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The Answer To A Burning Question

The BBC magazine did to the work to find out How tall can a Lego tower get?

The average maximum force the bricks can stand is 4,240N. That’s equivalent to a mass of 432kg (950lbs). If you divide that by the mass of a single brick, which is 1.152g, then you get the grand total of bricks a single piece of Lego could support: 375,000.

So, 375,000 bricks towering 3.5km (2.17 miles) high is what it would take to break a Lego brick.

Anyone who has stepped on a Lego brick knows they don’t break easily [and hurt like hell if you aren’t wearing shoes]. That just accounts for the downward force, and any lateral pressure would topple the single stack before you needed a ladder to add bricks to the top.

I know someone who literally has a ton of Lego bricks that represent his father’s collection, and then additions by various relatives. He does create rather large structures.


1 Kryten42 { 12.09.12 at 2:08 pm }

Lego… Hmmmm. You were bored, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

Ahem. I never had Lego as a kid just FYI. I had a huge Meccano set! Was my Grandfather’s idea. Probably why I decided to become an engineer… Though he expected me to become a Mechanical Eng. And I decided I preferred Electronics/Electrical, though, in Industrial Design there is a Mechanical component also. It was one of the reasons I chose it, I got to study 3 disciplines (4 counting metallurgy) ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, since nobody else commented here… I thought it would be a good place to post this:

One of my best friends has a 14 yo son, and he’s taken a keen interest in computers (in spite of both our efforts to totally discourage him!) *sigh*

I must say though that he has proven to be a quick study and an avid listener. He’s helped me on a few projects last year. Recently, he got interested in high performance systems. Overclocking and water cooling etc. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I had a chat to his dad, who used to design PSU’s and cooling systems for Missiles in the UK. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So we came up with a two-part project. Design a high-performance Gaming system for up to $2,500, and a high end water cooling system for under $1,000, and they had to be complete and fully workable. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, he took it all rather seriously and spent the past 3 weeks studying and designing the two systems. He asked a few questions, but was determined to do it himself as far as possible. So he joined a few online forums specializing in OC & cooling (and learned all about Trolls, fanboys, and general fools along the way). Valuable lessons I think! ๐Ÿ˜†

So, here is the system he came up with (’cause I’m pretty damned proud of him and so’s his dad!)

QTY Description Discount $
— ———————————————————————————————- ———-
1 CoolerMaster CM 690 II Advanced USB3.0 Case $99.65
1 CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W, 80Plus Gold Modular Cabling 800W Power Supply $165.30
1 ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z MoBo, 990FX, 8x SATA3, 6x USB3.0, Intel Gb LAN, Supreme FX III Audio $277.40
1 AMD FX-8350 8-Core 4.00GHz (4.20GHz Turbo) 125W CPU $205.20
1 G.Skill Ripjaws Z (FF3-2400C10Q-16GTX) 16GB (2x8GB), PC-19200 (2400Mhz), 10-12-12-31 DDR3 RAM $145.35
1 VTX3D HD7970 X-Edition (VX7970 3GBD5-2DHX) 1050MHz Core, 3 GB 5.7Gbps GDDR5 Video Card $381.00
1 Sandisk Extreme 240GB SATA3 SSD, Seq R/W: 550/520 MB/s, rnd R/W: 39K/83K IOPS $166.25
1 Sandisk 32GB ReadyCache (SDSSDRC-032G) SSD w/ ExpressCache Software $42.75
2 Seagate Barracuda (ST2000DM001) 2TB SATA3 HDD, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache $184.30
1 LG BH14NS40 14X BD-R, 128GB BDXL, M-Disc, Blu-ray/DVD+-R/DVD-RAM/DVD-RW/CD Burner $71.25
1 MSI DH-24AS U88 CD/DVD Burner, 24x DVD, 48x CD, 16x DVD-ROM, 2MB cache $26.60
2 Akasa Piranha (AK-FN072) 120mm PWM Fans, 600-1900 RPM, 3.05 mmH20 Prssure, 79.2 CFM @ 27.2 dBA $28.50
1 CoolerMaster 80mm Slim Fan (for CM 690 II case), 2000 RPM, 24.5 CFM @ 20 dBA $7.60
1 Silicone Anti-Vibration Gasket for 80mm Fan (Clear) $1.90
2 Silicone Anti-Vibration Gasket for 120mm Fan (Black) $6.60
1 DEMCi Flex Air Filter Kit for CoolerMaster CM690II Advanced Case (5 piece) $48.45
1 AcoustiPack ULTIMATE PC Soundproofing Kit (2x 2-layer 4mm thick, 1x 3-Layer 7mm Large Sheets) $45.10
1 Indigo Xtreme Clean – Thermal Surface Cleaner (30ml) $7.60
1 CoolerMaster Storm Trigger Programmable Keyboard w/ Cherry Black Mechanical Switches $111.15
1 CoolerMaster CM Storm Sentinel Advance II, 200-8200 DPI, 125Hz-1Khz rate, Programmable Mouse $60.80
1 Razer Vespula Dual-Sided Gaming/Precision Mouse Mat w/ gel Wrist Rest $31.35
1 BenQ XL2420T 24″ Professional Gaming Monitor, 1920×1080, 120 Hz, 5ms (2ms GtG) $370.50
SUB-TOTAL: $2,484.60

1 EK (EK-SUPREME-LTX-AMD-CSQ-NA) AMD Acetal+Copper CPU Waterblock w/ Indigo Xtreme AM3+ FX PCMA TIM $46.00
1 EK (FB ASUS C5F-Z) Full-Board Waterblock for ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z $80.75
1 Swiftech KOMODO-HD7970 Full Cover Waterblock for Radeon 7970 Video Card w/ Backplate $143.40
1 XSPC (XSPC-MEM-BLOCK-PLATE-SET) Memory Water Block & Side Plate Kit (for 2 DIMMs) $53.00
2 Koolance (CU1402V) Copper Core High Flow Dual Pass, 2 x 140mm, 30 Fins/inch Radiator $121.60
1 XSPC Dual 5.25″ Bay Dual/Split Reservoirs for Dual DDC Pumps $46.55
2 XSPC D5 Vario Pump (WFC), Maximum Flow: 1200 lph (@ 12V), w/ Speed Selector $178.60
3 Monsoon Free Center Compression Fittings 1/2″ Black Chrome (6 pack w/ tool) $102.60
8 Swiftech (45D-SWV-G1-4-MFA-BK) 45ยฐ Swivel Elbow G1/4 Lok-Seal adapters $53.20
2 Aqua Computer Closed-Loop Stainless Steel Water Filter w/ Ball Valves & Mounting Plate $41.80
1 PrimoChill PrimoFlex Advanced LRT Low-Friction Tubing, 1/2 ID, 3/4 OD, 3m (Clear) $22.80
1 PrimoChill Liquid Utopia Algae/Bacteria/Corrosion Prevention Distilled Water Additive (15ml) $11.20
2 Bitspower G1/4 Inline Water Temperature Sensor (Black) $20.90
4 Akasa Apache (AK-FN062) 140mm PWM Fans, 600-1300 RPM, 2.76 mmH2O Pressure, 89.5 CFM @ 22.2 dBA $57.00
2 Akasa PWM fan splitter Cables (AK-CBFA04-15) $7.50
4 Silicone Anti-Vibration Gasket for 140mm Fan (Black) $13.20
4 ModSmart 120mm Black Chrome Wire Formed Fan Grills $9.50
1 KwikCut Advance (SL100SS) Stainless Steel Tube Cutter (Orange) $19.95
SUB-TOTAL: $1,029.55
TOTAL: $3,514.15

Drat! Your column setting is too narrow! ๐Ÿ˜› Oh well… You’ll probably have to copy/paste it into a text editor to read it properly.

