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Adventures in creating an OctoCore Mac Pro – A Brief Interlude

Considerations in Application of a GeoThermal Heat Exchange for Environmental Comfort Following the Upgrade of a MacPro1,1 with Two Over-Clocked Intel X5350 Engineering Samples that Necessitated the Addition of a Water Cooling System

Part Trois

or- “Everybody Loves it When the Fat Lineman Makes a Touchdown”

By Robert Bruce Campbell, DO
(Sorry for the delay but I was just out walking my rat and seem to have lost my way…) -Robert


Image of “That 70s Show” everyman Steven Hyde redacted for SOPA compliance.


Yeah, that’s who we are.

You were thinking when you started reading my first article that this was about how to do an upgrade. In Texas, we have a word for folks like you – “El Stupido”.

No. Absolutely not.

This has all been about railin’ against the man and keepin’ my money in my pocket. It’s about righteous indignation—ours. All of ours

It is about the fat lineman, slaving day in and out, for the good of all. Smart, quiet, humble. Over and over, taking vicious blows for no glory at all. Left out there in oppressive heat doing battle because the Head Coach is an idiot. Or maybe the QB is a pretty boy that can’t make a decision. Or how about when your Halfback is afraid of taking on that big, mean Defensive End?

It’s when you’ve been out there for 37 of the last 44 minutes, and by the Grace of God, been able to stop them all but once. But you know that you’re done. Pain is everywhere and indescribable. The only thing dripping faster than the sweat from your brow is the blood from your nose. Your heart feels like it’s going to explode and you’re sure your lungs are two sizes too small.

When you watch the offense break from their huddle and begin to turn toward you there is a flash of fear…

(I got nuthin’ left…)

and the muscles in your legs feel like they’re full of sand. You look left and right, and in doing so catch the eyes of some damned fine men who look worse than you feel, and that’s all it takes.

(Fine. Bring it on pal. Yeah, you may kick my butt. And if it ain’t you, then it’ll be your Guard. And if it ain’t him, then it’ll be that damnable Fullback with his running start. Whatever. But I WILL make you pay for it. Before this ends, I will teach you ALL of the PAIN that I FEEL!)

And then three big ‘ole boys grind you into the dirt. The only teachin’ that got done was the physics lesson that velocity can only overcome just so much mass. And you was the student.

But that was also all it took. Screw-up or not, 3 on 1 here means 0 on 1 somewhere else.

And everybody just loves it when the fat lineman makes a touchdown. Particularly the guy that just had about eight-hundred pounds drive him into the ground.

So pal if you’re anything like me—well, sit back and put your feet up ‘cause this Bud’s for you…


Quick survey—How many just heard nails on a chalkboard, and how many felt like they were chewing aluminum foil?

Comcast is one of those names that’ll do it to ya’. Obscene profits for a crappy product and even crappier (is that a word?) service. Makes a man wish he’d gotten in on the ground floor.

But here’s the story…

Before last Christmas I’d decided there was a better way than to have a TV and cable box in every room of my house. (I’ll be honest with ya’, it was a partially won battle—nowhere as good as I did on the flower bed.)

The cable boxes are always on, as you know. (And with kids, so are the TV’s.) So I had a total of five boxes, four CRT’s, and one DLP. Sooooooo….

Google, Google, Google,

Read, Read, Read,

And I stumbled across this fellow who used a Mac mini as an HTPC (should that be HTAM for Home Theatre Apple-Macintosh?).

Now, I’d like to throw the dude a bone here, but I can’t remember his site. But he was drinking Scotch, and a good one at that (albeit with ice)- Macallen, IIRC, and had a black Labrador Retriever (I think). IOW- a man’s man. Obviously single (ice, after all), nevertheless, apparently well bred and educated. If anybody knows the site, please pitch in.

Instead I’ll link to the TUAW guys. I like them. Good got some reading as well. (‘Course here’s the part where Grant freaks if I don’t link to OWC, so here ya’ go.)

[Editor’s Note: I’ll go you one better, and direct you to where we tell you how you can do it yourself. It’s a couple of years old, but still valid.]

