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New Musical Toys for Christmas

saxhound

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I usually post this time of year about some cool new musical thing I bought myself. This year "I got nuthin'". What about you?

I did buy myself a DeWalt 10 piece screwdriver set with magnetic tips, but that's because I broke three different screwdrivers in the past 6 months.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Nothing here either, but I'll be picking up a micro pin nailer next week to build some drawer dividers for the shop.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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For saxhound, see https://www.reddit.com/r/Chinesium. Speaking of tools, my automatic wire stripper just arrived, like, 5 min ago! That'll be fun to play with.

My wife and I generally just buy stuff for the kids and grandkids. Actually, I give my wife money to buy stuff for the kids/grandkids. We buy ourselves what we want when we want, provided it doesn't adversely impact our budget.

I bought myself a few computer keyboards before Christmas. A new-ish hobby of mine is repairing 1990s and older mechanical keyboards. I have one on the bench that needs maybe too much to repair and I'm cleaning up the keys on a couple more that really just need cleaning. I got extremely lucky on one buy and paid about $50 for a keyboard that's worth $150 to $250, as-is. However, it might just be too nice for me to part with.

I was able to get my oldest niece, her kids, my mom, her husband, my wife, my younger daughter, and most of my dogs and cats on a Zoom call, yesterday. It was chaotic, but fun.
 
I got this handy tool that I saw on SOTW
Screw Removal Pliers.jpg

These are screw removal pliers from Japan.
I'm not talented enough to use it on a musical instrument, but it will come in handy.
 

saxhound

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That's a quality tool. I just saved that to my Amazon shopping list, although I think I will get the PZ-59 (larger model).
 
New laptop because a power surge harmed the old one.

The good deal is due to the year-end sale, I got an almost $3,000 computer for $900.

I'll have the old one repaired to replace an aging 2002 computer that I use on stage.

Not exactly a Christmas present, just a coincidence that it came during the yuletide season.

Notes
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Nope. Santa left me nothing under the tree either. I think the pandemic is hitting him hard this year. ;)

Seriously, I'm like Pete, I buy what I want, when I want. 2020 did see me with 1 "new" horn: my Conn New Wonder C soprano. I also got a couple amazing Dukoff MPs that I've been looking for for years. One is for alto, the other is for soprano. Both have been touched up by none other than Theo Wanne himself.

Since all of these things came in Feb 2020, they were either belated 2019 presents, or early 2020 ones. We'll have to see what early 2021 brings, and then I'll make the call. ;) :emoji_laughing:
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Absolutely that counts! You need it to play... And... With the cost of dental work these days, that costs nearly as much as a new horn. ;) :p :D
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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New laptop because a power surge harmed the old one.
My mom asked me to recommend to her a new laptop. The one she had is in the neighborhood of 8 years old. Her requirements were able to watch videos, do Zoom, and run MS Word. I found an Acer laptop with a 17" 1080p screen (old one was a 13"-ish screen), with one of the newer AMD Ryzen processors, SSD, and 8gb RAM that was marked down from $900 to her budget of around $500. They also had them available at Wal*Mart, so she sent her husband down to take a look and he bought it. There's something to be said for that.

Keyboards I got? I've tested them for a bit. They're OK, but I have too many really good ones, so they'll go on the "for sale" pile. One was a keyboard I've been waiting for a couple years to try, too, so that itch has been scratched.

BTW, broke our electric drill when using a sanding attachment, so I have a brand new DeWalt one on the floor behind me.
 
I just bought two ThinkPad computers that retailed for about $3,000 each for around $900 each. End of the year sale, perhaps they are last year's models?

I liked mine so much I bought a similar one for my wife.

The only laptop I will buy, unless things change, is a ThinkPad. They are almost bullet-proof.

I just retired a 2002 that has been gigging with me since new. I gig for a living (or did until COVID-19). It leaves my house, rides in the van, sets up on stage, bounces on a keyboard stand all night, back in the van, back in the house 2 to 5 times a week. With all these rapid temperature changes and shocks, it has never crashed. The only problem I had was a bad CMOS battery, a $5 replacement.

I had two, but I dropped one a few years ago. The hinge broke, and it's not worth fixing, IF I could find the part. That one had a hard drive replacement when it was close to 10 years old. The drive started making a mechanical noise, so rather than wait for it to fail, I had it replaced.

I'll use a couple of old ThinkPads to replace them with. They still work good enough to play my MP3 backing tracks and display words and/or music notation on stage, but are too dated to run modern 64 bit software.

A couple of years ago I watched a video tour of the International Space Station. To regulate the oxygen and other life support systems on the ISS, they use two ThinkPad laptops. The two are for redundancy just in case one fails. NASA knows how reliable they are.

I also like that little "eraser head" pointing device between the B, G, and H keys. I can do everything I can also do with a mouse or glide strip, but without my hands ever leaving the 'home' position on the keyboard. It took a bit to get used to it, but once I did, it is a big time saver.

