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Where have I been?

March 15, 2011

Not travelling. Not outdoors photographing. Not indoors photographing. No, I’ve been busy fighting with my PC. Not just any PC mined you. But a Quad core Xeon built on an Intel Server board with industrial strength everything and 16Gb of RAM. But going industrial strength was all for not. The machine is sick and the diagnosis is a tough one to nail down. If the machine would just “hard” fail, I would be much better off. It is amazing how much I have become dependent on having a working computer. Without it, most things just come to a stop. I’ve been struggling with it for weeks now.

So my only choice now was to start replacing parts (processor, motherboard, etc.) and see if I could eliminate the failing component. I started to do the math on costs and consider all the hours it would take. And this is not the first PC that has failed on me. It seems I’m on a 2 or 3 year cycle. Ugh! I then made an impulsive decision (a rarity for me) and just ordered a Mac Pro.

This of course then presents a completely new set of challenges. Besides having to learn to use a new operation system (not that it concerns me too much) the items to worry about, are availability on the Mac, of the same software that I depend on and then the licensing of that software. The additional hurdle is that Windows hard drives are typically formatted NTFS and Mac drives to HFS+. OSx can natively read NTFS but can’t write to that file system. So without doing anything, I would be able to read the 14Tb of external disk I have, but not write to it.

In the end (to make a long story short), I’m running both OSx and Windows 7 on my Mac Pro. The Windows 7 system is running under VMware Fusion and is the exact same system I was running on my old PC (a physical to virtual conversion). For the software that is not available for the Mac OSx, I will continue to run it on my Windows 7 system. And almost all of the software I use for photography is available for the Mac or PC and is cross licensed. That means I can remove (or de-activate) the software from the Windows 7 system and install the Mac version and then use the same license key (no new software licensing costs). The only exception so far is Photoshop itself. I can trade in my PC license for a Mac license at no cost but I have to choose one platform and therefore could not run PS on my Mac (natively under OSx) and on my laptop which is running Windows 7. I could still run PS under Windows 7 on my Mac but having it there and everything else running under OSx does not seem like a good long term solution. To solve the NTFS problem, I have purchased a third party device driver that provides full NTFS support under OSx. I’m now just waiting for the arrival of a new 30” monitor for the Mac with build it colour calibration. Once it arrives, I’ll calibrate it and get back to working on photography. Now I just hope Apple hardware turns out to be more reliable…

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