Systems advice pls: Server(s)? Strong laptop? Laptop/wkstations?


A

Alex McKenzie

Please help me form a plan of attack for deciding on what to
buy/build/adjust. I've been getting by with inadequate computing power for
a long time. I've been accumulating some parts, but I feel like I don't
have a solid enough plan for what set of computers to end up at. I want to
build and buy what's needed to get to a stable, strong set of
PCs/servers/laptop for doing development, testing, and general power-user,
with high-end uses in lots of areas--the only high-end ones that come to
mind that I'm =not= needing to be able to do are gaming, CAD, and graphics.

(I'll list my existing hardware (PC and printers/PDAs/etc) and my software
at the end. Basically, I have almost no modern hardware [except a DV
camcorder!], and I have lots of modern software including MSoft's Action
Pack.) I'm sorry for the length of the post. I think that your answers
will help other users who are stuck at mid-powered computing, particularly
if they have lots of software and haven't had the hardware to make use of
it. Please let me know if I've picked the wrong newsgroup or if I should
crosspost--I've never done so but this post is hitting server software and
hardware, desktop/laptop hardware choices and software, and a bit of
business operations.

My questions are, basically, what equipment do you recommend that I
get/build/dispose of, and what server products do you recommend I install
and on which equip? At a minimum, the choices I'm thinking I need to make
include these. Some are either/or, some are stand-alone decisions.

The questions include what equipment to buy/build (and whether to buy or
build), what combination of server products to install and on what
equipment, and what RAID, partitioning and backup strategies to employ. The
questions in brief:

--Get/build one or more strong desktops (or just get and use a super
laptop?)
--Get a super laptop or use the approx 800 mhz one. (I've not researched
building a laptop...)
--Get/build one or more servers (using server boxes, or desktop boxes and
buying RAID card for mirroring, or just relying on programs like fastback
--Partition, and if so, how many with what size, and if on a desktop, then
across how many drives, and if on a laptop, how critical is it to get to a
two drive RAID solution (I think the only one I saw was on a custom maker's
super high end laptop). I've seen recommendations that partitioning is now
non-productive except for keeping drive letters to sizes that fit on DVD
backups, and I've seen recommendations, perhaps mostly older, to at least
partition pure data, especially video, and I've seen ones saying to have
many partitions (Operating system, swap file, applications, temp directory,
data files, and I'm probably missing a category or two).

That includes, do you recommend setting up a Windows 2003 server or Small
Bus Server 2003 or somehow no server (please see below, I'll need some sort
of installation that allows me to use SQL Server (which is in Small Biz
Server and perhaps elsewhere in MSoft's Action Pack), and possibly
Sharepoint (which I think is a standalone).



I'll be going from:

--currently mostly using Win 98 (with lots of reboots voluntarily or
forced),
to as soon as possible always using XP Pro, and if not too expensive to do
now, I of course would prefer to be ready for 64 bit if its cost effective
to be ready now rather than wait for equip to drop a bit.

--currently almost never needing mobility (beyond a great cellphone-palm
combo)
to soon needing it at least some of the time.

I'm not sure that mobility means needing a laptop. (For example, sometimes
I could see using a foldout keyboard with my PDA, or just bringing files on
a USB pendrive or perhaps files and e-mail/desktop along on a MIGO, or
logging in remotely.) And I'm not sure that needing a laptop means needing
the laptop to be so strong as to never need a desktop, and instead maybe I'd
save the strongest needs for when I'm at a desktop, and maybe synch the
desktop's data files with the laptop or use the laptop as the desktop's data
drive. In fact, the wider and heavier the laptops I see, the more I think I
might want a light small one!

--currently occasionally developing in office vba,
to as soon as possible occasionally or more often developing with Visual
Studio and perhaps with other apps, and at least trying out some solutions
that use products that maybe are server based, like sharepoint
server/services, and SQL Server.

--currently having a static pretty simple web site,
to as soon as possible having several, including one that will have dozens
to perhaps several hundred pages, and either could be created as a static
site or, perhaps, as a dynamic one (but one that really doesn't have to be
dynamic, because the data will be the same). Due to the amount of related
pages I need to get into it, I hope to create it programmatically, perhaps
by putting together something that drives Front Page's object model, pulls
files from my data folders, and creates links among them using a
semi-relational database file I'm creating. Or perhaps using what I've read
that Sharepoint with Front Page 2003 can do--if the documentation is not
hype, one could create a data driven site without having the expertise
that's been needed to create data driven sites up to now; however, if the
use of Sharepoint means that regular internet users can't get to it without
an access license, then that won't work.

