Dealership Communication Tools

Building the right computer for your Internet Sales Manager

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I know this isn’t an area we typically think about, or talk about for that matter, but it is a very important piece in our arsenal.

Warning:  Some of this article (and any following comments) may get a bit on the technical side.

We talk about vendors, leads, CRM’s, site hosts, and all kinds of other automotive eCommerce tools but fail to ever bring up Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Adobe, Sony, etc.

Let’s talk about the thing that let’s us do our jobs:

The Computer

First off, you can get a lot more for your money if you build your own.  And you can get extremely specific with how your machine operates too!  I’ve been building PC’s since I got my first 386 machine, and there has never been more options for a PC builder than there are today – on top of that, it is waaaay easier than ever!  Yeah, you can buy a Dell or an Apple and piece-meal some small components, but you’re stuck with whomever those companies are partnering with for the most critical parts that month.  If you go Apple, you’re seriously limited (but their Operating System is impressive).

1.  What are you going to do with it? Build websites, create graphics, splice video, multi-task, monitor things, are you mobile….  how many programs will you be running at the same time?

2.  Processor: Single-core processors are dead.  Dual-core processors are almost dead.  Think Quad-core!  Yeah, that’s basically 4 processors in one!  Intel is currently dominating this area and prices aren’t that bad.  The new Q3000 just came out and it is less than $300.  More CPU cores allow for more applications to be handled faster at the same time.  Of course, there are a lot of other things about a PCU (FSB, clock speed, ability to overclock, etc), but for the average user those items aren’t super important – just buy a Quad core and the rest will fall in place.

3.  Motherboard: This is extremely important.  It needs to be able to handle the communication between all the different components of your computer.  When looking for a motherboard, first look at the Front Side Bus (FSB), which is a measure of the speed communication happens at across the components.  Then look at how well it can handle a RAID configuration or how many components if can handle (USB ports, Firewire ports, PCI slots, sound).  Motherboards can be somewhat tricky too because they come in different chipsets such as P35, X38, X48, 680 with SLi/CrossFire capabilities.  I don’t have the time to get into all the details here, but I will say the P35 chipset is probably the most stable one, and the one I recommend the most.

4.  RAM: this is also tricky because it completely dwells on your motherboard selection.  For the most stable system, check with the company who makes your motherboard and buy as much RAM as you can.  Windows XP & Vista (32 bit) only recognize up to 4GB of RAM, and can get funky based on how many RAM chips are filling the RAM slots.  I recommend buying 2 2GB sticks instead of 4 1GB sticks if you’re going for 4GB of RAM.  In XP & Vista 64 bit systems you can go up to 8GB currently (there is support for much more, but nothing you’ll do will ever take advantage of that).  I recommend staying away from the 64 bit systems right now, unless you really know what you’re doing.  DDR2 is the fastest and most affordable right now.  Take a look at the ones with a rating of DDR2 800 or DDR2 with a higher number – I would not go any slower here.

5.  Video Card: for people that don’t play with graphics or video games, this is usually an afterthought, but I’ve always figured you’re silly to pack the latest & greatest into a machine and then what you see on the monitor is slow.  The real question here is:  do you want to use multiple monitors and how many?  Workstation cards (NVidia Quadro series are my favorite) are built for multiple displays where as gaming cards (NVidia GeForce are my favorite) can do this pretty well too.  Spend at least $200 in this area and you’ll have a plenty fast card for automotive eCommerce.

6.  Hard drive:  you need space to store things on, and you need space for your software to cache to.  Storage is stupid cheap these days.  Super fast 500GB drives are less than $90 now – there really is no excuse in this area.  I like to go with 4+ hard drives in my desktop systems.  I run two drives in RAID 0 configuration for speed and storage, 1 10,000 RPM drive for graphics and video editing (a scratch disk), and an external backup drive, so I don’t lose my important stuff if something breaks.

7.  Power: this is another area people don’t pay attention to, but it is absolutely essential.  Clean power will make your components last longer and operate smoother.  If you ever get into overclocking, you’ll need to invest a lot of time in learning about voltage and the number of rails a PSU (Power Supply Unit) has.  If you’re going for a kick-ass automotive eCommerce system, you should invest in a 650W or higher PSU.  PC Power & Cooling probably makes the best PSU’s, but Thermaltake, Cooler Master, and Corsair make some excellent PSU’s too.