I like the build quality and the eraser head, so I'll continue to use them unless something better comes along to make me want to switch.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

saxhound

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I'm also a fan of the Thinkpad. Writing this on a 6 year old Win7 machine with a 256 GB SSD. I need to get a new one because Win7 is dead and I'm starting to get drive errors. SSDs eventually wear out.

When I was an IT Director for a large professional services company, we only bought Thinkpads for our traveling staff. This was back when IBM owned them, but they haven't changed much in terms of durability & functionality. The only thing that would kill them was leaving them in your trunk overnight in freezing weather. Say goodbye to the display.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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Administrator
Windows 7 isn't just dead ("End of Life," as it's known), you're also not getting any OS security updates for it. That's extreme badness. An update to Windows 10 is worth it, just from the security side. If you have stuff you need to run Windows 7 for, the best recommendation is to create a Virtual Machine (VM) with Virtual Box (free for everyone, with a couple qualifiers for business machines) and run ONLY those things in it. Use Windows 10 for everything else.

The fun thing on SSDs is that some have been around long enough that we have actual failure data. For me, I have some Samsung Evo higher-end drives that have seen normal use and they're still working after 5 years. I had a couple with heavy use and only one of those have died. So, I can definitely recommend the brand. (FWIW, I just checked. I have some 14-year-old Hitachi Deskstar mechanical drives that still work. They're backed up, though.)

I've only owned one Lenovo -- that's the company that bought the Thinkpad stuff from IBM -- product. A Yoga. That's a laptop that you can rotate and flip the screen on. I think the one I have is 5 or 6 years old. It's a very nice laptop, but has some problems with the touchpad (it's the touchpad, not the computer: other makes/models had the same problem with that same touchpad). The video started flickering a year or so ago. But it has a 13" almost 4K display. I'd definitely buy another.

The only Thinkpad I've ever used was the one that had the butterfly "fold out" keyboard. It had mega coolness points.
 

saxhound

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Agreed about Win7. I only use this laptop to surf the web. No personal / financial data on it, and I don't use it for online purchases. If it gets hacked, I'll drill a hole through the drive and scrap it. I do have antivirus software, and also run SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes once a week. I did have an opportunity for a free upgrade to 10 a couple years ago, but the early versions were very buggy. I waited too long and missed out on the free-ness.

All my important stuff is on a shiny new Dell desktop running Win10 Pro.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Sadly, I can't say I love my Lenovo. I bought one b/c the non-profit I worked for recommended them, and used them exclusively. Mine was a dog. In under a year its hard drive crapped out.

In under 3 years its replacement hard drive crapped out.

Although the warranty was a 5 year one, the machine was plagued with problems even after the 2nd hard drive replacement. I learned a lot about computer repair by owning that machine. For me, that was the only upside from owning that laptop.

The blue screen of death kept coming up. I eventually replaced it. Will never buy another Lenovo. After an equally bad experience with Toshiba, went back to my bullet-proof Dell.

Glad you guys have good experiences with your Lenovos. That's what I would expect. Mine was an expensive one--over $2,000--I7, with tons of RAM. It was one of those rugged ones, with a tough case and metal hinges. Very well built. Still have it. I try to use it on occasion in my studio for recording or playing CDs. Still crashes out of the blue. Weird.
 
Sorry to hear that. I've had nothing but good luck with them.

But I understand, if your first experience is a lemon, it's not easy to get another.

I feel that way about a GE refrigerator. A year and a half old, 7 or 8 service calls, and it still doesn't work right.

Notes
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Used to wonder if these kind of experiences were the result of factories working on Superbowl Sundays. ;)
Well, most of the laptops are made in China, these days. They don't care that much about American football. Come to think of it, I can't think of any computer manufacturer that manufactures in the US. Some parts, perhaps, but that's it.

After an equally bad experience with Toshiba, went back to my bullet-proof Dell.
Most of the companies I've worked for either had Dell desktops and laptops, or just Dell laptops. So, after working with them for at least 20 years (probably more), I can say that there were a lot of flops, but some good ones, too. Latitude C Series? Nice. Latitude D-Series? Eh to bad. Latitude E-Series? OK, if you get them with high specs. I don't care for a lot of the keyboards on these. In general, I don't like laptops that have soldered-in RAM and/or if has a soldered in CPU that requires you to replace the entire motherboard to be replaced if it dies. All that being said, a good reason to buy a business-series Dell is that you can buy replacement parts from a bunch of places -- and the parts are cheap.

My current work laptop is a 2019 Macbook pro. I really should use the Touchbar more. I'm pretty happy with the humongous touchpad. It's decently speedy. However, only 16gb RAM. That's a little low for what I do and I can't replace it, as the RAM is soldered to motherboard. The keyboard is terrible, but I use an external one, so no worries.

If you're planning on buying a high end laptop, the new Macbooks that use the Apple M1 processor ("Apple Silicon") are blowing everyone away. They also have an M1-based Mac Mini (desktop) that's only $700. Unfortunately, you can no longer install Windows on these, except in a virtual machine (Parallels is compatible and it's a great program). If it has to be Windows, the AMD Ryzen processers offer an extremely high bang for the buck.
 
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