Ok, as promised, I am posting the specs and a brief rundown of my 1st attempt at designing and building a Windows desktop as a blind dude.
The first crucial step in system design is deciding what you want to do with the new machine, and tailoring your hardware choices to that task. Going to be editing lots of audio, images, or video? Go for a snappy, multi-core CPU and a boatload of RAM. Planning on playing the latest 3D brain splattering video game? Again, I'd say a multi-core CPU, loads of RAM, and add a robust discreet video card such as a Radeon HD 6950 or something like it.
The next step is deciding where to get your parts. If you are lucky enough to have a local shop you trust, by all means, give them your business. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy your components at a huge mass retailer like Best Buy. Usually, the employees at these stores barely have the intellect required to tie their own shoes, let alone what is required to intelligently discourse on the appropriate amount and type of RAM to load up your new ASUS Crosshair IV mobo.
For the #BlindDIYPC (and yes, I realize I put the hashtag in there, it kinda became the name), I purchased all of my components at http://www.newegg.com with the exception of the hard drive and optical drive, which came out of the old system. And, no, I am not getting paid by Newegg for pimping their site. I have shopped there since my favorite supplier (PC Club) closed their doors a few years ago.
So, without further gilding the lily, and without any ado whatsoever, I present the #BlindDIYPC:
CPU (Processor): - AMD AthlonII X4 640 3.0GHz Quad Core ($99)
Motherboard: - ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 ($139)
RAM: - 16GB (4x4GB) G-Skill DDR3 1333 PC310666 Memory
Video:- Onboard Radeon HD 4290 (part of the AMD 890GX chipset) ($0)
Hard Drive: - Samsung 320GB SATA2 3.0GB/sec 16MB cache HDD ($0)
Optical Drive: - Lite-On 18x DVD Burner ($0)
Miscellaneous: - Rosewill 14-in-1 Card Reader ($15)
Power Supply: - Rosewill Stream Series 850Watt °C cool rated Crossfire/SLI ready PSU ($99)
Case: - Thermaltake V9 Armor series with 3 120mm fans, 1 200mm fan, tool-less design and 2 "hot-swap" SATA 6GB/sec HDD docks ($59)
Operating system: - Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Edition ($0)
Screen Reader: NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) ($0)
I wanted to post the pics that I took as part of the build process here, but it turned out to be more of a pain than I thought. So to see the pics, just do a twitter search for the #BlindDIYPC hashtag and you will find all of them.
All of the design and assembly was done by me. The only assistance I received was visual identification of labels that I could obviously not read. The one snag I hit was in installing the ASUS motherboard drivers. Some chucklehead at ASUS decided it would be a good idea to make the installer for the driver packages a graphical based installer, thereby rendering screen readers useless. My workaround was to install each driver set individually from their respective folders.
I have put the rig through its initial benchmark, the Windows Experience Score. The overall score is based on the lowest individual score of the main tested components, so this rig scored a 4.7. The individual scores were:
Gaming Graphics: 4.7
So in conclusion, the system is super snappy. Future upgrades may include:
A SSD (Solid State Drive) to handle the OS and Programs and a 1 to 2TB drive for file storage.
A discreet video card such as a Radeon HD 6750 to use in Hybrid CrossFireX with the onboard Radeon HD 4290.
And possibly a Blu-Ray drive/burner for ripping our Blu-Ray collection to H.264 files and burning archive discs.
I hope you've enjoyed following my adventure as much as I've enjoyed its undertaking. Furthermore, I hope it has shown how blindness does not need to be an insurmountable roadblock to doing the things you love!
Until next time!
Keep up with The Blind Geek:
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I figured that since I'm being kind of personal here, I should post a little (or more than a little) about myself her as well. The following is the entire text of an assignment in my college Sociology class to write a one page autobiography. Enjoy!
The year was 1976, and our country's bicentennial. A future Casper College student was brought into this world by Norma Joanne Reed, a single mother not unlike many others during the mid-70's. The backdrop for my childhood was the happy yet bustling town of Tucson, AZ. During the mid to early 80's, Tucson was coming into its own as a melting pot of families and cultures from around the country.
As I sprouted and blossomed in this cultural garden, I developed the ideals and beliefs that prepared me for the next stages of my life. Upon graduating High School in 1995, I, like many fellows reaching their majority, swerved away from the standard collegiate bound path and joined the military. Following "Boot", I spent a tumultuous but educational 8 years protecting our freedom in the United States Navy as a Fire Controlman. This time was educational and dangerous due to my time in service having been during both the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.
following my service to our country, during which I met and married my wife Heather, we moved to her home state of Oregon and began our family. In August of 2002, our daughter, and one of the most precious things in my life, Aeryn was born. I began working as a technical support manager and started my own freelance IT business. In October of 2005, our second daughter Caitlyn was born. The girls grew like weeds as children do. It was during 2007, when the recession was starting to hit the Portlan area hard, that I was laid off like so many others in the tech fields.
It was due to these regional and indeed national issues that we moved to wonderful windy Wyoming to seek work and a brighter future. I quickly found work here in Casper repairing and maintaining ATMs and security systems. However, like most other states, the recession bug reared its ugly head here in 2009, and I was laid off again.
It was this event that lead me to my current studitious undertaking and the pursuit of my degree. During my first semester back at school, I had some major health issues with Diabetes, which lead to an amputation, and my going blind within a year and a half. Now, like many other blind students around the country in this high tech era, I find myself trying to both adapt to living in an increasingly visual world, but also attempting to mold that world into a more aware and accessible place to work and live.
Rick Reed currently lives in Casper, WY with his wife Heather, and daughters Aeryn and Caitlyn.