Welcome to the Builder's Corner Newsletter
Welcome to the latest issue of The Builder's Coner. As always, I keep the newsletter printer friendly if you prefer offline reading. Simply click File --> Print and you're off and running.
Western Digital Velociraptor.
The latest in hard drives from Western Digital, this hard drive smokes. This is an enthusiast hard drive that has the reliability and performance for the workstation market. The Velociraptor maxes out its capacity at 300GB, and is a 2.5" form factor. This allows faster access times, and helps keep temperatures down. (Note that due to the height of the drive, it is not compatible with laptops.)
The Velociraptor comes standard with 16MB cache, MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of 1.4 million hours, and maxes out the noise levels at around 35 dB. Since the drive is a 2.5 inch form factor, it comes pre-installed in a 3.5 inch frame called the Icepack, that also acts as a heat sink for the drive. This will allow you to install the drive into an existing drive bay on your desktop computer. In benchmark tests, the Velociraptor performs excellently:
- Access Time - 7.0ms
- Maximum Throughput - 198.5 MB/s
- Average Read Transfer Rates - 102 MB/s
- Average Write Transfer Rates - 101.6 MB/s
- Drive Surface Temperature - 35C
The Western Digital Velociraptor has taken back the lead in enthusiast hard drives and is even able to compete with SSD's (Solid State Drives). The Velociraptor is currently hard to find, but as more and more are released will become easier. They are currently retailing for around $300.00. That's quite a bit for a 300GB hard drive, but for the enthusiast crowd, they are a great drive.
The featured application this month is ThreatFire 3 by PC Tools. This is a free anti-malware application that does an excellent job of threat detection and blocking. ThreatFire keeps you up to date with the latest malware by linking you to their worldwide detection map.
What makes ThreatFire different is that it does not detect malware signatures, like most anti-malware applications do. Instead, it monitors your system for patterns of activity that suggest malware. When it detects a pattern, it then checks to see if the process is a known threat and will block it and alert you to the activity. This method of detecting malware based on activity allows ThreatFire to react not only to known threats, but to unknown threats as well.
ThreatFire is designed to work side by side with your regular anti-virus application handling threats that the anti-virus program does not recognize. It also includes options to schedule daily, weekly, or monthly scans of your system.
Q & A
Our question this issue comes from Brandon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He asks: What is Windows XP SP3 and should I install it?
Great question. Windows Service Pack 3 was recently released to the public for downloading. This service pack includes all previously released XP updates including security updates, and hotfixes. There is no significant functionality added, it was mostly designed to bring together all fixes into one package.
To install SP3, you will need to make sure that you have at least SP1 installed, and then you can run SP3. SP3 is designed to work with XP Home Edition, XP Pro, Tablet PC, and Media Center Edition. Windows XP SP3 can be downloaded here. Simply save the download to your desktop, and when it completes double click to run it. The other option is to update your computer through the Windows automatic update found in your control panel. Brandon, hope this answers your question.
If you have a question on computer hardware, you can ask it here. I will always try to get an answer back to you as soon as I can, and may feature it in my next issue.
Tips and Tricks
The tip for this issue is for Windows Vista. I love the Snipping tool that is included that allows you to take screenshots of only portions of the screen by outlining what you want. However, there is no shortcut key for it. That can be changed. Here's how you do it:
Note: If you cannot find the Snipping tool, it may not be enabled. To enable it, go to your control panel, and select "Turn Windows features on or off" and check the box by Tablet PC utilities.
- Open your Start Menu, click All Programs, then click Accessories, and you will see the Snipping tool.
- Right click on the Snipping tool and select the Properties option near the bottom of the popup window.
- You will see a tab on the Snipping Tool properties window. Click on that tab.
- In the Shortcut key field, you can put a key combination that will run the Snipping tool. You cannot use the Printscreen button unfortunately. I personally use Ctrl + F12. It's easy for me to remember, and that combination is not assigned to anything else. Be careful when assigning keys combos that are in use, such as Ctrl + C (Copy) or Ctrl + P (Paste) as it will overwrite those combinations.
Thanks for subscribing - see you next issue when I'll show you how to build a $500.00 gaming computer.