I should mention that those prices are discounted because I can buy direct from the distributor/wholesaler (which the cunning lad used to his advantage as you can see, he went over the total of $3,500 a little, but hey… for a first project, going over budget by $10.40 is pretty good!) ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s a dual-loop cooling system. One for the CPU/RAM, and the 2nd for the MoBo & vid card. He said he did it that way for future expansion and to max the overclock-ability. To add a 2nd vid card, 2 more RAM sticks, and get 2 more HDD’s & water cool them also. ๐Ÿ™‚ He went with AMD because the top-end Intel system would have cost $1,500 more and he decided it wasn’t worth it. He believes he can get the FX-8350 to 5GHz (and from what I’ve seen in the forums, possibly more if the MoBo/RAM is cooled and stable also), the RAM to 3GHz, and the vid card to around 1.4GHz.

I like the fact that he thought about overall performance, such as a fast SSD for the primary drive and a cheap SSD cache for the data HDD’s (which may be in a striped RAID). Also that he thought about the fact that it needed to be quiet (he said he only chose fans and components that were less than 30dBA at full speed, even though to get the required performance (the most important measure for fans for a water radiator is static pressure, not airflow), it made the fans expensive), and he remembered what I told him about dust being the enemy of computers (and he lives in a dusty house). I think he kinda got a bit paranoid about it all actually! ๐Ÿ˜† (I’m sure he wanted to impress us, and he did!) ๐Ÿ˜€ Heck, he even included a tool designed to cut the tubing properly, instead of trying to hack it with a kitchen knife! And he chose that case because it could fir an 80mm fan to cool the underside of the MoBo where the CPU mount is for extra CPU/MoBo cooling. Oh! And that MoBo has 3 temp sensor connectors, so he can monitor the water & system temp’s in real time, since he said if he actually built it (not knowing that he will), he’d want to post a performance over time review on the forums. Amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, his dad was planning to buy him the PC for Xmas, but he was so impressed that he’s decided to get the whole lot!

Dammit… I want one!! ๐Ÿ™ Life sux… truly! *SIGH*

Still… I am well pleased. Maybe he’ll let me visit often and play! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

2 Bryan { 12.10.12 at 12:27 am }

I used to like to prototype projects with Legos to get an idea of space involved to estimate flooring and paint quantities, but that was before there were cats to make off with the bricks or knock the model to the floor. They were also useful, in the same way as simple computer games, as a diversion when I’m trying to solve a problem and not making headway on the conscious level. I mess around and let my subconscious work on it.

The kid earned his machine and I don’t say that because he made a lot of the same decisions I did on my $1,ooo machine, choosing faster versions of the same products I bought.

If things calm down I’m going to swap out the fans in my machine for something quieter because the standard fans are annoying until the MB decides it’s OK to turn them down. My box barely get warm because of all of the space inside and the cable management, but the noise is a bother.

Once he puts the machine together, then you can move him into coding from simply game playing because he definitely looks like he has the potential which is comforting, as most of the young people I run into will never be more than users – slaves to Bill’s garbage.

3 Kryten42 { 12.10.12 at 12:37 am }


“going over budget by $10.40” –> “going over budget by 14.15”

Dunno what I was thinking. I blame the Temaze (benzodiazepine) pills the Doc prescribed for me last Fri. One more drug to add to my long list! I should own a Pharmacy… *sigh*

4 Kryten42 { 12.10.12 at 1:40 am }

LOL Posted at the same time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just had my dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

He did earn the machine! Every time I look at what he did, I get more impressed! Truly! He even used Visio to design and draw the water loops and cabling etc. ๐Ÿ˜€

He’s already talked his dad into an upgrade! ๐Ÿ˜†

Swapping the Sandisk Extreme SSD for:

Samsung 840 Pro 256GB, Seq R/W: 540/520 MB/s, rnd R/W: 100K/90K IOPS, SATA3 Enterprise SSD $259.35

He wrote a rationale for it! ๐Ÿ˜† His dad gave me a look that said “This is all your fault!” ๐Ÿ˜€ But I don’t care. ๐Ÿ˜€

Actually, we used Lego in some of the Labs at Uni, mainly in the automation lab (robotics). Lot of Schools use Lego for instruction. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yeah, fan/case noise is annoying especially in a quiet environment. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like the look of these Akasa fan’s he chose. Will be interesting to see if they perform as specified. For the price (even discounted), they better! You know, I am really impressed by his attention to detail. For a 14 yo, it’s very impressive. Reminds me of… well, me! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜‰

I asked why he included things like the Akasa fan splitter Cables. He said that the MoBo supported two PWM CPU fan’s, so with the splitters he can control the two fans on each rad with it’s own PWM control. Smart thinking! I also asked (just curiously) about what the fan grills, and he reminded me of a story I told him one about loosing skin in a case to spinning unguarded fans! He said (and I do quote!) ” I can learn from your mistakes.” (Cheeky sod!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜† I also like things such as choosing a solid keyboard with real Cherry mechanical key switches. (I think they are still made in the USA… or no?) And he hasn’t gone for UV reactive crap and flashy lights (in fact, he said the first thing he would do if he had that case is rip out the blue LED’s on the fans), or water dye’s like most on the forums (I asked about that, he said he wanted to see the water and see if there was anything wrong with it like discoloration and to see air bubbles).

Yeah… I am pretty impressed! ๐Ÿ˜€

5 Bryan { 12.10.12 at 9:24 am }

Next up he should make his own solar water distillery to provide the coolant for the system, as most of the commercial stuff uses reverse osmosis and is pretty questionable on being really pure. Distilling sea water is not a bad skill to have in this world.

If he waits too long to build it, the component list will change.

I don’t know what it is with computer manufacturers and blue LEDs, but they want the damn things lighting up your office. There are multicolor fans that are really annoying. How are you going to concentrate when you are trapped with a light show in your working space? It would be an effective deterrent if you were being stalked by epileptic assassins, but not much use beyond that.

6 Badtux { 12.10.12 at 2:12 pm }

But hey, aren’t buyers of high-end gaming computer components *often* stalked by epileptic assassins? ;).

