Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Quick bit of pride.

One more quick thing before I go tumbling back into the professional abyss. Long-time readers will be familiar with my plans to build a system called Magellan, which is designed to be a massive overarching personal management system. Finances, long-term projects, to-do lists, all of this stuff was to be included in the system. I've been working on this in my spare time for the last year-and-some-change.

Well, one thing that's been a real hurdle is the hardware: to do this properly, I need three monitors. I sat down and ran the math, and buying the ubersystem I wanted new from Apple was going to run somewhere between seven and ten thousand dollars. In the words of Saint Wayne Campbell, "Scheyeah, right." Still, I've been trying to save my pennies and put something together.

Remember what I said in that earlier post about every geek worth his salt in my generation having a box or two of outdated hardware lying around? I finally decided to dive back into those boxes and see what I could find. And, lo and behold, I managed to assemble more or less exactly what I needed out of my current PowerBook (as the main CPU), my original Apple Studio Display (a dinky 800x600 display, sure, but it has TV-in, which is a perk they don't offer anymore), my old PowerBook (which won't charge a battery anymore, but still runs decently well when plugged into a wall), a copy of Abyssoft's Teleport and a small pile of adapters. The resulting rig is pretty darn sweet – the display is jacked into the main 'Book, and the older 'Book sits to the right and is controlled by the main 'Book's keyboard and mouse -- which basically turns it into a third monitor, but with a built-in processor. This isn't a lot of use for main business stuff, since I can't drag windows back and forth, but what it does do insanely well is work as a jukebox and an always-on browser.

I can hear you scoffing at using this thing as a glorified iTunes jukebox. To you critics, I ask: have you tried streaming music over to an AirPort Express yet? Big, huge, honking processor hit. I don't know what's going on there, but attempts to run Flash, Photoshop and stream a little 10,000 Maniacs at the same time result in a machine wheezing harder than a geriatric marathon.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that I accomplished pretty much what I wanted to do at a cost of something like twenty bucks. (Which is what a DVI-to-VGA adapter goes for these days.) Somewhere out there, my garage-sale addict mother is beaming with pride, I just know it.


I sure am!

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