--currently having no employees though sometimes subcontracts,
to perhaps having a secretary / office manager or some sort of solution to
free me to do more sales or billable consulting or development or perhaps
hiring of people to do same. I have a small non-home office available and
have proof of concept on networking between that and the home one.

--currently being basically a sole consultant,
to soon trying to build a multi-people practice. Considering how hard it is
just to deal with the equipment issues alone, I have even more respect for
those who've built consulting practices!



Even my current uses are varied. I'm almost always using at least several
apps and several browser sessions at a time, and sometimes I'm a developer,
and sometimes do tech support and sometimes training. I probably will be
shifting from doing all work at one office to supporting clients at their
companies or doing sales demos on site and occasionally at trade shows.

I want my family to still have access to the net and peripherals, perhaps
only through through separate PCs but at least through profiles that can't
hurt my data.



I can spend $ and time to semi-reasonable amounts, but I do have some good
equipment (80, 120, & 160 gig hard drives), and I'm prepared to buy a high
end laptop if that's the solution or part of it.

High end needs:
--So far, no gaming but I could see bonding with my teen kids<g>.
--ideally I'll have video editing (no need to do that mobilely, I think,
though I realize that if I end up getting a high end laptop I'd probably be
able to do it remotely). I have a cheap DVD+R (not installed anywhere yet),
it's made for going into a 5.25 slot of a desktop or server, not a laptop.
--video recording (portable would be great, but the recording I do away from
the office is for church so it won't pay for itself<g>, so far I've just
lugged a 1.5 ghz desktop and monitor to plug in our DV camera for continuous
recording, and that's a lot of lugging)
--voice recog. (ideally portable, but definitely at the office). I think
that to get better accuracy I'll need some sound card (or for a laptop, USB)
extras. I'm headed toward Dragn's pro version.
--I definitely need =a lot= of RAM because sometimes I need virtual computer
(vmware/Virtual PC) sessions--so far I've done individual ones but want to
link them so I can test, demo, and train applications that are networked.
By "a lot" of RAM, my idea of a high-end laptop is that it would allow me to
put in at least 2 gigs, even if I don't use it right away, and my idea of a
high end desktop is unclear, I probably wouldn't pay an extra $200 or more a
motherboard that could go beyond 2 or 3 gigs.


Note: mostly due just to not being able to take in a fraction of what's
already available to me in Microsoft's Action Pack, and due to having
licensing thanks to the Pack, I've not looked to other languages and
servers. I know they're out there, but don't know whether in my case they'd
be a simplifier or a complication.





What I've got now:

--Perhaps most important, a budget that, if necessary, will allow for
getting a high end laptop and will allow for building or perhaps buying one
to two desktops and one to two servers. (I am halfway through building a
PC, so far so good, so I think that, perhaps with hiring a consultant, I
could build the desktop or server PCs if that would help keep the cost good
without taking hordes of time or having a high risk of ending up with a
brick<g>.)

Software
--MSoft's Action Pack, which gives me 10 licenses of XP Pro, 10 licenses of
Office, most if not all MS servers software (including Server 2003, Small
Biz Server '03), and just about everything imaginable other than Office
developer and Visual Studio

-- NFD Windows Server 2003 (with 25 access licenses), and NFR Small Biz
Server 2003 Pro (with 10 access licenses)

--Office Developer '97

--Visual Studio Pro 2003

--Acrobat, Paperport, DNS 7 Pro (voice recog)

--Mix of Norton & McAffee anti-virus etc software

--Palm simulation software, not yet installed. (This should help for
testing software and for supporting Palm OS's other than those on my
systems, and for not having to reinstall my data when I do
development/test.)

Note--I stay fully licensed, that's non-negotiable. However, I do watch for
deals and have gotten a lot of this by upgrade and rebate deals. That's to
help explain if it seems like I'm half way to having a good set of
development software<g>.



