that you all give me more money than is necessary to buy a new PC, I hereby pledge to spend it on a better theremin than the baby one I got cheap without instructions on eBay, and then record an actual tune played on said theremin, no matter how much harm this does to my relationship with my Significant Other and/or pets.

44 Responses to “Hey buddy! Wanna buy me a computer?”

  1. Erik T Says:

    Your Paypal link is something of a pile of poo, in that no matter which browser I use I am unable to make it understand that, no matter which country I select, I do not live in an Australian territory/province/whatever.

    Maybe I'm the only bozo out there who prefers not to have a Paypal account.

    [I'm not sure what problem Erik's facing, here; there's a "/au/" in my PayPal donation link, but I don't think that actually does restrict new sign-ups to Australia. I'm in Australia, of course, so some geo-targeting thing may be causing the problem.

    In any case, determined donators can just go to paypal.com and sign up, then manually Send Money to dan@dansdata.com. As far as I can see, there's very little real financial risk involved in having a PayPal account, provided you follow a few simple rules that PayPal don't say a lot about. I write about them here. -Dan]

  2. supagold Says:

    Do you get any revenue from ad views? I typically browse with adblock plus turned on, and it just took me awhile to figure out how to add a whitelist entry for here and your other site. I'm sure a lot of your readers would want to disable ad blocking on your sites to support the all the great content you provide.

  3. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Some ads pay me per view, but not many, and not much. Don't go out of your way to view them.

    I'm strongly in favour of ad-blocking. I think it's ridiculous to suggest that people must view a Web page in one special way, or be denounced as leeches and pirates. I block many of my own ads.

    But I also, however, think it's not much of an imposition to leave Google ads unblocked, because they don't pop up dancing noisy Punch The Monkey windows. And who knows, you may actually see something advertised that you genuinely want to click on!

  4. OgreMustCrush Says:

    I threw you some money Dan. I expect to see more spam analysis, scam baiting, and general hackery.

    You think you're going to get a new case for the new box? It's been a while since I've seen a case review, thankfully there are a lot more cases these days that lack huge plastic noses. Who knew that simple brushed aluminum with a fan grill cut in it is actually tasteful and attractive?

  5. rsynnott Says:

    You should possibly see if The Register wants a column; they seem to have a good few freelance authors now (mostly those who also have popular blogs/websites, though the wonderful Verity Stob has always been a magazine resident) and your writing style would work well there. I hear they pay decently, too. :)

  6. rsynnott Says:

    Oh, also, have you tried messing around with ad placement? It can be quite effective. Ideally, set up a few different layouts, serve them randomly to users, and see which does best.

  7. dr_w00t Says:

    I slipped a few bucks into your e-string (or is it iString?) to the same dollar value I wasted on purchasing the terrible Gauntlet II from the PSN Store which my apparently defective brain had confused with what I actually wanted to buy (but is not availalbe) - the far superior Golden Axe II.

    Also - does the paypal fee mean for small donations it would be vastly superior to use a Direct Deposit? Because I'm really, really lazy and clicking a paypal link sure is easy but if it means you're only getting 0.03c in the dollar I'll do it the other way.

  8. Red October Says:

    Chucked a fiver in the virtual pint-pot. I'd much rather Dan get it than Amnesty International, that's for sure. The cats & dogs do put up a strong case, but I have no guilt as my own cats are of the "free" variety. Now I'm wondering if we could game the system in Dan's favour by Googling up all his Amazon links and clicking them all or something, then logging in from work and doing it again there, and again from the cell modem... Or do those pay only if we actually by stuff?

    [That is correct - Amazon pays out only when you buy things. Note also that Google strictly forbids publishers from inviting their readers to click on ads that do not actually interest them. -Dan]

  9. speedweasel Says:

    Let me guess...

    An Intel i7 920 on an ASUS P6T and a couple of GTX260’s in SLI? No? Well that’s what I just bought.

    This is my nice, subtle enclosure for it all too:

  10. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Bonus points go to the donator who just sent me money with the subject line "CALVARY GREETINGS" :-).

  11. Daniel Rutter Says:

    You think you're going to get a new case for the new box?

    Yes - I've actually spent a while trying to decide on a case.

    My current computer's had its side off for almost its whole life, with a jury-rigged fan (that tries to eat my hair whenever I have to crawl under the desk...) hanging off the side of the main 3.5-inch bay, and the result has been a bunch of hard drives barely above room temperature, that've been least troublesome drives I've ever used. I didn't previously think drive temperature was a very big deal, but now I'm definitely going to make sure the new computer has a ton of drive-bay ventilation.

