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 Newegg.com, 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.