Non-PC Hardware

--an old laserjet and a modern multi-function deskjet/officejet, currently
used just for copying and printing because I got it up and running quickly
and at the time I did, HP didn't yet have drivers for XP. And several
scanners, one new USB, one uses a card (perhaps pre-ISA), and one goes on
parallel port (which maybe is practical again now that printers are USB?)

--An ancient but still working fax machine.

--several cable routers, including a wireless one I've put off trying
because of security.

--wireless card for laptop, and I think one wireless ISA card.

--several old Palm Pilots and keyboards, and a good Palm-based cellphone,
USB based. No Pocket PC yet, but would like to unless there's a good
simulator so I could develop/test/train. For perhaps another year, my own
PDA preference probably will stay at Palm.



PCs

--a couple of super old laptops (roughly 100 to 133 mhz, RAM 40 to 128, hard
drive max 2gig), they're OK for the kids to do homework but I'm curious if I
should junk them in order to get better control of the kids' computing by
making the kids have "regular user" profiles in XP, which means having
stronger computers.

--an approx 800 mhz laptop, 256megs currently in it, max 500 allowed. Hard
drive is approx 6 megs. Has a DVD/CD, no writer, but has USB (possibly USB
2) so can handle external USB, and has built in firewire so could handle a
firewire writer. I got it used so I'd have something for an on-site
requirement coming up, but I'm not committed to keeping it.

--a half dozen Pentium desktops ranging in the 100 to 350 mhz range, I
scavenge parts from some (e.g. I just grabbed an apparently 64 megabyte
video card but it was in a white slot (ASI?) not an AGP slot. And I've
actually been using the 350 for years, it's got jazz, 380 or so RAM, and
poorly functioning Win 98.

--1.4 name brand pentium, bought refurbished and never really worked right.
It came with XP Home but thanks to having the Action Pack I'm thinking I'll
clean-install XP Pro after moving the data to safety.

--A half built desktop, 1.6 or so Athlon (which seems to run at 1.2 mhz or
so equivalent) in a 1 gig memory board that presently I've maxed out (two
500 meg memory modules), I started building it partly to get comfortable
with changing system level equipment like CPUs and fans. The building went
great so far. Now that it actually is time to choose what drives to put in
and what operating system and what partitioning, it led me to draft this
post, because I'm unclear whether to install server software on it, or
upgrade the processor, or go get a powerful box & board & CPU, or....

--Four or five full sized monitors (17 inch, 19inch, 21 inch)

--Several small monitors (14 / 15 inch). Currently using them for:
-- at church, when I lug my strongest desktop for DV several-hour
recording, I grab one of these so I don't have to take a heavier one.


Video equipment/software

(Just in case it's helpful, I'll detail the video recording equipment
situation. My top need is to get the above things on track. So I hope this
is not a distraction. And perhaps having Digital video could tie in to
making some training content.)

-- DV+R equip: I recently got a low cost but 8x DVD +R that fits in a
desktop. I haven't installed it yet, somewhat due to time but mostly
because I'd like to finally get a solid strategy and then put it in once
instead of installing it in one PC and then ending up moving it.

-- VCR that might or might not have S-Video out; I'd have to check the back.
(This relates to being able to convert our old VHS tapes to DVD.)

-- DV camcorder (connects to PC via firewire) and a couple of pretty old
full size VHS camcorders. With the VHS I always just have given the tapes
out after direct recording, so no editing. The goal is to transition to the
DV camera and to make DVDs, and I'm getting there slowly. I think I've got
recording to the PC down now, and upon deciding one way or another on DVD
equipment I'll need just a bit of practicing in order to be ready to shift
away from VHS. Ideally I'll be able to convert a few of our VHS recordings.

-- Note--so far, no high-end video software, I've experimented with MM2
which comes with XP.

-- As far as making training content, I used to use screen recording
software, it would record whatever was going on on the screen, and
optionally capture spoken audio. It might not run on XP/2000. So, I could
risk installing it and risk the system's stability, or could install it
under a virtual PC / vmware.





Whew! It feels good just to get all of this listed. I'd guess that a lot
of others who've been on their own for a long time might also have a mix of
equipment and goals. Thanks for reading this and for any answers, it will
help others as well as me.

Thank you!
 