    It's easy to buy a case full of 80mm fans, but I want a reasonably quiet computer, so larger, slower fans are desirable. I think I'm going to get a Lian Li PC-A70A, which is a traditionally-laid-out full tower with 120mm fans on either side of ten 3.5-inch bays, that only costs $AU319 without a PSU.

    I also considered the outrageous Thermaltake SwordM, but it's got ridiculous extra decorations (like gas struts so panels stay open like a hatchback car...), and costs more than $AU600.

    I also might yet cheap out and get a Coolermaster HAF 922, which has a couple of those 200mm "Huge Fans"; it's only got five standard 3.5-inch bays, but it's also only $AU198.

  12. evilspoons Says:

    Well, I'm disabling adblock for your site. I've also been reading your stuff long enough I think you're due a few bucks, but I'll have to wait until after the credit card bill comes.

    Good luck on the new computer!

  13. Red October Says:

    Just put the thing in some yesty old server case. Loads of fans, probably redundant power supplies, and the sort of equivilant of a "sleeper" car. I have an old DEC Alpha server that I'd gladly donate, but the shipping would cost an order of magnitude of the actual value of the thing.

  14. Ziggyinc Says:

    I recently purchased myself a new computer and used the CoolerMaster CM Storm Sniper case. It has two very large fans ala the HAF case, and flashy lights as well, but it also has a neat feature that lets you shut off the lights. and it is slightly shorter (than the HAF) and fits under my desk. I hardly even know its there.

  15. Itsacon Says:

    Welcome to the internet: Ask for money, get free advice on how to spend money...

    Donation send, now, when can we expect that review you promised me for my last donation? ;-)

  16. Daniel Rutter Says:

    does the paypal fee mean for small donations it would be vastly superior to use a Direct Deposit?

    As you know, Bob, PayPal fees vary depending on how much money the recipient receives per month, the location, and the currency (which the receiver may convert to some other currency on receipt, blurring things further), as well as the size of the transaction.

    It's actually possible for the PayPal fee to be zero, as explained on this strangely simple paypal-au page. If the money comes from the existing balance in someone's account, or from a bank account, nobody gets charged anything. (I hardly ever see this happen, though.)

    Here's a neat-o calculator, which gives results that almost line up with what I've actually been receiving. The calculator says that if someone in the USA sends me five US dollars, and I don't convert it to Australian dollars, and it doesn't qualify as a free transaction, then the fee will be 49 cents and I'll thus net $US4.51. If they're in Australia and still send me $US5, the calculator says I'll get $US4.55 net. What I actually netted from the last few five-US-buck donators, though, is $US4.53 from US and UK senders, and $US4.58 from people in Australia.

    So the real-world fee for a donation of this size is around 9%, which is definitely on the steep side when compared with the fees banks charge for within-Australia account-to-account transfers. (Well, when compared with what the banks I've used have charged, anyway. I'm sure there's some bank out there that'll charge you $10 for sending $5. Bank fees for international money transfers are also usually very high.)

    The PayPal fees for very small donations are proportionally larger, but the fees for larger transactions are more reasonable. Around 6.5% for about $10, around 5% for about $20, around 4% if someone takes leave of their senses and sends me $US100.

    Note, however, that PayPal doesn't charge a fee for transferring money from your PayPal account to your bank account, unless you transfer less than some fairly small threshold amount.

  17. Bern Says:

    You know what I'd like?

    I'd like a way to put money into my PayPal account that doesn't also involve linking my bank account or credit card account so that withdrawals can be made by anyone with my PayPal login details.

    Yes, I know, I can choose an uber-secure password, but can't they just give us a Bpay option or something like that, so we can put money in without linking an account?
    (Unless there is an option for that, but I just haven't been able to find it)

    Call me paranoid, but the day after I signed up for PayPal, I started getting 20+ spams per day in my gmail account, which had been completely spam-free for the previous two years... it may have been coincidence, but I chose not to give out my bank account details to a company that appeared to have sold my email address to spammers.

  18. Bob M Says:

    Sorry, can't afford to donate much this time Dan, but I guess every little bit counts.

    On the note of a case, I have been reasonably pleased with the Antec Three Hundred case. Three 120mmm intake fans, two 120mm exhaust fans, six hard drive bays, 3 5.25 bays and space was large enough for a modified 8800GTX to fix without modification. I did modify the case a little though to ensure all intake fans were filtered (little dremel work to give space for the installs and remove the honeycomb mesh on the side). The only oddity you may not like would be the power supply at the bottom of the case.

  19. nynexman4464 Says:

    Well, I guess this is good timing, I was just thinking about sending you a few bucks. I like the blog, but sometimes I miss the more "formal" reviews on dansdata.

  20. methuseus Says:

    Sorry, nothing to give this time :-( I haven't upgraded my computer, except for a single hard drive and dead power supply since 2003, so my money is going into my own fund. Besides, my SO won't let me put more than a buck or two a week in my own fund...

