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.