Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch property posted an article called “10 things not to buy in 2014” by AnnaMaria Andriotis. Hey, it’s the end-of-the-year and lists are sprouting up like mushrooms in the morning dew. I wish they held as much value as those edible fungi. Still, I suppose there’s little point in being listless at this time of year.
One of the little side benefits of all the Black Friday & Cyber Monday craziness is that the promotional pricing can be used to address some very real needs around the home office. This is just one fine example that crossed my desk today; high-capacity, portable USB 3.0 hard drives are being offered on-the-cheap. I saw a Seagate Expansion 3 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive offered for $99.
It’s been a while since I bought any storage, but I am reminded that my NAS isn’t backed up in any real way. HAL, a five disk LaCie 5Big NAS , has 10 TB of raw storage, but is presently configured for 4 TB of RAID 10 + hot spare.
It would certainly be nice to be able to back it up to an offline volume. Given that the 4 TB volume is not completely stuffed, a 3 TB drive could still do the job.
Are your important files backed up?
There was a time just over a year ago when a pair of Asus VE247 LCD monitors graced my desk. I liked them a lot, but eventually decided that two 24” monitors was not exactly what I needed. I appreciated the screen real-estate, but didn’t enjoy how they completely consumed my desktop. So for the past while I’ve had just one monitor on my desk, the other being gifted to my wife.
Very recently I thought I might give a dual-monitor setup another try. This time I might be more creative about positioning one of the monitors in portrait mode. The dual-arm monitor mount that I use would easily accommodate this.
This isn’t a high-priority task, but I’ve been keeping watch for a good deal on a nice monitor for Stella. That would allow me to reclaim the other Asus monitor and return to a matched pair on my desktop.
“…PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers who have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets.”
…which is I think absolute hogwash. Dean quite correctly asserts that the trouble with PC sales is a lack of compelling new applications that require the continuous upgrade cycle of old.
If I consider our own experience hereabouts, both Estella and I got new desktops last summer. This was motivated in part of a compelling offer from Woot.com and the fact that were had three-year-old systems running Windows XP. The move to new hardware was accompanied by a new OS. It made more sense to go all-in on the new systems than upgrade the OS on the existing hardware.
For many people, uber-gamers and media guru’s aside, there simply isn’t any reason to get new hardware so very often. We bought our last Windows XP systems at about the time that Estella bought a license for the Adobe Master Suite. That was a monster bundle of heavy-hitting software that justified the new hardware.
Our move to Windows 7 64 bit was in-part compelled by the need to move to the latest Adobe Creative Suite, which absolutely required a 64 bit OS. For my part, I needed a desktop with PCIe to support the use of a BlackMagic Design video capture card.
Clearly, our activities involving the use of high-quality video drives our hardware upgrade cycle. Such forces do not exist for many people, so their hardware sustains them much longer.
We own tablets, but the presence of those devices has not impacted our decision to buy desktops or laptops. In this case I think that Gartner is mistaken.
Way back in January when I bought a Lenovo X1 Carbon (X1C) I was a bone fide corporate road warrior. The decision to move into an ultrabook was motivated largely by the desire to have less to carry.
More recently I’ve transitioned into a more stay-in-the-home-office role. Sooooo, I’m not carrying things around very much…but I am living with some of the compromises entailed by the ultrabook class of device. All of this has me wondered when it’s ok to spend a bit more to augment the X1C vs going in another direction entirely?
Allow me to share some of the things that have come to light about the X1C. These are not so much defects as practical realities attached to the ultrabook form factor. For example, there aren’t very many ports. To be more specific, there’s one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and a displayport.
After a few months with the Lenovo X1 Carbon ultrabook I’m still rather impressed with the device. It’s in many ways the nicest laptop style computer that I’ve ever used. Even so, the differing keyboards between it and my desktop keeps presenting an annoyance. It has me considering the purchase of a new desktop keyboard.
My desktop, an HP Pavilion H8-1214, typical of consumer class machines, came with a terrible keyboard. The system was purchased from Woot.com in July 2012. It was nicely specified and very good deal, so I simply replaced the supplied keyboard with something more appropriate.
Self-proclaimed telecom Blogalyst and all-around great guy Dave Michels recently posted some interesting observations about Microsoft, the sorry state of the PC industry and the demise of the netbook category. As someone who has counted a couple of netbooks as important tools in my arsenal I’ve been pondering his assertions. While I agree with many of his observations, I’m not so certain that I draw the same conclusions. Netbooks were doomed to be transitional items from the start.
Dave is correct that Microsoft took a dim view of netbooks, offering only Windows XP Home at a price point that would permit them to retail in the $200-300 range, at least initially. Recall that the entire category was started by the Asus Eee PC. That device offered a 7.0” display, Intel Celeron CPU, 512 MB of memory and 8 GB of flash storage and sold for $199. That device tapped Linux to keep the price down and the performance acceptable.
One of the innovative aspects of the early netbooks was the use of flash-based storage. This was before SSDs were commonplace. It was a great way to eek some performance from otherwise pokey hardware.
The category evolved quite quickly, with most netbooks offering traditional hard drives for storage and displays in the 9-10” range. Most were based upon Intel’s Atom CPU family. At their peak they sold in the range of $350-500. Only the occasional model reached beyond those prices.
It’s been about eight weeks since the Lenovo X1 Carbon arrived. During that time I’ve made three business trips. So I’ve accumulated some experience with the X1 Carbon (hereafter just X1C) both at home and on the road.
The day or two after I placed the order for the X1C I came down with a significant case of buyers remorse. I paid around $1700 for the device, which is without question a lot of money. I had thought that perhaps I was being unduly irresponsible, even for me.
A short while ago I spend a little time dealing with some Polycom phones in my home office. This time around I needed to perform some firmware updates, but it was little more complicated than normal. The tale highlights how we can make use of a VM in an incidental but convenient role.
The phones I had to update were a mix of Polycom VVX-1500, VVX-600 and VVX-500 models. Some were devices that I had purchased that run release software. Others were devices from beta programs. Those can only run beta firmware releases. I had several different releases to accommodate.
Solid state disks (SSD) are coming down in price and going up in capacity. The attractions are many; lower power consumption, low heat output, mechanically robust, decent write performance and dramatically faster read performance. There’s plainly a lot to like about SSDs.
Last winter I put a cheap 120 GB San Disk Ultra SSD into my aging netbook and gave it another year’s lease on life. Over the summer I saw a deal on some nicely spec’d HP Pavilion HPE desktops I bought a couple for myself and the Mrs. It seemed a sensible way to move us away from Windows XP.
This is a little story about the solid state disk residing in my desktop PC. The device in question is a 128 GB Crucial M4 model that I added to a new HP desktop purchased from Woot.com last summer. The tale is worth telling because the SSD seemed to fail after just a few months.