And when I came up with gettin’ that monster Panny plasma (that has been turned on maybe a dozen times this year- really just for SuperBowl’s, guests, etc.) fed by a MacMini thru ElGato’s HDTV tuner, and my son’s iMac with another HDTV tuner feeding everyones iPhones and iPads I then got to send two CRT TV’s and one DLP TV to be recycled (or somewhere. Don’t know, don’t care. Just glad they’re gone.), and four cable boxes back to Comcast.

Point is, I wanted to save some bucks. Or at least not sweat as much. And I think I did pretty good too. You can do the math if you want, I don’t—I think things kinda speak for themselves.

Once when everything seemed to be going along pretty good… TRAGEDY! Yes, we were having spotty internet outages. I know what you’re thinking, “what’s that got to do with all that TV stuff?”, right? Well, as Comcast has been rolling out its HDTV, I’ve been trying to move my family off cable TV. Why? Because all of Comcast’s stuff is encrypted which negates having my ElGato HDTV Hybrid, with the exception of what they are forced to carry because it’s local OTA (over-the-air) broadcasting. Well, that and that they’re just a bunch of pirates.

We’re not really a TV family. My daughter likes to watch SpongeBob at breakfast and when she gets home with a snack. Bubba likes watching football. Cathy likes Dexter & Criminal Minds. But between work, school, homework, cheer, etc., it’s not like any of us has any real time to just sit and watch TV. Seriously, I’ve got the most time and I’m a bloomin’ Doctor forgodssake.

But these daily outages were interfering with the kids and their Netflix and Hulu. And boy, you don’t want to mess with my kids when they want to watch “Malcolm in the Middle”. Trust me, over-the-air just won’t do…

Comcast Service

Military Intelligence. ObamaCare. Comcast Service, (feel free to add your own here…)

So I’ve got seven days off straight, school ain’t started yet, and we were thinking of flying to Florida for a little holiday (one of the advantages of the trophy Flight Attendant wife), and guess when Comcast sets the appointment? Yup.

“Not so hard,” you’re thinking, “just reschedule.” Uh-uh, it don’t work like that. Our schedules are two months in advance. So I took what I could get.

Let me just cut to the chase here… over a course of three weeks- five confirmed appointments, and five “No Shows”.

After the first NS, I was decidedly “peeved” to say the least. Particularly when I was assured by Customer (Dis)Service people that I’d been called and informed of the cancellation.

You see, with my Mac (with Parliant’s “Phone Valet”) answering my home phone and an iPhone that never leaves my side, I’d caught them trying to blow some smoke—and busted them on it. Therefore, from the first no-show, I began documenting all online chats and recording all telephone calls.

Any of you out there in the Customer Service game? Well, those who are from Comcast will tell ya’ the most important thing is to make the customer feel that they are important to you and that you empathize with their feelings. But the truth is that you’d be hard pressed to make it sound like you would care if they and theirs were wiped off the face of the planet when you hung up. You don’t care—your job is simply to make a minimum of eight people per hour think that you do—no more. Scheduling service calls is actually someone else’s problem.

OMG! There was so much false empathy I’d wished at times I could’ve physically crawled through the telephone line & popped that empathetic prats’ head like an over-ripe zit. Every other word was “I’m sorry”. At one point, I think I even offered to stay on my cell phone and drive to the call center so they could apologize for Comcast in a more “personal” fashion (They assured me this wasn’t necessary. Whew! I felt so muuuuch better about that!)

But I still wondered what would happen if the call center people weren’t able to make their eight customers per hour. What would happen if they weren’t able to process even one call in an hour? What would happen if they weren’t able to process even one call at all?

You see, the customer service agents aren’t allowed to hang up on the customer- you have to hang up on them. And that includes their online chat.

