The Big Think

March 3, 2006

Jupiter Has the Measles!

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 4:06 pm

Jupiter is developing a secondGreat Red Spot. Wow. What might happen now?

Upgrades

Filed under: Computing,Macintosh,Music — jasony @ 2:48 am

Geeky post follows.

Now that Sing is over I can muck around with my computer system and see what the future may bring. I have a standing rule that I can do NO alteration to my computer or studio when I’m in a work cycle. I’ve had things go Very Badly in the past and it’s always a nightmare of lost time and effort when I could be working. So as long as there is current work, no touchie computer! Hands off!

Now that the show is over, though, I’m free to tinker. I was lamenting to Erin tonight how my next computer upgrade is likely to be (1) several years off (my current machine is only 2 years old or so), and (2) ridiculously expensive because for various technical reasons I will have to upgrade everything at once. Take a look at what I’m staring at:

new mac (approx $2000 or so street price- a great machine in any modern era)
new flatscreen monitors (preferably two 20″ screens at about $800/pop current price)
updated Midi interface ($400)
updated audio interface ($1000)
updated software (about $300)

So while my last computer upgrade was only $1300 and included a color printer, this next one might run over $5K. Yeowch. So I started looking into ways to cut down on that price, or at least spread it out a little. My monitor still clicks and blinks every so often, but it still works. As long as it doesn’t die on me, I think I’ll be good until prices come down a bit more on the flatscreens. For the kind of work I do, though (lots of Midi sequencing, music notation, and a growing amount of video production), two monitors is becoming more of a necessity than an extravagance. If I can hold off until the 20″ versions get below the $500 mark then I’ll be really happy. Sure, I could spend less on an inferior product, but these are my only eyes, and if Giles and Erin have taught me anything, it’s that going cheap on a piece of hardware that I spend 16 hours staring at some days is a false economy. So it’ll be the nice ones when the time comes.

The midi interface is another matter. I just so happen to have a g4port installed on my current machine. It takes the place of the modem and acts as an old-style serial port, thus allowing me to use my old midi interface (that I paid $800 for 12 years ago and still works fine) with my current machine. Unfortunately, my old Midi interface doesn’t work with OS X… and no current Mac will boot into 9 any more. But then I realized that I could ebay a newer (but still serial) Midi Express XT and use it with the G4port. Lo and behold, ebay had just what I was looking for and it was priced at only .99! (that’s ninety nine cents). How could I go wrong? Well, it will cost $20 to ship, but that’s still better than $400 any day.

So in the mean time I may be able to update the midi interface and all of my software for much cheaper than I had feared. When the inevitable time comes and I have to replace my machine (which, I hope, is still 2-3 years away), at least I won’t have to shell out for a new midi interface. The audio interface is another matter, and I’m not sure about that yet.

As a side note, I try and make my desktop machines last a minimum of 4 years, and the only laptop I’ve owned is almost six years old and still going strong. I just hate to spend money on computers until I’m forced by breakage or business needs to do so. The upside, of course, is when I finally get around to upgrading, it’s like being thrust into warp drive. The new machines are so frigging fast that my head spins for several days. Then I inevitably get used to it and small things start to annoy. Meanwhile the retired machine gets moved down the line to become the current home automation controller. It’s a good system. The only bad thing about my old G3 (and current HA machine) is that it’s as loud as a hurricane. I’m kinda hoping it dies so I can get a silent mac mini.

What a spoiled life we Americans lead when technology is so ridiculously fast and available.

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