Computer Project Time

One of my New Years Resolutions should be to blog more. That’s not going to happen. Sorry. There is a distinct possibility this will be the last blog post of the year.


I purchased a 960 GB solid state drive (SSD) for my gaming computer. The goal was to load up Windows 7 on this thing, transfer the games over from the old SSD, then convert it to a “Steam Box”.

The SSD arrived about 10 days ago. I attempted to install Windows onto this drive. After 9 hours of churning away, I declared the SSD defective, and went through the return process with Amazon.

The 2nd SSD arrived 3 days ago. This time the install of Windows 7 took less than 30 minutes. Yay! A working drive. While installing the extra drivers and patches, I started to dink around with the old SSD. It started to act flaky, then finally quit all together. So I had to transfer my games from my laptop via my LAN network… a much slower process.

Next day after the transfer, I attempted to fix one of the fans. A couple of wires came loose and I soldered them back on. Unfortunately, I did it wrong. When I turned on the computer with the fan connected, smoke poured out. Fortunately only the case fan controller got fried, the rest of the computer was fine.

After the fan mishap, it was on to configuring this computer so it was Steam Box. Here are the steps that I took (using this guide).

1) Configure Windows to boot-up without a Windows log in. No windows username/password needed.
2) Set up Steam (Valves Game/Application distribution software) in “Big Picture” mode.
3) Change the default shell from “explorer.exe” to “steam.exe”. What this means is the computer will not boot to the Windows desktop, but will go directly to Steam.
4) Changed the logon screen so it doesn’t look like Windows. I chose a black screen that looks like it has the portal eye looking at you. Also got rid of the “easy access” and “shutdown” buttons from this screen.
5) Changed the initial Windows boot screen to the Steam piston logo.

This took a little bit over an hour to do. Now this lovely gaming PC boots directly to Steam, with all its treasures of time wasters. Steam also lets you link to games that aren’t in the Steam catalog. World of Tanks is one of these, the game I am playing most right now.

One more project is to install an alternate dock that will let you call up other applications, like a web browser or a music player. RocketDock looks like a really good fit for this kind of set up.

I am going to do more tweaking, then perhaps make a video of the final product. I am sure you are all anxious to see that.

Additional Notes:

1) That broken SSD is two  years old, and is still covered by a 3 year warranty. So it looks good that I’ll get a replacement. Which is good… this old one is a half terabyte and not cheap to replace. You would think that with the lack of moving parts, SSDs would be more reliable. Not really the case.
2 ) I will get a new case fan. I could just de-solder and swap the wires then solder them back on, but my trust of this fan is very low.
3) I didn’t go linux or SteamOS because I have an AMD graphics card (7850 HD), and there isn’t good support for those cards yet. Also most of the games I play aren’t supported in Linux. Hopefully soon.

Annual Weigh-in.


2009:  201.5 lbs
2010:  192.5
2011:   185.6
2012:  183.2
2013:  203.5
2014:  207.9

No, this is not a good trend. The goal for this year is to be down to that 2010 weight. I would really like to be BMI 25 (184 lbs), but that seems to be too hard for me to maintain.