The Usefulness Equation

Calculating the Usefulness Equation

- 2008.08.11 - Tip Jar

On the low end of computing, there is always a battle to get the best value and longevity of use out of our systems. Value is sometimes a tricky calculation, as there is always the price-to-power ratio.

But there is also the other variable in that equation, longevity of use.

How long will you be able to allocate tasks to this machine, and how well will it perform them for you? This is especially apparent to all those that are considering purchasing desktops and laptops from the PowerPC era. When Apple announced that "Snow Leopard" (Mac OS X 10.6) would not support PPC, you can be sure it caused many people to pause on their newly acquired PowerBook G4s and Power Mac G5s.

Just like the "Tiger" era machines, these machines will dwell in the shadow of "Snow Leopard" machines while still doing what they used to do - and doing it well. I've even seen "Jaguar" and "Panther" machines living the dream of daily use.

It all depends on what you need done. I still keep my Power Mac 8600 running Mac OS 9.2.2 in active duty. It runs old versions of Photoshop, QuarkXPress, and Word. It also runs Debian "Etch" and a lightweight web server.

Here's the best way to calculate usefulness of a machine: Determine what tasks you need to perform. Determine the amount of money for the investment. Determine what will needed to bring the machine to the useable level (if anything). For example, when I chose to purchase my 12" PowerBook G4, I needed a very small, relatively cheap machine that was powerful enough for some remote terminal and writing.

I paid $450 for a 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4 with a bent bottom case, 1.25 GB of RAM, a new battery, and a 100 GB hard drive. Cosmetically, I didn't mine the bent bottom case, especially considering the good deal I got. It runs "Leopard" quite well and performs the tasks I need.

When "Snow Leopard" gets released, I know this computer will continue to perform it's allocated tasks very well.

This applies to machines as old as early PowerBooks and Power Macs. Don't forget to apply the "Old World" machine factor. What will be needed to be done to the machine to make it able to perform those tasks? For example, when I purchased my PowerBook 540c, I needed to buy a AAUI-to-10Base-T ethernet adapter for it to be able to join my network.

It's all relative to the machine.

Next time, we'll focus on Old World Macs - which ones are worth it, and which ones aren't. LEM

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