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J

JAX

After reading most of your post, I would suggest, just buy a good laptop and
start writing novels for a living/pastime. This is the largest text only
post I have ever seen. What was your question, I forgot.

JAX

Alex McKenzie said:
Please help me form a plan of attack for deciding on what to
buy/build/adjust. I've been getting by with inadequate computing power for
a long time. I've been accumulating some parts, but I feel like I don't
have a solid enough plan for what set of computers to end up at. I want to
build and buy what's needed to get to a stable, strong set of
PCs/servers/laptop for doing development, testing, and general power-user,
with high-end uses in lots of areas--the only high-end ones that come to
mind that I'm =not= needing to be able to do are gaming, CAD, and graphics.

(I'll list my existing hardware (PC and printers/PDAs/etc) and my software
at the end. Basically, I have almost no modern hardware [except a DV
camcorder!], and I have lots of modern software including MSoft's Action
Pack.) I'm sorry for the length of the post. I think that your answers
will help other users who are stuck at mid-powered computing, particularly
if they have lots of software and haven't had the hardware to make use of
it. Please let me know if I've picked the wrong newsgroup or if I should
crosspost--I've never done so but this post is hitting server software and
hardware, desktop/laptop hardware choices and software, and a bit of
business operations.

My questions are, basically, what equipment do you recommend that I
get/build/dispose of, and what server products do you recommend I install
and on which equip? At a minimum, the choices I'm thinking I need to make
include these. Some are either/or, some are stand-alone decisions.

The questions include what equipment to buy/build (and whether to buy or
build), what combination of server products to install and on what
equipment, and what RAID, partitioning and backup strategies to employ. The
questions in brief:

--Get/build one or more strong desktops (or just get and use a super
laptop?)
--Get a super laptop or use the approx 800 mhz one. (I've not researched
building a laptop...)
--Get/build one or more servers (using server boxes, or desktop boxes and
buying RAID card for mirroring, or just relying on programs like fastback
--Partition, and if so, how many with what size, and if on a desktop, then
across how many drives, and if on a laptop, how critical is it to get to a
two drive RAID solution (I think the only one I saw was on a custom maker's
super high end laptop). I've seen recommendations that partitioning is now
non-productive except for keeping drive letters to sizes that fit on DVD
backups, and I've seen recommendations, perhaps mostly older, to at least
partition pure data, especially video, and I've seen ones saying to have
many partitions (Operating system, swap file, applications, temp directory,
data files, and I'm probably missing a category or two).

That includes, do you recommend setting up a Windows 2003 server or Small
Bus Server 2003 or somehow no server (please see below, I'll need some sort
of installation that allows me to use SQL Server (which is in Small Biz
Server and perhaps elsewhere in MSoft's Action Pack), and possibly
Sharepoint (which I think is a standalone).



I'll be going from:

--currently mostly using Win 98 (with lots of reboots voluntarily or
forced),
to as soon as possible always using XP Pro, and if not too expensive to do
now, I of course would prefer to be ready for 64 bit if its cost effective
to be ready now rather than wait for equip to drop a bit.

--currently almost never needing mobility (beyond a great cellphone-palm
combo)
to soon needing it at least some of the time.

I'm not sure that mobility means needing a laptop. (For example, sometimes
I could see using a foldout keyboard with my PDA, or just bringing files on
a USB pendrive or perhaps files and e-mail/desktop along on a MIGO, or
logging in remotely.) And I'm not sure that needing a laptop means needing
the laptop to be so strong as to never need a desktop, and instead maybe I'd
save the strongest needs for when I'm at a desktop, and maybe synch the
desktop's data files with the laptop or use the laptop as the desktop's data
drive. In fact, the wider and heavier the laptops I see, the more I think I
might want a light small one!

--currently occasionally developing in office vba,
to as soon as possible occasionally or more often developing with Visual
Studio and perhaps with other apps, and at least trying out some solutions
that use products that maybe are server based, like sharepoint
server/services, and SQL Server.

