New workstation setup

This is quite bit on the “not really interesting to anyone else” side, but, anyway, I have gone off and spent quite a bit of my research budget on new hardware, specifically a new workstation for myself. As of a few days ago, I am the proud owner (well, user) of a fully spec’ed out iMac, rendering my home working space thusly:


(I first thought about getting the new Mac Pro, but after reading this article and taking a more realistic look at my own needs I decided for the iMac.)

I have also installed Parallels, because a) I like Microsoft Live Writer, Komposer and a few other tools that are only available in Windows, because my employer demands Windows (yes, I am working on changing that) and because the Office package works better in a Windows environment, as I found out recently when trying to use Office for Mac and PC interchangeably in a mail merge setting and ending up doing everything twice. Parallels seems to work fine, with the exception of some keyboard issues (necessitating fiddling with configuration files and various three-finger keyboard combinations) and a not very intuitive screen management system. Oh well.

The build quality and performance of the iMac is quite something to behold – wonderfully crisp screen, makes my two older screens look quite shabby in comparison. Every other connection (network, Scansnap, Brother wireless printer Just Works, which is the way it is supposed to be. The Mac keyboard is nice to the touch, but the key combinations are a bit tricky, and reprogramming them to be more compatible across the two different environments will be, I suspect, quite a bit of fiddling in the years to come.

Anyway, I am now fully Mac’ed up, but with Windows compatibility, in a nod to the environment I primarily have worked in the last 20 years or so. The hardware quality of the Mac is extremely high, as is the design factor, but the software still leaves some to be desired – the differences are not great, but they are there, and I want the flexibility. One of my colleagues actually has a late model iMac and uses it almost exclusively as a Windows machine (he boots into Windows with Bootcamp). I would like to explore the native Mac apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote, especially Keynote) but given that I write and develop things collaboratively I cannot base myself on them entirely.

My main reason for getting the iMac, however, is that I want to start fiddling a bit with video editing. I did an interview on the future of technology and computing in the next 5 years (in Norwegian), and asked to get the raw material for my own purposes – time to see to what extent I can use the technology to be in more than one place at once, flip the classroom, fiddle with a MOOC (or, well, more like a SPOC), or perhaps just animate some presentations. There certainly should be enough horsepower for the foreseeable future…and a rather cool home office. All I need now is an Aeron chair (ordered), a desk with a glass top with someone to polish it, a cleaner for all the dust and junk, a black turtleneck sweater, a head shaver and a personal trainer, and I should be well on my way to digital guru status.

Oh well, if it only was that easy…