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New Beginnings With New Jobs in Hardware Maintenance

Computers can be wonderful, they can change the way that we live our lives, making things better for hundreds of people and making menial and tedious tasks simply automated. However we are all kidding ourselves if we believe that these machines will run smoothly without the need for any hardware maintenance.

It doesn’t matter what technological enhancement you have in your life at some stage it will need a degree of hardware maintenance, whether it is a cash machine that is fitted in the wall outside of the local Tesco supermarket or the latest computer installed with all your business application and games. Electronic components will take a pounding and over time will become worn out.

This means that there is a space in the market for people who want to become hardware maintenance engineers. So if you have woken up over the last few days and you are wondering where you life is going and feel like you need a change of direction then why not look into taking a course in the new year and training up in a new profession.

It is amazing where making a simple change like that can lead you to over the course of a year. A friend of mine spent some time working on obtaining his hardware maintenance qualification through one of the accredited national bodies and later found a job within a motorsport team that needed a hardware engineer to travel the world with them. It was an amazing experience for him as he was a huge fan of motorsport and travelling the world with the team was a dream come true.

It wouldn’t have happened either if he hadn’t of taken the first step to change his career, If not he would still be stuck there fixing software problems for companies on the out skirts of London which didn’t pay very well either. Now he is mixing it with all the superstars on the race circuit and keeps sending me back pictures from the various race events that he is at. Obviously the workload is quite stressful but it would still be stressful if he was in an office somewhere performing hardware maintenance.

Life is all about chances, some of us choose to take them and we get greater opportunities because of our risk taking. Others decide to play it safe all the time and avoid risk taking but these people will never get ahead when it comes to life as they keep expecting life to plonk something on their plate. Make sure that you are a go-getter in 2010. Make the change.

So You Want to Buy a Gaming PC?

If you are looking to buy a new gaming PC, there are a number of important factors that need to come together to ensure your new system will be up to the task. All too often, PC gamers invest their hard earned dollars into machines without doing the homework required to ensure their new system is optimised for playing the latest games at the high performance level expected by an avid gamer. To help ensure your new gaming PC lives up to your expectations, I have prepared a list of helpful tips and considerations to guide you in your quest to getting the best value gaming PC for your money.

Budget – When it comes to high end gaming systems, the sky is really the limit with how much you can spend. Chasing the latest breakthroughs in technology can be an expensive business, and the feeling of pride when looking at your machine knowing it has the best graphics card that money can buy can be quickly extinguished when you see your friend with the same system 4 months later having paid 30% less for it. Nonetheless, if you have the money and are willing to pay a huge premium for the latest of the latest then I say go for it. For most of us however, our budget usually has a limit, and value for money is always an important consideration. With this in mind, my first tip to help you on the road of finding a new gaming PC is to determine your budget. With a set budget, you can then work out what combination of hardware you should get that will deliver you the best gaming performance.

What games will you play? – Chances are you are not going to be playing the first version of Starcraft or Sim City on your new system. If you were, then why would you need a high performance gaming PC in the first place? Most likely you will be playing games that have just come out, are likely to come out soon and perhaps a few older favourites as well. Taking this into consideration, it is worth doing some research and finding out what games run well on what graphics cards. With a variety of offerings from ATI and nVidia, it is well known that some games run much better on ATI hardware and others on nVidia. If you have a favourite game that you plan on playing for quite some time, then researching this point can pay dividends.

Graphics card vs. CPU – Don’t make the mistake of allocating most of your budget to your CPU and skimping on your graphics card. When it comes to a gaming PC, your graphics card should be your first priority and a higher spec card with a lower spec CPU will nearly always deliver better gaming performance. This is why defining your budget (as per tip 1) is so critical, as it will enable you to work out how to allocate your budget for the best results. A good rule of thumb here is that your graphics card should cost 3 times as much as your CPU. If the money gods have been kind to you, and you are in the market for an i7 Extreme Edition CPU, then this will mean you should be looking at a triple SLI configuration or similar. For a mid range system, this could mean an ATI 5870 with an Intel Core Duo E7600.

Other hardware considerations – When it comes to RAM, you can never have enough. Having said that, there is no point in having 8GB of high performance low latency RAM if this is going to take a huge chunk out of your graphics card budget. If your budget has worldly limits, then for a gaming PC running Windows 7 or Vista, 4GB of RAM is usually plenty. Now most gamers I know love a fast system. When it comes to games, a fast system usually means a system that will provide you with the best frame rate and graphics settings when playing your favourite games. I like to take this one step further though. For me, a fast system is just that, fast! Fast at booting up, fast at loading programmes and fast at pretty much everything else. With this in mind, my favourite bit of technology that all of my gaming systems have utilised for the last 7 or so years is RAID striping. There are many different configurations of RAID that I won’t go into here, but RAID striping involves utilising a minimum of 2 disks to read and write data allowing for improved read and write times. Very few computer manufacturers offer this option out of the box, and it is a real shame as it gives such a good boost to computer performance. For the cost of an extra hard drive, configuring a RAID array that utilises striping is such a great bang for buck option that you should really give some thought to.

Adding a 4th Dimension in Computer Games

With the help of advanced 3D game engines like Unity 3D, it is now easier than ever to develop 3D games for the growing gaming market. However, developing top grade 3D games still requires substantial monetary and time investment. Furthermore, 3D games are all too common, if not standard, and if you want to stand out from the crowd, you will need to do more. So how can we take the 3D gaming experience a step further? Can we make 3D games even more engaging?

Using Hardware to Create the 4th Dimension in Gaming

In events where 3D games are used as a focal point or marketing tool, a fourth dimension can enhance the user experience with the brand. Imagine playing a 3D racing track computer game, overcoming difficult terrain and environments. A fourth dimension could provide strong wind or heat from different directions. Hardware, in this case fans, would be required.

In the world of software development, however, hardware is something many would rather not touch. Hardware requires inventory management, delivery and servicing, amongst others. All these are additional troubles that software developers do not want to bare. However, if you want to provide a 4D experience to your clients, hardware may be necessary to complement the 3D gaming. With the use of Arduino, an open-source electronic component bridging the gap between hardware and software, video games can “talk” to electrical or electronic devices easily.

Using Arduino in Gaming

Arduino basically allows you to interact with electronic devices. A simple application is programming the Arduino to switch different LED lights on or off should the players answer computer game questions either correctly or incorrectly. The blinking LED lights heighten the atmosphere of the gaming environment, and it enables the event organiser to provide an inclusive setting for the audience watching the event. It can not only engage players, but it can also grab attention from afar. The effect is far better than a simple panel-based display.

Arduino can also take it a step further if you want to add realism to your 3D gaming environment. You can turn on a fan and snow maker when players enter a winter scene in a computer game. Water, foam, light, smell, wind and moving seats are some of the techniques at your disposal to create the 4th dimension within your computer game. The possibilities are endless and all it needs is a bit of imagination from the software developer.