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Author Topic: Server / Gaming Trend State of the Union Address (BIG Update 12/15)  (Read 7440 times)
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Knightshade Dragon
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« on: July 21, 2010, 04:10:24 AM »

Before I say anything I wanted to preface all of this by saying that I'm asking the community for advice here.  I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about the best way to resolve the outstanding issues with the server.  I welcome your feedback and I encourage it.

So I've spent the evening talking with our host about our options.   Right now we are running on a somewhat older P4-based server with 2GB of RAM and some 10k rpm 160GB drives.  Here is the hitch - we are doing a ton of traffic and we've more than exceeded that RAM eating into the swap space.  The host and I have worked it out and he will be taking down the server to expand the memory as high as we can push it on that motherboard.   This will give us some room to breathe, but not much.  I'm presented with a few options:

1.) Do nothing. Obviously with several failures this week alone, this is not an attractive option.  Eventually it'll damage something when we crash and I won't be able to repair it.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.

2.) Move to a much larger server: Planning that this would eventually happened, I have assembled a Dual Xeon 2.8GHz Dell PowerEdge 2850 rackmount server.  It has 6 73GB SCSI 15,000RPM drives (RAID10, hot swappable), dual gigabit connections, 6GB of RAM, redundant power supplies, hot swappable fans, and a few spares of everything (4 spare drives, 2 spare PSUs, some spare fans).  Here is the hitch - in RAID 10 we get only 219GB of space which is easily eaten during E3 with videos alone.  It leaves little room for expansion.  It is also a damned swine on power.  On power up it eats 3 Amps and settles down to about 2.5 Amps.   This means I have to rent 1/4 of a rack which drives our costs UP another 30 bucks a month.  Obviously we end up with a LOT more power in our server but it is a bit of a dead end in terms of expandability.

3.) Build a new server: This is our best option, but it carries a cost.  This is the server I would want to assemble, but I'll gladly take other suggestions.  
    
1ea.    ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM - $23.99
1ea.    Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $59.95
4ea.    Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $379.96 ($94.99 each)
2ea.    Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K2/4GX  $199.98 ($99.99 each)
1ea.    MSI P55-CD53 LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - $109.99 (+$25.99 for 2 year warranty)
1ea.    Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor BX80605I7860 - $289.99
1ea     RAID Array Cage - $89.99
1ea.    750 Watt Corsair PSU  - $109
1ea.    Low End PCI-E Graphics Card  - $64.00

Subtotal:    $1,370.32
Warranty for board: $25.99
Shipping:    $18.47
Total: $1,414.78

This server would have four drives so we can do RAID5 with a spare or RAID6 to be able to tolerate 2 failures.  It would also give us 8GB of RAM, 8 processor cores, and a 2.8 TB of space to utilize giving us a lot of room to store videos for a lot longer.  (If we go with 3 drives it drops to roughly 2TB of space)  

The long term benefit is that our server costs would actually DROP by 40 dollars a month.  I would try to sell the PowerEdge 2850 to try to cut this cost, but I'll still have to take up donations to try to supplement some of this cost that I'll ultimately pay the difference out of my pocket.   I'm going to be selling everything I can to try to fund this if we go down this road - games, my Series 3 TiVo, iPhone 8GB and 16GB, boombox, and much more.  

The Future of Gaming Trend
Our redesign has been be absolutely riddled with problems.  Trying to dig through code with three different code styles is proving to be more effort than anyone could have anticipated.  That said, we've got some good foundations laid (proven by the efficiency and speed we managed to put media on the page for E3) and with that said, we'll be doing a lot of very big changes in the very near future.  Just in time for the holiday season, we'll have a completely new site to launch.  Comments on news articles, user submitted content, and much more.  We just have to figure out what to do to pave the road to that future.  

I eagerly await your feedback.

Sincerely,


================= Update 9/30/10 @ 9:41am ==================
The concensus seems to be that Option 3 is the best option moving forward.   If you would like to contribute to the fund via PayPal, you can do so by sending to [email protected]    I will update this area daily with totals.   We will run this until 8/20/10 and evaluate how far we've gotten.  I'm sure that we can meet our goal if we all work together.

If you would like to send a check, money order, etc, please make it out to the following:

Ron Burke
2401 E. John Cabot Rd.
Phoenix, AZ. 85032

Current Total: $1157.76


We will work to figure out some way to recognize members who donate to the cause.  Join the discussion.


