There is always something going on in a subculture of the tech world where people are super focused on being super focused. It’s about getting things done, it’s about keeping on track, and ranges from apps to time your usage of different programs to editors that will literally only show you the line of text you’re working on at that moment. Outside of software solutions there are even hardware solutions, in particular the Freewrite e-ink typewriter/word processor comes to mind. That’s a prime example of a purpose built, focus first device that I actually thought I always wanted, until they built it.
Anyway, I never had much time for the idea of ‘solutions’ to help you focus. I’ve always been sort of “I’m either focused, or I’m distracted,” and didn’t think anything in particular would help. But as I’ve grown and aged I’m beginning to think there might be something to it, at least to a degree.
Which brings us to the Gigabyte GB-BSCEH-3955, a NUC style computer with a low power CPU and not a whole lot going for it. In fact, it failed its primary task and immediately went into storage.
That is, until it proved valuable elsewhere.
Welcome back to the Vault.
The idea behind buying a Gigabyte GB-BSCEH-3955 (to be called the Gigabyte for this article) was to put a tiny, low power computer in the remote office upstate to literally just sit there, be on, and be accessible remotely through our VPN. It didn’t have to do anything but be on. We’ve had trouble knowing if there was a power outage or not, and it seemed like a wonderful, if kludgy, solution to put a computer up there that would essentially broadcast whether it was on or not and then we could know if there was a blackout or not.
I’m SURE there was a better way to go about this. Don’t @ me.
Actually, @ me if you know of a better way.
So, the funny thing was that I got the Gigabyte all set up with a fresh, clean Windows install, just our VPN interface added, and put it in the office and came home. What I had not anticipated is that the power of this cheap, little computer would be quite so weak that it could scarcely handle being logged into.
It was a bit of a slap in the face. Just the mere fact of remote controlling this device brought it to its knees.
The next time I went up to the remote office, I retrieved it, writing it off as a complete, ill-advised waste.
Meanwhile, at home, I’d abandoned the x230 laptop at the Writing Desk (see past article if you’re interested somehow) due to a fan issue I just couldn’t tolerate, and had put my old Mac Mini back in place, where it had spent so many years, with the ignominious task of serving as a Remote Desktop client whose only responsibility was to log into a virtual Windows Machine on my home server and present me with that system instead.
If you’re a Mac fan, this would come across as just so insulting, I’m sure. But the Mini is very old now. It lacked the hustle to serve as the Writing Desk PC itself… somehow. I assume the latest Mac OS versions, while still compatible, just were too much for the old bean, and I could have downgraded it somehow but it was starting to become more involved than it was worth.
The Mini started to buckle even under the duress of just hosting a remote access session.
Maybe there’s something flat out wrong with it, I wasn’t sure any more.
So the Mini went back into storage again.
My primary laptop is still the Acer Spin 1, horror show of a display and all. It’s anemic as hell, but it’s also, technically speaking, modern, and does what I need a laptop to do (browse cat pics, check Discord, and edit Google Docs).
The Gigabyte is even weaker.
I couldn’t say why I did it. Maybe I had a suspicion that, even though it couldn’t run the VPN service properly, it was a much lighter task to be a client for Remote Desktop than to serve itself out, which stands to logic. So the Gigabyte came back out of storage and got plunked on the writing desk.
I had writing to do, after all.
And wouldn’t you know, in spite of its sub-minimum set of specifications – I’d always considered the Gemini Lake NUC to be the baseline for acceptable computing so far – it turned out the Gigabyte could handle what the Mac Mini could not. In fact, the Gigabyte can handle itself (just) well enough to have three or four Google Docs open in Microsoft Edge – which is at the time of this writing a lighter weight browser than Google Chrome – plus a tab for YouTube Music – and additionally the remote session with the virtual machine. The little box that got written off can actually do it all – assuming ‘it all’ is an incredibly limited set of things.
Which brings us back to focus, inadvertent as it might be. The Gigabyte does the tasks at hand, and is frankly too weak to do much of anything else. So in a roundabout way, it is lending itself to provide, or at least enforce, a sense of focus.
All it can handle is writing.
And so that’s what it does.
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Into the Vault – Gigabyte GB-BSCEH-3955
The Gigabyte GB-BSCEH-3955 is an Ultra Compact PC that came as a “kit”. It has an Intel CPU of the 6th generation (Skylake) in the form of a Celeron 3955u, a modest dual core component with a 2.0 GHz clock speed and has Intel HD Graphics 510 baked in. It claims to support 16 GB of DDR3L but I could only coax 8 GB to get recognized properly so that’s where it stands. It accepts only one m.2 storage device but of the SATA variety only, no super fast nvme storage possible, so it’s been given an adequate 120 GB that was lying around. It features Gigabit ethernet, WiFi AC, and Bluetooth 4.0. Two USB-A 3.0 ports adorn the front with a headphone and a mic jack, and the back has two more USB-A 3.0 ports plus one HDMI 1.4a, one Mini DisplayPort 1.2 port, the ethernet jack, and the power socket. It has a tiny cooling fan which I rarely hear and it tucks out of the way nicely, being approximately 4 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches in size.