I had to stash my big gaming box under the desk because every friggin’ component seems to want to announce itself with LED’s. Even the friggin’ memory DIMMs have blinky lights on them. And I didn’t go for the extreme overclocked edition of everything — I went with one less than top of the line (best bang for the buck, usually), and didn’t overclock (reduces long-term reliability and modern hardware is so friggin’ fast that it doesn’t make enough difference to be worthwhile). The grills for the fans on the top and side would make a Christmas tree blush with envy.

Car stereo manufacturers are just as bad. Blue is a terrible color for the interior of a car at night, it messes with your night vision. Grr!

Regarding Legos, that’s my yearly Toys for Tots contribution. I figure I’m contributing to the creation of a future engineer every time I drop a big box of the things into the bin. As a kid I didn’t have Legos, my dad was a handyman by trade (at times) and always had plenty of scrap wood around as well as hand tools like hand saws and hand hole borers that he’d let us use (he wouldn’t let us use power tools until we were in our teens of course), so we built stuff out of real wood instead. But Legos are probably the closest that most kids today will get to that experience.

7 Bryan { 12.11.12 at 12:08 am }

BMW has used red dash lights forever to preserve night vision when most manufacturers used white or green. We used red in our equipment on the aircraft, except for the scopes, and there was now way at the time to get anything but green.

KMart and Cops use blue because it is so noticeable, but it is definitely not good for night driving. Fortunately New York uses blue for volunteer firefighters and leaves red on the cop cars.

My unit only has power and disk lights after the judicious use of wire snips, and even then I have it shielded from sight. I don’t want to pay for the electricity used to power the distraction.

Legos are a good choice for kids because they allow the kids to use their imagination and be creative. Everything is so structured for kids these days, and they don’t get a lot of time to just be kids and mess around like we did. We built forts in the woods and took turns as defenders or attackers. No one got upset unless we failed to return on time.

Hell, most of the young people I interact with today can’t figure out which end of the screwdriver is the handle. They can’t put together shelves. They have been cheated of survival skills.

8 Kryten42 { 12.11.12 at 12:25 pm }

I think you’re right Bryan about the distilling of water! ๐Ÿ˜€ And yeah, red is def better for night (and as you say Bryan, BMW have used red for years).

So… I’ve had quite an exhausting day! Spent the day with the lad and his dad deciding on the final system. Since it was obvious the boy was very sus about it all, and that his dad and I decided he should know so he could have the final say and prepare, he was told about it. Needless to say, we had to wait awhile for him to join us back on Earth. LOL I also have to say, the lad’s father was a bigger PITA than the boy was! Sheesh! ANYWAY… I am happy to say… “MISSION ACOMPLISHED!” ๐Ÿ˜†

Everything has been ordered and should arrive next week (some parts are on back order, but we are assured they will be in stock in a week… or so!)

The final system is a *little* different to the one above! Ahem. OK, maybe more than a little! ๐Ÿ˜†

New case (that CM 690, whilst a very nice case, is too small for a high-end water cooled rig). The Cooling system has been totally redesigned (for a lot of reasons as I explained to the boy after doing quite a bit of Engineering math and explaining some of the laws of physics etc). ๐Ÿ™‚ His Dad decided that a max price of $4k for everything was the LIMIT… And then said (after we had worked out everything to about $3,950!) “Oh! He needs a UPS! The power here is bad.” *SIGH*

Oh! There was one good win that will please the lad (and he doesn’t know about). There was a special Xmas promotion in the Vid card we chose, and he get’s 4 free current games (valued at $272). No point having a high-end gaming system without games! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

QTY Description (Part #) Disc. $
— ————————————————————————————– ——–
1 Enermax Fulmo GT (ECA1092AG) Tower Case, Support 420mm Radiator, 3x 180mm Fans, Fan/LED Control $232.75
1 CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold (RS-800-80GA-D3), 80Plus Gold (92%) Modular 800W (960W max) PSU $165.30
1 ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z MoBo, 990FX, 8x SATA3, 6x USB3.0, Intel Gb LAN, Supreme FX III Audio $277.40
1 AMD FX-8350 (FD8350FRHKBOX) 8-Core 4.00GHz (4.20GHz Turbo) 125W CPU $205.20
1 G.Skill Ripjaws Z (F3-2400C10Q-16GTX) 16GB (2x8GB), PC-19200 (2400Mhz), 10-12-12-31 DDR3 RAM $145.35
1 MSI Radeon HD7970 Lightning BE, Unlocked BIOS & Digi Power, MIL-STD-810G, 3GB GDDR5, 4 Free Games $471.20
1 Samsung 840 Pro 256GB, Seq R/W: 540/520 MB/s, rnd R/W: 100K/90K IOPS, SATA3 Enterprise SSD $259.35
1 Sandisk 32GB ReadyCache (SDSSDRC-032G) SSD w/ ExpressCache Software $42.75
2 Seagate Barracuda (ST2000DM001) 2TB SATA3 HDD, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache $184.30
1 LG BH14NS40 14X BD-R, 128GB BDXL, M-Disc, Blu-ray/DVD+-R/DVD-RAM/DVD-RW/CD Burner $71.25
1 MSI DH-24AS U88 CD/DVD Burner, 24x DVD, 48x CD, 16x DVD-ROM, 2MB cache $26.60
1 CoolerMaster Storm Sirius 5.1 Surround Headset w/ Background Noise Cancellation Microphone $101.65
1 CoolerMaster Storm Trigger Programmable Keyboard w/ Cherry Black Mechanical Switches $111.15
1 CoolerMaster CM Storm Sentinel Advance II, 200-8200 DPI, 125Hz-1Khz rate, Programmable Mouse $60.80
1 Razer Vespula Dual-Sided Gaming/Precision Mouse Mat w/ gel Wrist Rest $31.35
1 BenQ XL2420T 24″ Professional Gaming Monitor, 1920×1080, 120 Hz, 5ms (2ms GtG) $370.50
SUB-TOTAL: $2,756.90

