SHODAN: The Evolution of my Battlestation

Now that I recently received my Ikea desk that I ordered more than a month ago (there was a bit of a mix up in the shop’s inventory), I upgraded the setup in terms of desk and chair, and a bit of bling.

All other items, such as the new chair and the LED strip, etc., were all shipped in way before the Ikea desk did, so I had to control my excitement until everything has arrived before I start building anything.

I will post a separate blog on the actual transfer of my PC setup from the old layout and desk to the new layout and desk. For this post, I will just chronicle how this current PC build named SHODAN (yes that is a System Shock reference) way back in 2012 and how it evolved through the years.

Let it be known that I have been building my own PC’s since 1998; each iteration has its evolutionary stage. What do I mean by this? Well, each time I build a new system from scratch with the latest CPU of that generation, I don’t buy all parts immediately. That is, I start with the most important parts: CPU, motherboard, RAM, and if needed, another HDD and other peripherals like monitor/s. I then add the other parts like GPU, possibly another monitor, or other peripherals that is both functional and cool (mechanical keyboards, gaming mouse, etc.). A lot of people deem me to be a rich person… nope. I am just good at saving. And others will say “hey, it’s 2017, why do you have the i7 Ivy Bridge instead of the new Kaby Lakes?”; well, like I said, my builds have an evolutionary stage, and I don’t build completely new systems until an 8 year span or if I feel my current CPU is no longer doing its job. But my current PC is still a beast, so I will keep using this, keep upgrading if need be, until it overall will no longer be able to do the things I want it to do.

And also of note, I have been rocking a dual monitor setup since 2008 and since 2015, I have been using triple monitor setups. So I am more used to systems with multimonitors and feel very limited if I just use one screen even if it were an ultra widescreen monitor.

Anyways, let us see a bunch of photos chronicling SHODAN’s evolution! Join me for a trip down memory lane! From SHODAN’s humble beginnings to what she is today!

2012:

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

As mentioned above, when I first build new systems, I don’t buy all the necessary parts immediately. So here, I still had my old peripherals and I didn’t even get a GPU, yet.

Specs in 2012:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: None
Cooling: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm for front intakes
Peripherals:  : E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); A4Tech KD-800L (Cheapo keybaord but has LEDs LOL); (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee

2013:

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

By this point, I waited for the new Nvidia cards to come out and snatched me one; here I have added the GTX 660ti and I upgraded my keyboard to a mechanical keyboard, the Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard… and still use that keyboard to this day as I am typing this blog. I also added a NAS for filebackups and whatnot and a 3.5 multi card reader for transferring phots/videos since I am into photography and videography, too.

Specs in 2013:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2014:

My Workstation as of February 2014

Upgraded my monitors to 2 Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitors, added the Razer. As you can see, I have been using an awful, AWFUL, chair back then…

The mouse by the way, as with most Razer products back then, are USUALLY green, I said usually, cos they did have blue LED products, but for the DeathAdder 2013, they didn’t have a blue LED one I can find. Of course, this is all but a blip in history now as they have the Chroma series that is basically RGB. Anyways, I modded my DeathAdder 2013 by changing the green LED with blue ones… destroying my warranty, but hey, that is what we setup addicts would do to make the theme match.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 2x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2015:

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

Here, I upgraded my GPU to the VTX3D ATI Radeon R9 390. This can handle triple monitor gaming for the most part so I added a 3rd Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitor. I also got a couple of Corsaur SP 120s that I sued on the after market heatsink, as well as an Ipega Bluetooth Gamepad, mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 Corsair SP120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes; 1 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm for bottom intake
Peripherals: 3x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC)
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2016:

Workstation as of 02-09-2016

Shameless Workstation Glamour Shot

Finally added a better chair, this is racing inspired but as you can see, there is no way for this to recline. I also added an extended mouse pad, a cheap clip on/lav mic, and a cheapo webcam and a printer at this point. Oh I nearly forgot, I also upgraded my mouse into the Logitech G600 MMO Gaming mouse – works well for all games not just MMOs. This also marks the beginning of my fanboyism to Logitech. Also added an extra 2 sticks of 4GB RAM totaling 16GB good for photography and video editing.

Vidya Gaemz

A later little on, after I passed my medical licensure examination and became a licensed physician, I was able to land a job early and get to save enough to get a new a case, added 3 more Logitech products: Logitech G13 advanced gaming pad, G430 7.1 Headset, and F310 gaming pad. Told you I was a fanboy. Oh hey, I have a Megaman E Mug, too.

Specs in 2016:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2017:

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Finally, we caught up with the present year. As you can see, I got a new desk, I also got a long awaited LED strips that are USB powered and connected directly to my PC so when it powers on, it powers on the LED strips. I also upgraded the speakers to, guess what, Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers. I also changed my chair to the Ergodynamic F1 Blue Fauz Leather Gaming chair that reclines.

Specs in 2017:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

Now some people will ask why I have a small (that’s what she said) HDD in my system, well, I have a 4TB NAS and another 2x2TB HDDs coming in as well as another 2 bay NAS, so I will have 8TB NAS for most of my files. The 500GB HDD is just for games. the 128GB SSD is for the OS, some games, and the more commonly used programs. I will be adding another 256GB SSD mainly for games later on this year.

Also of note, I used NZXT extended sleeved cables and a couple of custom sleeved SATA Data cables, so if you look inside my PC, you’d see sleeved cables.

So there you have it, a trip down memory lane… thanks for joining in the ride!