8.  Case & Cooling: Buy a big enough case to fit your components in.  The bigger the case, the more/better fans you should have for cooling (unless you’re water cooling) too.  Most cases in the $100 – $300 are adequate for cooling without needing more fans.  If you’re getting into overclocking, you should also look at upgrading your PCU fan.  The more expensive cases come with a decent Power Supply Unit (which addresses item #9).

9.  Monitor(s): I can’t stand working on a machine with only a single monitor.  I like at least 2.  If you’re developing video or graphics for the web, you should have one really good monitor and one of a lesser quality.  You need to see what your audience will see.  If you’ve been playing on a 17 to 19″ LCD monitor at a 1024×768 or 1280 x 1024 resolution, you’d absolutely love a 22″ or higher widescreen monitor at 1680×1050 or higher resolution.  Look for a monitor with the highest refresh rate:  60 Hertz is okay, but faster is even better.  Response rates are measured as 2ms, 5ms, 6ms, 8ms – the lower the better.  You should also pay attention to contrast ratios 500:1, 800:1, 1000:1 – the higher the better, but this isn’t as serious as it used to be.  Most of today’s monitors are pretty good here.  The contrast ratio is a measure of how well the monitor can display blacks (basically).  Monitor calibration is a good idea too, but that’ a whole ‘nother topic.

10. Going green/conserving energy: Major advances have been made in this area recently.  You can check specs on any component to see the kind of wattage it eats.  Obviously, the lower, the better.  In my house, I have 2 desktops and a laptop.  When I fire-up the 4 year old machine for a long period of time, I notice a difference on my power bill.  When I only use my newer stuff, my power bill is significantly less.  Over time, a newer system will pay for itself!  Microsoft’s Vista OS and Apples OSX are excellent at power saving if you leave your computer on all the time.  By the way, I don’t recommend leaving your computer on all the time.

11.  Laptop: the above components also apply to laptops, but you’re a bit more limited when you want to go mobile.  I don’t suggest building a laptop from scratch.  Buy a laptop that appeals to your mobility.  I use a medium-powerful Sony VAIO from 2005 that is small enough not to be a burden when I travel.  Laptops are mostly about your own needs and budget.  I love Apple laptops though – the new Air is awesome!  But if a laptop is going to be your only computer, the MacBook Pro is damn good for this – especially now that you can dual boot an Apple to handle Windows applications.

I am a heavy Photoshop user and store tons and tons of images for creating new promotions.  I also run about 8 different RAM-intensive applications at once.  I am probably on the extreme of what most of you would use a computer for, but here are some lists based on my needs that you can simply purchase and go to town with:

Build your own desktop for under $4,000 through NewEgg:  Click Here
Pick out a monster at Dell for under $8,000 (not nearly as good as building yourself):  Click Here
-Comparing my NewEgg build and Dell will show you how much money you can save doing it yourself.  It makes me wish I owned Dell – just profiting on people’s laziness!
Apple’s MacBook Air:   Click Here
Apple’s MacBook Pro:  Click Here

Next up:  selecting the right software and photography equipment.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexsnyder Surfing, Snowboarding, Photography, Cars, Technology.
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Alex nice article!
On the video card side you will also need to determine if you plan on using it for any media type applications such as "backing up" hd movies, if so you will want to check the specs on the graphics cards and make sure it can handle hd and other related tasks.
I am a benchmark addict and I found this link on benchmarks comparing built vs bought pc, thought it might be relevant.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1602185,00.asp


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Alex...

Awesome post. Take the time (& make the investment) to get the right equipment to improve your efficiency.

The only thing I would add...be sure to add a kick-ass chair. Once you get all those goodies, you won't want to get up from your desk.

Eric
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Thanks Brian, and thanks for pointing out that I forgot to say something about HD video.....my bad!

