Old Laptop – Fresh Install

Yeah, that’s right. A totally virgin install of Vista didn’t properly update using Microsoft’s own tools! Seriously. That’s disgraceful.

I am typing on a 2&#189 year old Dell 640m laptop. Like most computers it has slowed over time. It’s not wearing out. It’s the victim of dozens of instances of poor or sloppy programming! It can be fixed–in fact it has been fixed.

Unfortunately, installing programs in a Windows computer is not as simple as it would seem. Windows (all versions of Windows) depend on a “registry.” Here’s how PCMag.com defines it:

The configuration database in all 32-bit versions of Windows that contains settings for the hardware and software in the PC it is installed in. The Registry is made up of the SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT files. Many settings previously stored in the WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI files in 16-bit Windows (Windows 3.x) are in the Registry.

Over time the registry gets bloated and full of orphan files.

On top of that some programs are just not as nice as they seem! They can take up resources even when you’re not using them!

Most computers also end up with a few handfuls of ‘helper programs.’ These are little applets that run all the time checking of the master program needs updating. They each use a little memory and processor power though they’re seldom really needed.

I might as well point a finger at myself too. Over time I’ve been a software slut installing lots of programs and never uninstalling them when I stopped using them.

Anyway, long story short, I decided it was time. Dell nicely dedicates a portion of the original hard drive to an image of the factory fresh install. I backed up the files I figured I’d need, rebooted and started the journey.

The actual Windows Vista Business re-install didn’t take long. What was tedious was going to Windows Update to get all the patches and fixes–nearly 100. The process was slow and the progress was poorly conveyed by Vista. I often wondered if anything was happening. Some patches wouldn’t even install!

Yeah, that’s right. A totally virgin install of Vista didn’t properly update using Microsoft’s own tools! Seriously. That’s disgraceful.

Dell’s not much better. Their support area has many patches listed for the programs in this machine. Unfortunately, their links lead to an error message indicating the patches aren’t there!

I’ll wait a day before contacting Dell. This seems like the kind of problem they’ll quickly find on their own. Right Dell?

I was surprised by how little of my stuff was on this machine. My photos get pushed to a backup drive. Most of my documents live ‘in the cloud’ on a Google server somewhere.

Vista features the Aero interface with translucent windows on screen. When I first got this machine I turned it off. I originally thought it was a resource hog. It’s on right now because I’m no longer sure shutting it down really does make a difference.

Mostly Aero is eye candy–and not particularly Earth shattering.

I really won’t know this machine’s true state until I start editing photos. My RAW photos from the Canon Xsi weigh in at 16Mb per shot (approximately). Photo editing and manipulation is really heavyweight math. That’s the true test. If the machine performs as it did all this work will have been for nothing–and that’s a real possibility.

My best guess is the job’s around 75% done. There are more programs to load.

At some point I expect I’ll realize something I need no longer exists–inadvertently left off the backup. Hopefully nothing too important.

Getting My Car Repaired

The body shop in North Haven reminded me of an airline ticket counter at the airport. There were young non-mechanic looking people sitting behind Dell LCD screens

My car has been dropped off to have the banged door repaired. It’s between the insurance company and body shop now. My 10 year old Mercedes SLK&#185 has been temporarily replaced by a rental Kia SUV&#178.

I decided to accept the insurance company’s offer to take care of all the details. I understand I might not be getting genuine Mercedes parts. I suspect there won’t be any parts replaced anyway. This seems like one of the few remaining injuries that can be pulled or banged out.

The body shop in North Haven reminded me of an airline ticket counter at the airport. There were young non-mechanic looking people sitting behind Dell LCD screens. A few insurance companies have offices on premises. Others are there on a regular basis. It was too business like–too neat– to be an auto repair place!

I ran into the owner. He told me it’s changed a lot since he bought the place 12 years ago. I’m sure! He has adapted his business to take advantage of technology and the changing face of insurance. It’s twice the size it was when he bought it.

He said there was a time when they spent 50 hours a week moving cars. The whole process would come to a halt as things were juggled into the right place. Time really is money. You don’t want a trained mechanic acting as a valet parking attendant.

