My ’57 Chevy

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No, it’s not actually a ’57 Chevy. It’s a metaphor. Those Chevy’s were made to last and so are Thinkpads. Not only that, but both were designed to encourage user serviced upgrades and adjustments. I was looking for one of these last year. I got talked into getting a newer Thinkpad and then I eventually sold that one for a MacBook. I got so interested in getting something fast and powerful that I completely lost sight of that fact that I use my Quad Core desktop for fast and powerful stuff. I really just needed something low powered for admin purposes but more than that I wanted an old fixer upper. I sold my MacBook about 6 months ago and just picked up that ole ‘Chevy. It’s a Thinkpad T40. I’m going to soup it up in every way possible-just for the fun of it. Here are my planned upgrades:

1. Replace the HDD. The HDD in this laptop has been in use since its factory release 6 years ago. It runs fine but not for long. I might use an 80 GB drive.

2. Upgrade the RAM. It’s got 1GB but I’m going to max it out at 2GB.

3. Fix the graphics card. You may or may not be aware of this but certain Thinkpad models suffer from something known as garbled screen syndrome. It’s a fault in the soldering of the graphics card. My little Thinkie is suffering from it. I’ve got to remove the motherboard and reflow the soldering. It’s proven to work! Should be fun!

4. Add a 2nd HDD. I rarely store work files on my startup drive. In my experience, I just can’t trust it. The startup is just for the OS, applications and other system data, nothing more. My DropBox, my Ubuntu One and any other files are always stored on the secondary drive. It’s really helpful when that second drive is built into the computer! I’m going to get an Ultrabay Slim adapter to add a second internal HDD.

5. Install a 6 in 1 for the expansion slot. I’m moving toward the DSLR movement for web, topical and freelance projects. I plan to make use of this card reader.

6. Replace the CPU. Right now it’s a 1.5 GHz Pentium M. I’ve just discovered that I can upgrade it to a 2.0 Ghz if the Front Speed Bus is at 400 MT/s. I found a good candidate: Pentium M 755.

7. After all of the hardware is squared away, I’m ready to install my OS: Ubuntu 10.10. I have it running on my pre-op Thinkie and I can’t wait to see how much better the performance is after these upgrades. The difference might be marginal in some respects but fixing up old computers is an art. I wanna get art’n’!

I’ll be using this laptop primarily for: web browsing, email, openoffice work, Celtx (pre-production software), audio recording and most importantly as an ingest station for shooting in digital. Shooting at 1080p on a DSLR or other drive based cameras eats up a lot of data. I won’t be able to review or edit the video on this laptop but who cares, I do that at home anyway. This is just a really good way to make space on the camera drives or SD cards on the fly. This is exactly how that 2nd HDD will come in handy.

I’ll let ya folks know what happens!


Tascam Announces New MiniDisc Deck

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“What-what-what?!” to quote Kyle Broflovski’s Mom. An apt quote for this bit of news: Tascam is releasing a new MiniDisc recorder. You heard right, MiniDiscs, those little things that looked like bad ass floppy disks. Even though blank MiniDiscs are no longer produced, Tascam is releasing an all new unit to record them on. Probably the best investment Tascam could make during a recession since really weird decisions always yield success in Bizarro world. Oh wait, this is the real world.

Here is Tascam’s official press release:


New Model Keeps MiniDisc Going for Broadcasters and ContractorsMontebello, CA (October 9, 2009): TASCAM is revamping its MiniDisc recorder to the MD-02B, the industry’s only choice for MiniDisc recording. The recorder features XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced analog inputs and outputs, as well as coaxial and optical digital ins and outs. It records to MiniDisc at ATRAC3 compression, and a disc can switch between Stereo, Mono, LP2 and LP4 modes.

TASCAM’s MD-02B improves on the MD-350 by adding optical digital connection, increased program play memory and automatic track increment by time or level. Fade in and fade out is also now available while recording. Edit modes include divide, combine, erase, move and title.

Also available from TASCAM is the MD-CD1, a combination Minidisc recorder and CD player.

This is where a blogger might start railing the old format and laughing at Tascam for this move. Well not me. I have to admit that I did not expect anyone to ever invest money in this tech besides me and a few audiophiles on Sony Insider who just can’t let go (myself included!). As you see in the press release, it appears to now be a format geared towards broadcasters and contractors. Do broadcasters really still use MiniDisc? I could imagine that being true 5 years ago or so when solid state recorders weren’t so expensive but wouldn’t a computer be suitable device? I mean, have you seen computers? They do a lot of stuff now-a-days. You also have plenty of portable solid state options out there too. Both of which will cost far less when you consider what they offer. This perplexes me a bit. My reasons for sticking with MiniDisc are less than rational. Can someone offer me a rational reason as to why and how this new MiniDisc unit works mechanically and financially for broadcasters?

Forgive my ignorance for this next question but who are these contractors? Contract killers? Are they into MiniDisc too? So only two kinds of people in this world use MiniDisc: audio geeks and ninja assassins. okay…that makes me feel a little cooler I guess.

Anyway, this news has got me scratching my head. That being said I think I’m going to post some fun MiniDisc tutorials soon.

See you then!