Friday, June 25, 2010

Window Shopping for Computers

My capacity for wasting time on computers seems to be boundless. I would love to make a new one. My latest guilty pleasure is hopping over to the Microcenter web-site and putting together a shopping cart of all the components I need. It's a good thing the store is more than an hour away, in Cambridge. (And that when we lived just across the river from it, I never even realized it was there.)

I've worked out a bare-bones but expandable system for $387 right now. That means using an old keyboard, mouse, and the bulky old CRT monitor from our Dell Dimension (circa 1999) with its faded color, but since I already own all that stuff, it makes sense to use it for as long as possible.

What it comes down to is, I absolutely don't need another computer for anything; it's not like I actually get any proper work done on the machines I have, so introducing another one into the mix is actually going to make me less productive. The main point of the exercise would be the pleasure of putting the thing together and getting to tinker. There's almost nothing I enjoy more than mucking about in the guts of computer hardware. I'm not sure why this is, but we all have our particular fetishes, don't we?

So if I truck up to the city and come back with a station wagon full of PC components, my pleasure's going to last me five hours, maybe ten. A pleasure bought at the cost of about $40 an hour. I suppose there are more dear and destructive dissipations. This one will even leave me with a fully up-to-date computer that can run Kubuntu with all the shiny bells and whistles on. 

But given the state of my house, the free time and money should really be going towards glazing putty and roof shingles.

I know what I'll do, since the anticipation's always greater anyhow. I'll jot down all the component product numbers and check back in a month to see how much cheaper all those electronics have gotten. And I'll hang around on Mandla's blog, Motho ke Motho ka Botho, looking for more ideas on how to hack my old Sony Vaio into another perfectly good machine I don't really have time to use.

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