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Bikes, Trains, and a new computer - Nick [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Bikes, Trains, and a new computer [May. 30th, 2004|08:20 pm]
[music |Shes A Flight Risk - Ether]

At the moment, my journey to work is done by car. It's something like 15 miles, and typically takes 35-40 minutes (depending on traffic. Personal best is 29, at lunchtime, driven on the speed limit almost the whole way...). 30 something minutes in a little radio 4 cocoon. Not too bad really, as far as commutes go.

What I'd probably prefer is to get the train. There's a station (Finstock) just down the road from work, probably something like half a mile away. It's on the Cotswolds line from Oxford, so ought to be perfect. Only, it isn't. There are only two trains a day that stop there, one in the morning going to Oxford and London, and one in the evening coming back, making it completely useless for me to get it. Apparently it's a mixture of lack of demand, lack of clue on the part of First Great Western Link (who can't cope with the idea of a reverse commute), and the health and safety muppets not allowing long trains to stop at short platforms (in case people are too stupid to walk to the correct set of carriages). Bah....

Cycling the whole route is also out. While 15 miles isn't bad per-se, it's the roads that are the problem. Up the dual carriageway A44, onto the single carriage way bit of the A44 (supposedly one of the more dangerous bits of road in north Oxfordshire), then down twistey windey B roads (which everyone else seems to drive too fast along). Really wouldn't be a nice (or safe) cycle.

There is another option though, which I'm considering. Cycle into town, get the train out to Charlbury (a few miles up the road, which all the trains do stop at, and where our local sandwich shop is), then cycle on to the office. It'll probably take close to an hour (20 minutes to town, 10 minutes waiting for a train, 10 minutes on the train, then 15 minutes to the office), so I won't want to do it every day. However, I'm thinking that with the nice weather we ought to have at some points in the summer, it might be a nice option some days.

One remaining problem with this - my laptop. I currently use my personal laptop (with company supplied upgrades to it) for work, and at home. I really don't fancy the idea of cycling through rush hour oxford centre, and on windey cotswold roads with a laptop on my back. The obvious solution would be to leave my laptop at work when I know I'm cycling the next day, and use another computer at home.

Only one problem with this idea - pattertwig. My current desktop machine is one I was donated by college (hence the name). It's a 1992 Compaq 486, upgraded to DX2 66, with a whopping 32mb ram. Oh, and 41gb of hard disk space, and a 52x cd writer. Yes, it does take the piss :) Trouble is, pattertwig isn't up to much beyond SSH, serving files, and burning cds. You can just about start X, but even exported applications are painful to use.

My solution is to spend some money, and buy a new machine. Now to decide what to get.... I plan to add a digital TV card to this machine at some point in the near future, to run it as a PVR. This means the machine'll need something of the order of 2-2.5 ghz speed wise, and a decend amount of memory, if it's going to handle the encoding whilst still being usable. Disk wise, I have a 40gb and a 120gb disks in other machines, along with a cd writer, so I don't need something with much (if any) storage. Display wise, I want a nice LCD, but I don't have to buy that yet (I can manage with a CRT for a bit, well, until the next pay day anyway...)

This leaves me the question of what computer to buy, and from whom. It'll probably be a bottom of the line system+memory upgrade (possibly + LCD). Options seem to be Dell (which'll involve M$ tax, and the need for a long warranty), DNUK, or possibly just some random cheap system advertised in the paper (again with long warranty).

Anyone have any thoughts/suggestions

[User Picture]From: bornagainbiker
2004-06-02 06:52 pm (UTC)
I've heard that these guys know what there doing with hardware - and you can buy with no O/S installed. The do not offer a linux install like DNUK though

(Reply) (Thread)
From: gagravarr
2004-06-05 12:26 pm (UTC)
Looked very good, until I spotted the huge jump between the Athlon XP2400+ and the next one....

If only they'd had a XP2800+ or above athlon, then I'd have bought from them. Trouble is, I don't think a 2400 will be quite up to being a workstation whilst acting as a PVR :(
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