Dongle Dangle

Doing the technology shuffle this week. I’m reviewing Spectrasonics Omnisphere — possibly the most anticipated software release of the year — for Keyboard. And they want to get it in the earliest available issue. So I have this deadline.

Omnisphere requires a ridiculous 50GB of hard drive storage. None of my drives has more than 25GB available. So I phone Sweetwater and ask them to overnight me a 500GB Glyph drive.

The Glyph drive they sold me last year works like a champ. But an hour after I hook the new one up and start installing Omnisphere, the drive craps out. I’m freaking out, because … did I mention I have a deadline?

So they’re sending me another drive. But that’s only a small part of the technology shuffle. Omnisphere also requires 2GB of RAM. My main machine, which is now four years old, has only 1GB. So the time may finally have come to migrate my entire work setup to my MusicXPC laptop, which has 2GB of RAM and also a Core Duo processor.

There are good things about this change, and bad things. Mostly bad, as it happens.

Good: I’ll have dual monitors and a system that has a lot less mung festering deep within the Registry.

Bad: I’m going to have to reinstall a couple of dozen programs, including a few that are probably not supported by the manufacturer anymore (if the manufacturer still exists). Also migrate a ton and a half of data.

Bad: The keyboard ergonomics of a laptop. There’s no numeric keypad at all, and the numeric keypad is real useful with Cubase (my main sequencer). Even worse, there are three cables sticking out the left side of the laptop case, which is precisely where I need to put the mouse. So the mouse is too far from the keyboard, and too close to the edge of the desk. This is simply unacceptable.

Bad: Not enough jacks. One four-pin Firewire (the machine I’m writing this on has three six-pin Firewire connectors) and three USB jacks instead of five. Plus, the cables stick out the sides of the laptop rather than being tucked away out of sight. Unsightly clutter — ugh.

Bad: Only one internal hard drive. My main machine has two, which means I can back up work files to a different physical drive without having to power up an external drive.

Bad: The laptop has an acoustic 60-cycle hum.

Bad: I like using the laptop while I’m sitting in my easy chair at night. To do that, I’ll have to disconnect half a dozen cables.

I can use a USB hub, I suppose. But the hub isn’t hooked up to the laptop yet, which means the Syncrosoft dongle (required by Steinberg software) is sticking out in a very vulnerable way.

I’m clumsy. I sometimes hit things. If they’re fragile, they may break. That dongle is essential to my productivity. If it breaks off, I’ll have to spend hours or days getting a new dongle and reinstalling licenses.

Why the hell didn’t MusicXPC design their laptop chassis with a recessed port for dongles? How hard would that have been?

Why didn’t they put the friggin’ jacks on the back, where they belong? What’s with having cables stick out the sides?

And why didn’t they design it with an off button for the track pad? If you’re typing, the heel of your hand can accidentally tap the pad, causing the word processor’s cursor to jump 20 lines up on the page.

Maybe I can deal with it. Once I get everything migrated to the new machine, maybe I’ll be happy. But that dangling dongle is just such a horrible design choice. Of course, Steinberg doesn’t have to use a dongle at all. Most companies seem to be surviving fine without that form of copy-protection. But I like Cubase, so I’m not going to complain too loud.

This entry was posted in music, technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s