=================================UPDATE from 9/30!=====================================
So I've got a preliminary quote on a very powerful server:

HP ML350                         
HP ML350T06 SAS LFF CTO Chassis    $ 400.00    
Intelģ Xeonģ Processor E5506 (2.13 GHz, 4MB L3 Cache, 80W, DDR3-800)    $ 230.00    
HP 4GB 2Rx8 PC3-10600R-9 Kit    $ 200.00    
HP 460W CS HE Power Supply Kit    $ 225.00    
HP P410/ZM Smart Array Controller FIO Kit    $ 225.00    
HP Half-Height SATA DVD-ROM Optical Drive    $ 50.00    
Seagate Constellation ES ST31000524NS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive    4ea    $ 620.00    
3.5" DRIVE TRAY SAS SATA    4ea    $ 100.00    
HP 256 MB P-series cache module    $ 80.00    
Total: $ 2,130.00    
Trade in on 2850 Server = $750.00
- Our current donation amount = $1157.76
= $222.24 dollars to go!

We are VERY close to a brand new rig that is FAR more powerful than the one we are on right now.   This vendor has worked with me quite a bit on several configurations and I think this one makes the most sense.  I'm still checking in on a few more items and quotes, but so far this looks like it might be the best bang for our buck (and it is certainly the highest trade in offer I've gotten on the old gear).
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 06:24:01 PM by Knightshade Dragon » Logged

Ron Burke
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 04:20:46 AM »

despite the up front costs, the benefit of having the per month costs drop instead of increase cannot be understated.  i believe it is your best option for storage and scalability as well.
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 04:23:49 AM »

Give us the PayPal link (21st century version of "Tell me where to send the check) and I'm sure we can have a nice drive to get some fundage your way to help with option three.  Invest the funds up front and ride that puppy into the ground over the next several years.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 04:37:41 AM »

My Paypal is [email protected]

I'd like to hear from some other folks before we rush down that road, though I agree very much with Caine that having the monthly drop is a boon. 
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2010, 05:25:43 AM »

Know anyone in the gaming industry? Maybe you could get donations from developers and auction them off. Would bring more traffic to the site as well. I'm thinking things like signed copies of games and stuff.

Alternatively, you could charge CeeKay a nickel per post and that would fund a new server, bandwidth, college education for your kids, a rolex, etc.

Oh and I have that Antec case. Love it.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 05:26:21 AM »

Are we talking about a $70 difference in costs per month (from +$30 to -$40)?  If so, that server pays for itself in ~15 months, which is phenomenal ROI.

As far as the specs themselves, they don't seem conducive to a server.  Why are you going i7 over Xeon?  Why the FUCK is in in a tower?  How does that fit in your colo - are you going to pay more for that when it doesn't fit properly in a rack?  Why are you building versus buying?  In the server world, where reliability and uptime are most important, I'd suggest looking at what you can buy from Dell or HP.  Their prices are incredibly competitive these days.  The Dell R310 is probably what you'd want to look at and it's INCREDIBLY good on power.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 05:31:00 AM »

What kinda games are you selling?
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2010, 05:44:27 AM »

Quote from: gellar on July 21, 2010, 05:26:21 AM

Are we talking about a $70 difference in costs per month (from +$30 to -$40)?  If so, that server pays for itself in ~15 months, which is phenomenal ROI.

As far as the specs themselves, they don't seem conducive to a server.  Why are you going i7 over Xeon?  Why the FUCK is in in a tower?  How does that fit in your colo - are you going to pay more for that when it doesn't fit properly in a rack?  Why are you building versus buying?  In the server world, where reliability and uptime are most important, I'd suggest looking at what you can buy from Dell or HP.  Their prices are incredibly competitive these days.  The Dell R310 is probably what you'd want to look at and it's INCREDIBLY good on power.

Good questions.  First, the costs.  The costs are currently $130 a month. (plus another 35 for server management and 3rd party maintenance)  With the Xeon it'd rise to $160 a month.   With what I specced it'd drop to $89 a month.   The reasons for not going Xeon and building a true rack server is simple - cost.  A similarly powered rackmount is a lot closer to the $1600 mark (HP Proliant DL360), $1400 mark (Dell PowerEdge R710), $2900 mark (Dell R310 you suggested), $2400 mark (IBM 3550), etc.  I think that if I install a RAID cage and set up a SATA RAID with redundancy I can build server-level power in a cost-effective box.  As far as the host goes, we have been with them since 2006 and they said they'll give us whatever space we need to keep us as a customer.  The space is a non issue - the wattage and cost is the pain point.  

