Daily Observations

Building an 8th Gen Intel Core i-7 8700 Machine

I started building the rig with the motherboard and this ASUS TUF Gaming Z370-PLUS is my motherboard of choice, mainly because of the price tag. It’s the most affordable board made for the latest 8th Gen Intel Coffee Lake chip.
ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

There’s a lot of TUF components on this board, and TUF happens to stand for The Ultimate Force, which I think it means ‘pretty good hardware’. At this point in my life, head shots and frame rates per seconds is not so much on my priority list.

ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

And below here, we can see 6 SATA slots, which means there are plenty of rooms for additional storage devices.

ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

Here the socket where you insert the CPU. See that ‘Important: Install processor FIRST then remove and KEEP the cover’. I have no idea how I missed that, maybe the word ‘REMOVE’ etched onto the cover looks more enticing. So, I took off the cover BEFORE I install the processor, which means I didn’t get to use the thermal silicone that came with the motherboard. Luckily, I have a few syringes of thermal silicone prepared for ‘important’ incidents like these. Note to self: Always RTFM!

ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

Here are all the holes you can plug into for the Z370-PLUS. I am very happy with the number of USB slots, ranging from USB 2.0 to USB-C. The considerate engineers color-coded each of the USBs so you plug in the right devices to enjoy the optimum speed.

ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

This big chunk of plastic shell is one those things to give the Z370-PLUS the TUF look. Designs that don’t serve any functions should be removed because clumsy people like me have the tendency to break them.
ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

Here are the 4 slots for RAMs. I only got one piece of 16GB RAM, so I have room for another 48GB in the near future.
ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

Here how the motherboard looks like from the under side. It gives you a quick view on all the standoff screw positions on the motherboard.
ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

It comes with 2 slots for graphic card. All in all, this motherboard is very expandable.
ASUS Z370-PLUS Motherboard

The next piece of hardware is something very new to me- an SSD storage device. I have heard about their legendary read-write speed.
Western Digital WD Blue SATA SSD 250GB

Western Digital WD Blue SATA SSD 250GB

Next, we have the ATX casing which will house all my investment. For this purpose, I’ve got the Corsair Carbide 400C. I did not read the specs for this casing. I got it because it’s white in color.

Corsair Carbide 400C

Corsair Carbide 400C

Yes… more USB slots! Apparently there’s a karaoke mode too (next to the headphone jack). These buttons and holes are well-positioned because unlike most casings, you have to harass the casing from top to bottom trying to locate the fucking power button.

Corsair Carbide 400C

Here’s the rear view of the Carbide 400C. It’s made for lots of air-flow.

Corsair Carbide 400C

Here’s where the power supply will slot in. Everything looks very robust, and white.

Corsair Carbide 400C

The top of the casing has a layer of filter to increase even more air-flow. I haven’t RTFM the Carbide 400C in detail yet, but I expect these filters to be washable. Otherwise, I cannot imagine the amount of dust trapped in these vents over time.

Corsair Carbide 400C

The Carbide 400C also double as a wine chiller.
Corsair Carbide 400C

It comes with an 8-inch fan blowing air from the front vent, and a 5-inch exhaust fan on the rear, sucking the heat out of the casing.

Corsair Carbide 400C

On the other side of the casing, we are allocated 3 slots of SSD cards. Very thoughtful.

Corsair Carbide 400CCorsair Carbide 400C

Here’s the most expensive ingredient in this whole build – the Intel Core-i7 8th Gen 3.2GHz CPU.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151
For power supply, I opted for the Corsair TX850M, which can output up to 850W of raw power.

Corsair TXM850M Modular ATX Power Supply

The TX850M also comes with a myriad of cables.

Corsair TXM850M Modular ATX Power Supply

And it fits snugly into the Carbide 400C. Notice that the PSU is located at the bottom of the casing, which is ideal because it makes the casing low-heavy, hence more stable.

Corsair TXM850M Modular ATX Power Supply
Corsair TXM850M Modular ATX Power Supply

The power supply is then covered with a 2-piece removable covers, mainly for aesthetics purpose.

Corsair TXM850M Modular ATX Power Supply

Next, we will fix the CPU onto the motherboard. This is the step we want to be most careful because the CPU is very expensive.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

This is literally the core of it all. Note to self: Don’t fuck this up!

