I've been a pure Mac user for 3 years. I haven't owned a PC since I made the switch, deciding to jump in head first, buying two Mac's over a 6th month period. Every PC I've ever owned was built by me, with parts I selected, and I'm somewhat of a picky guy when it comes to technology. The reason I bring this up, is for the first time in my life I've bought a pre-built PC! I just picked up a HP Mini 1000 netbook, and I can assure you that even though it came preloaded with Windows XP, I knew before I even swiped my credit card, that I had absolutely no interest in using a 8-year old operating system on such a nice little peice of hardware. My plans are to install OS X on this Mini sometime in the course of the next two weeks, however I decided since this is my first new PC in almost half a decade that I should get my feet wet again with Windows. Now just because it has been a long long time since I've used a PC at home or for photo/video work, doesn't mean I've let myself get rusty, I use Windows XP and Windows Vista every day. Vista is great now that Service Pack One was released a few months back, but I use it enough that it wouldn't be all that interesting to me to use at home and on the go.
So what is a guy to do that wants to play around with Windows again, but doesn't want to use XP or Vista? They install Windows 7 Ultimate! For the 98.9% of the world who is not familiar with Windows 7, it is the upcoming operating system from Microsoft that will be replacing Vista as early as this upcoming Fall. I was able to get a beta copy of the OS, and had heard good things from some other people I know who had played around for a while with it, and wanted to give it a whirl. Even though the OS is a beta (meaning the 2nd stage of testing) right now, and it will be months or even a whole year before it is actually launched as YOUR new operating system, it is amazingly stable.
This netbook I picked up is running a low power processor that is the equivilant of a dual-core Intel processor from 2-3 years ago and once I upgraded the RAM to 2GB (up from 1GB), this little ultraportable is absolutely flying through all the tasks I expect to use it for (including typing up this blog post)! This is even more impressive to me because the version of Windows 7 I'm running is the Ultimate version, which is in Vista is a version that would usually slow a device like this to a crawl. On a brand new machine running Vista Ultimate, your computer might be using close to 1GB of memory when it is idling, which is fine these days since most new machines will have 3-8GB depending on the system. Right now my new little toy is running two active windows and it is only using 670MB!!! This isn't yet to the efficiency of resources in OSX (Apple's operating system), but it's really impressive. Microsoft could probably launch Windows 7 next week and it would have fewer issues than Vista did at launch. I'll keep you all updated if something drastic changes in stability or speed, but I will be removing Windows 7 sometime next week or the week following.
My end use for this little netbook will be for several purposes:
1) Use to download photos to as an additional form of backup on-site
2) Carry with me far more frequently than my Macbook Pro in order to 'take care of business' wherever I need to
3) Use as a portable blogging machine...maybe it will allow me to keep updating on a more regular basis
4) Sratch an itch I had about hacking PC hardware to run OSX!
So why not just take my Macbook Pro (a much more powerful machine)?:
1) I need to write a whole post about back-up...it's a huge passion of mine. The HP Mini 1000 I have uses a SSD (solid state drive) which means it is essentially a big memory card, which means that it is not succesptible to loss of data caused by vibration, which means if I drop this netbook, the hard-drive doesn't shatter and nothing is lost (except maybe I have to buy a new screen). This is a tertiary backup to memory cards, in case a memory card gets corrupted when downloading onto my main editing machine.
2) My Macbook Pro might as well be screwed down to my desk...it doesn't move more than 3-4 times a year. It's relatively small and powerful, but I just don't want to unplug all the hard-drives, external displays, printers and other peripharals every time I need to go somewhere. It also doesn't fit well into my Boda bag...
3) This goes hand-in hand with #2...if I have it with me, I get to work on blogs whenever I have free time. As much as I love my iPhone, typing a full blog post would not be fun on it...plus I wouldn't be able to upload photos from my D3 via my iPhone (well I could, but it would be more work...a lot more work)
4) I've been toying with the idea of building a Hackintosh for a few months now, and just couldn't decide if I was just trying to give myself a new project (like I had a lot of free time anyway?) or if I genuinely could use 4 separate computers simultaneously...it was the later, and since my platform of choice is OSX and all of my software that I use for my business runs on OSX...I needed to either buy a Macbook Air (which is still too big to be useful to me) or I needed to buy a PC and make it into what I need. I'll post an update once I've finished turning this into an HP Mini Mac, and used it for a couple days, but I will not be posting step-by step intrucions, because I have no interest in getting a cease-and-desist request from Apple legal asking me to remove those portions of my post. (I will be installing a copy of Leopard that I LEGALLY purchased, as you should do if you choose to make your own Hackintosh)
Follow-up: I'm sure someone out there will want to see setup shots of the lighting for this, so here you go.
That's a Rayflash on the right (SB-800) shooting into a Wescott umbrella, with the SB-800 on the left just straight shooting into the umbrella. I put the diffuser on top of the chair because I was getting some shadows from the top of it. I used CLS for this instead of Pocketwizards. (Both flashes were triggered using a SB-900). Want to do your own high-key photos, but don't have (or want to buy) umbrellas? No problem. Just get your self some foam like this and it does a great job of diffusing the light. These foam blocks came with a hard drive I bought, and is being held on by a peice of gaffers tape. (Also one of the images above in the post was taken with the foam instead of an umbrella! Can you guess which (it's not the same as the setup shot)?