September 14, 2007

The price of laziness

(Not the repercussions of being lazy, but the price you’re prepared to pay to be lazy.)

I’ve recently been looking at laptops – last year I carried my desktop onto campus twice for game-making competitions, and both times I vowed never to do it again. It looks like the second vow might be more successful than the first…

My current computer has lasted me at least 5 or 6 years, and wasn’t exactly top-end when I got it. I figure if I get a decent computer it should be able to last at least that long again.

After several weeks of constantly changing my mind, the choice eventually boiled down to either EfficientPC, who sell Linux-compatible computers with Ubuntu pre-installed, or Dell, who are practically the polar opposite. A Macbook was pretty high up on the list but didn’t make it to the final two.

Whichever of them I got was going to have Ubuntu as the primary OS, with Windows XP also installed so I can run XNA. From reports, the Dell laptop would require an unknown but probably significant amount of time to get Ubuntu running smoothly—nothing I wouldn’t be capable of doing, but not really appealing. However, it was also over £200 cheaper than the effort-free alternative.

Now for the past couple of years, I’ve generally avoided delving into Linux’s internal workings, just because the time/benefit ratio hasn’t been worth it. The scenario in which I left my new laptop with half the features disabled because I could get by with only the other half didn’t seem all so improbable. But although I’m not exactly desperate for cash, £200 is a non-trivial amount of money, so I decided to go with Dell.

That is, until I tried to buy it, and realised that VAT wasn’t added until you add something to your basket, and that the shipping costs would be an extortionate £60. Suddenly the price difference had dropped to under £100, which seemed a much more tempting price to pay to make it work out of the box.

I chose the laptop from EfficientPC in the end, so in this instance, the price of my laziness was somewhere around £100…


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