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

This oil-rig-looking apparatus is the fan made solely to cool off the CPU.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

There’s only one correct way to insert the CPU into the slot on the motherboard, so it’s hard to get this step wrong.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

Once it sits correctly on the motherboard’s socket, we just need to clamp it securely.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

Before attaching the oil-rig, I applied some ‘caramel’ onto the surface of the CPU for better thermal conductivity.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

Snapping the oil-rig onto the board should not require too much force. If you hear a loud crack, repeat Step 1.

Intel Core i7 8700 3.2GHz, 12MB Cache LGA1151

Next, we slot in the Kingston 16GB RAM. Compared to the CPU installation, this is really simple.

Kingston 16GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM

Next, we unbox the graphic card. I’ve only got a 2GB card, since I am really not into gaming, and those bitcoin miners are causing unjustified hikes on graphic cards pricing.

Asus PH-GTX1050-2G
Asus PH-GTX1050-2G

I slotted it to the motherboard just for photography purpose. It’s better to attach the motherboard onto the casing first and then install the graphic card.

Asus PH-GTX1050-2G

Everything is right where it should be now. I admit the wiring looks messy but a few cable ties should do the job. Besides, the utmost priority is having a system that works when the power button is switched on.

Inserting the Motherboard into the ATX Casing

Oops.. almost forgot the SSD drive.

Slots for SSD

Here’s the Compact Touch 850T UPS from NeuroPower. It’s like an insurance policy against power surges from Tenaga Nasional Berhad.
NeuroPower UPS - Compact Touch 850T
NeuroPower UPS - Compact Touch 850T
NeuroPower UPS - Compact Touch 850T

And voila! On the first boot up, the system runs perfectly. Booting up Windows 10 took less than 10 seconds.

Project Tuff - Building a PC Rig

2018-02-05T16:26:03+00:00 February 4th, 2018|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Signing Off for 2017

Haven’t wrote anything longer than a paragraph lately. No, I haven’t been building furniture. I was busy closing this year’s revenue with a bang. We attempted to double our revenue this year from 2016 and we are very close. There’s still 5 days to go before 2017 runs out, anything can still happen.

Also, I’ve been catching up on my readings. The best I could do was to tweet sporadically when some interesting thoughts cross my synapses. And when you are reading a few books at the same time, your thoughts can get very interesting indeed.

Don’t worry, you won’t be reading any ‘My Resolutions for This Year…’ in this space. Resolutions are for losers. It’s just an excuse to announce to the world you are not going to achieve those goals. You don’t need resolutions, you just need actions. And if those ‘resolutions’ are important enough, you should already be working on it.

Today, I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on making it to 2018.

Happy holidays and keep hustling!

 

 

2017-12-25T17:57:41+00:00 December 25th, 2017|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Pushing Your Luck

“Some people became too carried away by the air of excitement at the apparently unstoppable advance. An American war correspondent, determined to beat his rivals, turned up in Chartres so as to witness the capture of the city. Unfortunately, he was two days early. The German 6th Security Regiment promptly took him prisoner.”

Antony Beevor, D-Day

That’s literally ‘jumping the gun’. It’s dangerous to be caught up in euphoria. When emotions run high, we are very likely to make decisions we will regret later on. We are only as rational as the amount of logical thinking we can muster during time of crisis.

Do not be enthralled by the senses.

2017-11-21T01:50:32+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Be Careful with Your Ideas

Party of Light Bulbs

So, you’ve just had a great idea that flashed through your head while shaving this morning.

Be careful with that because 15,391,482 individuals on this planet probably had that same epiphany.

It likely didn’t become a reality because a myriad of reasons- inactivity, distractions and it’s probably not such a great idea after all (discouragements after discussing it with your friends).

Keep shaving.

2017-09-30T00:37:20+00:00 September 30th, 2017|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Project Leather Milk – Building Your Own Lighted Display Shelf

I promised one of my US suppliers, Mr Snow that I will make a display shelf for him when his goods arrived in my retail store. My initial estimate for the completion of the shelf was a week but I soon learned that my optimism will always be the root of all the planning fallacies. The shelf was eventually completed after 2 months.

As with any carpentry projects, sketching out the product is very important. It gives you a good idea on how much materials you will use and the limitations you may encounter.

