Introducing Venus

I recently was able to enact a long-planned and far-reaching change to my technology environment at home.

The main change to talk about is that I bought Venus — a late 2013, 13-inch MacBook Pro. Prior to Venus, I had always had a desktop as a primary computer, with a low-powered laptop to use if I couldn’t be at my desk. However, my wife and I increasingly found after having children that it was becoming harder and harder to devote time to being at a desk while at home, and that it was frustrating to have two different computing profiles — a high-powered desktop at the desk and a low-powered laptop when away from the desk. You couldn’t necessarily do everything on the laptop that you were accustomed to doing on the desktop. So, we decided to make a major change and start using a laptop as a primary computer. If we were able to be at the desk, then the laptop could be attached to a monitor/keyboard/mouse for comfort, and if we were away from the desk, then we’d have exactly the same computing power — anything we could do at our desk, we could do away from it.

With this decision made, I also wanted to make sure it was a highly portable laptop, which (to me) means 13 or 14 inches, and also decently powerful, with a reasonable benchmarking score. After scouring laptop manufacturer websites, the only laptop that really satisfied both criteria was Apple’s 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Having used Windows most of my computing life I knew this would be a change, but I had become pessimistic about the direction Windows was going in with Windows 8, anyways, so a change in operating system seemed like it might be a breath of fresh air.

Acquiring Venus led me to retire Beaker, my 2008-era laptop. I bought an Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter in order to be able to connect to wired networks, which closed that one functional gap between Beaker and Venus (laptops increasingly are dropping built-in ethernet ports).

Also as part of this plan, my previous primary desktop computer, Clementine, became a file server, since laptops generally don’t have terribly big hard drives and usually aren’t upgradable. Clementine, with her 2 TB hard drive, can function well as a central place to store files and makes those files available via network shares. Also, I purchased an external Blu-Ray writer to add that functionality to Venus and cover that function of Clementine. Over time, I plan on replacing Clementine with a more dedicated file server, but for the short term I’ll be keeping Clementine around.

At the end of the day, this exercise was very fruitful and I feel we’ve gotten out of it what we wanted. We still have a powerful primary computer capable of doing everything we could do before, but now we can bring it out of the office and still be able to do all the same things where ever we are.

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