Watts (chipotle) wrote,
Watts
chipotle

Nerd re-architecting

When I moved out to California, I had two computers: a PowerBook G4 laptop, and a Celeron 433. (Yes, for those of you who thought I only used Macs, it’s true—I was a PC user for much longer, although half the time I wasn’t running Windows.) Even in 2002, the Celeron was showing its age, of course, and I don’t think I actually even turned it on out here except to verify that it still worked. In October 2003, I bought a PowerMac G5 desktop, and have had it since.

Since I bought it, though, my working style has changed—I’m on laptops almost exclusively. My personal laptop is also my work “desktop” these days just by bringing it into the office and hooking up the external monitor and keyboard. The desktop machine still gets used every day, but it gets used as a remote server via SSH and a jukebox. The only advantages it has over the laptop are a bigger monitor and a better graphics card.

Of course, computers go out of fashion fast these days, and with the switch from PowerPC to Intel, Macs shifted faster than most.1 The G5 isn’t as outdated as the Celeron, to be sure, but it has only 512M of RAM—these days it needs 2G to be useful—and its graphics card is, in retrospect, pretty anemic (and there aren’t many choices for replacing it). So there’s not much that it does that the laptop doesn’t—and it’s rather inconvenient to use, bhy comparison.

Last year I bought a MacBook shortly after it started shipping and I’ve liked it—but its graphics, from the integrated GMA950 chip, are even more anemic than the G5’s. I kept thinking about upgrading the desktop so I could use it at home; there are ergonomic advantages to it, after all. And the one complaint I’ve started to have about the laptop is its comparatively small screen. (Using it with the external LCD at work makes programming a lot easier.)

Upgrading would involve getting a new monitor, more than likely, to replace the huge CRT. But it would almost definitely involve getting more RAM. And it would involve getting a better graphics card.

These thoughts made me consider just getting a new desktop, period. But the thought of getting an über-laptop did occur to me, and kept sticking in the back of my mind. Keep the G5 in its current role indefinitely, and get a new machine that consolidated all my work, with a bigger screen and better GPU. Perhaps if an upgrade came out to the MacBook Pro line…

Well, yesterday, one did, and yes, I’m afraid I ran out and bought one.

This still doesn’t solve the monitor problem, but one big expense at a time.

I’ll be selling the original MacBook, once I make sure everything I need is off of it and find all the appropriate niggly bits.

Oh. I’m not sure what to call the new computer; my line of Macs so far have been named after appearance, roughly speaking (“habanero” for an orange iBook, “parmesan” for the G5 with its grater-like front). It’s tentatively “tincan,” but I’m open to suggestions.


Footnotes:

1. One of the many peculiar pissing matches PC and Mac people get into is over “lifespan” of the computers, with partisans pulling out software written twenty years ago and claiming they can still run it so can you top that fanboy. Reality check: nobody runs 20-year-old PC and Mac software except in fits of nostalgia, or to prove that they can. (N.B.: do not start a pissing match here.)

Tags: mac, tech
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