QTY Description (Part #) Disc. $
— ————————————————————————————- ——-
1 EK (EK-SUPREME-LTX-AMD-CSQ-NA) AMD CPU Acetal+Nickel Waterblock w/ Indigo Xtreme AM3+ FX PCMA TIM $45.00
1 EK (FB ASUS C5F-Z) Full-Board Acetal+Nickel Waterblock for ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z $80.75
1 EK (EK-FC7970-LTG) Full Cover Acetal+Nickel Waterblock for MSI HD7970 Lightning $141.40
1 Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 (14179) Full Copper Radiator, 3 x 140mm Fans, 420mm x 140mm x 60mm $92.15
1 Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 (14177) Full Copper Radiator, 2 x 140mm Fans, 320mm x 140mm x 60mm $69.35
1 XSPC Twin D5 Dual 5.25″ Bay Reservoir/Pump Combo w/ 2x Laing D5 Vario Pumps, 1,200 L/h $210.80
2 Monsoon Free Center Compression Fittings (MON-FC-1234-6-RD), 1/2″ x 3/4″, Red (6 pack w/ tool) $65.20
12 Monsoon 45ยฐ Rotary Angle Fitting w/ Port (MON-LP-RO-45-34-MB), 1/2″ x 3/4″, G1/4 thread, Black $116.28
2 Monsoon Premium Temperature Sensor Probe (MON-TPL-RD), Termally Isolated, G1/4 thread, Red $16.90
1 Monsoon 99.9% Fine Silver Bullet Antimicrobial Plug (MON-PLUG-AG-RED), G1/4 thread, Red $4.80
1 PrimoChill PrimoFlex Advanced LRT Low-Friction Tubing, 1/2″ x 3/4″, 3m (Clear) $22.80
3 EK EKoolant Premium Coolant, Pure Distilled/Deonized Water w/ Conductivity of 1ยตS/cm, 1Ltr, Clear $33.39
3 Akasa Viper (AK-FN063) 140mm PWM Fans, 600-1600 RPM, 3.12 mmH2O Pressure, 110.6 CFM @ 26.5 dBA $70.75
2 Akasa FLEXA FP5 (AK-CBFA03-45) 5 PWM Fan Splitter Cable w/ Molex Power Connector & 1 PWM Header $16.00
5 Silicone Anti-Vibration Gasket for 140mm Fan (Black) $16.50
5 ModSmart 120mm Black Chrome Wire Formed Fan Grills $11.80
SUB-TOTAL: $1,014.10

QTY Description (Part #) Disc. $
— ———————————————————————————— ——-
1 Indigo Xtreme Clean Thermal Surface Cleaner, 30ml, No Residue or Flashpoint, Non-Conductive $7.60
1 Patriot Supersonic Magnum Flash Drive, 64GB, USB 3.0, Seq R/W: 200/120 MB/s, 5yr Warranty $115.15
1 ModSmart Professional Cable Management & Sleeving Kit w/ Tools (Black) $39.70
1 CyberPower Value GP LCD 2200VA/1320W UPS, 2yr Adv Warranty (inc. Batteries) + $25K Equip. Prot. $266.00
1 KwikCut Advance (SL100SS) Stainless Steel Tube Cutter (Orange) $19.95
SUB-TOTAL: $448.40
TOTAL: $4,219.40

Includes 4 free games: FarCry3, HitMan Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, Medal of Honor WarFighter LE (Value: $272)

So that’s it! And we came in under budget, until *Dad* stuffed it up! Typical… ๐Ÿ˜‰
Though, he is right. It does need a decent UPS, and I think I negotiated a pretty good price for it. ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh, that Flash drive is to backup all his important system settings and profiles and the BIOS (that MoBo has a dedicated USB port for that, and if the BIOS is bricked, it will use the one on the drive. Pretty cool! ๐Ÿ˜‰ That Flash Drive is his Xmas gift from me (so isn’t part of the system price really). I’m getting one for me also! Fastest Flash drive out there! ๐Ÿ˜€

Hell, most of the young people I interact with today canโ€™t figure out which end of the screwdriver is the handle.

Ain’t that the sad truth! ๐Ÿ™ *sigh* Thankfully, not all though! *shrug*

9 Kryten42 { 12.11.12 at 12:28 pm }

Hmmmm. I spotted an error. The Qty of the Akasa Viper Fans should be 5, not 3. The price is right though. Oh well… *shrug* ( I just checked the order, and I did order 5! Was worried for a minute there!) ๐Ÿ˜†

10 Badtux { 12.11.12 at 5:59 pm }

Hell, most of the young people I interact with today canโ€™t figure out which end of the screwdriver is the handle. They canโ€™t put together shelves. They have been cheated of survival skills.

What annoys me most is that they don’t want to know how to use a screwdriver, or put together shelves, or any basic survival skills of that sort. They don’t view it as important. What’s important is IM’ing their friends, playing the latest MMORPG, or updating their Twitter timeline. Hrm.

11 Bryan { 12.11.12 at 10:03 pm }

I wouldn’t have thought of the UPS, but then I have three and only use two at a time. Power is crap down here too.

That should keep him out of the pool hall for a while and learning an actual skill. Building and tuning your own box is a rite of passage event. He should document it with pictures at each stage including what he did and why. If there is a problem, that will be an excellent resource for trouble-shooting. In any case it is a CV item for applications, like an artist’s sketchbook. In old age it will be like ‘walking 5 miles to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways’ … ๐Ÿ˜‰

The real question is: will he actually use the power and speed that he has available? Knowing gaming programming, I would guess that he will need most of it because of the graphics heavy environment.

Young people are being conditioned to be ‘users’ and ‘consumers’, dependent on corporations, rather than being individuals, and it is sad, because they are the traditional source of the new ideas. They are becoming complacent rather than curious.

12 Kryten42 { 12.12.12 at 10:19 am }

What annoys me most is that they donโ€™t want to know how to use a screwdriver, or put together shelves, or any basic survival skills of that sort.

Yes. I see the same thing here quite a lot. There are exceptions (such as the lad above) and I see others now and then. Lazy is becoming the norm.

Without the water cooling, the AMD CPU would be a real bottleneck for high-performance gaming. Many games 9and other software for that matter) are still only single-threaded, or at most 4-threads. And the FX series CPU’s are inefficient at single or non-optimized multi-threaded operations. I suspect AMD realizes this (in private) as they have designed them to be overclocked fairly easily long term, so long as one doesn’t hit their max Core temp (rather than max CPU temp!) of 62C (according to the AMD spec’s). But since the temp sensors & monitoring s/w are not that accurate, most of the experienced overclockers keep the temp’s under 60C max. So, to get a stable long-term OC of about 5.2 GHz, the cooling loop has to be pretty good. The CPU waterblock has to have excellent (near perfect) contact with the CPU and be able to move the heat away rapidly (which is why the EK Supreme LTX AMD Waterblock with the Indigo Xtreme PCMA (Phase Change Metal Alloy) TIM (Thermal Interface Material) were chosen as they are designed to do just that. But they need help. The water must flow rapidly and at high-volume, and be cooled below ambient temp (the lower the better) rapidly. Given the experiences on various forums and reviews, I think he should get a stable OC of at least 5.2 GHz, and possibly up to 5.5GHz, which will overcome most of it’s limitations. One problem with that is that to get that fast a CPU to work in sync with the system RAM & GPU, they will have to be running fast enough to cope! Just having a fast CPU is pointless if it’s going to be spending a lot of time waiting for other things to catch up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hench the motherboard waterblock and that MSI Graphics card (which is designed to be both over clocked and water cooled). Originally we planned to watercool the RAM, but I don’t think it’s necessary. There will be a lot of air rapidly flowing through that case, and those RAM modules have efficient heatsinks, and many people have reported running them up to 3GHz with good air cooling, which will be fast enough. The GPU core should be able to run at about 1.7-1.8 GHz, and the DDR5 RAM at about 6.3-6.5Gb/s. All this of course requires a motherboard capable of supporting this, and a PSU that can supply very stable power. ๐Ÿ™‚

