Re-scoping, Again

Just as I began my vacation, I decided to give up on maintaining a home office, and as I finish them, I’ve decided to re-scope other things as well.

This was in the making for a while, really. Like I wrote then:

…in between kids, lack of elbow room (the office is crammed full of stuff we simply can’t keep within reach of tiny hands) and a miserly view, I tend to simply use the mini remotely from the comfort of my iPad.

So I e-mailed one of the local Mac mailing-lists and sold off my original 15” “Luxo” iMac, my previous desktop (a Core Duo mini) and my G4 mini (which I’ve yet to deliver).

I kept my original, battered 1st gen Intel mini (which I need as a media server) and my early 2010 mini (which has the old, boxier form factor), but that’s temporary – for a fairly lengthy definition of “temporary”.

I don’t have the cash to buy new hardware this year (I’ve decided to save up for a new iPhone), and it makes more sense to hold on to my 2008 MacBook for a bit longer and sell it (and the mini, both of them being upgraded to the hilt) to fund my transition to a more powerful laptop by next year1.

And that will likely be that. A laptop and an iPad. And a likely end to most of my home coding/hacking/twiddling/etc. in a year or so.

I hate giving up on things, though. I really, truly hate it.

Which is why I’ve spent the past couple of weeks pondering whether I’d also get rid of the two monitors I bought a couple of years back – the jury’s still out on that one, largely because I’m still using the 2010 mini for managing our photos and need something to plug it in to.

But they’re the largest thing on that desk, and the desk has to go as well… Eventually, something like a foldaway desk will take its place, I think. Anyway, there’s some interesting fallout from all of this.

Looking for less droids

First off, I’m winding down a lot of my coding pastimes, which, right now, involves putting most of my recent Android hacking on ice. It pains me because it’s lots of fun, but I simply don’t have enough CPU for it - the mini was able to build a full source tree overnight, but that’s just too slow when you’re trying to do builds for more than one device – and even when you’re patient enough to wait a month for a working build, it’s a pain to fix things at that speed.

I’ve thought of renting another VPS to do that (this site’s lacks the disk space) but there would be nothing to offset the added expense, so I’m just going to wait until the Broadcom guys release the sources for their Raspberry Pi build and focus on that - the Raspberry Pi seems like the perfect (cheap, challenging and unobtrusive) toy to fiddle with for the next year or so, and I have a fun project involving it at work.

I’m also going to officially give up on the notion of building a 3D printer (which I dabbled with a few months back, when all the other middle-aged geeks were doing it – in fact, some are nearly finished assembling theirs), re-route a bunch of cabling, get rid of the office UPS, and other sundry details I’m still working out.

The beauty of offline

But the biggest piece of fallout is going to hit my “online” time. I’m swinging round again to the notion that I’m wasting too much time online, and this year’s vacation confirmed it.

I spent most of the past three weeks reading and carrying an ancient iPhone 3G (not my 3GS – I wanted to turn off my work e-mail and most social noise, but without losing basic connectivity), and it felt good (other than my busting a knee, not having mobile coverage and getting a touch of bronchitis). I hardly even took out my iPad.

So I’ve started shutting down accounts here and there, unsubscribing from mailing-lists I didn’t miss, and removing a bunch of high-traffic, noisy RSS feeds (like Engadget’s) from my reading list. I did it before, and never missed them.

I’m hoping to make good use of my newfound time by writing a bit more (not necessarily here) and continuing to study everything I can regarding Big Data – not the hype bits, but the math bits, for which I’m developing a considerable fondness since it fits well with my love for AI and some of its algorithmic approaches.

That has a lot more potential to be both fun and rewarding, and, with luck, it’s going to be my main focus from now on.

  1. I’m betting on a Retina Air coming out eventually. ↩︎