4 min read

Gearing up, and dropping off

This is a tale of transitioning computer equipment after losing a long-term job.
Gearing up, and dropping off
Photo by Rahul Chakraborty / Unsplash

A changing of equipment is required

This is a tale of transitioning computer equipment after losing a long-term job.

Every tech nerd knows that their equipment is a big part of how they get things done. It's entirely true that I am an Apple guy, though-and-through. I even worked for Apple Retail for five years hoping I could eventually transition out to Cupertino and work for the company. Hell, I'd still love to. It'd be a dream!

While I haven't ruled out Apple (or anyone else really), looking forward means letting go. I've returned my equipment to EVERSANA, a trusted MacBook that saw many long, arduous days. From a multitude of simultaneous terminal sessions troubleshooting apps or spelunking through logs to the incalculable number of tabs I always had open in Chrome. I will miss that laptop.

What was my backup?

I am hoping my next gig will supply me with a shiny new MacBook to work from, but in the meantime, my old personal Mac is a 27" iMac from 2011. I tricked it out a bit, and it's held its own, but it seems the software I know and love will not run on the version of macOS the old rig is limited to.

Old iMac Specs

  • iMac - 27" (Mid 2011)
  • 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display (still works well, and the iSight cam was enough)
  • 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 (4 cores)
  • 32GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2GB Radeon HD 6970M (it's a mobile chip, but it did the job)
  • 1TB SSD (after the original HDD died)
  • 2TB HDD (for less frequently accessed or less critical data)
  • macOS 10.13.6 (High Sierra, the last this hardware will support without crazy workarounds)

Truly this system is still a beast. It can readily handle standard user workloads and web-developer activities like a dream. But because it doesn't support newer builds of macOS, it's simply unsafe (no more security updates). And since much of my standard tools don't support an OS running on 11-year-old hardware, it's quite unusable for my needs.

The Apple Thunderbolt Display was well ahead of its time, with a 2.5k native resolution it always felt spacious enough for all of my work.

Where did I turn to?

In 2019 I found myself yearning for a system that could handle newer video games. But it was more than that. Ultimately I wanted to develop my own games. I had been playing around with Unity 3D for some time on the old iMac, but I wanted something that didn't take as long to render a scene.

I consulted a coworker from EVERSANA who helped me spec something out. He'd been consistently upgrading his gaming rig for a while and had taken to having multiple hobbyist builds on hand.

What I came out with was maybe overkill, but is a really solid machine.

PC Build Specs

I built this system in 2019 for game development with Unity 3D.

I also recently snagged:

  • 32" DELL S3221QS (ok, 31.5"). This is a killer 4k curved display.
  • NexiGo N950P 4k webcam, since I can no longer use the iSight camera that was built into the Apple Thunderbolt Display.
  • Mica USB soundbar, since I was fine gaming with headphones but interviews and meetings should have regular audio (I still prefer my M&D MH-40 headphones when gaming or if zoned in on something)

I am also using an ancient (2006?) Blue Yeti USB microphone. That thing is still awesome, even after all these years.

Note that this build isn't future-proof and currently cannot run Windows 11.

What's next?

Well, I've migrated everything I need to this PC, though I hope to get back on a MacBook, assuming any new employer allows. Frankly, I'm significantly more efficient when working on a Mac. It's just closer to my thinking habits, and since I work frequently with Linux -based environments, it helps to already be on a native interface. The Linux Subsystem for Windows just isn't the same.

I am really loving this new 32" curved display though. I think I might snag another one soon. Maybe I'll post a comment or addendum later.

But for now, a parting gift. Here are a few shots of my setup.

Yes, I could probably do a better job with the cabling, thanks. I am not adept at creating cable porn. :-p