This year has been somewhat intense on the technological front.

In April, I jumped ship from the month-to-month cellular plans of T-Mobile to the contract-bound coverage bliss that is Verizon. Additionally, I finally unbound myself from the then-sluggish Android (running on a T-Mobile G2) for the smooth, slick and locked-down iPhone 4S. Android was tolerable, but I was tired of the endless struggle to find solid HSPA/HSPA+ signals on the road, or the frequent drops even within the city to EDGE speeds, likely due to the high-frequency range that T-Mobile UMTS utilizes. Regardless, I was ready to take the plunge with a 64GB model of the iPhone, as this would finally be spacious enough to house most of my music collection, and consolidate my phone and media player into one. Combined with the shift back to Verizon, I could finally revel in expansive (albeit more expensive) cellular coverage. Smart idea that was, considering I’ll be moving to Canada!

Post-move, my Mac Pro decided to die. The power supply was finally going, which wasn’t doing too bad for a four-year old machine. It may have been accelerated by the addition of an nVidia GTX 470 putting a bigger draw on the system. Regardless, it finally tanked, and I had to drop $180 to replace it, and drop another $170 on a UPS/line-conditioner to prolong what is left of the Mac Pro’s next PSU, and the file server’s PSU as well.

Speaking of that server, I finally gave up on the feature-rich (albeit limited) NAS4Free and took the plunge into full-fledged FreeBSD 9. It has been a godsend since! I have since learned how to setup NFS from scratch, (better) understand make and its associated options, and best yet, setup SABnzbd and SickBeard! The combination of those last two — especially since I’ve (long since) ditched cable TV, and over-the-air broadcasts are all ATSC (digital) now, rendering VCRs essentially useless — effectively give me an Internet-based PVR system, instead of dropping ~$250 on purchasing one and being restricted to signal strength/quality issues in the city. I know UseNet is quickly hitting the limelight for takedown notices, as indexers and newsgroup providers alike have been getting slammed with them, but it serves as my most viable option until series are released on hard media. I personally feel it’s a sort of grey area doing this with publicly-aired television shows (I don’t dabble with HBO/Showtime/etc), but Netflix and Hulu Plus just don’t provide what I’m looking for. They’re fracturing the production companies amidst multiple providers, which is frustrating when you watch shows from multiple networks!

Thanksgiving weekend provided a convenient opportunity to replace my dying Nikon D80. I started getting the dreaded "ERR" message on the top display regardless of what lens I had attached. A few days I would fire it up and it would be fine, but most just yielded me the same error, an inability to record photos, and the shutter often locking up after multiple attempts to snap pictures. After some (brief) research, it became evident I was likely dealing with a broken aperture control unit. Considering Nikon servicing would cost around $250, it would be hard to justify that expenditure on a camera that hardly fetches more than $400 on eBay. Fortunately, Black Friday yielded a couple deals on the Nikon D7000, although a year dated, is an extremely powerful camera for the money and my level of expertise. I haven’t solidly decided on what to do with the problematic D80 just yet. I’m considering doing the repair myself with a more permanent part replacement (instead of a straight aperture control unit swap), but opening up these dSLR cameras is not a quick’n’easy feat. So we shall see what kind of free time and workspace I have to enable such a project after I move to Toronto.

The last tech landmark of the year was Cori’s Christmas gift to me: an awesome Nexus 7! I’ve been anxiously craving a tablet in lieu of my migration to the post-doctoral stage. I ideally wanted a full-sized iPad for PDF reading, but a device that big seemed ridiculous to do other stuff on. The 7-inch size, however, is beautiful for most web-browsing, perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reading forums (Reddit, Craigslist, etc.), and doing couch-shopping (Amazon & Newegg especially). Plus, it lets me get back to my tweaking and customization days of Android that I miss so desperately!

All in all, I feel I’ve been treated to a lot of techie goodness and exercise. Sure, I’m missing out on a lot of others (like how I still lust over the PS3 despite having no idea how many games I would even acquire with one in hand), but I don’t have the time yet. Not quite yet. Let’s see how life changes and settles in Toronto. Then I can get back to (finishing) experimenting with my current toys, before I worry about getting any new ones. Lots of unplayed video games and unexplored software to enjoy first!

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