Tablets and Desktops and Ultrabooks, Oh My!

Thursdays are my day to post about whatever I really want. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about getting myself some new hardware. I don’t do as much computing as I once did. But I feel, simultaneously, like I want to do more. I’ve become that type of geek who used to be a gamer and had to fiddle with his own hardware – now I’m the type of geek who keeps his six year old dinosaur running and also has a netbook.

So I’m thinking of killing two birds with one stone. My desktop I currently hooked up via HDMI to my TV in my living room, running at 1080p, and has a wireless mouse and keyboard (don’t ask what model, it’s embarrassing). In theory, I could replace both my ailing netbook (with a semi-functional hard drive and a broken left click) and my old desktop (which growls when you first turn it on, squeels when its accessing data, and was “upgraded” to a dual core CPU only about a year ago) with one device. And I love the look of these Ultrabooks. Super portable, super powerful, and most of them have some form of HDMI and of course a USB slot, meaning I could keep it tucked away when not in use, and it would serve as my desktop.


Yeah, that really is a functional computer, the Acer S3

These things are loaded, too! I don’t know how they don’t burst into flames. Intel i5’s, i7’s, 8 GB of RAM, terrabyte hard drives, solid state hard drives: you name it, they’ve got a model with it! I haven’t seen any quadcore i7s, yet, and the i7 models are all 15 inches and above – none are 13 inches. I believe that’ due to the necessary heatpiping used in these units, which are mostly passively cooled (heat is dispersed over a wide area, similar to the way tablet or phone “cools” itself, not pushed out with fans like a traditional PC). They carry a heavy pricetag, but everything else out there that I’m looking it is similar to “powerhouse machines” that friends of mine built two or three years ago. I feel like the progression has been towards minimizing the machine, rather than increasing the power. This is one of the reasons I haven’t bothered upgrading my desktop.

Still, the more I work on fun little side projects, the more I have cause to crunch data. I’m getting back in to various forms of media: compressing video as I begin digitzing my DVD collection (more on that later), potentially editing some video for this site, and getting back in to some audio editing and mixing has appealed to me for a while. I also do a lot of work with virtual machines, and wouldn’t you know that my motherboard is so old that I can’t use hardware virtualization on my CPU. No, not even with a hacked BIOS update. Trust me, I’ve checked. It would be nice to virtualize things a little better. In several instances, I feel like the crappy Atom CPU in my netbook does a better job than my desktop.

So, if it’s about time, I need to consider several things. Is it worth it? Is now the time? Are there deals coming down the road, or is everyone excited for tablets and the iPad specifically that there’s no point in going forward? I look at things like the HP Folio, ASUS Zenbook, Acer Aspire S3, and the Samsung Series 5 – which may be a little bit bulkier than the others, but is still impressively tiny, which I kind of like because it actually boasts a full size HDMI port.

What’s everybody else doing? Ignoring it and waiting for Windows 8 tablets? Going for first gen Ultrabooks? Building a new Bulldozer-based gaming PC for only three grand? Oh decisions decisions. I think I’m going to try and at least hold out until the vouchers for free upgrades to Windows 8 are unveiled, likely to come out some time this summer, but I don’t think I’m going to wait all the way until October when Windows 8 launches – when it’s official, I’ll probably buy a tablet. But what will I end up doing before then? I’ll keep you posted, but if you have any words of advice, leave them in the comments, I’m open to listening!

My latest addiction is TWiT.tv

I wish I were on TWiT.tv. A lot. I watch it, literally daily, and it both educates and entertains me. The TWiT network started, essentially, as a dream back in the days back of TechTV. When it morphed in to G4 TV and became more about entertainment than the real tech, several members of the old guard, the first tech evangelists, the true technology journalists all banded together and began This Week in Tech, TWiT. Several years after it began, it has taken off as the premiere network for all types of technology, including broadcast radio technology, daily tech news headlines, a question and answer program called The Tech Guy, ham radio, Google Specific, Android Specific, MacBreak weekly, Windows Weekly, gaming headlines and several other daily live webcasts on live.twit.tv, which can are recorded and released as podcasts for people who can’t join live. For those who can join live, there’s also a chat room. The community is busy, and a very fun group of people.

I used to listen to several weekly podcasts… including KOXM, TalkRadar, One Of Swords, Major Nelson’s podcast, and so many more. I always thought about doing my own podcast. Just a weekly thing, talking about whatever came to mind – or whatever my blog was about at that time. I even thought it would be neat to do something like A Life Well Wasted – produced like a radio broadcast news article. But I’ve never so much as bought a microphone. I’m afraid I won’t be interesting, won’t have the time to podcast, or won’t have anybody to podcast with (one man pod casts get pretty boring). So I’ve never gone ahead and recorded anything, other then a few clips for other shows (very few of them made it to air). But a man can still dream, and while dreaming, he can be educated and engaged by something as fascinating, and hopefully long-lasting & succesful as the TWiT Network.

What Microsoft wants to Accomplish with Windows 8

After the better part of a decade in the IT industry, I’ve learned one major thing: nobody wants to spend money. It blows my mind that computers, the things that all of your employees sit at for eight hours a day, are considered this horrible expense and a tedious chore to maintain or replace. It’s how our society runs. Wall Street runs on a series of computer programs and digital exchanges. When your computer fails and you’re stuck without one for three days, only then do you realize what a vital part of your business it is.

Why, then, do most companies not have a structure for replacing their PC’s? They keep them for a decade or more, until they don’t turn on one day, then “employee #326” gets a new computer. In my field of work, I’ve run in to slews of 10+ year old computers – and people want RAM upgrades, or hard drives replaced, rather than swapping out the entire unit for $150 more than they’re paying for this patch-work to keep them on life support.

So what does this poorly-planned businesss strategy have to do with Windows 8? It falls right in line with Microsoft’s master plan. Continue reading “What Microsoft wants to Accomplish with Windows 8”

Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview Wallpapers here

If you’re interested in downloading the beta (betta) fish wallpaper, or any of the other high resolution nature photograph wallpapers that are seen in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (Build 8250), look no further. They can all be downloaded in a single zip file hosted here: Windows8_8250_Wallpapers.zip

Also, if you miss the good old days, you can still grab all of the wallpapers from the Windows 7 beta build 7100 released years ago in another zip file: Windows7_7100_Wallpapers.zip

For the full blown experience, don’t forget to download the consumer preview and install it (may I suggest you do this on a ‘spare’ computer or a virtual machine)!