Sunday, January 8, 2012


That new computer that I assembled in 2011 (read here and there) is screaming along now.

My original idea was to install the operating system on my first SSD. When I placed my order at, only a 40GB SSD was available in my price range. I found that the disk was almost full after installing Windows 7. Not good! I put the OS up on the 1TB mechanical hard drive so I could get the machine up and running.

But my delay and procrastination had one benefit: it gave Moore's Law time to work its magic. The size of SSDs has been going up while the prices have come down. I see rough prices of $1.50 per GB for SSDs now; I can get 120 or 240GB disks without too much trouble.

I decided to spring for a 120GB SSD and start again. I had invested in a lovely two-disk tray that makes installing a new one as easy as inserting it into the drawer and snapping it into place. Now I have two: the operating system is installed on the 120GB SSD, while the 40GB drive houses data and software projects.

It's amazing to see how responsive this machine is. I have 6 CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and a Nvidia video card. I still have a 1TB internal hard drive and an external 1TB drive that connects via USB. I use the external drive as a backup.

What to do with that 1TB internal drive?

I decided to install Ubuntu on the mechanical hard drive and set it up to dual boot with Windows 7. Now I have a Unix machine with gcc available to me. I'd love to install the CUDA SDK and start writing C++ to exercise their linear algebra and FFT libraries. It's one of the projects that I have in mind for 2012.

I've installed R and Tinn-R. I've begun working my way through "Doing Bayesian Data Analysis" by John Kruschke. It's been a revelation; I'll be writing more about that soon. That's another project for 2012.

2011 was a decent year for technical learning, but I need to step things up quite a bit. This new machine will be a great platform for doing so.

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Nate Wilson said...

All this time, and I had no idea you kept a blog. Of course, as a lowly web designer who buys ready-made PCs or has his father piece them together, half of what you're talking about here is Greek to me. (The other half is Klingon.)

Go, Speed, Go!

Michael Duffy said...

Thanks for reading, Nate. I've enjoyed your writing for a very long time. I don't think mine will be nearly as entertaining.