Definitely keep an eye on whether or not a video card can handle HD video if you plan to watch or record HD video on your computer. NVidia just launched their 9000 Series cards and they're excellent all around (including HD encoding). I just picked up an eVGA 9600GT for under $200 that does it all. Also, something of mention with eVGA, they have a trade-in policy. Within 90-days of purchasing an eVGA card, you can trade up for a higher model - very cool! They also don't void your warranty for overclocking, and that is the main reason I only buy eVGA graphics cards.
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I would also suggest buying O.E.M. if you plan on purchasing a budget P.C. It is hard to compete with Dell's purchasing power when it comes to budget P.C. parts. If you plan on building a bleeding edge system with all the latest and greatest you will come out ahead building it yourself because the O.E.M.'s don't buy huge amounts of new tech because it is like used cars that melt away in value.
My name is Brian and I am addicted to bleeding edge graphics cards.....expensive habit my friends.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • May 17, 2008
Ahh...memory's of building my own computers. I logged into my Newegg account and grabbed the order/invoice on the last computer I built for myself several years ago. This was a BEAST and still is (sorta).

1 x AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton 1.833GHz Socket A Processor Model AXDA2500DKV4D - OEM
1 x SOUND BLASTER|AUDIGY 2 PLATINUM RTL - Retail
1 x ATI A-I-W RADEON 9700PRO Radeon 9700PRO 128MB 256-bit DDR AGP 4X/8X Video Card - Retail
1 x MITSUMI Beige 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM
1 x Antec LED80XFAN 80mm Blue LED Case Fan - Retail
1 x VANTEC VA4-C7040 74mm TMD (Tip-Magnetic Driving) CPU Cooler - Retail
1 x CASE CHEF|AX-01SLD SPX2 U2F SL 450W - Retail
1 x CASE MOD|COLDCATHODE BLUE 12 IN-OEM - Retail1 x COOLMAX 12" Floppy Driver Transparent Blue Round Cable Model CM-FD BLUE 12" - Retail
1 x Case Sticker, "AMD 7 1/2 silver etched" Adhestive Appliqués - OEM
2 x CABLE RD| 24" IDE ATA133 BLUE - Retail


The motherboard was the top of the line ASUS nForce Deluxe with 2G of Kingston Hyper DDR memory and I had one of the first DVD burners from Sony in the mix. It was an intense self built computer. I still have this baby and she clocks along without a hiccup!!

My current workhorse is a LOADED DELL XPS. I got it for some crazy deal that was mentioned on Slickdeals.net. It retailed for over 4G and I got it for $2,200 WITH the Dell 24" Wide LCD monitor. It was too good of a deal to not jump on.

As for laptops, what im currently typing this out on is my trusty little Dell 700M. 10" screen and very compact. Nothing special about it, but I love ultra mobile laptops. I've been toying around with getting one of those Asus Eee PC. http://eeepc.asus.com/global/news04152008.htm

I also have thought about getting an Apple Mini Mac for the Plasma TV in the family room. I have a hard time bitting the bullet with Apple though. Nothing really against Apple other then the fact that they keep everything so proprietary. I love my iPod but HATE the fact that I have to use iTunes to get music on it and every time I open my iTunes, Apple wants me to load the latest version while secretly slapping unwanted software on my computer.

Cool post Alex. Your right, we are always talking about all the programs we use on a daily basis at the dealer but forget about the hardware we have to perform our tasks on. Nothing worse then using an outdated slow ass computer to log a customer in your CRM or upload photos to your inventory.
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I really like Dell monitor's too. Out of the box I've found them to have a pretty good color balance to them. And multiple monitors is key for efficiency, especially if you're doing any sort of dev, photo or video work.

If you're getting into video encoding/production, buy as many cores as you can afford! Adobe Premiere encodes blazingly fast with 8 cores, and when you're dealing with raw HD video, you want it to be fast. Especially when you've just finished a round of encoding and you realize you forgot to put the intro in and have to do the encoding all over again...not that we've ever forgotten too do that....

If you're running multi monitors, or any sort of digital monitor(LCD), use the DVI connection and not the VGA. You'll get much better colors and a much sharper image. For multi monitors, you'll end up paying more for a dual-DVI graphics card, but it's worth every penny.

