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September 09, 2007



I went with the Macbook Pro, the 17" model, and maxed out the RAM aftermarket. I have a 2T RAID0 array that attaches via firewire, and I can't be happier with image processing. My only complaint is that the machine gets hot when I'm batch processing or heavily using it for more than email or browsing. I prefer the OSX environment, but have Windows via Parallels when I need it for some client's application or testing something web based in IE, and shell/X access to my servers. Couldn't be happier with it.

We've come a long way from when Photoshop fit in 4M of RAM, and a transform on a print-quality image was something you went to lunch over. Apple's new machines carry a premium, but I prefer a longer depreciation cycle - the bother of swithing machines every year is a pain. I'd rather buy high end, get good stuff that I like to use, and stick with it for 2-3 years before repeating. This laptop is something I think will keep me happy for at least that long. (Server-side, meh, I don't care so much - linux is fine, and cheap AMD/ASIS hardware is great, if you have redundancy. If something falls over, swap it out. Costs much less than Sun, even if they have some newish enticing tools.)


I thought seriously about getting a Mac too, as I know that OS X has much less painful 64-bit support than Microsoft's 32/64-bit edition nonsense and all the accompanying driver headaches. Ultimately I just couldn't justify the premium that would have been required to get a Mac Pro class machine, especially when I have a D300, a Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripod and a Tokina 12-24mm wide-angle on my "to buy soon" list. I do intend to pick up a (non-pro) Macbook sometime next year, though, as I'd like to have a laptop to shoot tethered in a studio environment.

As for servers, I was running 64-bit Linux on DEC Alpha 7 years ago, so that's a solved problem as far as I'm concerned too. The funny thing, given the current discussion, is that servers are the one class of machine for which quad-core CPUs are easy to justify: Compaq was charging north of $25,000 for 4-CPU Alpha 21264 setups back in those days, and now your typical game-buying teenager can afford a far faster system than I was using to do SVD calculations once upon a time ...


Heh. The camera fetish is a tough one... I thought long and hard about a high-end tripod, and in the end just couldn't justify it (I make money with the laptop; with the camera, it is a hobby), so I got a cheap no-name one. And it is pretty lame, but is fine for indoor work.

I used to have an Alpha. Nice machines. Mine ran for, I think, 6 years before the SCSI bus croaked, and I ended up replacing it with a trio of cheap AMD homebrews running LVS. Mathematica and Postgres sit happily there, along with the usual set of utility daemons. I've had one fault in about 3 years, tossed the offending drive, and carried on with no downtime.

Were you working on signal processing? When I was considering grad school, I was playing a bit with spread spectrum analysis. Speaking of expensive toys, on my list is a USRP so I can fool around with GnuRadio.


"Were you working on signal processing?"

Nope, applied spectral graph theory.

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