Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

tech talk and pretty birds

I fell asleep well before midnight on New Year's Eve. I woke very early this morning. I got up near five a.m. I have been doing research on replacing my desktop computer. Usually, buying a gadget or bit of technology is a matter of sorting out which of last year's technology has fallen meteorically in price, and buying something slightly out of date but
fully functional.

My brother is a computer power user. He plays those games more real than life itself. His avocation is running a popular website devoted to a particular set of car models. He made the point to me that a computer is usually a two-year purchase, which brings sufficient joy that one should buy as much computer as one can afford. This all makes pretty good sense to me,but it is not my approach. My current computer is 4 1/2 years old, and not quite out of gas. I feel a little guilty about wanting to replace.Though it was crashing often when I still had it on Windows XP, its months as a linux machine have had fewer problems. It is largely problem-free now. But I want something a bit more powerful.

In this particular market, Intel makes the best powerful CPU's while AMD chips are in general a spectrum of less workable but less efficient chips at, in general, a far more affordable price. My goal was to hold my price down by going with an AMD processor, but to get an AMD processor sufficiently multi-core and powerful to improve substantially on my current chip (an Intel dual-core E7200, which pushes about 2.4 Ghz).

I have been doing internet searches in a desultory way for some time on CPU, GPU, memory,
building computers and the like. I like that youtube now offers tons of videos about choosing computer parts. The curious thing is how pervasive "building a cheap gaming computer" is on Youtube. I rarely see the "building a truly low-budget computer" or "build a music computer".

This morning,though, I religiously did processor-against-processor comparisons of my current computer with each realistic option for my next computer. It intrigues me that so many websites exist to compare benchmarks on computers. Applying a rigorous analytic approach among many options, I found the right price for performance for me. The resulting selection was not too expensive but a material performance gain on my current desktop.I also checked into memory, power cords, and other similar things.

Arguably,I could have done with much less than what I chose. I make a fair bit of music, which is on some software a very resource-intensive pastime. But I do not use Pro Tools or other resource-hog softwares, but instead use lightweight digital audio workstation software and lightweight software instruments.

I made less music in 2013,for a number of reasons, one being the need to get more from my Windows desktop. I created most songs on my very-lightweight laptop. I only produced a half dozen or so songs this year, where a usual year produces 8-12 individual songs and an EP or so as well. In 2014 I want to be more prolific. So I want to have gear a bit more capable when editing.

I settled on a computer with an AMD quad-core FX 4130, graphics built into the motherboard, a TB hard drive, a DVD drive, and 8 GB of memory. Though I could get a lower price from some eBay vendors for this rig, I elected to order from ZaReason. ZaReason has devoted itself to making customized Linux computers. As I have gotten pretty good at loading
ordinary Linux distributions (as opposed to build-from-scratch distros like Arch or Gentoo),
I could have installed the operating system myself. But I wanted to order from ZaReason because I wanted to support a company that supports open-source. My favorite of the eBay vendors only offered Ubuntu among the open source choices. Ubuntu is all well and good, but when I want access to its large repository, I install something which is a resources-light derivative of Ubuntu, to get a better desktop environment.

I placed my order via the internet with ZaReason in the early morning. At 11:30 a.m, my wife and I headed to lunch at Subway Sandwiches. We then went to see the movie "American Hustle" at the Allen cinema. We liked the film--it is not a classic, but it is a celebration of cinema,in its own way. The movie inspired in me a nostalgia for certain 1970s things. Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence all reveled a bit in showing their versatility. I was delighted to see Elisabeth Rohm get a character role into which she could sink her teeth. When Ms. Rohm has a vivid character role (as in the TV show Angel), she is fun, but when she is given bland female lead material she does not find a way for her character-actress-leanings to emerge and becomes bland in her own right.

When we got home, I took Beatrice for a walk. Then I went on a walk on the Watters Creek Trail, a sidewalk path by a little wooded creek. I saw cedar waxwings, house finches, mockingbirds and yellow-rumped warblers. The weather was luke-warm after noon. The sky was blue.

house finch on new year's day 2014, watters creek trail

Now we are watching an episode of the Twilight Zone and looking forward to a meal of chicken piccata and black-eyed peas. The week's newspapers are recycled,and in only three more days, Saturday returns.

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