Evaluating My Hardware Situation

My backpack has been dropped a couple too many times with my laptop in it.  Now the hinge to my laptop monitor is busted and may only have another month or two before another fall fully incapacitates my mobile computer.

What now?  Do I get a newer laptop?  A Macbook?  A tablet?  If a tablet, do I get an iPad?  Android?  Windows 7?  Wait for Windows 8?  Oh, the options are so numerous!

So, in order to answer this question, I decided to look at the bigger picture: What hardware to I need to run my business?  I’ve spent lots of time evaluating software, since that is what I focus on most, but not as much time on what hardware I need.  The rest of this blog post is my attempt to evaluate this question for my business.

Requirements

  1. Develop software using Microsoft products, e.g., Visual Studio, SQL Server Management Studio, etc.  I love the tools Microsoft has made available!
  2. Test operating systems and application configurations.  I would like to be able to test Windows 8, Windows 9 when it comes out, or different Linux systems.  Also, I need to test applications on Windows XP or Windows Vista.  Also, I build and test some websites on Linux servers.
  3. Use source control for version tracking and making application development accessible to multiple machines.  This will also be very useful when I hire other people to help me on projects.
  4. Remote desktop  to my main computer when travelling or meeting clients.
  5. Automatic backup of current documents and general files stored for different projects.  This is useful in case a hard drive fails or some other catastrophic event.
  6. Periodic backups of files.  I keep several backups in case I accidentally delete a file and want to get back to it a couple months later.  I have yet to actually need this since I started, but I have definitely had this issue one time or another in the past.
  7. Test websites in Mac browsers. &ngsp;I actually had an instance this year where there was a bug in a Mac browser, but the PC equivalent did not see the same bug until two weeks later.  This was very hard to troubleshoot on my PC!
  8. Develop applications while travelling or while with clients.  Also while away form my office, I will need to present development websites to clients and manage my projects using OnTime (add features, view burn-down charts, etc.)

Hardware Solutions

  1. My current desktop machine running Microsoft Windows works great (Intel i7, 8GB RAM, 2 x 120GB SSD, 2 x GeForce GTX 550 Ti, etc.)
  2. Virtualization would be a good solution here.  I will need a larger hard drive (1-2TB) to store the virtual machines and more memory.  On the software end, I see two main possibilities: Microsoft HyperV and VMWare Player.  I will likely use VMWare because it has been around longer (hopefully more mature), appears to allow more use of USB, CD burning, etc., and I have already a little more familiear with VMWare Player.
  3. GitHub is my likely candidate right now.  I enjoy using Git and look forward to new tools they will be coming out with for Windows.  Now I need to think through what size of plan will work best.
  4. I am having issues using RDC since I moved my office down town.  The step that seems to be an issue with the router given to us by our internet provider.  I may have to get another router so that I have more control of the firewall.  Hopefully that will smooth out this issue.
  5. Carbonite has been an excellent solution!
  6. I use a couple 1-2TB hard drives.  I store one away from my office  in case a catastrophic event occurs to destroy the backup in my office, and I rotate them regularly.
  7. I may actually get a Macbook.  I wonder if an iPad would be good enough, though.  Getting both may be most appropriate, since their browser capabilities are optimized differently.
  8. Again, I need a mobile machine running Microsoft Windows with the power to run software development applications.  I’m looking forward to see the Microsoft Surface come out with Windows 8!  Until then, I may need to find something different.  I am partial of Lenovo ThinkPads, which I have enjoyed using so far.

Shopping List

So, I think these are the items I will need to purchase next:
  • New laptop running Microsoft Windows
  • New router (for the main office)
  • Another large hard drive (for virtualization)
  • More memory (for virtualization)
  • A paid account to GitHub
  • Android tablet (for fun)
  • Used Macbook and/or iPad if found on a good deal
  • Maybe the Surface when it comes out

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