BTW, besides gaming, he wanted a system that he can do Video ripping/conversion & editing on. They have an extensive library of video CD & DVD’s. Last year I helped them set up a HTPC (Home theater PC) system with a 12GB NAS. Converting the DVD’s to vid’s to store on the NAS is slow on their main PC (in Dad’s office) whenever it isn’t being used for work. ๐Ÿ™‚ This system should do that in about 20% the time, especially given that the 8350 CPU and the Radeon GPU excel at video work. ๐Ÿ™‚

another thing that impressed me with this lad, and his attention to detail, was his choice of the MSI DVD drive. Most people go with LG or Lite-On. He did the research and discovered that the MSI has a 2MB buffer, whilst the others have only 1.5MB (and Sony, the most expensive drive, only has 1MB!) It will make a difference. ๐Ÿ™‚

And he will be partitioning the SSD so he can run Win 7 on 170GB and Linux on the rest. ๐Ÿ™‚ He has used my Linux system often and prefers it to Windoze! I told you he was a bright lad! ๐Ÿ˜† He’s interested in getting into Virtual machines also, and I’ll loan him my VMware s/w (which I’m not using anyway) and VirtualBox. He plans to get another 16GB RAM with his own money later, and a couple more HDD’s, and probably a decent H/W RAID card. One thing he can do to speed up Windoze when he get’s the extra RAM, is set up a 10-12GB RAM Disk for TEMP and the Windoze Pagefile (swap).

He is very switched on, mainly because he has helped his dad in his workshop fixing Lotus sports cars, and machining parts. His father manufactures Lotus parts, and has cars sent from all over the World to be rebuilt or modified. So the lad knows his way around tools very well. He’s already cleared a space on one of his dad’s work benches, and dug out his dad’s old 3M antistatic mat & wrist strap (there are dedicated ground points on all the benches for that purpose), connected to a solid copper spike driven 3m into the ground attached to a large ground plane (all of which has been anti-corrosion treated), which has been well mineral-salted and constantly wetted (he has a 200ltr water tank for it). Best *ground* I’ve ever measured! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

That coolant is a special mix that is (as stated) pure water that has been made more viscous and has corrosion inhibitors to help lubricate the pumps impellers, and it is also (supposedly) able to carry heat away faster than standard distilled water (not sure about that! Will be interesting to see how accurate that is!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ The boy’s father has plenty of distilled water in the workshop which the lad will use to flush the system (and test for leaks etc.) before installing it in the case, and then used to remove bubbles before filling with the expensive fluid. ๐Ÿ™‚

Parts will start arriving tomorrow. I doubt the lad will get much sleep tonight! But he’s not allowed to open anything until XMas day! Ooooh… That is so cruel! ๐Ÿ™ Still… It is an XMas gift I guess! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh… and 2 more typo’s above:
“5 ModSmart 120mm Black Chrome…” –> “5 ModSmart 140mm Black Chrome…”
“(MON-TPL-RD), Termally Isolated…” –> “(MON-TPL-RD), Thermally Isolated…”

LOL *shrug* ๐Ÿ˜‰

And we added a special 120mm fan at the last minute to cool the backside of the Motherboard/CPU (this case has provision for it, but it can’t be thicker than 20mm, and almost all 120mm fans are 25-30mm! *sigh* Still, I found one:

1 Yate Loon (D12SM-12C) Medium Speed Slim Case Fan, 120mm x 20mm, 1800 RPM, 62 CFM @28 dBA $4.95

Not a bad performer considering. Also added a silica gel gasket and filter (as it’s an intake fan). ๐Ÿ™‚

The current plan for the loop setup is:
RES (reservoir) -> 3-fan RAD (radiator) -> CPU WB -> MoBo WB -> 2-fan RAD -> GPU WB -> RES.

The Silver Bullet will be mounted at the RES outlet (it’s job is to inhibit organic growth, such as algae and bacteria), not sure where the two temp sensors will go yet. They can be put anywhere in the loop. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s why we chose the Monsoon 45ยฐ Rotary Angle Fitting with Port’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ The two RAD’s will have the fan’s in *push* configuration. Later, the lad can add fans to the other side of the RAD’s to *pull* the air and provide extra cooling, if it’s necessary. I think he will have fun playing with it all anyway! Oh! He’s already smirking at the thought of showing it to one of his friends who has been crowing about his Corsair Hydro Series H80 CPU Cooler! (which to this system, is like comparing a ’78 AMC Concord to a ’78 Corvette Stingray 25th anniversary model, or maybe the ’92 ZR1!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I know my car’s!) ๐Ÿ˜†

13 Bryan { 12.13.12 at 11:08 pm }

I don’t know if it’s laziness, as much as they don’t understand why it’s a bad idea not to be able to do for yourself. Some of it has to be from the attitude of parents who have made it and now have others fix things that they fixed when they were starting out. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it if you have the money to hire someone else. If the parents don’t seem to care, the kids certainly won’t.

I’m glad to hear that he’s discovered Linux, because that is a great thing to have in your kit when you go looking for work, if you want to work in IT. When you have all of your experience on only one operating system, you are really limiting the jobs that you can apply for.

I have been known to tell children that if they opened a present before Christmas, it will magically change to handknit woolen socks, but I never claimed to be a nice guy.

It sounds like he will have a Formula One machine when it’s done, but that is going to be tough to beat next year … ๐Ÿ˜‰

14 Kryten42 { 12.14.12 at 6:13 am }

I meant intellectual laziness really. They have enough physical stamina to spend all nite at rave parties etc. ๐Ÿ˜‰ They expect everything to be handed to them and just be easy. They don’t want to know how it happened. I see very little curiosity in many teen’s these day. There are exceptions, but most of the ones I see are Asians/Indians etc here to study. And people wonder why China and India are racing ahead? Yeah.

Well, we had one little setback. The PSU we order is out of stock everywhere. Seems the demand has outstripped supply (considering the price, I am not at all surprised). So we decided to go with a better one anyway (we had room in the budget). ๐Ÿ™‚

1 Seasonic (SS-860XP) 860W ATX 80PLUS Platinum, Active PFC, OV UV SC OP OC OT Prot., Modular PSU $242.00

The “OV UV SC OP OC OT Prot.” are the protection systems the PSU has. Over Voltage, Under Voltage, Short Circuit, Over Power, Over Current & Over Temperature. Can’t have too much protection! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

“It sounds like he will have a Formula One machine when itโ€™s done, but that is going to be tough to beat next year”

LOL Well, it’s actually going to be an *ongoing* project. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The lad has almost enough money to buy it himself, since he helps his dad in the workshop and his dad does the right thing and pays him. ๐Ÿ™‚ Many parents seem to think their kids are slave labor.

