The Clever Monkey

The Agony of Buying Power

For a few months I’ve been doing a little research to decide if I’m going to replace the aging Macbook Pro that is my main development tool at home with a more modern lappy. The idea is to get something that runs a bit cooler, lighter, and longer on battery that I can use for general purpose hackery. As I’ve mentioned before, I think I’ve gotten about as much life out of this Macbook as I can reasonably expect, so I should probably replace it.

I have no particular interest in staying with a Mac, though it is a decent development box. But I can get all that with Linux these days. Sure, I’ll have to resort to tinkering to get stuff to work, but this already happens with the Macbook regularly, so this is really shifting the problem around to a different flavour of tinkering. So, after learning what some of the new acronyms for computer equipment mean these days, I narrowed things down to a Lenovo Carbon X1, running some sort of Linux.

As I like to shop for these things for a long time, I sort of put that research aside and went on with other things. I think it’s good to let big purchases (well, big for me) sit for a little while before I do anything rash, like put a CDN$1800 charge on my credit card.

And now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t get an acoustic bass guitar instead. This is something I’ve wanted since well before MTV Unplugged made them what all the cool bassists played in the 90s. My research suggests that for about the same budget I could get a Warwick Alien 4 (because four strings is as high as I can count) which looks like a very nice piece of kit for unplugged noodling on the porch.

Then I think that I’m not particularly happy with my commuter bike, and maybe I should see if I can get a Brodie Section 8 (or similar) retrofitted with a Shimano Alfine 11-Speed hub, which would definitely be in that same budget.

I’d certainly use the bike regularly, and selling my current ride will probably pay for the high-end hub I want. But I’m feeling like I ought to do more hacking-for-fun, and maybe a new modern lappy will give me some more of that opportunity. Though, truth be told, if I really wanted to hack more, my Macbook works just fine as long as the keyboard doesn’t just stop working (which happens occasionally).

And, really, I’m not the kind of player that practices regularly enough to get much better than I am today. I do miss playing the bass, though, and hanging out on the porch knocking out some reggae or funk grooves sounds like the sort of summer fun I most appreciate.

And then there’s the question of whether to buy another DSLR or switch to a nice mirrorless system for everyday shooting, even though my old Nikon D80 is perfectly fine and my new phone takes pretty good pictures.

What’s a good consumer to do? I don’t really need any of these things, so there isn’t some sort of professional reason to invest this sort of cash into a computer, guitar, or bicycle. This is definitely a lifestyle luxury buying choice, and I already have enough computers, guitars, and bicycles.