Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toys

I'm looking into upgrading my personal computing situation. I get to play with some fancy tech at work, but at home, I'm running Windows XP on a laptop that was mediocre when it was new... in 2008. My desktop was mediocre in 2006.

For surfing the web and watching Netflix, a tablet and my ghetto desktop hooked up to the TV are fine. But I occasionally do my own research outside of work. I've also got personal data on a handful of thumb drives, and external hard drive, and the last 3 laptops I've owned. I keep the latter in a box under the printer just in case I need something on them. This needs to change.

I am a fan of Linux, though I can't claim to be an expert. A colleague suggested making the change to Apple with a Macbook air for that very reason. I was considering it for a while, but I just don't see the value for money. For $1,550 I can get 8 G of RAM, 256 G of flash storage, and a dual core processor running at 1.7 GHz. Not really something to write home about considering the price. (For the record, I don't really care about graphics etc. I need to crunch data.)

I recently stumbled across System76, a maker of computers designed to use Linux (Ubuntu, specifically) as the primary OS. For $1,333 I can get 16 G of RAM, 240 G of flash storage, and a quad core processor with hyperthreading (that's an additional 4 virtual cores) pumping 2.0 GHz. I save $200 and get more power and memory? Ooh, baby. Sign me up.

I can spend that $200 on a 4 TB data store, though that would be a mechanical HD rather than flash storage.

I learned last night at DC2's event, A Short History of and Introduction to Deep Learning, that I can get a couple GTX 580 GPUs up and running for less than $600. Hamina hamina. It'll take me longer to teach myself deep learning than it'll take to buy the hardware to use it.


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