As far as i7 or Xeon, the i7 with 8 cores is out performing Xeon in the benchmarks that I've seen, but I'd be interested to hear some real-life experiences.  
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 05:45:03 AM »

Quote from: Daehawk on July 21, 2010, 05:31:00 AM

What kinda games are you selling?

I'll have to get to that as we make our decision, but console and PC are pretty likely.
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 05:57:28 AM »

Quote from: cheeba on July 21, 2010, 05:25:43 AM

Alternatively, you could charge CeeKay a nickel per post and that would fund a new server, bandwidth, college education for your kids, a rolex, etc.

gold plated servers for everyone! icon_lol
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2010, 06:35:18 AM »

Quote from: cheeba on July 21, 2010, 05:25:43 AM

Know anyone in the gaming industry? Maybe you could get donations from developers and auction them off. Would bring more traffic to the site as well. I'm thinking things like signed copies of games and stuff.

Alternatively, you could charge CeeKay a nickel per post and that would fund a new server, bandwidth, college education for your kids, a rolex, etc.

Oh and I have that Antec case. Love it.

I like this. I love having stuff signed from the industry folks. Neat little collectibles that are much cooler than a bobble head currently bobbing from fallout 3 every time I type.

Maybe Chaz can hook us up with a signed RB3 Tongue
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2010, 07:18:08 AM »

according to the member tab, there are 2245 members.  how many of those are active?  who knows.

but if we can't raise $1400 to buy a rack mount dell server without you having
to sell all your crap,  we suck.  really.

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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2010, 07:32:36 AM »

Actually, I agree with the above poster whom I've never seen before ;-) We should be able to raise some money for a new GT server without you having to sell your underwear.

If that fails, I suggest you start pimping porn as well - its supposedly the most lukrative business  ninja
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« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2010, 10:17:33 AM »

My opinion, as worthless as it may be, is that we are a community, and as a community we can solve this.  We have more than enough members to step up and find a way to fund a new server.
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« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2010, 11:41:32 AM »

Simple.. Funding Drive.

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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2010, 12:53:39 PM »

What about adding a load-balance solution?
Also, I may have access to some older Xeon servers (which would mean the cost of shipping).
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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2010, 01:37:00 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 21, 2010, 12:53:39 PM

What about adding a load-balance solution?
Also, I may have access to some older Xeon servers (which would mean the cost of shipping).

The problem is 'older Xeon server' means 'add 2.5 amps of draw' which means double the monthly cost.  I've checked with several colocations and that seems to be how it goes everywhere.  Put it this way - a 2.5 to 3 amp constant draw would push your house electric bill up about 35 bucks a month on its own. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2010, 01:43:56 PM »

Funding drive. I don't have PayPal but I would make a donation if there is any other method of doing so (credit card, mail you a check, etc).
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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2010, 01:46:50 PM »

#3 seems the logical choice.

You can put me down for $100 pledge.  I don't post as often as most other folks here but I consider this my online 'home'.

- Don
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2010, 02:09:56 PM »

#3 + community donations + any possible fund raiser you might be able to put together without too much extra work.  You might even get enough to flat out buy one of those servers you listed above.
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« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2010, 02:14:14 PM »

i've been here since 2004...i just like to mostly lurk smile

what about donations...plus a used game drive or something?  certainly everyone here must have a game or two they are will to get rid
of.  we could just have a big sale amongst ourselves, with the purchase price being payed directly via paypal to the server account.

or a bake sale.  a tasty tasty bake sale.  smile
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« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2010, 02:18:54 PM »

All great ideas guys.   Are we resolved to go with path 3 then?  If so, I figure I'll raise what I can, add it to what you guys can donate to the cause, sell off some games, see about a used game drive, and have CeeKay bake pies to sell...

