Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Upgrading My Computer Capability

Upgrading My Computer Capability
I have decided to place this story on my blog. Just because I want to.
My kids (I still call them kids, even though they now range in ages from about 50 to 45, and I will always call them my kids) have been subtly pressuring me to upgrade my computer capability for many years. Both my computer and connection speed. Lately the pressure has become insurmountable, and I will have to succumb. But first a little background.

I have been involved with computers all my working life. When I was a senior at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 1959, we received our 1st computer. I believe it was a Royal ‘something’ drum machine. MSOE required a thesis for graduation. I wrote my thesis on Boolean Algebra, the basic arithmetic and logic for all computers. I have always typed since High School (1952), through my tour with the USNavy and into work. My handwriting has always been atrocious. When Apple came out with word processors, with SPELL CHECK, I though I had gone to heaven. I even taught a few classes in microprocessors when they 1st came out. The bottom line is - I am well aware of the ‘high tech’ 18 month progression cycle. Buy it now, 18 months later it is outdated.

My 1st home Computer
When I retired from Honeywell Space Systems in 1995 and left my ‘work computers’ at work, I would use the library computers for email and bring one home once in a while when doing odd jobs for Honeywell.

Finally in 1998, Christmas we bought our 1st home computer. An HP Pavilion with 64Meg of Ram, a 6.4 Gig (extra large) Hard Drive and a 333 MHz processor with Windows 98.

As time went on we added a printer, scanner etc.... It worked well. 1 Power supply problem, and I had a used extra Hard Drive installed and another chunk of RAM. Still using dial up. And it is still working well. Finally it became a GOAL for me, to stick with the HP and Windows 98 and dial up for 10 years, - till December 2008.

My wife had given up years ago and purchased her own latest tech computer/monitor.

Meanwhile, my kids had all progressed to the latest tech computers, with high speed connections. It was with great difficulty that I tried to get them to realize that they were not sending pictures of my grandkids to National Geographic. I did not need a 4meg picture to see what they looked like. Now they are talking about video...... wow .. . dial up will never work. Also, I became involved with a local group converting an ‘out of service’ section of Rail Road to a nice Pathway. As secretary and working on construction plans etc., my dial up, slow processor and limited memory was becoming a problem.

Now my upgrade story can begin.
I finally decided that I should 1st upgrade my computer then succumb to high speed Internet.. I started talking to people about it and reviewing some (forums). I came to the conclusion that I could make a significant improvement if I went with a refurbished office leased machine (like a Dell Optiplex) with Windows XP professional. Or similar. I should be able to set it behind my 17 inch CRT monitor, my good keyboard, printer, scanner, etc. and be ready to go. Much higher speed, much more HD memory, lots of Ram. With Windows XP OS, since it had all the bugs out of it. I did not want to help debug a new OS like the memory hog Vista. All at a reasonable cost. Then the next step would be to step up to high speed Internet. Out here in the country that would be DSL.
I was watching. Bid on one on Ebay only to be out bid at the last moment. A thought occurred to me, my son in NC had worked in the computer network department at a large local hospital. I recalled that he mentioned that 1 of his buddies was thinking of refurbishing computers for resale. So I asked him to check it out.

Over the next couple weeks, he is talking to me about how he and his buddy are putting together a really neat computer out of ‘used’ components. Sometimes he used the phrase ‘junk parts’ just to keep me a little worried. This last Saturday he tells me to keep an eye out for the mail as it would be showing up. As soon as he could find a shipping box. Then Monday, a note that it was on its way. I am getting ready..... Ah lots of memory (over 500 gig HD, 2+ gig of Ram, high speed, economical. A cost had not yet been established but I was assured that it would be reasonable or very reasonable. I started watching for the delivery truck.

THEN, showing up in an email - a note from all of my kids (and grandkids) alluding to a ‘gift’ and the specs for a new Dell computer with 2+ gig of ram, 500 gig HD, 2+ gigs processor, 19 inch LCD monitor, that is being shipped from Dell.

What is going on here? Calls to my kids.... Yes, they are forcing me into the new hitech world. All this time, when I thought I was getting a computer kluged together in somebody’s garage with suspect parts, they had been dealing with Dell for a -good- computer for me. My son had been feeding a line of BS for the last couple weeks. They are giving me this new (refurbished by Dell Inspiron 530) computer as a gift to cover future birthdays, fathersdays, Christmas’s for an untold number of years. IN RETURN I must transition to a high speed connection (fortunately they did not say how ‘high of a high speed connection’). The Dell is loaded several goodies including Vista. Oh no not Vista, with all of its new bugs.

I promptly, checked out a Vista book from the Library. Finally, I got over it, accepted the fact and started planning and ‘getting ready’. That’s for the next chapter.

Getting Ready
My little room "office’ is cluttered with accumulated ‘stuff’ from over the last 5 years. Radio, pictures, books, notebooks, files, papers, maps, scanner, printer, pencils, software, music. Very disorganized, but I know where most everything is. And everything is saved for some future use. My transition to this new computer need not be a panic replacement, since my HP is still working well. So I need a nice slow, side by side, methodical transition.

1st I need to clear a space so I can set up 2 computers. Wow what do I do? Where do I start? Clear papers, move my radio, make a space on my writing desk top. Reorganize my Computer log book, which I have had for 5 years, and make a space for the new computer. Wipe up some dust. This could take a while, and it does. But I think I am about ready. It will take some last minute paper reshuffling. But close enough.


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