Silence!

After months of complaining, researching components, finding good prices, and so on, my computer is now virtually silent… and that makes me very happy. When I built the most recent incarnation of my desktop computer, I chose pretty much the cheapest components available at the time. I even stooped so low as to use a triple-core processor (AMD’s Phenom X3 8650). Choosing components this cheap turned out to be a nightmare.

First of all, the CPU’s fan was insanely noisy. When the computer started up you could have sworn a Boeing 747 was in my bedroom getting ready for takeoff. It settled down after a few seconds, but it was still enough to make using speakers pointless. I resorted to headphones.

I fixed this by buying two components. The first was a rear case fan to exhaust more hot air out of the computer. I chose a Scythe model that ran at 800RPM. They are renowned for being virtually silent. Not without reason, too. The second was a Cooler Master Hyper-212+ heat sink. The heat sink itself is about 600g of solid aluminium with copper pipes running up through it. It’s very good at getting the heat away from the CPU. It comes with a fan attached to it, but I took this off. Since I had the rear case fan, and nothing else that produced much heat in the machine, I didn’t need it. So this solved the CPU noise issue.

The next issue was the power supply. The power supply I originally had was a no-name 550W power supply I bought for $50 AUD. I suspect it was worth about $5. The efficiency of the power supply was also questionable. In the end I bit the bullet and decided to buy a new power supply. I did a bit of research on the PC hardware site SilentPCReview, and found 3 power supplies that fitted the bill. One was Antec’s Signature 650w. This is basically the premium model from Antec. The ‘Signature’ in the name comes from the fact that the quality-control checker signs the power supply when they check it. It was a bit on the pricey side though. A similar power supply from a different manufacturer was  Seasonic’s X-650. This was cheaper, and even quieter, but had a few quirks that I didn’t really like. The final power supply, and the one I chose, was Antec’s Truepower 550w. It was slightly noisier than the other two, but not by very much, and was significantly cheaper.

After replacing these components in my desktop, I now have a machine that I can’t hear over background noise (the nearby highway, birds outside, etc) during the day. I can hear a slight hum during the night, but I usually turn the machine off while I sleep, so it’s not a problem. Overall, I’m very happy! I’ll never again buy cheap computer components… it’s very expensive.

Peanut Butter & Choc-Chip Biscuits

Peanut Butter biscuits on a cooling tray.
Peanut Butter & Choc-chip Biscuits

In my mind, there is very little doubt that cooking is both one of life’s greatest pleasures and one of life’s greatest skills. Far too many people still cannot cook well enough. Jamie Oliver seems to agree with me.

Luckily for me, when I still only a small child my mum started teaching me how to cook. One of the first things I ever cooked by myself (of real recipes, not toast and the like) was these biscuits. They are extremely simple, and extremely tasty.

It’s quite possible to leave the chocolate chips out of this recipe altogether, in which case you’ll end up with peanut butter biscuits. You don’t need to make any other modifications to do this.

Ingredients

  • 100g of peanut butter (whether it is smooth or crunchy doesn’t matter, but I prefer crunchy)
  • 100g of butter or margarine
  • 175g of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150g of self-raising flour
  • 250g of chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius (320 degrees fahrenheit, 430 degrees kelvin).
  2. Put the peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. It’s easiest to put the mixing bowl on the scales, tare (zero) the scales, then add the ingredients by weight.
  3. Add the margarine and sugar to the bowl, and mix together.
  4. Add the egg, and mix together.
  5. Add the flour and the chocolate chips, and mix together.
  6. Grease some oven trays (I use three trays, your trayage may vary). I use a spray can of vegetable oil.
  7. Spoon the mixture (using a teaspoon) onto the trays. The size of the balls should be about 1″ across and 0.5″ high (roughly). Leave about 3-4″ between them.
  8. Put them in the oven. The hardest part of the whole recipe is figuring out when they’re done. About 12-16 minutes is usual. 12 minutes will get you softer biscuits, 16 minutes will get you harder biscuits.
  9. About 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, prise them off the trays and place them on a cooling rack. If you don’t have a cooling rack, put them back on the oven tray upside-down. The idea is to let the moisture out of the biscuits so they will be chewy and crunchy instead of soft and floppy.
  10. Enjoy!