I think I’ve bought my last desktop computer

A couple of years ago, I was all into and enjoyed building desktop computers, picking out the right video card, selecting the best motherboard and generally digging deep into the innards of my future computing platform. And designing the perfect ‘office’ computing environment with short cable runs, ample power for my accessories and lots of desktop space. Yes it was complex and involved and detailed, but it was a hobby — building computers.

These days, I’m not so concerned about it. What I need to do on a computer hasn’t changed, but the computing industry has matured, my needs are now becoming much more mainstream, and the significant differences between one component and another aren’t quite so significant any more.

Put another way, what I have been doing and want to do on a computer, is now much more in demand by everyday consumers. And the hardware, is becoming much more homogeneous. They’ve caught up. Welcome to the future.

Honey, I shrunk the CPU
Moore’s Law has also caught up, to the point where the hardware is smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper to make. On today’s hardware you can have full audio and video editing studios in the software that runs your phone. You can remotely pilot vehicles with your phone or mobile computing device, and you can easily communicate with anyone on the planet using any number of mobile technologies.

Any of the modern notebook computers have all that stuff in a very tiny package.

Home file sharing
It used to be that you had files on one computer, and you shared them with the other. Both computers had to be on to share the files. Now, with ubiquitous WiFi and home network storage appliances (basically network-aware hard drives) in your household, any computer or compatible device can access any document, video, mp3, at any time. No need to have a big Master Server.

Printing
The same goes for network-aware printers. Most manufacturers have WiFi models available that know how to play nice with your home network environment. Again, no need for a computer directly connected to a printer.

Storage
I mentioned home network storage above, but these days storage devices are dirt cheap. So much so that it’s become possible for commercial business to be built up around the concept of offering you free online storage of your documents, photos, music, whatever…for free.

And they won’t only store your files, they’ll give you free access to applications and tools to create and edit your stuff. Again, I no longer have a need for a huge drive attached to a big desktop box — all this stuff is in the cloud.

One caveat
There’s only two real reason that I can think of for needing a dedicated desktop computer these days; high-quality media creation, and gaming.

If you’re into music making, video editing, photography, art, design, anything that needs you to move masses of pixels or gigs of data around, the architecture of a desktop computer box is more suited to that than many of the notebook computers on the market. And you’re likely using the computer in a professional setting as a photographer, composer and the like.

Gaming also is a hardware resource hog, and falls into that category as many of the same computing tasks in media creation are also necessary in game creation and playing. Of course, there are exceptions — I’ve seen some very powerful (and pretty) gaming laptops.

Interesting, but not enough
But gaming isn’t enough for me to build my desktop around it, any more. Console gaming systems have edged in with comparable graphics and gameplay, on much bigger screens than could fit on my desktop.

So it looks like my next new system, likely in a year or two, won’t be a power-sucking behemoth that sits under my desk. Rather, it’ll be something small, light, can connect to desktop monitors, mice & keyboards, and the home net, yet is still portable. And I think the same holds true for most of you too. Yes, welcome to the future 🙂
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My wife stole an amazing iPod Touch case from me

Yep, the other day I got this cool iPod Touch case — cool because it’s one of the Proporta Alu-Leather line of cases that I first looked at when I needed a new case for my Palm T|X. That case, a little worn, is still rockin’ though.

It’s about the case
This nifty little holder is quite sleek, boasting a nice design, with one challenge we’ll get to in a minute. For starters, it’s hand made and, it’s leather. It seems a rather nice grade of leather at that. Immediately obvious is the heavy-duty stitching that holds this unit together.

P1040955.JPGThis case flips open, similar to an original-series Star Trek communicator. The iPod Touch slips into a holder with windows for all the ports and buttons.

The case, when closed, is kept closed by magnets in the cover and in the holder.

Aluminum! Say it loud and proud!
Once upon a time, one of the big-brained boffins at Proporta came up with their trademark ‘Screensaver’ concept. No, this is not something to keep your display from wearing out or burning in, rather, it’s a concept that saves your screen from punctures, cracks and other breakage that could occur in daily use.

P1040956.JPGThe Screensaver, in this case, is a thin, sturdy sheet of aircraft grade aluminum, stitched into the cover flap of the case. When the case closes, the aluminum flap completely covers the touch screen — a rather neat feature if I do say — one Proporta has been incorporating in the Alu-Leather line since 2003.

One niggly little detail
Earlier I mentioned that there was one issue with the case, and it has to do with the way the case edges encroach on the touch screen surface of the iPod Touch.

Designers of some iPhone and iPod Touch apps, try to maximize the screen real estate by extending menus into corners and along the edges of the display area. Unfortunately the edge of the iPod Touch holder portion of the case comes right up to the edge of the active touch screen surface.

P1040954.JPG

This can make pressing small icons or on-screen buttons a bit of a challenge as your finger rubs up against the edge of the case as you try and tap the screen. It can be especially frustrating when using the on-screen keyboard and trying to tap the left or right edge keys — they’re just so tiny that I often found I was mistyping. People with smaller fingertips may have better luck than I on this.

Case closed
As I mentioned before, I’ve used a Proporta Alu-Leather case on my Palm T|X for many years, and have been very very pleased with it…which is I was pleased to receive this case, and why I was rather upset when my wife nabbed it for her iPod Touch. I’m sure she’ll get good use out of it, but now I have to go looking for one. And Teal wasn’t exactly my colour either, yeah, that’s it.