When I hear the word “studio,” I visualize a place of study. My life “style” when it is briefly recognized (by me) as such would be a studio-centric lifestyle. My guess is that every proclaimed life-long learner has some kind of ‘studio system’ to support their activities. Since my system matures along with the rise of digital technology it should be no surprise that my studio will need some modern tech.
Portable Computing with 8GB of RAM
I have always pushed my personal (portable) computers to their limits and I’m tired of it. There’s supposed to be a new generation of technology that will give me plenty of headroom just over the horizon. When I started messing around with VMware (about six years ago), I had no idea that I put myself on the path of whatever is the opposite of plenty of headroom (okay, I actually had some idea). What 8GB of RAM (or more) is supposed to do is give me the headroom I need to run two virtual machines at the same time.
Simultaneously, I do feel the dread that more RAM will not solve the problem of what I perceive as ‘I/O contention’—the way VMware utilizes host hardware (especially disk drives) may not be as “efficient” or “correct” as Microsoft would prefer. VMware might be working against Microsoft’s increasing Windows-8-timeframe-‘hostility’ towards third parties messing about with their OS innards. For example, over last year I’ve noticed that my Windows 7 host machine will take a stupid-long time to shut down when VMware Workstation has not properly disposed of itself. I must take care to close VMware Workstation first, wait about two minutes and then shut down. Dreadful. Maybe and article like “VMware Workstation 9 Is All About Windows 8” will make me feel better…
Dread aside, my celebrated Sager notebook has more than paid for itself since its introduction (to me) back in 2009. Were it not for its 4GB limit, I would use it until the keys drop off. It makes perfect sense then to just get another Sager—with a >4GB limit, 15.6" (16:9) Full HD (1920x1080) and S/PDIF support (as of today that would be the NP6350). I am tempted to experiment with more “metro”-like hardware (like the stuff of on stage with Steve Ballmer at Build 2012) but I must remember that:
- I am very likely to lose S/PDIF support when I move away from Sager (but this might be a non-issue in view of some USB-based audio peripheral I am currently unaware of…).
- I am not very impressed with the skin-grease funk (fomite transmission) related to touch surfaces (see “Study: Touch screen devices harbor germs”). I’m almost certain that I prefer a high-quality touch pad rather than smearing my hands all over a big screen.
- Only time will tell… it looks like I’ll want a tablet (with touch and “metro” goodness) that has an e-reader monochrome mode that rivals the simplest Kindle. Instead of trying to get an all-in-one laptop/tablet thing, I should look for an all-in-one tablet/direct-sunlight-reader thing (see ‘Eliminating Kilos of Technical Books with Some Kind of Reader’ below)…
Projecting My Portable Display to a Very Large Monitor
It took a decade of slowly diminishing eyesight to realize that having a great system unit chock full of fast storage and RAM is not the priority. What is premium is having the biggest, flat-panel displays—and a comfortable, roomy studio to mount them. I am very aware that it looks stupid to most self-described “normal” people, but the discovery of my Farm, featuring the Ergotron LX, is more about saving what’s left of my eyesight in a budget-conscious manner than geeky madness.
My Farm-Tuff Flatbed Wagon has a 1000-pound capacity. For non-gardeners, this means it can easily support multiple monitors on multiple Ergotron arms. Each of these monitors can display from multiple sources—including mobile sources via wireless HDMI.
Listening to Digital Content with Wireless Headphones
While I look forward to experimenting with wireless display, I have been trying out wireless audio—and I have the auricular bruises to prove it. I’m little sore around the ears because I try to wear my eye glasses and the Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Stereo Headphone at the same time. In spite of the inconvenience of actually having to recharge headphones, I continue to do the Bluetooth so clearly getting tangled in my W2-labor-camp office chair with wired phones like, say, the Sennheiser PX200 Collapsible High-Performance Closed Headphones, is not my morning cup of tea.
I went with Kinivo for the price point but now I assume that, say, the Sennheiser MM 500-X Wireless Bluetooth Travel Headphones, would be worth the expense for the comfort and battery life. No? Just expensive for no real reason? Audiophile? What does that mean?
Vehicle Telephony without Wires
The Belkin Bluetooth Car Hands-Free Kit for Apple iPod, Apple iPhone, BlackBerry,and Android Smartphones, US Version is another wireless solution that is supposedly for me (and my Windows Phone). The only problem here is that even when it works correctly, I still will need a wire for charging because having the Bluetooth activated burns down battery life. It working “correctly” means that my phone can pair with more than one Bluetooth device at one time (so I can use the hands-free calling in the car).
Eliminating Kilos of Technical Books with Some Kind of Reader
Brian Heater’s “Amazon debuts Kindle Windows 8 app” perhaps incorrectly suggests to me that there exists in the market today (or in the next two years) a Windows 8 tablet that rivals the Amazon Kindle for making reading in direct sunlight as natural as reading paper.
I was not very impressed with the electronic reader concept because I instinctively thought of reading fiction or poetry with a computer (which sounds strange, coming from the guy behind kintespace.com). I can see now that a tablet reader should be very, very important for reading technical books which expire by the pound in Internet time.
Home Entertaining with a Silent Box that Looks Like a Piece of 80s Stereo Equipment
The last studio machine I built in 2011 was, by my reckoning, a disaster—a valuable, educational disaster. My number one lesson is represented by the Silverstone Tek GD08B Aluminum Extended ATX / SSI-EEB / SSI-CEB HTPC Computer Case. This case is huge, roomy, spacious… a total reversal of my previous need to have a form factor like the Mac Mini (mini/micro ATX). The brutal truth is that a “real” graphics card that can support multiple monitors is too big for a Mac Mini.
Even though this Silverstone case is huge it will lay low—horizontally—on my wacky Farm Tuff wagon. So it should actually feel smaller than the vertical desktop on the rig now. My intention is that this Silverstone case (or something like it) will be my final statement on “desktop” (studio) computing. These are some of my proclamations:
- Not only are computers too hot, they need room for big-ass graphics cards.
- I don’t think a “real” computer can be as quiet as a fan-less Mac Mini but I’ll try to make it quiet with these expensive fans anyway.
- Dragging a heap of silicon and metal around on a wagon makes bookends on my life—as I started out life as a little boy dragging around a wagon covered in a heap of dirt and plastic toys.
- I am trying to make a study space like that of an old, master painter’s studio. Instead of huge canvases in an open space speckled with colorful toxic chemicals, I see huge monitors in an open sunlit space, trying desperately to be eco-friendly.
There will always be work. I’m looking for the best space for mine. I’m building it with one idea at a time.