He already has plans for future enhancements. ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks like I am going to be staying over there for a week over Xmas. ๐Ÿ™‚ I plan to let the lad do the work, but will give advice if/when needed. Some of the work will require time and patience, will be interesting to see how he holds up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For example, the Indigo Xtreme PCMA TIM needs about 20 hours to *cure* on the CPU, the water cooling system has to be pressure tested and flushed for 24 hours (actually, he’s done that a few times with his dad, pressure/leak testing the water cooling system in Lotus sports cars), etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

Will be a nice break, given that I have actually just had a really shitty week. *shrug*

15 Bryan { 12.14.12 at 11:25 am }

My build was sort of disappointing in that everything just worked. I was expecting something to be ‘dead’ out of the box, or to fail during the standard burn-in, but it all worked and continued working. The only ‘problem’ I have is the cats disconnecting the HDMI cable. There should be some way of securing it, but no one thought about it.

You have to learn to take the time to do it right, because re-doing it is normally a lot more expensive and time consuming – especially when electronics and water are involved. I lost the engine on a Datsun 2000 when the guys who replaced the head failed to properly fill the cooling system. I should have rechecked it multiple times, but I was in the middle of a cross country trip when it happened. The temperature sensor was in the wrong location and didn’t alert me to the problem until it was too late to save it. With multiple radiators and connections, there are a lot of locations for a failure in that cooling system.

It is always nice to build something, to see it come together. It beats the normal aggravations of life.

16 Kryten42 { 12.15.12 at 7:49 pm }

Yeah, my last build 9for me) was pretty pedestrian. The only interesting part was fitting the CPU cooler. :lol;

My best system design was the one I did early last year for a local Animation studio. The used it to do some of the VFX & Animation for the movie Ted and Ghost Rider. ๐Ÿ˜€ So I guess I could say I had a *small* part to play in those movies. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

The system cost about $56k all up, including a high-speed (4TB/hr max) Tandberg Ultrium-5 StorageLibrary system, and an external Promise VTrack E-Class SAS RAID 60 w/ 16 Hitachi Ultrastar 15k RPM HDD’s! But it paid for itself in no time. The main system was based on 2x 12-core Opteron’s with 2 AMD/ATI FirePro V9800 Pro Gfx cards (worth about $2,990 ea) & a FirePro S400 FrameLock/GenLock & Sync module. It also had 128GB ECC Reg’d DDR3 RAM & 8 Seagate Savvio 2.5″ SAS 900GB 10k RPM HDD’s in a RAID 6 config.

It ran CentOS x86_64 linux (because managing/using a system like this is a PITA w/ Win Server’s) w/ VMware Workstation & Zimbra, w/ Win 7 x64.

Now THAT… was fun to design and build! Took me over a week to assemble, test, configure, fix (*sigh*) ๐Ÿ˜‰ etc. I did a 72hr 100% burn-in, a couple things broke and had to be replaced. The replacements survived the test fine. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have to say, it was the most insane workstation I have ever designed! (I have designed some serious server & blade systems). But… I doubt I could do it now. *shrug* Way it goes…

Some more parts arrived for the lad. ๐Ÿ˜€ He’s doing well actually. He’s grinning like a fool of course, but he seems content to wait (see how long that lasts!) He’s cleared and cleaned the workbench (and tools) and is now setting up a steel shelving unit his dad uses for parts next to the workbench. he’s all organised it seems! His dad has a small room that’s temp/humidity controlled he uses for testing parts he makes. We can use that to test the system under different ambient conditions (say’s the lad! I think he’s been hanging around 2 engineers far too long! Lad needs to get out more!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

17 Bryan { 12.15.12 at 9:12 pm }

If you are doing multimedia you need serious flops that are totally unnecessary for business applications. Disk speed and RAM are the two most important elements for speed on business systems. Once the bit manipulation kicks in the CPU moves to the top of the list.

The person who is moving into the place I’ve been working on plays a first-person shooter on-line, and does nothing but complain about the dinky duo-core on the laptop. They really want to get the place organized to set up their main system up. I could probably help them achieve more speed by changing a few settings, but I want to get the kitchen floor finished so I can deal with all of the other stuff piling up.

It always causes a bit of pain to build great systems for other people, knowing you can’t possibly justify the expense for yourself. Only Apple has margins high enough to do that.

Well, if he is going to obsess about something, at least it isn’t something with a built-in risk of death, like aircraft, cars, and boats. Next up you can introduce him to the steampunk genre and see if he wants to build custom cases. His dad has the tools, so it should be easy to prototype things.

18 Badtux { 12.16.12 at 2:15 am }

I’ve been doing performance analysis of storage systems recently, and one of the things that surprised me is that RAID6 performance sucks so badly on real-life workloads. The core problem is one of having to read an entire stripe in order to recompute the checksum for a 1 byte change in one block of the stripe, combined with the fact that if you’re doing random I/O, you’re moving your disk head back and forth all over the place. So the next step was to see what happened with SSD’s. At that point I came across an interesting factlet: Computing RAID checksums on 10-disk stripes is computationally non-trivial. Running 12 disks at full SATA2 speeds (unfortunately it was a SATA2 backplane, my SATA3 backplane is being used to prototype another product at the moment) uses up 80% of a single core of a high end Xeon processor because first the RAID system must compute the checksum on the read-in stripe (if it isn’t already in cache) to validate that it isn’t corrupt, then compute the checksum blocks on the modified stripe to write it to disk as well as the modified block. And unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to parallelize the computation of a single RAID stripe, so while I can add more threads to the BIO callback handler to compute the checksums of multiple stripes in parallel, I’m still pretty much stuck with a speed limit that won’t get me full SATA3 bandwidth for a single I/O stream with currently existing processors.

I can probably get around 20% more performance out of the RAID algorithm with a couple of optimizations, but the point remains that even I/O intensive applications can be unexpectedly CPU limited. We never ran into the CPU limitations before because we were so limited by the limitations of spinning spindles, but now that big SSD’s are available… well. We’re back to CPU being the limit again.

19 Bryan { 12.16.12 at 10:43 pm }

I concentrated on small businesses, with a few referrals to work for some Fortune 500 corporations and a couple of government agencies. But even for the ‘big guys’ what I did only dealt dealt with small to medium data bases, less than 50.000 records, so the overhead wasn’t outrageous.

I used dedicated RAID controllers for those that needed that extra level of fault tolerance, but most of the systems I dealt with only needed daily back-ups.

When you move into the area of multimedia files, requiring big data moves and the need to protect them from loss, I can see where the overhead would become very significant, very quickly, and the CPU speed would be required to maximize the throughput.

No matter what the hardware guys design, the software guys will ‘need’ more speed. There’s no satisfying bit diddlers.

20 Badtux { 12.17.12 at 8:22 pm }

Our benchmarking shows that dedicated RAID controllers are actually *slower* than using Linux’s software RAID. When you look at the CPU that’s on the typical dedicated RAID controller it’s easy to figure out why — usually they’re several orders of magnitude slower than typical top of the line Xeons, and even dedicated stripe XOR engines can’t overcome that handicap. Add in the fact that Linux software RAID is capable of keeping far more stripes cached, and using a dedicated RAID controller with all its problems and issues becomes something you do because Microsoft lacks a viable software RAID subsystem, not because it’s better than implementing your own RAID in software on a modern Sandy Bridge class Xeon.

