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In fall of 2004, I was hired for my second post-doctoral position.  The new position came with some perks, including about a $12,000 per year bump in salary.  Flush with enough money to actually buy some luxury items, I decided to get myself a new desktop personal computer for video gaming as well as for doing work (but let me be honest: work was the secondary purpose).  With the help of a friend, I went to a site I’d used before and loved for customization: Cyberpower PC. I customized a machine with a 256 MB nVidia 6800 GT graphics card, 1 GB of RAM, and a nice new Pentium-4 3.1 GHz processor.  The friend kindly threw in a monitor on his own dime. At the time he claimed he had some sort of a “coupon” for it, but I’ve always suspected he just bought it for me as a gift. He did this because I had a price limit for computer + monitor, and his advice had caused me to spend the entire limit on just the computer.  When I started talking about backing down on the specs to afford a monitor, suddenly he mentioned this “coupon.” I have no doubt that he generously did this because he wanted me to have the better system.

The computer was amazing to me when it arrived. So much faster and slicker and better than my old 1 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB vid card system, this new system was 3x as fast, had twice as much memory, and twice as much video power.  The games I was playing at the time — Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes — looked so much better with the graphics cranked up, if not to max, at least to “pretty high.” (more…)

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