I tend to do all my work with local files, but they are synced up to our server - definitely invest in some sort of back-up solution too. SyncBackSE is a great free program to use.

We just built a computer for our video editor, dual quad core intels, 8GB of ram, 3 raptor 150s, 4x500GB WDs, Lian Li case, supermicro mobo, nvidia 8800GT and an X-Fi card - grand total, $3200 shipped from newegg. My computer in college was $2800 and it was a P90 with 64MBs of ram and a 1.2GB hard drive =/.

Chip-
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    Chris K
  • May 17, 2008
MOST computers in the $1000 range nowadays have the essential stuff 98% of ISM's would ever need. The most important aspect in my opinion is to have at least 3 MEG of ram so you can actually run several programs at once. If you are a developer of Games for EA you might need a computer in the $3000- $8000 + range, but even with all this technology, you will only sell cars with continuous phone and email follow up.

Most Important Tools for ISM's:

Your Personality
Your Telephone
Good Grammar and typing skills
Good Follow up
Access to Email

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oh and one more thing.....I think DGI is only measurable on dual core systems....but I could be wrong
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I agree Chris, but it sounds like we're all a bunch of geeks at heart :)
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    Chris K.
  • May 17, 2008
I'm geeky too... just try not to get too consumed by it because the fundamentals is what is and will always work for me at least - follow up! But I myself have found a few killer deals on some Dual Xenon PC's with Mega RAM.. for like $1,250... and might get one for my home, but since much of my Tech Tools are Web-Based, a super fast connection to the WWW is more important to me.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • May 17, 2008
Brian, thanks for pointing that out. You never want to overlook a measurable DGI.
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    Lau Shi
  • May 17, 2008

Here are a few thoughts on solutions.

This is a Content Management System (CMS) that will help build great websites and robust online applications.
http://www.joomla.org/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/
This is also an open source solution that is free, and is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the planet. It is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications. Joomla! is easy to install, simple to manage, and reliable.

Joomla is very powerful, and is a little more difficult to get to grips with if you're a novice than some others you might have in your control panel. Certainly, for ease of use and a less steep learning curve, Wordpress is a good option too, and is a lot easier to customize visually as well (not to mention a wealth of plug-ins that will make it do almost anything you want it too, including galleries and forums that you can build into Wordpress).

One can use Wordpress as the basis of quite large and complicated sites, especially when I know the client wants to update their site themselves and has limited coding knowledge. This is a great tool for use in the smaller business model.
There are a number of inventory solutions that are available at an affordable price. I happened to like IOL as they are professional, priced right, month to month and passionate about what they do.

Knowing what you want to build is always a good first step.
Wrong or mismatched interfaces: a PCI-e video card will not work in an AGP slot and vice-versa. Similarly, a 939-pin motherboard (Athlon) can’t be expected to accommodate a Pentium IV processor (427 pins).

One component too fast or slow: why buy a memory designed for a 400MHz front- side bus if your motherboard can only go up to 333MHz?

Write down all the known requirements for the build, filling in as many details as possible. Then look for parts that will meet those requirements. Make sure that all the components will work with each other before making any purchases.

Now is a good time to learn more about computers in general and the new build specifically even if someone else is building it for you.

Additionally, knowing what is needed will help preclude the inevitable last-minute addition. Finding out that you need a more robust or different style of heat sink for the processor as you are trying to assemble not only delays the build, it can also break the budget.

Knowing the limit on spending for the system is smart look for the best deals, make realistic decisions on which components to buy and use, and knowing how much the custom build will be allows you to see if there’s a pre-built that meets your specifications that would be cheaper (yes, that does happen, occasionally, especially if you are buying software, too).

Keep the receipts everyone knows that you always get good parts from the dealer, especially online dealers, right? Hold on to the packaging and especially the receipts until you know all of the components are working properly. .

Think about protecting your computer. Do you have an adequate surge protector? Have you considered getting an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)? If your area is prone to brownouts, then a UPS is the way to go. Use a UPS that powers the computer from the batteries all the time and recharges them while power is on. If you do go with a UPS, be sure it isn’t underpowered, providing enough current to save your work and properly shut the computer down.

