Well, Fry’s Electronics finally opened a store in the Seattle area. Bizarrely enough, I had a easier time finding unusual computer stuff in Bellingham then I’ve had in Seattle. A lot of that is me not knowing where to look, but Seattle seems to suffer from too many CompUSAs and assorted office supply stores, and not enough actual techie-oriented computer stores. Example: I wanted to find a PCI Ethernet card that was supported by a specific kernel build that we were shipping as part of our product at work, and I ended up having to raid my closet at home, because no place in town seems to sell anything other then $20 tulip clones. I don’t know, Intel and 3com have stopped making real Ethernet cards or something, but it’s kind of irritating when you’re only a few miles down the road from The Evil Empire, and you have to mail-order Ethernet cards.

Anyway, Fry’s is here. It’s in Renton, which isn’t my ideal location for an electronics store, but it’s better then Portland, which was the closest Fry’s.

Cyn and I drove down on Saturday. That may have been a mistake, because it looked like everyone else in the entire state was there as well. They had 66 registers open, and the backup from the checkout lines was screwing up foot traffic in about half of the store when we got there.

All in all, it’s not exactly God’s Gift to Geeks, but they did have a lot of stuff in stock, including around 20 different motherboards (including 2 ITX boards), spools of Cat 5 (didn’t look for 5e or 6), multimode fiber with at least a few different connectors (but no singlemode), CPUs (including a couple speed grades of Opteron, although I didn’t see any motherboards), and so forth. Their drive prices weren’t great, but I was able to get a DVD/CD-RW combo drive for $49, which is about $50 cheaper then CompUSA. Not like that’s hard or anything–last time I was there, they wanted $30 for IDE cables ($2.99 from Fry’s, probably $0.17 in lots of 1,000 online).

In the end, I suckered in and spent too much money. My wife has been wanting a new computer for a while, and talked me into getting her a small-form-factor IWill XP-4. With a 2.4GHz Celeron, 512MB of RAM, 80GB drive, wireless keyboard and mouse, plus a 15” LCD, it came to just over $600, which doesn’t seem too shabby. I added a DVD reader and a wireless card that I had sitting around, and we now have a computer in the kitchen, running Linux. I’ll get to that rant later.