--currently having a static pretty simple web site,
to as soon as possible having several, including one that will have dozens
to perhaps several hundred pages, and either could be created as a static
site or, perhaps, as a dynamic one (but one that really doesn't have to be
dynamic, because the data will be the same). Due to the amount of related
pages I need to get into it, I hope to create it programmatically, perhaps
by putting together something that drives Front Page's object model, pulls
files from my data folders, and creates links among them using a
semi-relational database file I'm creating. Or perhaps using what I've read
that Sharepoint with Front Page 2003 can do--if the documentation is not
hype, one could create a data driven site without having the expertise
that's been needed to create data driven sites up to now; however, if the
use of Sharepoint means that regular internet users can't get to it without
an access license, then that won't work.

--currently having no employees though sometimes subcontracts,
to perhaps having a secretary / office manager or some sort of solution to
free me to do more sales or billable consulting or development or perhaps
hiring of people to do same. I have a small non-home office available and
have proof of concept on networking between that and the home one.

--currently being basically a sole consultant,
to soon trying to build a multi-people practice. Considering how hard it is
just to deal with the equipment issues alone, I have even more respect for
those who've built consulting practices!



Even my current uses are varied. I'm almost always using at least several
apps and several browser sessions at a time, and sometimes I'm a developer,
and sometimes do tech support and sometimes training. I probably will be
shifting from doing all work at one office to supporting clients at their
companies or doing sales demos on site and occasionally at trade shows.

I want my family to still have access to the net and peripherals, perhaps
only through through separate PCs but at least through profiles that can't
hurt my data.



I can spend $ and time to semi-reasonable amounts, but I do have some good
equipment (80, 120, & 160 gig hard drives), and I'm prepared to buy a high
end laptop if that's the solution or part of it.

High end needs:
--So far, no gaming but I could see bonding with my teen kids<g>.
--ideally I'll have video editing (no need to do that mobilely, I think,
though I realize that if I end up getting a high end laptop I'd probably be
able to do it remotely). I have a cheap DVD+R (not installed anywhere yet),
it's made for going into a 5.25 slot of a desktop or server, not a laptop.
--video recording (portable would be great, but the recording I do away from
the office is for church so it won't pay for itself<g>, so far I've just
lugged a 1.5 ghz desktop and monitor to plug in our DV camera for continuous
recording, and that's a lot of lugging)
--voice recog. (ideally portable, but definitely at the office). I think
that to get better accuracy I'll need some sound card (or for a laptop, USB)
extras. I'm headed toward Dragn's pro version.
--I definitely need =a lot= of RAM because sometimes I need virtual computer
(vmware/Virtual PC) sessions--so far I've done individual ones but want to
link them so I can test, demo, and train applications that are networked.
By "a lot" of RAM, my idea of a high-end laptop is that it would allow me to
put in at least 2 gigs, even if I don't use it right away, and my idea of a
high end desktop is unclear, I probably wouldn't pay an extra $200 or more a
motherboard that could go beyond 2 or 3 gigs.


Note: mostly due just to not being able to take in a fraction of what's
already available to me in Microsoft's Action Pack, and due to having
licensing thanks to the Pack, I've not looked to other languages and
servers. I know they're out there, but don't know whether in my case they'd
be a simplifier or a complication.





What I've got now:

--Perhaps most important, a budget that, if necessary, will allow for
getting a high end laptop and will allow for building or perhaps buying one
to two desktops and one to two servers. (I am halfway through building a
PC, so far so good, so I think that, perhaps with hiring a consultant, I
could build the desktop or server PCs if that would help keep the cost good
without taking hordes of time or having a high risk of ending up with a
brick<g>.)

Software
--MSoft's Action Pack, which gives me 10 licenses of XP Pro, 10 licenses of
Office, most if not all MS servers software (including Server 2003, Small
Biz Server '03), and just about everything imaginable other than Office
developer and Visual Studio

-- NFD Windows Server 2003 (with 25 access licenses), and NFR Small Biz
Server 2003 Pro (with 10 access licenses)

--Office Developer '97

--Visual Studio Pro 2003

--Acrobat, Paperport, DNS 7 Pro (voice recog)

--Mix of Norton & McAffee anti-virus etc software

--Palm simulation software, not yet installed. (This should help for
testing software and for supporting Palm OS's other than those on my
systems, and for not having to reinstall my data when I do
development/test.)

Note--I stay fully licensed, that's non-negotiable. However, I do watch for
deals and have gotten a lot of this by upgrade and rebate deals. That's to
help explain if it seems like I'm half way to having a good set of
development software<g>.



