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Computer Love?

We're often told that, barring serious illness, the two most stressful things in life are divorce and moving house — two things that I'm sure often come together. But having just replaced my faithful Mac G5 with an Intel Mac Pro that has four internal hard drives and more than enough RAM to hold every thought I've ever had and every song I've every written, I think moving your studio to a new computer has to come a close third!

It's not that the computer presented a particular problem, other than having to buy a second DVI-to-ADC adaptor to make my old Mac Cinema displays compatible with the new machine, but re–installing all of your software can take a real chunk of your life. Installing Logic 8 was straightforward, as it needs only a serial number and the patience to feed in a box of data DVDs over a period of several hours, but everything else has to be treated on a case–by–case basis — and it is only then that you begin to appreciate the difference between the various installation and authorisation schemes out there. By far the easiest was anything protected by an iLok or other physical dongle, as you just load on the software, along with the latest iLok driver, and you're good to go. But even then, downloading all the latest versions of everything, and in some case patches to make loading possible at all, becomes a quest in itself — especially as you may not have installed that piece of software since you bought the old computer and you've probably forgotten the password you used to log into the manufacturer's site.

Where the software allows only a limited number of installs, you have to reconnect your old machine and go on–line to de–install the software and claw back another install allowance, and then you may find that the one small piece of software that you rely on for the smooth working of your studio is no longer compatible with the new platform you've just bought into. Some companies, such as Universal Audio and TC Electronic make getting the new versions pretty easy, but I still hanker after something as simple as Apple's Software Update application, so that you can be flagged with new updates as soon as they become available and then sent the necessary files. That way, you could copy the lot from your old machine, press the 'Update My Stuff' button and then go for a two-week holiday while it got on with the job (though you'd probably get home to find 'Are You Sure?' flashing on the screen).

After a solid weekend and several evenings, I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel — and I don't think it's just a train coming the other way! Why is it, then, that when we buy a new computer that is clearly 10 times as powerful as we'll ever need, in three years it somehow turns into an embarrassingly slow hunk of worthless metal that we feel obliged to replace before we can possibly do any more work? The last album of my own music that I recorded was done on an early Mac G4 and it still sounds fine to me, so next time I tell you I need to buy a faster machine, please try to talk me out of it!.

Paul White Editor In Chief

Published December 2008