    On another note, I use a hotmail address for my paypal account, and I get maybe two spams a month in the account. I don't know if they're doing some weird voodoo or something, but Paypal doesn't seem to be sending me spam.

  21. Ubertakter Says:

    Here is the case I've been using:

    It's reasonably well made at a good price. One of the reasons I bought it is because of the fan setup, which are 120mm internal fans and a 250mm fan in the side of the case. It also has built-in fan controls and two temperature sensors. Also, it's all aluminium, so it's light for a full size case (which may mean it will dent easier, but I haven't had that problem).

  22. jkositarut Says:

    Long time reader, first time donater. Sorry it took so long but this should be enough for around 4GB of RAM.

  23. pywaket Says:

    I've read your blog for years, and can thank you for the first introduction my girlfriend of 2 years. You featured her artwork in this posting...

    Don't spend it all in one place ;-)

  24. TwoHedWlf Says:

    Now that people have donated to Dan so he can upgrade his already far superior to mine computer, how about donating to me? I only have an Athlon 64 3000+, just one core, wimpy 6600GT(My 7900 GT died) I think need it more.:P In exchange I will offer nothing of any real value.:)

  25. ADifferentDan Says:

    This from your twitter feed was worth the donation without everything else you do. What are the chances:

    I've taken some pictures of the cockatoos, including the unfortunate Scruffy: http://bit.ly/FUCKR http://bit.ly/1fpLNQ http://bit.ly/KCqXZ2:03 AM May 27th from web

    (And yes, I DID notice that bit.ly just handed me the hash-characters "FUCKR" for one of the pics!)2:03 AM May 27th from web

  26. Bedlam Says:

    @BobM: Similarly, I recommend the Nine Hundred. Despite the preponderance of fans, it's whisper quiet. The power buttons and USB ports angled up at the top of the case make it ideal to stick on the floor (and collect dust bunnies).

    The only real drawback is the excessive blue LEDness of it, which could be a little irksome in a dark room.

  27. RichVR Says:


    Scruffy link trimmed of extraneous characters.

  28. n17ikh Says:

    Dan, I can't afford to donate but I can certainly recommend a case for your computer. I have the Antec P182, which is a non-flashy, non-ugly, very, very quiet case. All the fans are 120mm with 3-speed switches, which means that unlike the HUGE FAN cases with 250mm fans, you'll be able to replace them easily when they eventually turn their bearings into metal shavings. The airflow is very well-designed, and my temperatures are very reasonable even with all the fans on low and the crap-ass stock heatsink that came with my E8500. I find blue LEDs to be obnoxious, so I've unplugged them and when there's even a little ambient noise it's impossible to tell that the computer is running. Maybe I'm just a bit stodgy, but I greatly prefer a case with a natural-metal and black exterior over one full of acrylic windows and gaudy bits, and the P182 fits that bill over the various other cases that have been recommended.

  29. DukeP Says:

    Zalman Home Theatre PC Enclosure - HD160 P

    Id love to hear your spin on it.

    Id bet theres a few things that I havent considered in practice.


  30. theoliver Says:

    Long term reader, will be keen to see what you end up getting. Sent some cash your way.
    Please keep the cat posts up.

  31. dazzawul Says:

    imo if you end up with enough dosh in the fund, go watercooling, you know you want to :D

  32. OrgAdam Says:

    There's some on the way... This should cover off enough for solid capacators only.


  33. dr_w00t Says:

    I think it's HIGH time you bought a PS3, installed linux on it and used that for your PC instead. :)

  34. jmguazzo Says:

    I think you should name each key of your keyboard after each donator. (Caps Lock seems great for me).

  35. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    "I have an old DEC Alpha server that I'd gladly donate, but the shipping would cost an order of magnitude of the actual value of the thing."

    As do I, actually, and I'm halfway done modding it to hold a pair of ATX systems. I'm thinking "a pair of 233/256k Pentium Pros, overclocked" would be appropriate.

    Once I set up a PayPal account, I'll put some thought into donating - but I sort of enjoy the thought that my year-and-a-half-old built-with-mail-in-rebates "gaming" system has a faster processor than Dan's (there were shenanigans involved; I got a 3500+ AM2 for free from a friend of mine not long after that socket was introduced, and finally built a machine around it, and then my friend brought home a new Acer that needed XP put on it, and went back to his mother's work with its 4400+X2 exchanged for my old 939-pin (I'd snapped one off accidentally, but it was prime stable despite this) 3500+, one gig of RAM instead of two, and a smaller hard drive.

    Glorious times, those. Anyway, I trust that the exchange rate is favourable to you (oh good, a dollar here is a buck twenty-three there) and I may well be sending Several Dollars your way in the near future.