Til next time! PEACE!

UPDATE:

Fixed the remaining wires that are bothering me under the desk.

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

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SHODAN Windows Startup

*NOTE: The video above was just taken with my smartphone; I am not going to bring out my DSLR just to record a short video like this…*

Most people should know by now that I am a huge System Shock fan. I love both games, but the first game has shown its age gameplay and graphics wise. However, like in my previous post, the good guys at Night Dive Studios released an enhanced edition of the first game, aptly named, System Shock Enhanced Edition, available in GOG.com. I am waiting for the Steam version since that is  where I have a digital copy of the second game.

With that said, when I set out to replace my previous Q6600 build with my current i7 3770 build, I wanted to name my new build “SHODAN”; yes, I name all my PC builds.

It was a homage to my favorite game and I knew that this current build will become a greater beast than the build prior to it. So, I wanted to give it a name that can encapsulate that vision. And SHODAN was certainly it.

Without spoiling too much for those who have yet to play the games, Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network, or SHODAN for short, is the main antagonist of the series; an artificial intelligence gone rogue. That’s it. I won’t say anymore than that.

But I knew, naming it SHODAN wasn’t enough… I wanted to add in an audioclip for start up with her voice, however, since Windows 8 (I run Windows 8.1), there have been no startup fanfares for “security” reasons. And it took me this long to make this because, a) I was lazy to type scripts/codes and then trouble shoot it to run the way I want to and b) I just wasn’t inspired enough to do so.

With the release of the enhanced edition, that gave me much needed high and pushed me to finally make a simple script/code to make it run the way I envisioned it.

Sure it may really only be an 8 second script, but it took me over 4 hours just troubleshooting and editing to make it run the way you see in the video now.

I don’t always code for simple programs, plus it was never my major, as my career path is that of the medical field, so it is understandable that I make a lot of mistakes typing codes and warrants the long number of hours to troubleshoot and edit.

But in the end, for me, it was worth it.

It may only be 8 seconds and only seen during startup (unless I make it run again), something like this, as simple as this, makes me happy. And how I made it, without any real lectures in coding (I just read a ton of books before when I was younger and experimenting), makes it all the more special.

Anyways, that’s it for now…

PEACE!

UPDATE:

I have updated my script to have bluescreens of death and graphical error screens alongside SHODAN.

Check the video below!

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Great Time To Be a Classic PC Gamer!

I have been playing PC games since the DOS days, I bet if I were to have been born a lot earlier, I’d be playing games on the computer a lot earlier, too. But alas, I was born on 1989 and was able to play DOS games in the tail end of its run before Windows fully took over.

That being said, I have played a lot of classics, like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, etc. Another game during that era was a little game entitled System Shock.

I was too young to appreciate the complexity of the story and gameplay; in fact, I stopped playing because it was a slow paced, of what I initially thought, FPS. I was still high on the fast paced shooters like Doom that came a year before it. So I thought it was a step backwards at the time.

But as I gotten older, and after overcoming my console phase then returning to good ol’ PC, I was reminded of System Shock when System Shock 2 was released. I got myself System Shock 2 and was blown away.

It was at this time where I was already fully transition to both the RPG genre and the PC platform, so I was getting well versed with the control scheme of the PC and the RPG elements of System Shock 2. Thus, I appreciated both the story and gameplay of the sequel.

With that, I tried returning to the original game, but the control were already too clunky for me to use. The same clunky controls that stop me from playing Elder Scrolls: Arena and Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall.

So, I thought of just foregoing ever playing the original game.

But the PC master race gods have smiled upon and me recently and showered me with gifts such as Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity (Feels like Bladur’s Gate), and the upcoming Torment:Tides of Numenera. Still, they thought bringing back classic titles to the modern age or making spiritual successors were not enough, they decided to bring yet another classic title to the modern era.

Yes. The guys at Night Dive Studios, the same guys that developed System Shock 2, is releasing System Shock Enhanced Edition.

Sure, they haven’t totally enhanced every aspect of the game in terms of in game sprites (be it items or enemies, etc.), they did clean up them up enough to look decent to play again. With that, it supports higher resolutions, though I doubt playing in Nvidia Surround or AMD Eyefinity will be natively supported (not sure if anyone would want to, but I am not just anyone… So I will still try and make this happen because of reasons).

The enhanced edition also has support for mouselook, which is an all important update to make the game playable without suffering from the clunky controls of the original. As well as remappable keys… a small bonus, but every gamer has their preference, so this is also a welcome change.

Though, I would like to mention that System Shock Enhanced Edition is just available at GOG as of this writing (and currently on sale as of this writing), the guys at Night Dive Studios responded to my tweet mentioning that there are indeed plans on releasing it for Steam, but they do not have a time table as of the moment. So, I will play the waiting game.

Here is the link for those interested in getting it in GOG now.

But all in all, this is great news for those people wanting to play System Shock all over again with higher resolution and support on later machines, or for those like me, who never got to really play the original and need not suffer from the odd controls of the original.

I cannot wait for it to be on sale in Steam. I mean, System Shock 2 was such an influential game to me and how it depicted cyberpunk (this coupled with Deus Ex made me such a cyberpunk fanatic), that my most recent PC system build is named SHODAN; a homage to the AI antagonist in the game.

Will this be a true enhanced edition of the game? Or will it break my heart like what Baldur’s Gate “Enhanced Edition” did to me? Here’s hoping the former will be true.

Anyways, until next time!

PEACE!

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