Non-PC Hardware

--an old laserjet and a modern multi-function deskjet/officejet, currently
used just for copying and printing because I got it up and running quickly
and at the time I did, HP didn't yet have drivers for XP. And several
scanners, one new USB, one uses a card (perhaps pre-ISA), and one goes on
parallel port (which maybe is practical again now that printers are USB?)

--An ancient but still working fax machine.

--several cable routers, including a wireless one I've put off trying
because of security.

--wireless card for laptop, and I think one wireless ISA card.

--several old Palm Pilots and keyboards, and a good Palm-based cellphone,
USB based. No Pocket PC yet, but would like to unless there's a good
simulator so I could develop/test/train. For perhaps another year, my own
PDA preference probably will stay at Palm.



PCs

--a couple of super old laptops (roughly 100 to 133 mhz, RAM 40 to 128, hard
drive max 2gig), they're OK for the kids to do homework but I'm curious if I
should junk them in order to get better control of the kids' computing by
making the kids have "regular user" profiles in XP, which means having
stronger computers.

--an approx 800 mhz laptop, 256megs currently in it, max 500 allowed. Hard
drive is approx 6 megs. Has a DVD/CD, no writer, but has USB (possibly USB
2) so can handle external USB, and has built in firewire so could handle a
firewire writer. I got it used so I'd have something for an on-site
requirement coming up, but I'm not committed to keeping it.

--a half dozen Pentium desktops ranging in the 100 to 350 mhz range, I
scavenge parts from some (e.g. I just grabbed an apparently 64 megabyte
video card but it was in a white slot (ASI?) not an AGP slot. And I've
actually been using the 350 for years, it's got jazz, 380 or so RAM, and
poorly functioning Win 98.

--1.4 name brand pentium, bought refurbished and never really worked right.
It came with XP Home but thanks to having the Action Pack I'm thinking I'll
clean-install XP Pro after moving the data to safety.

--A half built desktop, 1.6 or so Athlon (which seems to run at 1.2 mhz or
so equivalent) in a 1 gig memory board that presently I've maxed out (two
500 meg memory modules), I started building it partly to get comfortable
with changing system level equipment like CPUs and fans. The building went
great so far. Now that it actually is time to choose what drives to put in
and what operating system and what partitioning, it led me to draft this
post, because I'm unclear whether to install server software on it, or
upgrade the processor, or go get a powerful box & board & CPU, or....

--Four or five full sized monitors (17 inch, 19inch, 21 inch)

--Several small monitors (14 / 15 inch). Currently using them for:
-- at church, when I lug my strongest desktop for DV several-hour
recording, I grab one of these so I don't have to take a heavier one.


Video equipment/software

(Just in case it's helpful, I'll detail the video recording equipment
situation. My top need is to get the above things on track. So I hope this
is not a distraction. And perhaps having Digital video could tie in to
making some training content.)

-- DV+R equip: I recently got a low cost but 8x DVD +R that fits in a
desktop. I haven't installed it yet, somewhat due to time but mostly
because I'd like to finally get a solid strategy and then put it in once
instead of installing it in one PC and then ending up moving it.

-- VCR that might or might not have S-Video out; I'd have to check the back.
(This relates to being able to convert our old VHS tapes to DVD.)

-- DV camcorder (connects to PC via firewire) and a couple of pretty old
full size VHS camcorders. With the VHS I always just have given the tapes
out after direct recording, so no editing. The goal is to transition to the
DV camera and to make DVDs, and I'm getting there slowly. I think I've got
recording to the PC down now, and upon deciding one way or another on DVD
equipment I'll need just a bit of practicing in order to be ready to shift
away from VHS. Ideally I'll be able to convert a few of our VHS recordings.

-- Note--so far, no high-end video software, I've experimented with MM2
which comes with XP.

-- As far as making training content, I used to use screen recording
software, it would record whatever was going on on the screen, and
optionally capture spoken audio. It might not run on XP/2000. So, I could
risk installing it and risk the system's stability, or could install it
under a virtual PC / vmware.





Whew! It feels good just to get all of this listed. I'd guess that a lot
of others who've been on their own for a long time might also have a mix of
equipment and goals. Thanks for reading this and for any answers, it will
help others as well as me.

Thank you!
 