ESD be sure to use all reasonable Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) precautions when assembling your system. While today's electronics are better-armed against the ravages of ESD than their earlier counterparts, why take chances? Keep in mind that it is your money going into the system. Do you really want to risk damage and delays (awaiting replacement parts) by not using a cheap wrist strap?

Documentation do you know exactly what is in your computer right now? Do you know the model number and firmware revision of your sound card? Do you know where the driver discs and manuals for all the components are?
Recording all the details of the system as you build it up, as well as placing all the documentation and software discs in a common binder will save you time and effort in the long run. Want to check for the latest drivers? Grab the binder and look up the part number. That beats having to crack the case open and pull the card, which may or may not have the part number openly stamped on it. Want to put Linux on the computer? You have the part numbers handy so you can determine if and how the components will work with the OS.

This goes for that software you have loaded, as well. You might need to put all those CDs into a case, but where are the registration keys and serial numbers? What are the settings you spent so much time perfecting?

Likewise any passwords you may have. If you are like me, you have A lot of passwords for stuff that I tend to forget, particularly if I don’t use them on a regular basis. So I’ve compromised and placed all my passwords into a secure PDA file. With one master password, I can access the whole lot of them.

Do you have the most up-to-date drivers and firmware? Back-ups? You'll need them, so be ready beforehand? Have you slipstreamed your Win XP with the latest Service Pack and hot fixes?
Plan the install

What OS are you going to use? Are you planning on installing another at some time in the future? What are you going to use the machine for? How many partitions will you need and in what sizes? How should the partitions be ordered? Have you planned a backup scheme and how can you simplify that process from the beginning?

Write down what software you need to install and at what point you need to install it. You can use that list to build an unattended installation disc.

Backups you need to think about archiving data when you began ordering all the components. If you have a backup plan set up ahead of time, then you are likely going to use it, and it won't hurt quite as badly when that unexpected crash comes.

RTFM
Read the manual beforehand so you know what particular board requires RAM in both slots 1 and 2, not 1 and 3 as is standard on many other boards. If you have all your documentation in one place, you will know where that manual is.

The software might sometimes show both the minimum and recommended system requirements. Best you use the recommended + requirements as your guide.
Get a fast enough processor (preferably Quad Core - Intel being best choice for the future upgrading of your system.
Get as much memory as you possibly can afford to enhance your computer's performance.

If you are purchasing a computer system or building your own, get more hard disk space than you have determined that you will need now. Buy as large a hard drive as you can possibly afford. This is to allow for future expansion.

Taking the time to evaluate your needs before making your final selection will save you both money and regrets in the long run.
Before buying, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with some basic knowledge of what a computer consists of and the function of each of the components.

You should try to buy as much as you can possibly afford.
Do not 'cut corners' on your main system unit such as your processor, memory and hard drive.
You would not want to be running out of memory or disk space shortly after purchasing a complete computer system or building your own!

Delay the buying of some of the software applications that are not critical for you to get now until at a later date. You might want to be using this computer for a few years; therefore, you should ensure that you now have enough memory, CPU, hard drive, etc.
Categories of Computers

Basic:
This computer would be used by someone who sends and receives email, surfs the Internet, uses word processing, prepares spreadsheets and plays simple games.
Minimum Requirements: 1.0+GHz AMD or Intel processor, 512MB DDR RAM (Memory), 120GB, 7200 RPM, 8MB cache hard drive, on-board video, audio and LAN, DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive.

Mid Range:
In addition to the basic needs, this range is suitable for someone who is involved in medium graphics, some video editing, downloading music and video and playing games, etc.
Minimum Requirements: 1.8+GHz AMD or Intel Pentium 4 Processor, 1GB DDR Memory, 250GB SATA 7200 RPM 8MB Cache Hard Drive, mid-range Video and Sound (Graphics) Card, 10/100 LAN, DVD Writer and a 21" Monitor.

High Range:
This computer is suitable for intensive graphics, video editing, game playing and other memory and CPU intensive programs.
Minimum Requirements: AMD Athlon 64 FX62 or Intel Pentium (best bet) Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR Dual Channel Memory, 400GB SATA hard drive, RAID (0,1), High-End Video (nVidia GeForce 7950 GX2 Graphics Adapter) and Sound Card (Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic), Gigabit 10/100/1000 LAN, DVD ROM Drive and a Dual format, Dual Layer DVD Writer and a 24" Monitor.

