So Monday night I’m out on Staten Island in the midst of one of my many late night jogs through the forgotten borough (what you know bout running 6 miles straight, 6 nights a week, for your 2nd workout of the day?), and I just happened to be heading down a street I don’t ordinarily run through, when I spotted a CRT monitor (you know, big oldschool monitor) and keyboard laying outside waiting to be picked up by the garbage men in the morning. I did a double take, and realized there was a computer sitting in the pile, and I picked it up and looked it over. Hmm… pentium 4, relatively clean, at least on the outside. So I tuck it under one arm and start walking back to my crib, and after something like 4 miles I made it back home. Walking 4 miles with a computer in your hand, good exercise, but tiring as fuck.
I got home and being the Mac guy that I am right now, I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to messing with this PC, but whatever. I took my old PC keyboard out of the closet and hooked the computer up to a monitor, entered the BIOS settings just to see the specs on the computer. Lo and behold, it was Pentium 4, 1.8ghz, with 512 MBs of RAM. Not necessarily the most powerful computer in the world, but a bit more advanced than my last PC, which only had a 733 mhz Pentium 3 processor, and which up until 2006 still got plenty of use. This computer had Linux on it and it was password protected. I didn’t even wanna mess with Linux, as I know almost nothing about that OS. So I started downloading Windows XP off Bit Torrent, and seeing as how it was like 3am by then, I went to sleep.
Got up the next morning, XP was downloaded, burned it on disc. Then I reformatted one of the hard drives that was in the computer and installed XP. Got online, downloaded Firefox and a couple other apps real quickly just so I’d have some stuff on the computer to work with. Couldn’t get a password to Norton Anti-Virus 2008, so who knows, I might get a trojan horse virus on this computer in a day or two and this whole post could be for naught. Then I shut the computer down.
I whipped out the old 733mhz PC, which I’d upgraded through the years with new video cards, new RAM, firewire PCI card, USB 2.0 (you must remember, none of this shit was available when i got the computer back in 2000), and proceeded to take everything out of that PC. Then I installed it in the new PC. I was even able to upgrade the new one’s RAM because there was an open slot.
Lastly, I took my old Digi001 PCI card out of the old computer and put it in the new one, then installed Pro Tools LE 6.4 (the last version they made that actually works with the 001), and within minutes I was up and running with a fully functional DAW. Hooked up an external firewire hard drive I had laying around, then went into the PC’s hardware set-up to make sure my IRQs were all straight, shut off all the background and irrelevant computer functions, and there I was mixing a session.
In the coming days I’m going to throw a whole bunch of other music apps on this PC and see how well it performs, although I don’t think it’s going to be able to hang too tough considering all the algorithms on newer software is made to run on more current hardware.
That said, there was definitely something fun about finding a PC in the trash and being able to troubleshoot it over the course of a few hours and get it up and running pretty smoothly. I remember when I had the Digi001 on a PC years ago, there were all these issues about whether or not Pro Tools would run properly and so on and so forth. And that’s how I learned whatever I know about PCs, just by them actually NOT working the way they’re supposed to, and having to troubleshoot them so much. I literally tore that 733 mhz DELL computer apart back when i was getting it up to snuff to work with Pro Tools, and in the process of that, acquired a lot of knowledge about PC architecture.
Macs just don’t seem as fun in that regard. Sure, they work. They work really well. They work well enough that you don’t have to spend much time fixing them, nor do you want to spend any time fixing them in the first place, because everything costs so much to replace. I have had a Mac for about 2.5 years now and honestly I couldn’t tell you much about how a Mac works, how it processes information, how to get it work more efficiently. Nope. Just couldn’t. Meanwhile, I can take a piece of crap PC out of the trash, make a few adjustments, and get it up and running, pretty solidly too, because let’s face it, XP is boring and all, but it just works, bottom line.
For a guy like me, who attains a certain sense of satisfaction from taking shit apart and putting it back together, the PC, as shitty and untrendy as it is, can be a pretty cool thing from a technological standpoint to spend a couple hours with.
Maybe it’s just me, but Macs just don’t excite me the same way. Dare I say it, Macs work so well, even an idiot could use one. Could that be the reason why so many sing its praises these days? Hmm…