And now for the inevitable post on the HP Elitebook Folio G1, which is my second HP laptop after the TC4200 convertible tablet I had in college. When I was looking for Thunderbolt 3 machines, it was literally the only thing to check the following boxes:
So it has come to my attention that I have too many computers (again). For the first time since college, I have four:
NUC5I3MYHE: Fifth generation Intel NUC with a passively-cooled case. Built in mid-2015, this is still my “main” machine, and still hooked up to the same Samsung SyncMaster 204Bs that I’ve been using since forever.
Samsung ATIV Book 9: One of still very few passively-cooled laptops ever made – maybe one model out of 10 to 20. The np930x2k replaced my trusty ThinkPad Yoga in late 2016, and really my only complaint with it is that it can barely run WoWS.
Pro Kwality Desktop: Built on the cheap in mid-2016 to play WoWS maxed out. Just good enough to do that, and I have had no issues with the machine despite putting the whole thing together with all used parts. Unfortunately it isn’t really portable…
Dell Precision M6600: Since the PK machine isn’t portable I bought this old Dell Precision. I was considering replacing the PKD entirely, but the Dell isn’t quite as powerful and has actually been giving me issues recently. It’s also a little too big and heavy.
At first, I was thinking about combining just the desktop and the M6600: if I could get a slightly smaller laptop that was slightly more powerful, I thought I’d be okay with that. Unfortunately anything that meets those criteria doesn’t seem to be that cheap. Specifically, I was looking at the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 (these new Dell Inspirons have really useless names) with the GTX 960M, which goes for about $500-$600 used on eBay. This isn’t too bad, but then I still have two laptops.
So I want to combine the last three machines: the Samsung, the desktop, and the M6600, but that means I need an ultra-portable laptop like the Samsung that can still run WoWS maxed out. How can that be possible? Well, technology continues to happen – the passive desktop wasn’t practical until it was, and the M6600 wasn’t cheap until it was. There is a technology that is starting to become practical and cheap, and that is external graphics.
Recently I bought a Dell Precision M6600, and it is enormous. This is the first time I’ve bought a machine like this for personal use.
The M6600 is what they call a “mobile workstation”, which is basically a premium high-spec business laptop. What differentiates “business” from “normal” machines? I would say the lines are pretty fuzzy, especially since all the OEMs tend to have different grades of business laptop, but generally it’s stuff like additional durability, serviceable parts, extended warranties, professional graphics, restrained aesthetics, etc.
In many ways “mobile workstation” and “gaming laptop” are a very similar breed: they’re niche market machines with ultimately “soft” features separating them from their more pedestrian counterparts. What sets “gaming” laptops apart other high-end consumer machines? Apart from specs at the very high-end, it’s often just branding and bling. Much the same could be said comparing “mobile workstations” to other high-end enterprise laptops.
2016 was one of my worst years for digital coloring pretty much since I started. Looking at my archives, the previous lows were five in 2010 and 2011, but last year I managed four. And two of them were tests, and the other two were so-so. 2017 seems to be on more or less the same track, but at the same time PaintsChainer has at least temporarily re-invigorated my interest in painting.
I once saw an April Fools or some other joke that suggested that some future version of Photoshop could paint your pictures for you using fancy algorithms or whatnot. Well, that day has actually arrived, though it’s a bit more primitive than I’d have liked.
J pointed me to PaintsChainer some weeks ago, and from the moment I saw it I was hooked. PaintsChainer does exactly what I just described: you upload a lineart and it paints it for you. Machine Learning, Whatever, don’t care how. The outputs are quite amazing even if you don’t touch any of its knobs and dials, but they have some flaws and for now I think it’s difficult to correct them.