Actually, that last one sounds like an awful idea.   icon_eek

I'm getting in touch with some resellers to see what I can get for that Xeon system to see how much that'll help.
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« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2010, 02:27:24 PM »

If the reliability is there in option #3, then there's no question.  It'll pay for itself before any hardware improvements would have to be made.
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« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2010, 02:31:11 PM »

As recommended, I've translated this State of the Union to Old Spice Speak:

ďHello, ladies, look at our server, now back to me, now back at our server, now back to me. Sadly, this server isnít me, but if we stopped using so much damned memory and switched to New Server, he could smell like heís me. Look down, back up, where are you? Youíre in a server room with the server your server could run like. Whatís in your hand, back at me. I have it, itís an i7 Processor with two sticks of DDR3 for that thing you love. Look again, the processor is now diamonds (because this will probably require a fund drive to make this happen). Anything is possible when your man server runs like New Server and not a Gameboy. Iím on a horse.Ē
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« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2010, 02:35:53 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on July 21, 2010, 02:31:11 PM

As recommended, I've translated this State of the Union to Old Spice Speak:

ďHello, ladies, look at our server, now back to me, now back at our server, now back to me. Sadly, this server isnít me, but if we stopped using so much damned memory and switched to New Server, he could smell like heís me. Look down, back up, where are you? Youíre in a server room with the server your server could run like. Whatís in your hand, back at me. I have it, itís an i7 Processor with two sticks of DDR3 for that thing you love. Look again, the processor is now diamonds (because this will probably require a fund drive to make this happen). Anything is possible when your man server runs like New Server and not a Gameboy. Iím on a horse.Ē

All your technical server mumbo-jumbo is lost on me, but this I can understand.  Donations will be forthcoming.
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« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2010, 02:43:07 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on July 21, 2010, 02:31:11 PM

As recommended, I've translated this State of the Union to Old Spice Speak:

ďHello, ladies, look at our server, now back to me, now back at our server, now back to me. Sadly, this server isnít me, but if we stopped using so much damned memory and switched to New Server, he could smell like heís me. Look down, back up, where are you? Youíre in a server room with the server your server could run like. Whatís in your hand, back at me. I have it, itís an i7 Processor with two sticks of DDR3 for that thing you love. Look again, the processor is now diamonds (because this will probably require a fund drive to make this happen). Anything is possible when your man server runs like New Server and not a Gameboy. Iím on a horse.Ē

Brilliant.
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« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2010, 03:10:42 PM »

#3 is the only real way to go obviously.  It is time for people to donate for what they really want.  I don't think it is too much to ask for that.  Heck I spend a few bucks each week on apps for my phone, I can afford a few for this site where I spend a lot more time.

One thing I think is important is to make it "Now"  When the paypal link is always up people start to ignore it.  Or they think "I can donate anytime"  You want people to give at a specific time (now)  The trick to this is publicity.  How do you keep people up to date on how much you have raised, how far you have to go etc. 


And if that fails sell high reviews to publishers! It works for a lot of the industry. smile
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2010, 03:22:56 PM »

Why not go for an AMD based build? I mean in the past they've been pretty shitty but lately there price/performance is great. And considering this website is running on P4 and it's finally maxing that out why not save some money and build something comparable? I mean I don't know what the budget is, why not do the funding drive see how much you get within say a month and then build the best computer you can out of the money you got? Or with the money reevaluate whether or not to go with a true server. I mean I've run servers on regular desktop computers before and they've been reliable, but those were just my home servers that I fucked around with things on, if this is a commercial application I would probably change that. That and I see you want to get under the 3 amp power draw and save some money per month, I'm pretty sure there are some server level hardware that won't draw that much power. I'll hunt around.
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« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2010, 03:39:54 PM »

How much memory can we save by removing all of CeeKay's past posts and limiting him to five a day going forward?  icon_wink
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2010, 03:48:23 PM »

*Clearly, we just need to create a Gaming Trend MMO, charge $60 for the client, and then charge $15 a month. Maybe along with an ad-supported "CeeKay and Blackjack Whack-A-Mole" game where every time one of us pops up to post another link or start another thread, BAM.  icon_smile By God, you'd have all the money you need in a couple months.  icon_razz

Seriously though, I agree we all oughta be able to scrounge up enough change amongst 2200 members (or however many active) to support Option 3.

