Gear Mongering

At the end of the day (or even the beginning,) I'm just another geek, and despite all of the incredibly (I'd like to think at least) reasoned ways I think about the way I use technology, I occasionally get an old fashioned hankering for something new. We've all had them. Perhaps my saving graces are that I do occasionally need new things (computers wear out, cellphones are replaced, needs change), and the fact that I'm both incredibly frugal and task oriented (rational?) about the way I use technology.

But I'm still a geek. And gear is cool. Thoughts, in three parts.

Part One, Phones and the HTC EVO

I've been using a Blackberry for 18 months, and I've come to two conclusions: blackberries are great and they have the "how ot integrate messaging into a single usable interface." I was skeptical at first, and it's very simple, and I've never quite gotten my email to function in an ideal way, largely because I think the Blackberry works really well for email. It's everything else that I might want to do with my phone that I can't, and I'd probably like to: I have an SSH client and it's nearly usable. Nearly. I have IM clients, that are nearly functional. Nearly.

When I got the Blackberry, is and was the most important communication I was doing. I worked for a very email-centric company, and I wanted to be able to stay in the email-loop even when I was off doing something else. These days, IRC and XMPP are a far more central feature of my digital existence, and I tend to think that it's not an Internet connection if I can't open SSH. I'm also switching on a much longer public-transit focused commute in the next few week, and being able to do research for writing projects will be nice. I'm not sure what the best solution is exactly, though the HTC EVO is a pretty swell phone.

As the kids these days say, "Do want."

Part two, Infrastructural Computing and Home Servers

I've fully adopted an infrastructural approach to technology, at least with regards to my own personal computing. That was a mouthful. Basically, although I work locally on the machine that's in front of me (writing, email, note taking, collaboration,) much of the "computing" that I interact with isn't actually connected to the machine I interact with directly. In some ways, I suppose this is what they meant when they said "cloud computing," but the truth is that my implementation is somewhat more... archaic: I use a lot of SSH, cron, and a little bailing wire to distribute computing tasks far and wide, and the process of moving everything in my digital world from a laptop that I carried around with me everywhere (college,) to a more sane state of affairs has been a long time coming.


The long story short is that aside from a machine (my old laptop) that's at capacity powering my "stereo," I don't have any computer's at home aside from my laptop, and I tend to take it everywhere with me, which makes it unideal for some sorts of tasks. Furthermore, without an extra machine setting around, file storage, some kinds of backups, are somewhat more complicated than I'd like. So, I'm thinking about getting some sort of robust server-type machine to stick in a corner in my apartment.

Not exactly sure what the best option is there. I'm burdened by: frugality, sophisticated tastes, and the notion that having quality hardware really does matter.

More thinking required.

Part three, More Laptops

So I might have a laptop related illness. Back in the day, laptops always seemed like a frivolity: underpowered, never as portable as you wanted, awkward to use, and incredibly expensive. Now, laptops are cheap, and even the Atom-based "netbooks," are functional for nearly every task. I tend to buy used Thinkpad Laptops, and as I think about it, I've probably spent as much on the three Thinkpads, all of which are still in service, as I did on any one mac laptop.

The thing about my current laptop is that when you think about it, it'd make a decent home server: the processor has virtualization extensions, the drive is fast (7200 rpm) and it can handle 4 gigs of ram (and maybe more.) What more could I want? And I distributed things correctly, the "server" laptop could be pressed into service as a backup/redundant laptop, in case something unforeseen happened.

Or I could dither about it for another few months, and come to some other, better, fourth solution.

Onward and Upward!

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