Choosing Online Vendors to purchase your Best Cheap Computer System. Buying your computer system and parts online is recommended since this is where you will get excellent quality systems and computer parts at the best available prices. Here are some online vendors who are known to be reputable, have great deals, operate secure Web sites and will deliver a quality computer to your door. You can visit these Vendors' Web sites by clicking here.


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    Gerald
  • May 17, 2008
Interesting post, and I have been a long time afficianado of building a P.C., but I must say, for the average customer to be able to build a computer that will suffice for our needs as ISMs, I don't think we can compete with Dell, Gateway, etc. Getting a fundamental system with an OS, HD, OD, 1/2 to 1 GB RAM for under $500.

You might very well build a gaming system for less than a hard-loaded manufactured piece, but for me, the solace in knowing I CAN upgrade it (manufactured ones often are not upgradeable) is worth any additional cost.

Anyone have a good website for purchasing? I use pricewatch.com to identify the parts and vendors. Anyone else?
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Funy you bring this up. I just got all new parts to build a new office computer at the agency.

I got (2) 22" LCD's - gonna be pretty sick. Building it on Monday.
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    Andrew Wright
  • May 18, 2008
Great discussion fellas. I owned a MAC a few years ago but found it difficult to access some websites with Safari and I have the same problem with Firefox. So I sold the MAC and bought a HP laptop. For example, Reynolds Contact Managment is inaccessible in an efficient fashion with anything other than Internet Explorer. Honda' Interactive Network and Hyundai's dealer portal are totally inaccessible with anything other than IE and its my understanding that you can't run Reynolds ERA on a MAC.

Computer's are definitely becoming necessary in virtually every department in the dealership. Buying the right systems and then putting together a plan to maintain them is critical. We began controlling access to certains sites on the net and that has contributed to healthier computer hardware (now that there isn't a big a exposure risk to viruses and malware on the net). We also don't allow outside computers on our primary business network which cuts down on the introduction of viruses to our system.

Stores without comprehensive technology procurement, management and maintenance plans will end up spending more on technology because their exposure to problems will be greater.
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B-Man: The dual 22" is very nice. I have it at both home and work and won't be going back to one ever. From a productivity perspective, I think the screen real estate can give an ISM the best benefit. I usually have 20+ programs open at once and spead out across the screens. I can track, analyze, create so much more at a faster rate. Of course, you'll need the video card to support it, and then a cpu, memory, power and motherboard to support all that. So, basically, a complete system upgrade is in order.

I'm a total geek, and now can proudly admit it. (I always say to myself, "Bill gates is a geek") I used to suppress it, but this tech sh#t just keeps getting better and better. It'll only become more pervasive, and at a faster rate. Its nearly impossible to not be engaged with it all.

So where are the Amazon links to all these computer parts Jeff? :)
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Lau's links didn't come over, so here they are:

http://www.joomla.org/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

http://www.build-your-own-cheap-computer.com/computer-retailers.html

http://wordpress.org/about/

Everything you see here, from the documentation to the
code itself, was created by and for the community.
WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there
are hundreds of people all over the world working on
it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also
means you are free to use it for anything from your
cat’s home page to a Fortune 5 web
(http://autoshows.ford.com/ site without paying anyone
a license fee.

You can see what is possible with this link:

http://autoshows.ford.com/
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Alex nice write up...

On the memory... XP will use Max 3GB... and your Motherboard chipset needs to support PAE for you to go even above 2GB.

For storage f you can afford it go for RAID5 and with external controller... don't be cheap and do Software RAID... 3Ware or Areca makes some nice controllers.

