First off, obviously some changes to the site’s look. Big changes, for now. I know it’s a little jarring and I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it, but as I was doing some other administrative work, I figured why not throw up a theme that looks like nothing else I’ve used in my 17-year blogging career? I’m happy to read feedback, good or bad, if you want to share in the comments.

I won’t waste your time with too many details but I changed hosts for the second time in a year. I moved last year to get around some security issues my previous host could not manage. When I made the move, I screwed a few things up royally with the new host and while I was able to fix most of them, a few things I never got right. With the contract coming up, I figured it was easier to make another fresh start than try to deal with tech support.

So onto my third host in about a year. The transition seems to have gone smoothly, so far. The security features I wanted to add a year ago are now in place. I have access to everything I need to have access to. Hopefully there’s not something I messed up Sunday that will show up in a month or two and make this a hassle again.

Onto the weekend, which was all about me.

Saturday was my birthday, Sunday was Father’s Day. Obviously I tore it up.

Saturday morning L took me to over to the pitch and putt course. Well, I drove and paid but it was her idea.

She tried to play with me but got frustrated and gave up after the front nine and just putted on the back nine. It didn’t help that even at 8:00 AM it was already very warm and muggy. She was more interested in running through the sprinklers that were on near a couple holes than actually working on her swing. As always there was one bad hole on each nine that kept me from challenging my lowest ever score. I shot a 67, well off my best of 63. Just couldn’t buy a putt over three feet.
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After cooling down and eating lunch, L and I got into our big project for the weekend. A couple months back she started asking for a gaming PC. She’s really into Fortnite and has a YouTube channel with one of her buddies where they post videos of their games. She also streams their games. They’re up to 30-ish subscribers, which I think is pretty impressive for a couple of 11-year-olds. She’s learned how to edit video, add graphics, do voice-overs, etc. She’s gained some skills. Plus she’s good at killing virtual people, which is a little concerning.

I thought that she was fine sticking to the Xbox but she made a very persuasive PowerPoint presentation arguing her cause and a month ago we agreed that she could go forward with the PC. She’s taken on a bunch of chores around the house and agreed that when her birthday rolls around and she is eligible for a phone, she will get a cheaper one that her sisters have.

I did some research, found a recommended build list, and have been ordering parts for about three weeks. The final one arrived Saturday morning so we were off to the basement to start assembly. I had a bunch of YouTube videos queued up to guide us and had a general idea of what I was doing. But it is still pretty harrowing knowing that if I screw it up, I’ll have several hundred dollars of useless electronic gear staring back at me.

We hit a couple snags along the way that cost us about an hour. There are two cables that we never figured out how or where to connect. I spent a good 30–40 minutes trying to figure them out and eventually gave up. Turns out they aren’t needed because eventually everything worked fine.

The first time we flipped the power switch nothing happened, which next to sparks and an electrical fire is about the worst outcome. Fortunately after a quick review of some wiring, I realized I had connected the main power switch to the wrong pins on the motherboard. I clipped them to the right spot, flipped the switch, and the fans kicked on and the RGB lights lit up. But we had no video, our monitor a black rectangle.

I troubleshot on Google. I checked connections. I was getting seriously concerned that the most expensive piece of hardware in the case, the graphics card, was defective. But it was L who realized that I had connected the monitor to the main I/O HDMI port rather than to the HDMI port on the graphics card. I swapped them and – voila! – we had video.

It took another hour or so to download new drivers, make a Windows installation disk, and get the operating system installed. But before dinner L was downloading all the software she needs for her gaming. Between dinner and my annual birthday cheesecake, she was playing Fortnite on her new rig.

I’m pretty pleased that we pulled it off. It’s not super difficult, but as my issues with the power switch showed, simply putting the wrong cable in the wrong spot can throw the whole build off.

Not sure if there are any gamers out there, but her rig contains the following components:
MSI B450 Gaming Plus Max AM4 motherboard
16 GB of RAM
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU
Deepcool GAMMAXX 400-CPU Cooler
Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT Graphics Card
All in a Phanteks Eclipse P360X case

She also cashed out some money and bought a fancy gaming keyboard and mouse.

She seems pretty happy. Now we just need her to start collecting some of that sweet YouTube ad revenue to make this worth it!

Why build vs buy, you may ask? Well, when it comes to gaming computers, who can be a lot more cost effective if you pick and choose components and put it together yourself. This was probably 60–70% the cost of an equivalent assembled gaming rig, and comes without any bloatware to slow it down. The big downside is there’s no warranty on the final, assembled product and any errors in construction are all on you.

Oh, and the girls enjoyed asking me, “Sooooo, how does it feel to be in the last year of your 40s?” over and over while giggling. Did not love that part of the weekend.

Sunday was pretty chill. It was rainy here so we didn’t ever open the pool. We needed the rain so that was fine. I read some. Worked on updating the site. Took the cardboard we’ve accumulated over the past three months to the recycling. After dinner – grilled steak and chicken, although sadly on the gas grill rather than charcoal because of the rain – the girls took me out for ice cream. It was a big moment: the first time M drove the entire family somewhere. C and L tried very hard to remain quiet but about two blocks from home they got the giggles and couldn’t stop. M did just fine. Then S and I watched “Knives Out” and enjoyed it.

Pretty, prettyyyy, prettyyyyyyy solid weekend. Hope the other fathers out there had good weekends, too.