G

Guest

Hi

No gaming, CAD and graphic but doing a lot of vedio editing and some development

What you need are
1. A powerful CPU - 3 GHz with H
2. A professional sound card (over $500.-
3. A professional vedio card that support multi-monitor. go to Matrox website to look for it. (over $500.-
4. A motherboard that support Raid /SATA and dual channel of ram (each channel with 1G of ram
5. SATA harddrives (ATA133 and 10,000 rpm
6. XP Pro 32 bit (do not choose 64 bit as only a few softwares using 64 bit at present

Pete
 
A

Alex McKenzie

Thanks Peter! (And apologies to all, including JAX & John, for the length
of original post. I should have put some type of reward at the end of it!)

Any thoughts on whether to try to do it all in a laptop, or a laptop and a
server, or a laptop and desktop and server?


Peter said:
Hi,

No gaming, CAD and graphic but doing a lot of vedio editing and some development.

What you need are:
1. A powerful CPU - 3 GHz with HT
2. A professional sound card (over $500.-)
3. A professional vedio card that support multi-monitor. go to Matrox
website to look for it. (over $500.-)
 
N

nkjg

For the time being, if you are the only person in your
company, I would say get a powerful desktop to do all
your development, and a laptop if you need the mobility
or to do presentations or the like. Hyper-Threading is a
must if you're going to be doing a lot of video editing,
since it will speed that up considerably.

In terms of mobility, your laptop that you described
should be fine. I'm assuming (since most laptops have
this) that you have a video port on your laptop so you
could hook it up to a projector if needed. Also, it's got
the specs you need to install XP. Do it.

As for video software, I would recommend Sonic Foundry's
Vegas. It's got lots of useful features and is really
powerful when it comes to splicing clips and whatnot.
Windows MM2 is crap in comparison, and only allows you to
save in .wmv format. Vegas allows just about any format
to be written (the default is uncompressed .avi, big
files so your 160 gig hard drive will come in handy).
Along with this a copy of Dr. DivX or something of the
like will come in handy to make the files a little bit
more reasonable sized (I made a 4 minute 800x600 video
clip in Vegas, and it rendered it into a 1.2 gig file =P
Now it's a nice 30 meg DivX).

From the list that Peter posted, there's only one thing
that I would say might not be necessary. I don't know if
you really need the professional sound card unless you're
going to be including 5.1/DTS sound in your videos. If
you're just looking at stereo sound, then my guess is
that a mid-range, non-expensive card will do well enough.
This is probably the first place that you would want to
cut corners. If you are looking at higher end sound,
ignore this paragraph.

Hope this helps,

Nick
 
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A

Alex McKenzie

Thank you, the posts are giving me a concrete path. Please see in-line
additional questions, below.

For the time being, if you are the only person in your
company, I would say get a powerful desktop to do all
your development,

Thanks, this helps focus it vs. trying to do it in a powerful laptop.

If you (or others) are familiar with the server side of things:

Does your comment address how to deal with server software, such as SQL
Server (comes in SBS 2003 and might come in Windows Server 2003) and
Sharepoint services/server? If that's not a focus here, I can pick a
Microsoft server newsgroup, get an answer of whether I can put that on a
desktop or need a dedicated server or more. But I think I'm also getting
twisted around with the difference between having server software and using
server boxes. If I have to have standalone server boxes, should I use
"server" hardware or desktop?


and a laptop if you need the mobility
or to do presentations or the like.

More on that after at the paragraph after the Hyper-Threading

Hyper-Threading is a
must if you're going to be doing a lot of video editing,
since it will speed that up considerably.

OK, in other words I don't need the laptop to have Hyper-threading? (I
don't know if they even do.)

In terms of mobility, your laptop that you described
should be fine.

Makes sense. I'd lose the ability to do two high-end things well, I think,
and I'd also have to deal with keeping the data current with the desktop.

The two high-end things are:

--Voice recognition. I can do without that, but I'd lose the ability to
demo it also. I guess I could demo at a lower accuracy, and then tell them
what results I get at the desktop.