If anyone is interested I have a nice hot swappable 12 bay external NORCO DS-1220 USB storage array for sale... NO HDs.
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  • J
  • May 18, 2008
Looks like Chris K beat me to the punch, but my thoughts on this matter are that he's correct...the average ISM will be fine with an off-the-shelf $1000 machine. The people who KNOW they need all the bells and whistles probably need them. The people who may be reading this post, wondering what all this tech talk means, and wondering if they need a higher end machine probably don't need it, and that would be about 98% of the industry. Well, DR readers are a little different than the rest, so probably half of the DR readers.
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CASH = FPS and bragging rights
Why do we need a machine that can play Call of Duty 4 at 222 fps?
Just cause!
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Building your own computer is great until something breaks and you are working a car deal(s) then have no time to fix it. I'd rather call Dell with my 4 hour hardware replacement warranty than be down for days whether on a home or work machine.
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Wow! Most of this post was completely over my head, but I do know one thing Alex.. As internet managers our computers are the life of our operation, and if they don't work neither do we. The server was down at my dealership for a few hours one day and I felt helpless.. I thought, I just call a few people, oh wait can't do that all of the leads are on a web based lead management system and I cant get to the numbers .By the way I thought I did good when they bought me an extra monitor...
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    Corran
  • May 20, 2008
Wow! I am surprised at the lack of MAC lovers in the comments. In my past lives, I built, re-engineered, and managed support centers focused on PC and Microsoft products because that is what Corporate America focused on. During those years, we worked with Dell, HP, Acer, Compaq and Toshiba. Dell was the best deal, but HP and Toshiba had their niche. Dell had a great business model and whenever a friend would ask, “What kind of PC should I buy?”, I would immediately say, DELL. However, times have changed. In the past year, I have come completely over to the dark side to become an Apple follower and a Steve Job's disciple. Not because I think that the PC is a piece of junk, no far from it; and not because Apple is the best either. But because I got extremely tired of the overhead with Windows and other MS products and the hoops you have to go through to get it to Really Work.
In truth, Apple found a way to give me just what I wanted: to WIN at what I am doing. I define Winning as the fast and efficient path to producing the output I desire. In other words I want an efficient tool. I don’t want to have to learn the tool, but want the tool to perform for me intuitively. Another way to say it is: If my job is to win the race, I am not focused on the Craftman tools, just winning the race.
Well Apple gives that to me.
Alex, you mentioned you are a heavy Photoshop user, but all my friends who are professional photographers and graphic artist (and I have a few) use Macs. And you don’t have to have the big box mac to get the job done. Hey, I am not saying you cannot run Photoshop on a PC, I am just saying it was designed for the Mac and the graphics folks are all in the Mac camp.
When it comes to building PCs, I have to ask the question… WHY? In the days of the 8088 (yes I was there when the first pc came out) you had to know how to fix them, build them, and to make them more robust. As the processors changed and the video changed, you best know how to upgrade or replace them. I went to the shows at the Hampton Coliseum and bought the parts to make PCs. But that is because I had fun doing it.
But when it comes to my job, that is not my job, to build PCs. I would even argue that it is a waste of time, valuable time to be building these machines even for a dealership who can lease them and then refresh them on a regular basis (but that is a different discussion).
So I appreciate your comments on PC building, but I wonder why a guy in the automotive business is not utilizing the tools available today to seamlessly move data and information to our finger tips (iPhone type stuff) but would prefer to discuss building PCs.

L
Great posting Alex.

iPhone rocks!! It changed my life and I cannot imagine existing without it. I recommend it to all ISMs out there.

Since I love the iPhone, I decided to convert to the "other side" and
I just bought a Mac Book Pro laptop. My priority was to be 100% mobile.

The adjustment to Mac is interesting....there's no right click!!!...but it's easy to use and lightening fast.

I'm also the dealer group's I.T. manager, so I took my old PC and turned it into a server for storing website graphics, HomeNet IOL for data and inventory management, and virus protection. That frees up my laptop for everything else.

For car guys and gals like me that don't have an I.T. background, Mac is really easy to use...blogging, editing videos and audio files, podcasting, etc. There's a template for everything! Just drag and drop.

One negative - all of my emails from the past two years in Outlook have to be sacrificed because the Mac cannot read .pst files. Also, there are two programs that I need that require Java or IE. But I can access these with Boot Camp. A little bit of a pain, but benefits of MacBookPro far outweigh the cons.

L