21 Bryan { 12.17.12 at 10:02 pm }

Right in one, Windows systems one and all, and the software RAID on Windows were all garbage that was inherently unstable, so the dedicated controller was your best shot at stability.

If you can’t wean them from Windows, your solutions are extremely limited.

22 Kryten42 { 12.18.12 at 6:26 am }

I had to have a couple days down time. Hectic week took it’s toll. ๐Ÿ™‚

looks like I missed an interesting discussion, and one I’ve had with various IT people over time!

Agree with Badtux on the RAID issues. It does depend on the priorities of the system and it’s primary usage of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ In the system for the VFX guy’s, the priorities were to offload as much as possible from the CPU’s, and fault tolerance. If they lost just 1 hour, it cost them thousands. The performance from the internal RAID 6 and external RAID 60 systems was more than good enough for their needs. The internal controller was an ASUS PIKE 2108 (with an LSISAS2108 ROC, the MoBo was an ASUS KGPE-D16), and the external was an LSI SAS 9201-16e JBOD HBA. The OS/Boot *drive* was a stripe of 4 CRUCIAL CTFDDAC256MAG-1G1 RealSSD C300 SSD’s, with LSI CacheCade and FastPath. the OS and their MM s/w loaded very quickly! ๐Ÿ˜€ Data was written to the RAID 6 Savvio’s, and mirrored to the external RAD 60, and then backed up onto the Tandbery StorageLibrary (there are two copies actually, with one set of tapes kept in a secure offsite storage facility). I think they have been very lucky actually. So far, they haven’t lost a single drive or had any down time. ๐Ÿ™‚ They have 2 spares of the Savvio’s and Hitachi drives just in case.

Windoze RAID is based on a cut-down version of the low-end promise RAID system. And most Mobo’s & Windoze (non Server versions) won’t support high-end RAID cards (though, the new 64-bit BIOS’s coming out should overcome that limitation). *shrug*

If I was designing a datacenter or a large ISP POP (both of which I have done), it would be very different of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ I generally limit my providers to DELL, IBM or HP in those cases, though there are exceptions to that also! none of those ore perfect either… expensive, yes. Perfect, NO! ๐Ÿ˜€


23 Bryan { 12.18.12 at 11:04 pm }

They key is convincing clients that they have to give up Windows or pay the price in system performance. If the client insists on Windows, you are really limited in your options. People just accept the reality that a major update requires new hardware, and even though the hardware is much faster, there is no obvious increase in system performance. Who the hell designs an operating system that limits capacity of the common components that are used to build the systems it is designed to run on? Microsoft has done this for decades. I was really ticked off when I figured out that all of the versions of Windows 7 are loaded on your computer, so that the only difference is the activation key that you use to unlock them. They only pay for one version of the CD, and you get to store megabytes of crap you will never use.

24 Badtux { 12.19.12 at 1:19 am }

And I just had a need to load Japanese onto my Windows 7. Guess what — I’ll have to pay for an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate to do that legally, they disable multi-lingual support for any lesser grade of Windows 7!

Which reminds me of a joke:

Q: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? A: Trilingual
Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages? A: Bilinguial.
Q: What do you call someone who speaks one language? A: A Microsoft executive.

‘Nuff said.

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

25 Bryan { 12.19.12 at 11:20 am }

I didn’t test that as I use a non-Microsoft package for Russian because the M$ package doesn’t conform to the model I was trained to use in the military.

As you noted in your post, written Japanese is a challenge because they use three different symbol sets in the written language. There is probably a logical reason they have developed this way, but it is a major barrier to communication and keyboard design.

Anything to squeeze more money from their customers – that’s the M$ ‘vision statement’.

26 Badtux { 12.19.12 at 12:08 pm }

Japanese input actually works adequately in Windows if you’re willing to restrict yourself to katakana and hiragana, remember that these are a phonetic alphabet that basically corresponds to a consonant and a vowel in English so you can just type, e.g., ‘ki’, and presto it turns into ‘ใ‚ญ’. To get hiragana you need to flip a switch to that alphabet, usually something like alt-~, but you’ll be able to type ‘no’ and see ‘ใฎ’ pop out after that. Kanji, of course, is the big issue, and basically the only way you can get kanji is to type in a word phonetically, then highlight the word and have the input handler look it up in a dictionary. Same issue that Chinese faces, since kanji uses the Chinese alphabet (more or less).

As for the historic reasons for all this, the original Japanese writing system was the Chinese writing system (kanji) since the Chinese brought literacy to Japan over two thousand years ago. But Chinese ideographs were not ideal for expressing everything in the Japanese language, thus hiragana. Then foreign words and concepts had to be expressed, but for some reason rather than extending hiragana they created katakana. The lack of a strong central government for much of Japan’s history undoubtedly has something to do with this too, the hangul alphabet for Korean was created via Imperial decree but for most of Japan’s history there was no strong Emperor capable of making and enforcing such a decree. The other issue faced if typesetting Japanese is that traditional Japanese is vertical, like traditional Chinese, and read from right to left. Luckily with the advent of typewriters and computers the ever-pragmatic Japanese have pretty much moved to normal left-to-right horizontal input, though you’ll still see signs and WW2-era posters and such that had/have right-to-left horizontal arrangement like Hebrew or Arabic. And finally there is the word recognition issue. Traditionally Japanese has not used spacing to denote word boundaries. Not a problem with kanji, since each glyph is an entire word, but the phonetic alphabets make word recognition a bit problematic. My guess is that this may be one reason why two phonetic alphabets persist, if you flip from one alphabet to the other in mid-sentence that’s pretty much a firm indication of a word boundary. Toss in kanji, each of which is a word in and of itself, and it tends to sort itself out in a demented sort of way.

Japanese itself from what I can tell appears to be a rather easy language, despite being totally alien to speakers of European languages. There are of course cultural differences that come into play. If you watch dubbed Japanese movies or television shows you will inevitably hear the word ‘Hai!’ accompanied by a slight bow or nod. What that means depends on context. Reading the English dub is always amusing at that point, since the concept of honorable/respectful agreement/greeting/response expressed by that word is not readily translatable to English. Just goes to show you can’t learn everything about a language from from instructional books, you have to understand how it is used in the culture too, which typically is going to require some exposure to actual users of the language in a cultural context somehow…

27 Badtux { 12.19.12 at 10:39 pm }

And this post started off about Legos, LOL!

28 Bryan { 12.19.12 at 11:42 pm }

OK, so I’m not very strict about staying on topic, but this was a ‘geek’ post, and things have stayed geeky, right?

Any language can only be truly understood in the context of the culture. My first Russian course was military Russian, the second was Soviet Russian, and it wasn’t until the third, Advanced Course, that we actually dealt with Russian Russian, the actual language that everyday Russians used as they went about their lives. All of the instructors were native speakers and they came from a variety of backgrounds.

It wasn’t until the third course that early Russian cinema and literature started to make sense and you ‘got’ a lot of the jokes that were published in Russian magazines. Military and Soviet Russian are very correct and formal languages, but real Russians aren’t that dedicated to grammar, so the colloquial language is different in many ways. Understanding dialogue requires you to understand the real spoken language.

