For a few days last week, in between the time that I wrote the Personal Desktop post and when I posed it yesterday, I had a little personal computing saga:
1. One of my monitors developed a little defect. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the color depth suffered a bit and there was this flicker and I really noticed it. It's not major and I probably wouldn't have noticed it, except I look at a very nice screen all day at work and I had a working display right next to it, I saw every little flicker.
2. I decided to pull the second monitor, and just go back to one monitor. While I like the "bunches of screens" approach, and think it has merit, particularly in tiling environments, I also think that I work pretty well on one screen, and with so many virtual desktops, it's no great loss. Not being distracted by the flicker is better by far.
3. I pulled the second monitor and bam! the computer wouldn't come back from the reboot. Shit. No error beeps, nothing past the bios splash screen. No USB support. Everything plugged in. Shit.
4. I let things sit for a few days. I was slamed with stuff in other areas of my life, and I just couldn't cope with this. It doesn't help that I really like to avoid messing with hardware if I can at all help it. Fellow geeks are big on building custom hardware, but the truth is that my needs are pretty minimal and I'd rather leave it up the to the pros.
5. On Friday, I sat down with it, pulled the video card that I'd put in it when I got the machine (an old nvidia 7200 series), and I unplugged the hard drives and futzed with the ram, and after re-seating the RAM it worked. I'm not complaining, and I figure it was just some sort of fluke as I jostled the case.
6. So now I'm back, with one monitor, no other problems have been fixed from the last post, but I can live with that.
As I was fretting with the implications of having a computer die on me like this, and thinking about my future computing trajectory. I realized that my current set up was deployed (as it were) under a number of different assumptions about the way I use computers. I got the desktop with the extra monitors when I was starting a series of remote jobs and needed more resources than I could really expect from my previous setup (a single macbook.) I also, in light of this downgraded my laptop to something smaller and portable that was good for short term tasks, and adding mobility to my setup, but that really didn't work as my only computer for more than a day or two.
Now things look different. I'm not doing the same kind of remote work that I got the desktop for, and I have a killer machine at work that I'm only using a portion of (in a VM, no less). I have a VPS server "in the cloud" that hosts a lot of the "always on" infrastructural tasks that I needed from my desktop when I first got it.
I'm not sure what the solution is. Make the desktop at home more "server-y" (media files, downloading stuff + writing) exchange the laptop at some point for: a 15" notebook that would be my primary machine--particularly useful for long weekend trips, un/conferences and so forth, and some sort of small netbook-class device, for day-to-day portability.
It's a thought. Anyway, on to more important thoughts.