Meet the Machines

Why it be useful to know about the computers used?

There are a lot of places out there that review games, but one thing I've noticed is that very few of them discuss what sort of computer they are using to play the games they review. This is actually fairly important, as how software behaves is largely dependent on what resources are available. Most children will be using hand-me-down systems with outdated specs, so using a powerful machine to review a game isn't very fair to the audience.

Think about it this way: compare the attitude a millionaire and a collage student would have towards spending money. Most likely, the collage student wouldn't be able to afford anything that the millionaire calls "cheap".

By listing the machines used and their specs, anyone can see what works and what didn't. This makes it easier to gauge if their own computers are strong enough to run the software.

Why are computers given names?

It's actually a common practice to give a nickname to a computer. Households with only one or two computers can usually use phrases like "the laptop" or "John's computer" to identify their machines, and that's fine. However, sometimes you need to use something more direct to identify which system you're talking about. For example, I have two computers that I use to review games. If I was to say I used "the desktop computer", would you know which machine I used? Most likely not, since both of my computers are desktop machines.

People often have some fun with naming their systems. Businesses with scores of machines usually use a naming convention of some sort: common examples include characters from a specific TV show, popular foods or drinks, famous actors, and planets.

After some debate, I ended up deciding to name my computers after Catholic saints. One reason for this is that it more or less fit the theme of my website, and let me include a little whimsy, as you can see below.

Meet the system: Martha

Model:Toshiba DX730 series All-in-One
RAM:4 GB
Graphics Card:Generic, integrated
Operating System:Windows 7 Home Premium
First came online:2011
Special features:Also used as a monitor
Namesake:St. Martha, patron saint of domestic workers
Martha was purchased in something of a hurry. The previous computer had suddenly suffered a hard drive crash, and I was in the middle of things (including an event in an online game), so we hurried to the store and purchased Martha that very evening. Martha is in many ways superior to the machine it replaced, but it was still slightly outdated when we bought it.

Despite its age and limited resources, this system is still suitable for most games out there. The main drawback has been the integrated graphics card, which can't handle games that require more power. That said, Martha is still the primary computer for everyday use.

This computer was named after St. Martha, who is the patron saint of domestic workers. Like your typical office machine, this system isn't a gaming computer; its primary focus is getting work done. It's also not as capable as the computers available in stores today, so it works as an example of the sort of computer a child would be given.

Meet the system: Thaddeus

Model:Custom built
RAM:8 GB (can be upgraded further)
Graphics Card:Sapphire Radeon R9 280
Operating System:Windows 10 Pro
First came online:2015
Special features:Powerful cooling system with a huge heat sink and five internal fans
Namesake:St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of lost causes
Thaddeus was my first attempt at building a computer on my own. The parts where selected from an online guide, which likely made the entire endeavor much easier than it could have been. Once they had all arrived in the mail, I was able to assemble most of the unit over the course of a single evening. However, I did end up running into problems I couldn't solve on my own, and so I swallowed my pride and took the unit to a local computer repair store. It turned out to be a simple mistake on my part, and Thaddeus was ready to come home within an hour.

The reason it was named after the patron saint of lost causes is that, thanks to the graphics card, cooling system and other internals, Thaddeus is more powerful than most computers you can buy from a computer store. This ultimately means that Thaddeus can be used to run software that would otherwise be a lost cause.