Actually, I think that Japanese is all that and more because things are noticeably different depending on the status of those who can hear you. Even though I didn’t pick up more than the ‘tourist necessary phrases’ in Japanese, it was noticeable when Japanese of different status were trying to help you. Americans who were fluent in Japanese also changed their language depending on who they were talking to. That isn’t in a book. You have to be there to understand how you determine what the status on an individual is, and how you interact them. After you finish with the linguistics, you have to get involved with the sociology. It isn’t easy to master even though the basics of the language are easy.

29 Badtux { 12.20.12 at 2:15 am }

Yes, the social status thing is what makes the English subtitles to Japanese films so hilarious sometimes. The use of a word, and the context in which it is used, may say something about the social status of the two people involved (with possible plot repercussions) that simply is not translatable into English, and the poor sod trying to write English subtitles to go with it is reduced to creative writing that in no way embodies what just went on. Learning how to pick up the social cues just can’t be done from an instructional book, and translating them is sometimes just impossible because they don’t exist in the other language though you get the “feel” for them just by being around them and observing them all the time.

Which reminds me of how the parochialism of Americans affects their ability to think — or not think — “out of the box” so to speak. At various times I’ve been minimally fluent in French and Spanish (to the point of being able to think in them at times), and learning a language isn’t just about translating things to your native language, it is about learning a new way of thinking. Ser and estar in Spanish are a good example. The difference between them doesn’t translate into English. I could pretty much automatically choose the correct one based on the permanence of the existence without thinking about it. But you don’t even think about the permanence of existence of a condition as a concept in English. There simply is no easy way to codify such a concept in the English language. And while personally as a decided nonconformist I’m not a fan of Japanese culture as a whole, understanding something about how a totally alien (to me) culture operates to the point of learning at least some of the language that describes the concepts I’m observing helps keep me from getting intellectually stale.

Of course, even intellectually stale requires there to be an intellect there to begin with, and I’m suspecting that for far too many Boobus Americanus, there is no “there” there :twisted:.

30 Kryten42 { 12.20.12 at 10:48 am }

Ahhhh… Languages! ๐Ÿ˜€

As well as culture Bryan, Region has a lot to play in language also. When people ask me what it was like in the USA for example, one thing I usually say to highlight it is that it’s a bit like Europe. Each State has it’s own language, law’s and *rules*! ๐Ÿ˜†

One of the Russian words that stuck in my mind (that doesn’t have an English equivalent), is “Pochemuchka ” (sp?) which is used to describe someone who asks a lot of questions (not a word you want to hear in the spy biz!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

When I first went to Japan, I had to have a tutor. As well as dialects, they have different language and usage depending in the person’s hierarchy. Generally (I was told) there are 3 levels, formal, less-formal and informal (as you pointed out Bryan). I also had to learn “the 16 ways to avoid using the word ‘no'” as Japanese (especially very senior) don’t like to hear it. One word I heard several times there was ‘Yoko meshi’ (which literally means “a meal eaten sideways”), but is used to indicate the stress of speaking a foreign language. ๐Ÿ™‚

I learned in the Mid-East that Arabic has no actual word for “compromise”. And so on.

Thankfully, it all kept me out of trouble (well, except for that one time in Texas… But… *shrug*) ๐Ÿ˜†

31 Kryten42 { 12.20.12 at 10:59 am }


I should say that whilst the Japanese (generally) don’t like using the word “no”, the word does exist.
Formal: iie
Less-formal: ie
Informal: iya

And whilst Arabic doesn’t have an actual word equivalent for the English “compromise”, they do have the word “Taarradhin” which is used to describe reaching an arrangement via struggle and disagreement. It’s used to imply a happy solution for everyone, without anyone being harmed. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also should have added, that like Europe, the US States hardly ever agree on anything (with the possible exception of War). ๐Ÿ˜›

32 Kryten42 { 12.20.12 at 11:38 am }

Geez! You’ll got me thinking now! *sigh*

OK, As well as “no”, Japanese will usually avoid saying “you” (anata) and “I” (which is more complicated as there is no *single* Japanese word for “I”).

Watashi : The standard (non-gender) word for “I”, and generally the one beginners use. It is also the less-formal version of the formal “watakushi”.

Boku : This is the soft-masculine version. (literally, “manservant”. Used when you are being humble before the speaker, generally used by a man speaking to a superior).

Ore : The hard-masculine version. It’s generally only used by men who are acting tough!

Atashi : The informal effeminate version. (Oh! this one has no kanji form as kanji is generally a masculine form. It’s only seen in hiragana or katakana.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Other common ways Japanese say “I” are:

Uchi : It is generally used as an informal feminine version when the woman want’s to avoid the implied *cuteness* of ‘atashi’. It literally means “inside” (don’t ask me!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

OK. The next two I heard often as they are generally use in Business. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kocchi : Literally means “this way”. It’s informal and usually used amongst friends or well known associates. It’s also used to mean “we” because it’s ambiguous with regard to number.

Kochira : Whilst the same word as “Kocchi” (which is simply the shortened form), it is only used formally or when being highly polite.

And, i discovered this one accidentally! ๐Ÿ˜€

Washi – It’s used only by elderly man, or men who have slurred speach! (again, don’t ask me!) ๐Ÿ˜†

And, something we don’t do in Inglish (unless one is quite strange or is being an a*hole) use their name to indicate “I”. Generally used by children, and it’s use by adults is frowned upon.

And… there are others that are no longer in general use (it was explained to me!) Some are actually period specific and were banned by succeeding rulers! One was a form of “I” only used by Samurai and another version only by a Samurai’s wife.

Ahhh… Japanese was fun! ๐Ÿ˜€

I learned German as a child (via a German Uncle/Aunt that I spent a lot of time with). They have several strange words that we have no word-equivalent of. ๐Ÿ™‚

33 Bryan { 12.20.12 at 3:00 pm }

Try explaining why ‘patronizing someone’ is bad to a Spanish speaker, there’s nothing like words with a common root that have opposite meanings to cause misunderstandings.

There are a lot of words in every language that are references to well-known historical or mythical events in that culture, but meaningless without the context.

Given all of the space for misunderstanding, it is surprising that there are any international agreements.

34 Bryan { 12.20.12 at 3:23 pm }

Posting at the same time, Kryten.

There is a saying in Russian that Ya [ะฏ] is the last letter of the alphabet because it is the least used. This is a reference to the fact that it is also the first person pronoun, I.

Obviously the verb form with tell you if you are speaking in the first person, so it isn’t necessary to the meaning, but it also is a reminder that you shouldn’t get too self-centered. This is a Russian trait, not a Soviet attitude.

Actually the normal way of expressing the concepts of possession and fondness for things involves indirection, i.e. ‘I have something’ is said ‘Something is by/near me’; and ‘I like something’ is said ‘Something is pleasing to me’. It is an entirely different mind set.