September 02, 2006

hello flex builder 2, goodbye old workstation

doing mostly ColdFusion work and doing it with cfstudio 5 and occasionally eclipse and lately cfeclipse, i was perfectly happy running an "ancient" workstation. how ancient? an intel pentium III (797 mhz) on an intel motherboard that maxxed out at 512 mb RAM (which i used to think was a lot). it's hard disks got bigger, win2k gave way to xp (way later than everybody else), WIFI supplanted 10T, monitors have come & gone, i've pounded several keyboards to pieces as well as dropped a half a dozen mice off the desk to their doom but that old workstation just stayed dependable, the only thing i've ever done was replace the power supply a couple of years ago. i'd blow the dust out of it 2-3 times a year (Thailand is a fairly dusty place) and maybe defrag the system disk 4-5 times a year but that was it as far as maintenance went.

now along comes flex builder version 2.0 (i won't say anything about 1.5, there might be kids present ;-). while it starts up in an acceptable amount of time (not instantly but snappy enough to get my game face on), compiling apps, especially given the habits i've developed from ColdFusion of testing incremental changes and saving code every chance i get, is getting to be a drag. testing concepts--i'm fairly new to flex, so everything is a "new concept" to me & needs to be tested, i don't believe a word the docs says ;-)--and smaller, focused components, it's not too bad. but boy oh boy, complex stuff is taking longer & longer & l-o-n-g-e-r. i tried doing something else, reading email, blogs, listening to matt & peter's podcasts but that just made things worse, stealing RAM from eclipse. so i took to getting up from my workstation & getting a cup of coffee during compilation but with all that extra caffeine in me, i started scaring people and chasing pets in the neighborhood so i've had to find another solution ;-)

since i've more or less lived in a cave when it came to new hardware developments, i'm not sure which way i should jump (except no macs, too old to learn that much), though i do know i want one of those fancy-pants LCD screens. then there's the psychological berlin wall i'll have to hop over when it comes to years of the apps i've accumulated on this box. i hate the thought of wasting a day or more getting the old stuff installed on the new box as well as rummaging around in file cabinets looking for install CDs and serial numbers, etc. in the end though, i guess it's time to put old yeller to sleep.

so anybody care to hand out some advice on hardware specs for a flex capable workstation?

btw i really like flex. i'm in the middle of porting over an old js GUI library (i guess it might be called AJAX these days) and a couple of days ago i threw out gobs of skanky old code that handled browser brand and version quirks. i suppose the more modern AJAX libs handle this stuff transparently but back then it was all on the developer and i for one, am really glad that this probably won't be something i'll have to think about again. and compared to js, flash/flex just seems simpler and more natural to me (at least since i haven't read much about stage, movieclip or timeline lately).


At 9/05/2006 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Decide if you need/want a laptop. Yes, they are more expensive, harder to upgrade and more prone to problems, but it may be a feature you want.

2) Decide how much money you can spend first. Before you look at computer parts.

3) If you can afford an Intel Core 2 Duo or the newest Athlons, go for it. Make sure you get a dual core processor if you can afford it.

4) Do not buy less than 1GB of memory. More importantly, buy 2 if you can afford it. Either way, most computers that come with 1GB will come with 2 chips, each at 512mb. BAD! If you do this and there are only 2 memory slots, you can't upgrade without throwing memory away. If you can buy one that supports 4GB, great. Do so. Buy 2 GB total if you can, in 2 chips of 1GB each.

5) Decide if you ever intend to run Windows Vista. If you do, plan ahead and buy a decent video card. Make sure it supports dual monitor.

6) Read sites like and and make a wise decision.

7) Decide if you need IIS. If you do, go with Win XP Pro. If you can use apache, XP Home or Media center is fine. Fight the urge to use a hacked copy of XP to save $200. Its more hassle than its worth, save the headaches, spend the money. MS has gotten good enough at detecting hacked OS's the only reason to go with a hacked copy now is if you intend to BUY Vista next year.

8) Decide if you want a store bought name brand or you want to white box it and either put it together of have it done for you in a small shop.



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