In early 2021, I managed to quit “online shopping” almost cold Turkey. From over 8 grand I spent in 2020 to only 40 dollars throughout all of 2022. However I still had a hankering for “random crap”; stuff to screw around with basically. I found an affordable option for that was, of all places, a nearby Value Village.
I had always rather considered them a used clothing store, but the one near me does have electronics and other such odds and ends. I started visiting there and was surprised at the kind of stuff I found. It was convenient as well, as it was a nearby plaza with a grocery store; so if I had to go buy something from the grocery store I’d pop in and see if there was anything fun.
Over time I have now accumulated a collection of keyboards, mice, computers, and laptops, due to finding them there; I’ve got several Razer BlackWidow Ultimate’s; 2013, 2013, 2016, and two RGB models; a Corsair K70, a Corsair Strafe, Logitech K840 and two G810, and a smattering of others from vendors like “Havit”; Razer DeathAdder and Mamba mice; A few Logitech Mice, including a G502 HERO, Kingston HyperX Headset, complete in box; I could go on. Best find was a 7 dollar Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop; though with the caveat that it doesn’t power on. I’ve been trying to sort that out for a while by poking around with a multimeter, but it’s slow going. That was worth it for the 512GB NVMe SSD and 8GB RAM stick though. I thought as a form of content I could start documenting my finds here, since I’m not writing as much as I’d like.
Steelseries Apex 5
I found this in a box for a Razer Pro Type Ultra, along with the magnetic Wristwrest which was still in it’s protective bag thing. Not sure why it was in there. For 19.99 I figured it was a good buy though, so picked it up. I also didn’t have any Steelseries stuff, as far as I know. The LCD Screen is a bit strange IMO; however i could see it having it’s uses. Though mine just shows a “Steelseries” logo; I’d expect default behaviour to reflect the cap/num/scroll lock state. I didn’t dig too far into this one in terms of what sort of customizations are possible. One thing I did notice is that it appears to have ‘interactivity’ without the use of added software, which is actually something I’d have liked for my current K70 RGB. The iCUE software is a hog so I usually don’t run it; the keyboard on it’s own can save lighting settings, but it won’t have any of the effects, which are actually done through software. the Steelseries seems to at least be able to have it such that pressing a key changes the colour and then it fades back to the original color, as that is what it was set up with when I tested it.
Creative Zen Style
This is a neat little MP3 Player. I still use both my Sony Walkman MP3 as well as a iPod G5 I’d picked up previously. The Zen Style has 8GB of built in memory and can also take an SD Card which is an interesting perk. The left arrow key either doesn’t work or doesn’t do anything- I can’t actually tell. The lens/faceplate has a lot of scratches unfortunately but it is for playing music so can’t imagine that’s that big of a deal.
Interestingly, this “inspired” me to finally fix “Recoder” Here on github. I eventually discovered that there were no tags on some of my MP3 files, and finally figured out that it was the files I had transcoded using my tool. It transcodes successfully- but it doesn’t copy the tags over. I kinda shelved it because I wasn’t in a good state of mind at the time to try to figure out how to read and write tag formats I wasn’t familiar with in a hurry. I revisited it and disappointed myself by not actually learning about the tag formats and just slapping a nuget package in and using it like a glue programmer from the 90’s using VBX controls and pretending they can program. I basically made it copy the tags over after conversion from the source file to the destination file. Then I let my tool run for a few hours transcoding my entire music library to a fully 320kbps MP3 copy of that folder. I copied some of that over to the Zen; though I opted not to utilize the SD Card slot, and just put a selection on it’s 8GB internal storage.
HP Elite 8200 SFF
This is the fourth of these slim PCs that I now have. I have another 8200, a 8300, and 6200 already. The 8200 is a Generation 2 Core series system. The one I already have is running Windows 11, and it runs it just fine. This one only had 4GB of RAM and an HDD (the 8200 and 8300 I got before actually already had SSDs and 8GB of Memory installed, so were quite well kitted for around 10 bucks).
Today, I got two Motherboards. One motherboard had 4 2GB DDR2 sticks, the other had two 4GB DDR3 Sticks. They were 19.99 which is about what that sort of memory would cost. One is an Intel system, with the DDR2, and the other is AMD.
The Intel board tried to be a mystery, as the BIOS merely noted the CPU was an “EM64T” processor. Which is like- all Intel processors supporting 64-bit, I think. When I plugged in my Ventoy USB to boot from, however, the port was burning hot. “Yep, this has to be a Pentium D”. It was. For those Unaware, the Pentium D is basically a dual-corified Pentium 4, and uses the same somewhat problematic Netburst architecture. The Pentium 4 was already a very hot chip, turns out sticking two Pentium 4 cores close to each other in a single die didn’t help, so they are notorious for running at high temperatures. The 8GB seemed high for a Pentium D machine, then I noticed it was ECC and the motherboard had PCI-X slots. I believe it might be a server board, which is interesting. Not something I think is directly useful of course, but interesting.
The AMD board was smaller. It is an FM1 socket; Honestly, I don’t think I’d heard of that, so I was hoping it was maybe some weird way of saying AM3+, with the F standing for “FX” or something. That would give me a reason to open the still-sealed FX 8320 Black Edition CPU I got about a year ago. No such luck- it was the socket used for AMD APUs after AM1 (I gather). This one had an AMD A4 3400. It would make a good ‘electron sipper’ system, but I’ve already got an Athlon 5320 build for that purpose.
The RAM of those two systems was the real value there. Aside from the DDR3 being something I could slap right into the recent 8200 SFF system to bring it up to 12GB, And it’s always nice to have old RAM sticks around- and I didn’t have any ECC DDR2 so that’s a bonus.