I’d love to print all the transcripts here, or link to the audio of the four hour long phone conversation, but the guys over at OWC say that’s a big ol’ can of worms they don’t want to open up. My favorite part is where I demonstrate on audio the outcome of a healthy post prandial gastrocolic reflex (additionally stimulated by a stout dose of nicotine and caffeine) while phone conferencing with my four newfound Comcast friends/managers. Truly a movement… err… moment, to be remembered. And it seemed also to provide extra motivation on Comcast’s part to more urgently provide some… ah… relief… from the… umm… impasse, that we found ourselves in. I could go on forever…(smile)… and at the time, I was quite willing to.

Well, I think when they finally understood that I was prepared to sit on them all night if pressed (Cathy was home—I figured we could do it in shifts if needed) they decided to go ahead and contact someone from Corporate – something they said was “impossible” not not twenty minutes earlier.

So the Area Vice President at Comcast Cable had the technician at my house 10 minutes after he left the conference call. No kidding. T-E-N. Like OS Ten. Or that Malcolm “By Any Means Necessary” Ten dude. You’da thunk their guy was just down the street having dinner or something—oh wait, he was.

Anyway that’s “Ken Hamilton”, the Area Vice President at Comcast Cable. If you’re having any unresolved issues feel free to call him at 281-93X-XXXX.

(Seriously… did you really think… Jeesh- c’mon, I may be a bit twisted, but I’m not cruel.)

OK Campbell, that’s it—ya lost me…

Think, it’s all about the bucks. And that they’re better at taking our bucks than we are at keeping them. I mean, didn’t you initially sign up with a really great deal with your cable provider? And where are you now? I’ll bet your paying more now for services you don’t use. When did you last watch LMN, ION, or We. The Tennis Channel?

Worse still, they rent you a cable box for each TV at $5 per month. The four of mine sucked in about 120 watts/hr. For 24 hours each and every day. And I will do the math here. It’s 2,880 watts. And that’s about double what it takes one of those new-fangled, Energy Star washing machines.

(You know… the new ones. Yeah, the ones you have to run twice because they’re so crappy at cleaning clothes when compared to my old Kenmore with the agitator tub. That’s right, the ones our Gummint and all the Tree Huggers forced on us. Yeah, I think so too. But I will say this…


Sorry, a bit tangential there.

And the cable boxes aren’t necessary. A simple $4 PCMCIA card built into each TV could solve the problem. (Betcha didn’t know that!) But why encrypt to start off with?

Well, how ‘bout the DMCA?

Umm, that means Hollywood. You know, (stupid) Rich People each with carbon footprints the size of a developing nation. Like Babs, Ashton Krutch(something), and that Jeff Spicoli kid.

So we’ve got Comcast raping us to support the people who tell us not to eat meat because cows fart so much it’ll raise the sea level. And this would be all so frakkin’ hilarious if it also weren’t true. But it is, dear God, it is.

And really, who is to blame?

You are, you moron! You voted these people into office!

You had the opportunity to fix things, and what happened? You fired all of the people that had the smarts to figure out how to fix our environment (NASA) and leaned back to drink the Kool-Aid with Angelina Jolie.

(Well, yes, I might. I mean, if I ever had the chance and I knew no one would ever find out. And not without a gram of Valtrex, Zithromax, Ceftin, and Ritonavir beforehand and three raincoats during.)

Worse, you took all of our money to payoff the house notes of California and New York (and didn’t we already bail them out once?). I vote we cut our losses and drop back to just 48. OK, 47—you just can’t get anyone in Hawaii to work either.

Not tangential—you just gotta follow…

You see, “Stupid” has got to end somewhere and our margins are so thin we gotta find it and cut it out like a cancer NOW. Problem is that about 30% of Americans are incurably stupid, and we’ve got about another 40% riding the fence.

And that’s one whopping tumor…

So what do we do? We’re outnumbered badly, and remember… stupid breeds and stupid votes.

Two words: “Get involved.” It requires work on your part. Assume all information acquired is suspect. Grade the data on strength. Seek the counsel of educated but disinterested parties. Make an independent decision.

Just pick something. Anything that interests you and that you think will help, and jump in.

Pulling it together.

The State of Texas has some good wind energy and solar programs but zip for geothermal. Apparently the guys in Austin (flush twice—it’s a long way) think geothermal is all about hot water (easy to see, knowing that they’re all full of hot air). Would it have been that hard to include in the legislation allowances for other processes based in good science or future events?