Would there maybe be a way to put a little badge or medal or something by your forum name here if you've donated some money? Having different levels might be getting carried away but maybe if people just visually saw at a glance that others were donating money to GT (maybe labled "GT Supporter" or something), it might inspire them to do the same.

The leadership organization I was in did that a bit with donations. You got your name in the annual program, and some other minor perks.
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« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2010, 04:39:27 PM »

Nothing's going to happen until we get a really cool fundraising thermometer on the front page. Any fundraising effort worth anything has a big fat thermometer.
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« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2010, 04:54:48 PM »

That's part of the redesign.

/runs away
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« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2010, 04:57:12 PM »

Quote
#3 is the only real way to go obviously.  It is time for people to donate for what they really want.
Agreed.  I want to expand not only how we cover news, but how you guys receive it.  Video reviews, more interviews, blogging for all users, having your own game collection page, etc. but we simply cannot do that without more hardware.  

Quote
One thing I think is important is to make it "Now"
Agreed.  I'll start the drive today as it seems the consensus is option 3 (whether we build or buy is dependent on the amount raised)  I'll put the info into the first post.

Quote
Why not go for an AMD based build?
There is nothing off the table at this point.  I'll look into benchmarks and see how they compare with our chosen OS and the like in a web serving environment and I'll post what I find out here.

Quote
Would there maybe be a way to put a little badge or medal or something by your forum name here if you've donated some money? Having different levels might be getting carried away but maybe if people just visually saw at a glance that others were donating money to GT (maybe labled "GT Supporter" or something), it might inspire them to do the same.
Absolutely.  That is very easy to do.  What sort of badge would you like?  I'd like something other than just a star (the default).   I can also do custom forum tags as well.

Quote
Nothing's going to happen until we get a really cool fundraising thermometer on the front page. Any fundraising effort worth anything has a big fat thermometer.
 If that is what it takes, it'll happen!  MIIIIIIKE!!!! (hehe)
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Ron Burke
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YellowKing
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« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2010, 05:08:35 PM »

A little late to the party, but yeah - option 3 is a no-brainer. We'll make it happen. If nothing else I can sell autographs.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2010, 05:34:25 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on July 21, 2010, 04:39:27 PM

Nothing's going to happen until we get a really cool fundraising thermometer on the front page. Any fundraising effort worth anything has a big fat thermometer.
Maybe a virtual 3-D avatar of Ron Burke surrounded by various things he'll be forced to sell (hopefully not to include internal body organs). As GT's financial situation worsens, the virtual possessions gradually fade away as Ron's virtual body gradually withers.  icon_eek
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« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2010, 05:43:25 PM »

Quote from: YellowKing on July 21, 2010, 05:08:35 PM

A little late to the party, but yeah - option 3 is a no-brainer. We'll make it happen. If nothing else I can sell autographs.

How would we raise the other $1,108.00?  icon_wink
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« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2010, 05:50:02 PM »

You could set it up like a wish list/gift registry as well and people could have the parts named after the purchasing agent.  That way, you could refer to the poster when referring to it.  "CeeKay is operating at 50% efficiency."  "PeteRock crashed last night."  "We had to RMA Blackhawk this week."
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« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2010, 05:53:33 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 21, 2010, 05:50:02 PM

You could set it up like a wish list/gift registry as well and people could have the parts named after the purchasing agent.  That way, you could refer to the poster when referring to it.  "CeeKay is operating at 50% efficiency."  "PeteRock crashed last night."  "We had to RMA Blackhawk this week."

Ha!  That is pretty awesome.  The info above is attached to a public wishlist at NewEgg, but obviously if we suddenly raise a ton of cash, we wouldn't necessarily buy that gear exactly.  We can certainly name them though. slywink
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Ron Burke
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« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2010, 06:16:27 PM »

Rather than the wishlist then, tie the names of certain parts to posters that meet certain thresholds.  The first six donations of, say $100 get one of the HDDs or the RAM sticks named after them.  $125 gets you the motherboard, $300 gets you the processor named after you, etc. 
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« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2010, 07:04:50 PM »

Late to the party, but I agree that option 3 seems like the way to go as long as this doesn't end up to be another case of people talking big but not actually donating.  I understand some people are in difficult circumstances and can't afford it, but if you are working and spend time on the site please do your best to show your appreciation of the hard work they put into this place by donating.  Think if it as the best damn magazine subscription you'll buy this year.  smile
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