My first sketch was in 3D, basically to nail the type of shelf design.

3D Sketch for Project Leather Milk
So, after a quick vote from everyone in the company, we decided to go for the right most design. It’s got a more ‘Western Bar’ look. I actually liked the left most design, but we are a democratic company. So, Western Bar it is.

Next, we take the right most design and came up with a few more iterations.

Project Leather Milk - Sketches

The sketches becomes more serious as we start considering the measurements. We don’t have a huge retail front, so every inch matters.


After about 3-4 days on the drawing board,  I moved on to the next phase- material sourcing. If you are looking for a good place to buy plywoods and wooden materials for your carpentry work, I recommend Kee Lek. It’s a bit out of town in an industrial area between the border of Balakong and Kajang, but the trip there is definitely worth it as there’s a nice variety of materials to choose from. Besides, you don’t get much choice from the hardware suppliers closer to the cities.

Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Just look at all the range of pre-cut woods they have… feels like Legoland.

Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Project Leather Milk - Kee Lek
Just be sure not to wear your dress shoes to the warehouse, because you will be walking through thick saw dust. And for just RM50, you can get Kee Lek to send your order to your doorstep. I estimate my order to be at least 150kg, so RM50 is really a bargain.

Transporting the Wood
For a little warm-up session, I made 2 coffee stools with some leftover plywoods from previous projects.

warm-up-coffee-stools
The first step after our little warm up is to cut the boards according to the measurements. Because I am not a full time carpenter, I would have to stick to my little Makita jigsaw. However, after sawing all these plywood, I am really looking forward to upgrade to a full-blown circular wood cutting machine. It should speed up the progress of cutting these plywood by 80%. Well, I am just a hobbyist for now.

chopping-boards-01
chopping-boards-02
chopping-boards-03
For this project, I acquired a new machine- the Dongcheng Orbital Sander. This machine sets me off by about RM150, but I reckon it will save me hours of sanding. I wanted to get the Makita sander but the hardware store near me don’t carry them anymore… so I guess Dongcheng would have to do.

I used to sand manually with sandpapers wrapped in Styrofoam brick. With this new sanding machine, I could sand the plywoods in an hour. I estimate if I am using the Sytrofoam brick method, it might take me at least 4-5 hours. An important tip, when sanding with the orbital machine, always do it outdoor. I realized my folly after my entire pantry is covered with pepper-fine wood dust. I was ordered to sand outside the office from then on.

sanding-01
sanding-02
After sanding, you would still need to get rid of the wood dust with a wet cloth to remove any debris that will get in the way when you apply the wood varnish later on. I even used a vacuum cleaner to make sure it’s totally dust free.

sanding-03
Once the woods are dust-free, we move on to the varnishing act. I got the ‘Oakwood’ color from Nippon Wood Varnish series. Because my project uses plywood instead of real solid wood (out of budget), I have to apply 3 layers to make it look like ‘Oakwood’. Unfortunately, it was only at this phase I realized that one of the plywood surface has got some ‘blisters’. So, lesson learned, next time choose your plywoods on the spot and have them shipped exactly the ones that you’ve examined.

The varnish phase is also the most time consuming one because it takes about an hour for each coat to really dry, and you can get really high smelling the fumes from the varnish. My suggestion is that you take a break after every 30 minutes to reduce the high.

If there’s a coating machine to apply the varnish, I would seriously consider it. Paint brushing all these surfaces is literally a pain-in-the-neck-back-ass chore.

varnishing-01
varnishing-02
Next comes the assembly phase. I started by joining the horizontal planks with the top-most and bottom-most levels. I was thinking by doing that, I would have a rectangular frame which would be easier to work on. However, that was not the case.

first-assembly-01
first-assembly-02
first-assembly-03
If I was to do it again, I would start off with the middle most section and working my way out to the bottom-most and top-most level simultaneously. By doing so, I would be able to ensure that each individual planks will be as level as possible without having to compromise for the rigid rectangular frame. This miscalculation has indeed caused the mid-section planks to less level than I’d aimed for. But it wasn’t so bad that flat-bottomed products will start rolling from side-to-side like a boat ride.

first-assembly-04
first-assembly-05
Once the main planks are assembled, I am faced with the next critical issue- racking. This means that even with the screws securely drilled into each plank for maximum rigidness, the whole shelf as a whole will still sway left to right like a man after 6 pints of beer.

first-assembly-06

Fortunately the solution for racking do not require a degree in rocket science. You just need more woods. In this case, 2 big piece of plywoods nailed as a backboard to the rack. Not only will these plywoods stops the swaying, they will also add to the aesthetics of the shelf. So, it’s only prudent that I put additional care in preparing and treating the backboard.