Me? I just want to let people know that for those of us living along the Texas Gulf Coast that we are sitting on top of miles and miles of Lake Charles clay capable of absorbing huge amounts of heat that we produce for far less than what we are paying now.

I want to show people that we need to fundamentally change the way we think. I want architects to quit facing the refrigerator’s condenser coil towards the middle of the house. I want the State to encourage albedo roofing.

(Yeah, I know all about what Rush Limbaugh and Obama’s cronies said about it, but that’s got nothing to do with it. I want it done so the average Joe doesn’t have to pay a huge electric bill for air conditioning.)

I want them to step up to companies like Comcast and say “You can keep your obscene profits and your crappy service, but since you can deliver your product to the home without the customer having to pay for an extra 5,000 watts a day (remember, it was 2300 watts at the wall and you still haven’t air conditioned it yet!), you will—and you won’t charge them for the stuff they don’t want.” I want the Feds to step up and say to them, “Your rights stopped when the burden exceeded the benefit, so come up with a better way.”

I want the guy at the Texas Railroad Commission to say “public safety information and State resources are best available from the TV and internet—so yes, that would make cable providers like Comcast a monopoly subject to State regulation.”

I want all of us to treat the next guy as if he were the most important person in the world—but never say it. I’d like for bosses to say things like “No, you will never get in trouble for calling me at home or doing what you think was right. If spending my money is the right thing to do—I’ll do it! But you may get in trouble if you don’t call me or if you fail to do what is right for my customer”.

Most of all, I don’t want to pay to be raped. There’s a word for folks that provide those kinds of services, and they work at that shack outside La Grange.

Railin’ done.

Get back on track, Campbell…

So why not more about the Mac upgrade? How ‘bout work, money and learnin’.

First, I may have been premature thinking my 1,1 was on its last legs. But it is true that the bottom memory riser slot no longer works, and I’ve tried everything. When I first thought this I went out and bought a MacPro4,1 case, backplane and processor card, and all the rest of the fixins that I thought I’d need—not want, but need. Oh, and some processors.

A Swifttech GTZ on a MacPro4,1 processor
A Swifttech GTZ on a MacPro4,1 processor

Buildout is about to begin (when I’ve finished all of the lapping). Problems to overcome again were the machining and mounting of the waterblocks, and something called Pulse Width Modulation. Oh, and there be a whole lotta waterblocks on this new girl, including some designs that I don’t think even the PC Dweebs have seen before.

My metric for success here I plan on measuring in “GeekBench per dollar”. Interested?

Having to expand the GHX as well because I’ve found some more wattage looking for a dirt home, and trust me- 120 feet of one and a half inch nominal pipe ain’t cheap (do the math- I dare ya!).

I’ve also got to redesign the borehole equipment for the one and a half inchers, as I initially was planning on one inch pipe.

And of course, the One-Wire will have to go in with the GHX to monitor ground temps. Got all the stuff, but still have to set it up and get the software up and running. Anyone that has already done this be aware I accept help very graciously.


Image of Putter Smith as James Bond villain Mr. Kidd also redacted for SOPA compliance - but feel free to imagine a large bald dude carrying a bomb dressed up as a cake. No, the bomb is dressed up as a cake. Putter is kinda dressed up like a chef. Jill St. John is hardly dressed (easier to imagine- but I'd still like a picture) and is the bomb, but not the cake... Oh hell, just write your Congressman.

One last thing…

I’m hoping to have one more surprise up my sleeve in the, well, not-too far distant future, and it’s something that will most assuredly tax cooling abilities- but if it works will be the absolute bomb. I’d tell you more about it, but to quote Mr. Wint Ah… But then there would be no surprise…”

Coming Up Next…

“Ethical Considerations in the Creation of New Species”


“A Cold, Silent, FrankenMacPro5,1 Lives!”

Dr. Campbell again breaches the boundaries of God and breathes Life into the inanimate…

And you thought “Shaun of the Dead” was scary!

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