That New Computer Smell

or, Information Overload on Overdrive.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the first brand new primary development system I have bought in many years. Don’t get me wrong: I have purchased a large number of systems over the years as laptops, servers, secondary (Mac) development systems, and office/test machines. Through the years, though, the trusty dual-processor system that sits on (well, next to) the desk in my office has remained stable. Its last major upgrade was nearly six years ago, when I maxed out the processing capability of the motherboard. (There have certainly been several video card, hard drive, and disc burner upgrades in the interim.)

According to the PassMark CPU Benchmark Charts, the new system (quad core) processor should be approximately 10 times the combined speed of the processors in the older system. I could have assembled a crazy system that would be more than thrice this speed, but instead decided to opt for a pre-built computer from a major supplier, as I could not (right now) justify the extra time it would take to physically put together the hardware. Installing all of my development software would be time-consuming enough.

Speaking of software installation, I had planned to take several days to really get the new development environment tweaked to my satisfaction. The most basic functionality, the operating system, gave me the most difficulty, although it is probably due to one or more driver issues rather than the OS itself. I had to clock the processor below specification to keep any of multiple Windows installations (XP, Vista, and Vista 64) from blue-screening, although I restored the speed after installation and the system has been rock solid ever since. (That is “solid” as in does not crash, though Vista exhibits several reproducible bugs.)

The thing upon which I had not planned was the backlash of extra work and interruptions that come from taking a few days off to configure a new system. Wow! My last week really needed a time defragmenter, as it seems that I could never get more than 15 minutes on any single task before another issue demanded my attention. The fact that my projects build from 3.5 to 5 times as fast never really came into play.

Now that (almost) everything is working as I prefer, and with the trusty system just a double ScrollLock away, I should be able to take full advantage of the promised extra productivity… I hope.

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