  36. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Also, I own an Antec 1200. It's large, black, and scares off da laydeez. I recommend it, if you're a hard drive collector; it's nearly silent with all the fans turned down.

    It's also worth nearly as much as the rest of my machine combined (excluding the new 1TB WD Green). An x1950Pro/256MB with superglued-on RAM cooling copper-chunks just doesn't have much of a resale value.

  37. OrgAdam Says:

    So, when do we get an update? This has to be the most hotly anticipated product release of 2009.

  38. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Writing writing writing.

    Well - writing, benchmarking, spreadsheeting, losing track of what I was writing about before, etc.

    But don't worry - Aus PC Market will be pleased to sell you the same computer I bought, while you wait for me to finish writing about it!

  39. monomer Says:

    Wow, I'm admittedly a little surprised that you didn't include an SSD in there, given the glowing review you gave to them a few months back. Or are you just planning on slapping in one of your own?

  40. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I think they're just still too darn expensive. Way cheaper than any similar option was a year or so ago, yes, but still too much for what you - or I, at least - get.

    If you've got other drives to dump swap-file onto, you're really not likely to actually be sitting around waiting for any disk operation that wouldn't exceed the size of a remotely affordable Flash SSD. Well, not waiting for a period of time I personally cannot accept, anyway.

    I can see why people buy them now, and also why people buy VelociRaptors, but I just couldn't justify it, seeing as I'm trying to wisely spend money that people gave me out of the goodness of their hearts.

  41. OrgAdam Says:

    I've just build a very similar system to this, but with the Thermaltake Absolute Mother Water Cooling System Inbuilt. Chicks dig it.

    Why did you go a pair of differently sized HDDs? Why not 3 x 750GB HDDs in RAID 5 for speed and redundancy? Chicks don't dig it if it ain't RAIDin'.

    And that CPU overclocks a treat.

  42. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Why did you go a pair of differently sized HDDs?

    The 7200RPM drive's the boot drive, and the larger-capacity 5400RPM Samsung "EcoGreen" one is a data drive.

    (The only actual difference between the AusPC "Dan's Beast" system and the one I actually bought is that mine has two "1.5Tb" data drives in it. So far.)

    I acknowledge the unrivalled ability of RAID arrays to impress girls (only surpassed by a
    handbrake turn
    ), but booting from RAID on a consumer PC is asking for trouble down the road, and I've no real need of RAID for bulk data storage either.

    An expansible RAID array that you can keep sticking disks into is an elegant way of handling a vast and ever-increasing amount of data, but in practice it can be difficult to actually expand, or more importantly recover, a software-RAID stripeset on consumer hardware. I think it's pretty likely to work fine these days, but I still get nervous when I think about a normal PC flogging its disk subsystem very hard for hours on end.

    (Cheap RAID cards are less reliable - you really shouldn't expect them to be able to expand or recover an array at all, so you'll only ever be pleasantly surprised. And "proper" RAID cards with a decent number of connectors are, of course, expensive.)

  43. OrgAdam Says:

    Would you believe that one of the HDDs in my RAID 5 array packed it in shortly after set up? It gave a lot of high pitched whines and then just ceased to rotate after about 2 weeks.

    The Intel monitoring software reported that the disk on 'Port 0' had shat itself, so back to the retailer, swapped it over for another identical drive, in it goes, Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your aunt. Rebuilt itself after a couple of clicks in Windows.

    All in all, 0% downtime - something I can't say would happen with an OS spanned across... a single disc. Ah, the marvels of modern science. (All of this is needed in my quest for to find extraterrestrial life and save the planet one overclocked and watercooled CPU cycle at a time. To counter all this goodness, there's the occasional Left 4 Dead + beers session to destress...)

    Yes, my machine isn't as "green" as your new setup, given that your storage drive spins slower, but both drives are constructed with the same amount of lead, boron, zinc, mercury, asbestos, dark matter and God Particles as each other.

    Another point I'd like to raise is the article in a recent Atomic mag about the server... the columnist pointed out that the smaller drive sizes and higher rotation speed 'gives the drives an annoying tendancy to burn out after a few months or years.' That's just crazy talk!

    Like anything designed and built by a human being, HDDs are ultimately doomed to failure. Commercial HDDs are built to a higher price than normal desktop units. Where did he come up with that line though...? I run a rock solid server for my business - HP rackmount, similar to the system reviewed and have worked with many others. Yes, they pack it in from time to time, but server HDDs are designed to run with 5 minutes downtime a year and I find that quite impressive.

    Off my soapbox now. For more exciting OrgAdam rants, please tune in to your local AM radio station for talk on why the youth of today can't get a haircut.

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