Thursday, June 24, 2010

New computer, part 1

I'm probably overthinking this, and I should just go ahead and order the damn thing.

I've been thinking about getting an iMac for some months now. My MacBook (1st generation) is 4 years old. I've replaced the hard drive, battery, Airport card, and the piece of plastic in which the keyboard sits (remember the first ones had that discoloration thing going on?), and I've upgraded to 2 Gb RAM. Oh, also my mighty mouse stopped working. Not just the scrolly ball, but the other day the whole thing started clicking when I wasn't. And the button below the trackpad stopped responding long ago. And the case is starting to crack. Oh, and my second power brick stops supplying power when it gets too hot.

But it still works! It's becoming more of a hassle, especially when I need to draw using the trackpad, or when I have to turn the airport off and back on to get a better wireless connection, but I'm still able to conduct my daily activities. (I should add that I have several methods of backup, including Time Machine for the whole system, Mozy for personal files, and SugarSync for work files.) It's just getting painful.

Also, my CPU is running hot. I don't know if it's any hotter than when the thing was new, but I downloaded smcFanControl, which says that right now my CPU is at 60 deg. C, and the fan is up to 3362 rpm. I increased it from a minimum speed of 1500 rpm to 2500 rpm. Right now I have Chrome, Acrobat Pro, and a small time tracker program running. Usually, I have those plus Word and sometimes Cyberduck, Firefox, and/or iTunes. I'm what you might call a "power user".

So I should get a new laptop, right? Maybe spring for the MacBook Pro this time. But I'm pretty sure I want a desktop because

  1. More computing power, less cost.

  2. I work at home. In an easy chair, yes, but I could probably scrape together a desk chair thats comfortable enough.

  3. I need a big screen. Spaces helps, but it would make a huge difference if I could fit two pages on the screen at the same time, without squinting. (I know I can plug a laptop into a monitor, but see issues 1, 2, and 4.)

  4. I don't like the strain I put on my laptop battery by having it plugged in all day and all night. And I'm not going to change that habit.

So although I'll obviously need a laptop for travel (the iPad is not good enough-- I produce content on the road, not just consume it), I think I need a desktop now, which will cut down on my laptop use. Then when my laptop actually dies, I'll get a new one.

Lots of people are trying to convince me that desktops are dead, and I should get a laptop. I think they're underestimating my usage. B can testify, I use my computer a LOT. Basically, if I'm awake, I'm using the computer. I work on it, I play on it, and I watch TV on it. If I could bring it to the gym, I would.

Oh, and before anyone says I could get a better computer for cheaper if I bought a PC (running Windows or even Linux), I have Windows 7 on my HTPC, and you may think that OS is awesome because it's better than Vista, but it's not. It's crap. Also, all my non-free software is for Mac. I'm buying a Mac. (Though I wouldn't be completely averse to a Hackintosh netbook.)


  1. I went from laptop to desktop 2.5 years ago, when I started freelancing (i.e. working from home) and have, on the whole, been very happy with my choice. Instead of buying a new Mac laptop for travel, though, I wound up with a PC netbook running Windows XP. I don't like using Windows, but when I travel all I need is internet and word processing to do my job, and it's only for a couple of weeks at a time at the most. I had to buy Office for Mac to install on it, which was an extra cost, but the netbook is so much cheaper that it wasn't a big deal.

    The BEST part is that it weighs almost nothing (well. More than an iPad. But compared to a regular laptop, almost nothing). When I'm on the road, that makes a HUGE difference.

  2. (I meant "Office for Windows.")

  3. Yeah, I was thinking about getting a netbook when my macbook dies. The current models don't impress me with value (maybe if the Air were actually a netbook competitor), and running Windows would be an incentive to NOT spend all my time on the computer.