Bears should not use computers

Where to begin. I’ve been an utter Bear to deal with lately; the owl part of my personality has been dominant in dealing with logic, hardware interactions, and inflexible corporate pricing policies. Put another way, let’s just say that this week has been a challenging one for me in terms of computers. This is true mainly on two fronts.

First, as I’ve mentioned I’m in the market for a laptop. I’ve been a bit intimidated by the process of finding a laptop, because a) I’ve never purchased a laptop; and b) I want to make sure the one I get will do everything I want it to do (ie, run Linux, record audio, etc). So after quite a bit of research, I found a Dell machine that seems to fit the bill, as others have run Linux on it and it should have plenty of power to record audio. Anyway, I poked around Dell’s website, got the configuration I wanted, got a price I could live with, and hung out until all my fundage fell into my lap in a couple days, feeling good about my decision and my ability to find what I wanted at a good price. This was Wednesday.

Well, yesterday (Friday), I called Dell to make sure that the price I saw was indeed the best price, to see if I could talk them down a bit, and then to place the order. Silly Freaking Me. Apparently in the 36 hours since I saw the price online, the price for the laptop had gone up by $100. I went round and round with the operator, but she told me all about Dell’s “24 hour pricing” policy, and that they were willing to lose a sale over this matter.

So much for Dell. Bastards. Fuck ’em. At least now I have cash in hand and if I see a good deal on a laptop, I can jump on it. But now the laptop research wheel begins turning anew. Sigh. I hate wasted labor.

But the story just begins here, because the more serious and more disconcerting area of my computer dissonance has to do with the studio computer. All this time I’ve been running the studio computer with just one hard drive, which of course goes against any sane backup strategy (never keep your data in only one place!). So I decided to add a new hard drive. My computer is compatible with a new type of hard drive (SATA) that is faster and more capable than a normal (IDE) hard drive. So I added it, and got everything to work after some small hassle.

The problem is, now every time I record audio, I get pops and clicks on the resulting audio tracks. I’ve tried several solutions (I may post a detailed account in a bit…posterity, you know) to no avail. The problem seems to be in regulating how data moves through the motherboard. Recording high definition multitrack audio requires some serious data transfer, lots of info moving in and out of the machine. The machine accomplishes this through what are called IRQ channels. One thing to do is ensure that the audio card has its own IRQ channel with nothing else on it to interfere; so far I’ve not been able to accomplish this. Until now it hasn’t been a problem, but the new hard drive means more data is flowing; hence the pops and clicks. It’s never been an issue in the past.

To make this matter even more frustrating, Matt and I this week had arranged for 2 full days in the studio so we could focus (sans interruption, sans kids,etc) on “making tracks” for this album. Both days were lost, as I spent the entire time wrestling with the computer.

So my owl is exhausted, and my bear is rampaging.

I think I need to smash something with silicon in it…take that metaphor any way you want.

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