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You do believe me, don't you?




A reliable sort of guy

It occurs to me that some of my readers have some skepticism about the veracity and reliability of the sage observations that I pass on to my readership. I want to assure you that you can accept everything that I write without question, for I am a reliable sort of guy. Trust me, but do pay attention to the date.

Big Boy

Over the years I have purchased a number of computers, each in turn faster than its predecessor. The approximate dates and prices of these machines are:

1990 12,000 Sun 3 Workstation
1995 5,700 100 mhz Pentium PC
1997 1,600 Pentium PC
1999 1,000 333 mhz PC (reconditioned)
2002 750 Laptop (reconditioned)
2002 700 PC
2003 500 PC
You may have noticed a little pattern here. Each machine in turn was cheaper, faster, and had more storage than its predecessors. Indeed the first machine cost more than all of the ones bought later.

Recently I bought another machine (we small children are into toys). Naturally you would suppose that this new machine cost even less than its precessors, was even faster, and had even more storage . You would be right about it being faster and having more storage. You would be very very wrong about it costing less.

This little gem ran about $5200. It is a monster. What sort of PC, you may ask, warrants my paying that sort of money? Have I lost several marbles along with a wad of cash? Good questions, these.

The truth is that I can't actually produce a rational justification for buying a monster. I screw around with computers, yes I do, but creating programs, essays, and even web sites doesn't require leading edge power. None-the-less there is madness in my reason, er, ah, reason in my madness. Let me sneak up on said madness/reason by enumerating some features of the beastie.

It has a 160 gigabyte hard disk of which only 5 are in use at present; it is not immediately obvious to me what I am going to do with the other 155 gigabytes. This represents an economy on my part - they (Gateway) were quite willing, indeed eager, to sell me a 400 Gb disk. By the by, the salesman was charmingly fawning. I expect that if I had said that the sun rose in the west he would have agreed and would have expressed admiration for my acuity of observation. Transparent butter in action.

If I understand the hardware description properly the beastie has four 2.66 gigahertz CPU's along with 512 megabytes of RAM. This is enough power so that even Micro$oft's klutzy software can't slow it down. Speaking of which, the Evil Empire of Redmond no longer bundles in M$ office with Windows XP. I gather that the XP is short for expensive.

There is a bunch of auxilliary hardware - a wireless keyboard and mouse, a wireless router and plugin cards so that all my machines can talk to each other, a printer and a scanner, and ...

... a 22 inch flat screen monitor.

That, you see, is what this exercise is about. My very first computer had a 21 inch monitor. True, it was black and white, but it was of a decent size, big enough so that you could have multiple readable windows open at the same time. Monitors have become cheaper over time but the big ones are expensive. What is more, the big CRT monitors are heavy and have a large footprint.

It has been about four years since I bought my workhorse machine. In people years that's four score and ten. I was entitled to a new machine. Indeed it was my professional duty to get a new machine. Et cetera. You know the drill.

Naturally, if I was going to get a new machine, it should be a serious machine - otherwise I would just be getting more of the same, which wouldn't really warrant getting a new machine. The besides of which, I really wanted that big flat screen monitor. I've been wanting something like that for years.

So what do I do with my monster machine (official name: Bigboy)? I will tell you. It isn't completely hooked up yet - there is sundry junk to be installed yet. But I use it. It turns out that it is a wonderful DVD player, so I've got it set up in the living room and I watch movies on it.

Yes, yes, I know. For the same number of bucks I could have gotten a big plasma flat screen TV (they are also wonderful.) That's true enough but this way I have a wonderful TV screen and a wonderful computer.

And what, pray tell, am I going to do with that big disk? I am going to use it for an AI project, since I don't seem to have any intelligence of my own.

I make a deal

On one of our joint forays into the palaces of consumption Our Lady of the Large Black Dog and I made a raid upon a vendor of videos and DVD's where we purchased some DVDs. This reqires some explanation.

I have a ratty but extensive collection of videos, most purchased by myself but some inherited. For about a year I had a DVD player sitting upon the shelf by the TV. I had not, somehow, ever gotten it properly hooked up; it was just another dust collector in my collection of dust collectors. Nowadays one can purchase a two-in-one, a combination VHS and DVD player. I have done so. The dust collecting DVD I presented as a token of my (inexpensive) affection to Deborah, she of the large black dog. She is rather better than I am at getting consumer electronics hooked up. (I think she cheats by reading the instructions.) Thus it has come about that both she and I can now play DVDs. Since we had not previously been able to do so, we had not laid in a stock pile of these missives from Hollywood. We determined to remedy this lack at a convenient palace of consumption.

Deborah lusted after "Sex in the City". She had seen fragments of the show and wanted to see more; I had never seen it, and didn't have any great desire to see it. I, on the other hand, found a boxed set of the BBC production of "I, Claudius", a wonderful production based on the novel of the same name by Robert Graves. We compromised and purchased each.

We compromised. We would alternate watching the two. Thus it is that I have to watch an hour of "I, Claudius" before I get to watch an hour of "Sex in the City".


This page was last updated April 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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