-- Recording long church recordings direct to a laptop. For very special
events I guess I can cart the desktop. We do the recordings on a passive,
turn on the camera and ignore it basis. VHS works fine for that because
there are long tapes. Digital cassettes are too short. So, without direct
recordings, we'll keep doing to VHS, and hand off to the congregants, and if
they want, we can refer them to services that convert VHS to DVD. The
digital video editing other than that is at a starter hobby level, and in
most cases we'd have the extra work of importing the VHS, and we'd have less
quality, so I think we'll put off ramping up the church recordings to
digital unless someone else comes up with a high end laptop (or a desktop to
put there permanently). I can't justify spending my own one to three
thousand $ just to be able to change from VHS to DV for congregants'
no-charge recordings<g>.

Or to use the laptop to record, but not edit, could I just bump up the hard
drive on the 800 mhz laptop, or perhaps upgrade to a faster laptop but still
not a high end one? I ordered the used laptop in order to have something
that would meet my needs right away but I can sell it for about the same and
get a stronger one.


And regarding keeping the data current with the desktop, a quick search on
synchronizing My Documents comes up with a lot of programs. Any ideas, and
any ideas about keeping application settings synchronized? One idea I have
is just using the laptop's hard drive to store active projects, but that
defeats having the high end 10000 hard drives.

I'm assuming (since most laptops have
this) that you have a video port on your laptop so you
could hook it up to a projector if needed.
Yes.

Also, it's got
the specs you need to install XP. Do it.

Will do, thanks. As per another's recommendation, I'll use XP Pro 32 bit,
not 64. (I guess 64 would need a better laptop anyway.)


Any recommendations on the partition/don't partition conflicting info? Both
for the laptop, and for the desktop? And for that matter on the server box
or boxes?


As for video software, I would recommend Sonic Foundry's
Vegas. It's got lots of useful features and is really
powerful when it comes to splicing clips and whatnot.

Thanks, I just tried a search on it. It looks powerful alright but for
volunteer work it's a bit pricey. If we make a jump to charging, then it's
a different ball game.

Windows MM2 is crap in comparison, and only allows you to
save in .wmv format.

I think I left out telling you I have MYDVD. (That's why my first post was
so short<g>.) I have that software. The MYDVD documentation says that it
can burn MM2 movies to DVD-video. I thought MYDVD was from Adaptec, that's
what's on the box, but it also says Sonic, I wonder if that's related to
Sonic Foundry.

Vegas allows just about any format
to be written (the default is uncompressed .avi, big
files so your 160 gig hard drive will come in handy).
Along with this a copy of Dr. DivX or something of the
like will come in handy to make the files a little bit
more reasonable sized (I made a 4 minute 800x600 video
clip in Vegas, and it rendered it into a 1.2 gig file =P
Now it's a nice 30 meg DivX).

I see, lots of room for the raw recording, but it boils down to a good size.


From the list that Peter posted, there's only one thing
that I would say might not be necessary. I don't know if
you really need the professional sound card unless you're
going to be including 5.1/DTS sound in your videos. If
you're just looking at stereo sound, then my guess is
that a mid-range, non-expensive card will do well enough.
This is probably the first place that you would want to
cut corners. If you are looking at higher end sound,
ignore this paragraph.

The paragraph's helpful, I'll use the advice I'm finding about voice
recognition to drive the sound card decision.


As closing comment, sorry if I misguided about digital recording/editing.
The current thing of just recording long VHS tapes and giving them to
congregants isn't really broken, I just want to take it to another level if
feasible. I've tested it by bringing in a PC but I won't do that every
time, it's too much work and maybe bad for the PC anyway. The digital
recording and editing doesn't have much of a budget of its own, it mostly
has to take advantage of hardware that the income-earning work justifies my
getting anyway.

Another closing, the only thing I'm not feeling close to resolving is the
server products and server hardware if needed. And whether to put a RAID
card in the nice workstation you recommend.

Thank you!
 
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A

Alex McKenzie

Ah, please add this to the post I sent a few minutes ago.
Makes sense. I'd lose the ability to do two high-end things well, I think,
and I'd also have to deal with keeping the data current with the desktop.

I also will have to deal with buying extra licensing for some of my
software. I think that aside from anti-virus, which is inexpensive, I'd
need one for Acrobat, I have to see if it's per device. And probably
Quickbooks, though I do so little of that that I could do it just at the
desktop. Or maybe by one of the terminal programs remotely?

Thanks!
 

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