Monday, January 31, 2005

Monday Update; The Geek Has Won

My inner geek boiled over this weekend. He took over my body, demanded by credit card, and wouldn't stop until the stores closed.

What actually happened is that we did a first run at figuring out our taxes. Normally, Jess works but makes substantially less money than I do. This causes her taxes to get withheld at a lower rate, so I end up having to withhold more to make up for this. Except she barely worked last year, so our refund is going to be a nice little injection of cash. We decided that while we couldn't afford to go crazy with it, we could allow ourselves to buy a few things.

First on my list was an alleviation of my computer's growing pains when it comes to storage. This is an entirely separate issue (or, as you might say, "a whole nother thing"), because little did I know how much goddamn progress the HDD world was making in my absence. PATA, SATA ... these aren't specialty drives anymore; evidently everyone has them. Well, my ancient motherboard (which I thought was still fairly up to date) doesn't support them, so I either had to buy a controller card with the drive or buy an older tech drive. I found a nice fat normal EIDE drive over at Circuit City on sale for the same price as drive + controller elsewhere, so I decided to just buy the drive. I also grabbed an external HDD, which I'll use for offsite backup, to listen to my MP3s at work, and to alleviate the process of swapping out one drive for another when I do the upgrade (later today).

But, yeah. While I was at Circuit City is when the inner geek took over.

See, I've been lusting after HD TV for a long time. I've been telling myself I wasn't going to upgrade until I could do it right -- redo a room as a home theater, get a 40"+ screen, etc. Well, who knows when that will ever happen? So I started looking at CRT HDTVs which would fit into our current entertainment center cabinet (can't justify spending on LCD). Not a lot of options, especially in 16:9 sets. There was one questionable 30" set which put the speakers under the screen instead of on the sides, which might have fit. But it had a really shoddy reputation (shoddy as in "I returned 3 of them before I gave up and bought a better one"). The other problem is that 27" range 16:9 TVs give you a fairly small screen for watching 4:3 content (say, standard cable, which is what Jess spends a lot of time watching). As much as it pained me to admit it, I was probably going to be better off getting a 4:3 set.

Sony to the rescue! Last year they introduced a 27" 4:3 HDTV set. Feature-packed, reliable, and dead sexy. Best of all, it fit in the room. I read up on it recently and saw that Circuit City was selling it at 10% off AND offering interest-free financing for 2 years if you bought it. With a price tag of 800 (including tax and extended warranty, which I usually skip but with an HD set it seemed worthwhile), that meant I wouldn't even need to use my tax refund; I could just pay it off at my leisure. What's funny is that I think I did the same thing with the TV we are replacing, back in '97. I think it cost about this much too.

To cap off this orgy of capitalistic outlay, Jess told me she wanted to sign up for NetFlix. Come again? Turns out she loves to watch DVDs with the subtitles on while running on the treadmill, and she's burned through the movies she cares about at home and would love to have a steady supply of them coming in. Well, yeah, sure! Done! Welcome to NetFlix. She's going to cancel her Curves membership which will more than balance out the price of NetFlix (because she never goes anymore and will be using the treadmill instead).

I'm sure the sticker shock will hit me soon enough. For now, I'm basking in the electronic glow of it all. I now have all 9,000-something music tracks at my fingertips at work, I have a 250 GB HDD waiting to be installed at home, and I have a TV which looks pretty goddamn good if I say so myself. Now I just gotta call Charter and get my HD cable set up. More geeky goodness on the way. I might even take the HDD I'm replacing out of my home system and try and put it in my TiVo. If only this TiVo could handle HD. Ah well ... looks like something else to geek out about later.

Oh, and if you're a thief trying to figure out my address so you can steal all my new shit, please don't.


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