Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Technology is great

Recently I performed open heart surgery to my PC as the five years old parts that were in it finally decided to go kaput and not work on me. Now I would say it is quite an accomplishment seeing as the average PC only last about two years for the average person due to various reasons (your operating system clogging up is a major contributor). Me getting five years out of it then means I actually got my moneys worth. But sadly it came to a crashing halt a couple of weeks ago when my PC no longer boot into windows in a stable manner, even when I reinstalled Windows cleanly.

So I rip out all the old computer chip, motherboard, and memory and replaced it with brand new, state of the art ones from Intel, Intel, and Kingston, respectively. Everything else I just reused with the new components as they were still in good shape (not to mention, high quality parts that were not cheap back when I first bought them). A man, what a difference five years make in terms of performance! I was seeing almost 7 times the performance while ripping videos. With new technology also came efficiency, and I bet my newly reconstructed computer probably suck more than half as much power from the grid (hehe, TRON). I mean the exhausted air sure feels much cooler (though I can no longer use it as a space heater).

Feels productive to have my PC running again, as I can schedule tasks for it to do while I am away from home with my mac laptop. And when I am home, having a second computer increases multitasking on so many levels (because there comes a limit where you just can't play a video while photo editing at the same time on one computer). Plus, there is one thing a PC does better than a Mac - being a media center. Hence my PC is also my media center PC thus all my media files go through it, and not my macbook. It is hard to explain to people why having an extra computer on hand is such a boost (much a kin to having a second or third monitor). It is one of those things where you just have to try for yourself. Once you do, you can't go back.

I was just tweeting the other day about how weird it is that I have 8gb of memory on both my computers and yet my first computer back in 1999 barely have 6gb in hard drive space (there was also one picture where it showed an iPhone 4 of today is more powerful than the first colored iMacs). It is during these moments where you think to yourself just how the heck did you live with it back then (Sim City 2000 was the shit). But of course I was not nearly productive with a computer as I was back when I was I think 13? Back then it was all about games and surfing the web. While today it is still about games and surfing the web, the digital artist side of me realizes that the computer and the internet are powerful tools to create and publish my ideas.

My first PC's screen was 13in (one of those ginormous CRT monitors no less), and now I stare at a 30in screen everyday (I had a 20in also, and back then I thought IT was huge). What a difference a decade makes. 

Of course with the rapid pace of advancement in technology comes the great wallet drain also - for those people that choose to chase it. Do I want to be that person? Maybe, I mean who does not want the latest and greatest. However my poor (in monetary terms) upbringing taught me to be (somewhat) frugal, so no I don't go after what is new all the time (still happily tapping away on my original iPad). My Macbook Pro is now two years old, not going to upgrade it any time soon unless my creative software no longer run at a pace that is satisfactory. I think unless something new is so revolutionary that it changes the game, there is just no need for me to upgrade (hey, I held off on upgrading my PC for 5 years did I not?). The last time this happened was when Apple introduced the aluminum unibody Macbook Pros with glass screen and LED backlit LCD. It was so much better compared to my white plastic macbook that I literally just dumped it to my little brother and bought the new one. 

Technology may advance in a fast pace, but it is too expensive to run along with it. 

Case in point for me is when it comes to phones. I am generally one revolution behind everybody else. Remember when color screens first came to cell phones? I was a year behind everybody in getting that. Texting phones? A good two years behind. I still have yet to upgrade to a smart phone, which is already on its next revolution with computing power that rivals small PCs (iPhone 5, come soon please). Of course when it is me that is not paying the bills, I cannot really complain now can I. Though when I get a smart phone the one footing the bill will be me. That is why I welcome the end of unlimited data plans and the introduction of cheaper entry level ones. I probably don't use that much data (in fact as of right now I don't use ANY!), and wifi is so abundant that there is not reason not to use it. The cost savings, extrapolated over a two year contract is substantial. 

Speaking of smart phones as powerful as computers, I think that is where the future is heading. The computer industry have already transitions pretty much from the desktop to the laptop (more laptops are sold than desktops). Even creative professionals can live off of a laptop because computing power are no longer exclusive to non mobile platforms as thermal efficiency in chips improves. Heck I hardly know anybody that don't do there computing on a laptop. Well, the next transition is from laptops to tablets and smart phones. I mean, it is all about getting smaller, and being portable (before that happens, laptops will getting lighter and thinner). But what about actual work? You seriously can't expect to type the great American novel on a smart phone! Actually I think you can, as all you need to add to it is a connection to a monitor and a keyboard. When it comes down to it, the major things we do with computers boils down to these things - internet, games, media, office suites. I can see all this migrating to the smart phone package. In fact, it has already begun. 

One thing technology has destroyed in the process of being great is the enjoyment of music. Don't get me wrong, without the mp3 revolution, I would not have 10% of the music I have now. The accessibility and potential exposure to all types of music is one thing mp3s brought to the table. But I think the essence of music have lost some of its luster with the breaking down of albums into individual songs for sale. Albums used to tell stories, and the order of songs is something artist put a lot of thought into. Nowadays they just lump songs together and call it an album. Heck over in Asia, many artists don't even put out albums anymore, instead putting out singles or mini albums. Leave it to the indie artist to still put together albums that have meanings and interconnections between songs.

And when is the last time you actually listened to an album from beginning to end? Radio and per song purchasing has allowed us to pick apart album and just get the songs we want (not to say that is not GOOD). I remember it was still cassettes and CDs, I would buy an album and actually listen to the whole thing. I still try to do this with my digital music when I can, as for sure I don't always buy the whole album for an artist. Enjoy music for what is, because it is not something to listen to while you are doing other things. The meaning, the vocals, the instruments, the production, etc, these things in an album need to be enjoyed in a quiet environment, sitting down, and a pair of headphones on (of course, the highest quality of mp3 you can get haha). Then again, artist needs to put the same thought back into music, and not just cobble some beats and call it a hit just because it is catchy.  

So yes, technology is great. The best thing you can do is leverage it, and not let it go to waste.