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Hello from a new Merchant Supplier

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by John M, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. John M

    John M Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Greetings everyone! I came to this site in quite a roundabout way and I thought I'd tell you a bit of my story.

    After over ten years in the IT field, I decided to open a typical "mom & pop" kind of computer store this past March. It's a small town where if the part you needed wasn't at Office Max you had to order it online from NewEgg and wait a few days. There were few choices when it came to service & support so I was ready to fill the need.

    Once the building was rented my next stop was the local sign store to order the main sign and some magnetics for my truck. While there I worked out a deal to fix their PC, a standard off-the-shelf Athlon-powered HP. I cleaned it up, upgraded it to an Athlon 4000 and a gig of DDR, and they were back
    on the road. As fate would have it, they were relocating their shop -- two doors down from my new location.

    They added a monster Roland that prints & cuts and were soon putting it to good use. The old computer, however, was less enthusiastic about the new workload. Large banners and wraps quickly taxed it to the limit and I got the call about a totally new setup. This began my first foray into the world of sign design hardware. I had no idea how technically demanding the industry was!

    I've built and maintained servers (database, email, etc.) at the enterprise level, anywhere from x86-based to HP L-class servers. I've built massive gaming PCs. I've run networks with over a thousand nodes. This was the first case I'd had where file sizes routinely topped 5 and 6 *gigs* in size. These were 300 dpi images (if the printer does it, why skimp?) that were "only" 500-600 megs when in CDR format but when exported as an EPS the files were massive. An example file they showed me took almost an hour to export as an EPS. After that they had to wait again while VersaWorks opened the file.

    Enter the new machine: a Core2Duo-based system overclocked to 3.0 gHz (on air cooling), an Asus workstation motherboard, 3 gigs of DDR2 800 (2x 1GB, 2x 512MB to maintain dual channel), a Western Digital Raptor boot drive (OS and programs) and an LSI Logic 64 bit PCI-X RAID controller running four Western Digital 500GB drives in RAID0. We're talking 200 mb/sec sustained hard drive transfer. SuperPi 1M benchmark in 19.5 seconds. In real world terms? That file that took 55 minutes to export as a 6+ GB EPS file now takes 3 minutes. Editing huge files in Corel or Photoshop is seamless.

    This is a true "plug and play" system. This isn't the kind of system that was "benchmark only" overclocked - it runs 100% stable day in and day out under heavy loads. After all, their entire business relies on this machine. It's been in service now for about six months with zero issues. Total cost: about $2200, including XP Pro.

    Once I saw what this sign shop experienced, I just knew others had to be in the same position. I'm sure there are plenty of people who design their own mega-computers. But, as we all know, there are just as many more who need to be able to purchase a ready-built workstation so they can keep working on signs. That's where we come in. After all, I knew not to make my own signs :Big Laugh Sure, we're a small company but just like you guys: if we didn't think we did a better job than "the other guys" we wouldn't have opened our doors!

    Over the next few days I'll post some sample builds, benchmarks, and anything else you might find useful. I look forward to some pretty interesting discussions too, and not just about hardware. For example, I'm really curious about DPI choices on large jobs - I'll post a topic about it later on in the appropriate section.

    In the meantime, feel free to post questions, PM, or email me with whatever you'd like. I look forward to being here for a long time, as well as learning a great deal more than I ever expected about the sign business. I'll also refer the folks at the sign shop here to this website so they can also join the community.
  2. Flame

    Flame Major Contributor

    Apr 26, 2006

    Man, sucks I just bought a new computer. Would've loved that baby a few months ago...
  3. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

    Feb 7, 2005
    Welcome aboard John! Nice intro...
    Be prepared to field a lot of questions.
    Here is a simple one ( I hope)
    IE: will a larger/faster video card help with the RIP software? We're just dealing with still images..not video. Is there any benefit?
  4. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

    Jun 24, 2003
    Not usually, Rip is an internal algorithm and is dependent on RIP code. The faster vid card helps with faster redraws for display and such if needed.
  5. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

    Nov 19, 2006
    Sun City, AZ
    Welcome John . . . Glad to have you aboard . . . Good Luck !
  6. Bulldog1929

    Bulldog1929 Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Wecome John,
    Truly nteresting what you were able to accomplish at the sign shop. Bet they are now very happy campers.
    I'm a newbie on the board, but I am impressed with the mega system that you put together. Sopunds like you've got your "putor nerd':Big Laugh together.
    I don't think anyone down here in redneck land would even begin to comprehend building such a putor.
  7. gvgraphics

    gvgraphics Very Active Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Welcome from PA!
  8. bighun

    bighun Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    Welcome John. Nice to see another PC nerd around. I myself have dabbled a bit in building PC's, only got about 50-60 under my belt, sure you have hundreds. Also got MCSE certified but never was able to find a job using it. And that was in L.A.! Got some buddies that work in an IT center near L.A., it's pretty wild, armed guards, sally port to enter, asset tracking cards that all employees must wear and even cameras every several feet always clicking away. Then, the "Command Center" had these huge monitors with 3 IT guys, reminded me of some sort of Government facility, no sign of Bush though.

    Anyway, welcome aboard, this place is great.
  9. Columbia Signs

    Columbia Signs Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Good to know. We'll be putting together another station next month... and we might have to go to a sever due to a possible second location. I'll keep you in mind.
  10. Jackpine

    Jackpine Major Contributor

    Welcome to the group.
  11. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

    Nov 29, 2003
    Kahului, Maui
    Great idea signing up as a merchant & specializing in this niche. I bet you will do real well. I may even help. (help your business do well, that is)
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Active Member

    Jan 15, 2007
    new england
    Hi John,
    Great intro... We all tend to struggle with the demands of these files. Nice to have a certified guru!
  13. JR's

    JR's Very Active Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    swansea Ma 02777
    Welcome ;)
  14. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    Great idea, one of our traditional problems is computer specs/maintenance, seems many vendors/techs just don't understand our needs.
  15. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Welcome from PA.....................

    Nice :thumb:
  16. jscarl

    jscarl Very Active Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Welcome John.
  17. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

    Jun 8, 2004
    welcome to the site. sounds like you will be a great source for computer needs as it's hard to get all that we need when buying a new 'puter. I just got a new one a couple of months back and sure could have used you!
  18. high impact

    high impact Very Active Member

    Welcome to the playground!
  19. Air Art Girl

    Air Art Girl Very Active Member

    Nov 26, 2006
    nice to have you onboard.
  20. Custom Signs

    Custom Signs Member

    May 16, 2006
    Longview, TX
    Welcome from Texas!

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