Preparing the Backboard and Spoilers
Another weekend gone preparing the backboard, and a few ‘spoilers’ for the edges of the planks.

Preparing the Backboard and Spoilers
Just by nailing only half the backboard, the shelf has decided to stop alcohol for good.

Preparing the Backboard and Spoilers
Next up, we are going to power up the shelf with some electricity. After investing so much on preparing the wooden surface of the shelf, I am not going to spare any resources that will enhance the showcase effect of the products. I’ve planned from the beginning that each rack will be lighted. And so, we start off with the basic stuff- Live, Neutral and Earth wires.

Lighting up the Christmas Tree
This is how it looks with the T5 LED.

Lighting up the Christmas Tree
These are the spoilers I prepared earlier to clean up the edges of the planks.

Lighting up the Christmas Tree
Let there be light (not explosion)!

Lighting up the Christmas Tree
With all racks lighted up, the whole display shelf is beginning to come to life.

Lighting up the Christmas Tree
Now, throw in some cow hides imported from India. These 2 pieces set me back by about RM300.

Putting in the Products
Let’s try arranging some of Mr Snow’s products on the shelf.

Putting in the Products
Voila! It’s finally complete. 2 months of work, probably about 30 hours in total.

Putting in the Products
There you go, the whole process of building a display rack. Not a bad adventure. I would love to try my hands on real wood next time. Real wood would definitely add a whole lot more character to the project.

You might ask why didn’t I just buy the shelf from IKEA or furniture shop. Of course, that’s totally a possibility but my purpose here is not to safe time or money. The whole objective here is to train my grit in getting a project from start to finish. It’s akin to why people climb Mt Kinabalu. They could have just take a helicopter to the peak right? I definitely learn more from this project than if I’d just followed the Billy manual from IKEA.

There are people who just don’t like to read the manual while some must read the manual from front to back before they start. And then there are those who prefer to write their own manual.

2017-09-30T16:48:31+00:00 September 28th, 2017|Daily Observations, Hobby & Leisures|1 Comment

How You Should Be Managing Time?

“Time is not measured in minutes nor seconds. It’s measured in the things you do with it.”

Time...

In other words, you can have all the minutes and seconds you want, but if you don’t use it to accomplish something, you might as well not have it to begin with.

We go through our days with numerous tasks that require our attention. And we usually deal with them by allocating chunks of time from whatever amount of time we assume we will have in that particular day. I say assume because realistically, you can only guess how many hours you will have to attack these tasks. There is a possibility that you might get into a car accident and you will spend the rest of the day in the hospital. So, we always tell ourselves that we’ll have 15 minutes for this meeting, 30 minutes to write that report, 1 hour for the lunch appointment so on and so forth. We are very good at managing time this way- by allocating tasks to a specific duration of time. This time-for-tasks allocation is a quantitative approach to manage your priorities.

I believe there’s a better way around that. Of course, it would require some un-learning on what we’ve been taught. We may not need to check all that task in the to-do list. After all, many of the things in our life would not need the same quality of attention that we’ve been giving them. Maybe a qualitative approach to the way we spend our precious hours would make more sense. Instead of starting off with how much time to allocate for each projects, how about we figure out first which projects would make give us a better sense of satisfaction and accomplishment? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to bake apple pies. But as you look at your calendar, you might realize that you barely have time to slot in any 60 minutes baking lessons for the weeks to come. And this is when you should start looking into those menial tasks that is gnawing your time away and possibly replace those slots with baking lessons.

We can always make time for the things that we love to do. But if we don’t remind ourselves the goals that we want to accomplish on a daily basis, it’s very easy to let other parasitic tasks slip into our schedule.

Go ahead and list down all the things you want to accomplish by end of the year, and stick to it. Remember, the goal is to do the things that will make your life more enjoyable.

2017-04-07T03:59:47+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Daily Observations|0 Comments