The phone just rang. It was Robert from the insurance company. It will take until Friday for my car to be finished. They’ll have to paint the entire driver’s side. The insurance company will pay the body shop over $1,200

I can wait.

&#185 – If you hold onto a Mercedes for 10 years, it really doesn’t cost more than a ‘regular’ car you keep for half the time–or so I’ve convinced myself.

&#178 – I turned down the rental company’s insurance offering. At the bottom of the sheet it is enumerated on an annual basis. Their insurance works out to approximately $15,000 a year. Wow!

Minor Tech Support Travails

Of course with chat there’s no music on hold or any other sign of life. At the bottom of the screen there is a small system message.

Trying to raise Dell support on their chat function.

Although we’re very busy helping other customers right now, we will be with you as quickly as possible. This will be the last hold message you will receive prior to being assisted by a Chat support agent. Thank you for your patience

Of course with chat there’s no music on hold or any other sign of life. At the bottom of the screen there is a small system message.

You are next in queue… Estimated wait time is 0 hours 0 minutes 3 seconds

I wait 15 minutes before seeing anything else. Not reassuring. Enough angst to write this.

Got to get a repair scheduled tonight. Warranty expires tomorrow. This last minute rush should surprise no one who knows me.

It’s just a loose hinge and a non-springy touchpad key. Minor pains, but I should get them fixed while I can.

And now… OMG, it’s “Christopher” from Dell. Christopher? Really? Oh well, it will be fixed!

Our Busy Weekend

We found out his Mac notebook doesn’t have a VGA out port. He couldn’t plug in to the projector. Seriously–no VGA plug? I am surprised even though my friends with Mac always tell me how much they like their machines and how frustrated they are by some tasks they can’t perform or programs they can’t run.

For the Foxes this was a busy weekend. We had events Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday evening was spent with Harvey and Sandy in Woodbridge. They have an annual Chanukah party. We’ve been going most years for as long as I can remember. Ages ranged from 11 weeks to too old to gracefully ask.

We get to Wodbridge totally on smaller secondary roads. At one point we take a narrow 2-lane road twisting along the shore of a reservoir. There’s water on one side and a fence on the other. Saturday evening was extremely foogy. No fun driving in that.

menorahs-w250-h250.jpgDuring Chanukah Jewish families light the menorah each night at sundown. The tradition at Harvey and Sandy’s party is all the families bring their own menorahs and light them at once–which was great because the party used to be early in Chanukah.

Saturday each family lit seven candles plus an additional ‘helper’ candle. Helaine and I discussed standing by with 9-1 dialed on the cellphone. The dining room was noticably warmed by all those candles.

We look forward to the “pigs in blankets” served each year. As we walked in someone was carrying them to the basement. That’s where the kids usually hang out. Did we go downstairs just for the pigs? I’ll never tell.

Harvey always has fun toys to play with. This time he had X-Plane installed. Running on his Mac with a flight yoke and pedals it was amazingly fun to fly. It was impossible for me to easily control.

One of their three grown, daughters&#185 was home. She works in New York as a production assistant on some Bravo productions. Both Helaine and Stef were impressed she was working on Top Chef, which they enjoy and I’ve never seen.

Sunday the occasion was totally different. It was my friend Farrell’s mother’s 90th birthday. Being 90 is a difficult job. Ruth is equal to the task.

I wrote about Ruth in August 2005. She was about to get caught up in one of the biggest news stories of the decade.

I just got off the phone with my friend’s mom in New Orleans.

We’ve never met in person, but she knows me. I’ve fixed her computer by remote control. She’s seen me on TV while visiting her daughter in Connecticut. I’ve known her son for over 25 years and he’s a trusted friend.

She understands I’m looking out for her.

“Leave,” I said. “Leave now.”

ruth_meisel.jpgRuth lives in Connecticut now, near her daughter. Her home was flooded and destroyed in Katrina’s aftermath.

A few days ago Farrell sent me an email, looking for a way to make a slideshow of family photographs. I suggested Animoto. Farrell came with the slideshow in his laptop…his Mac laptop.

That’s when we found out his Mac notebook doesn’t have a VGA out port. He couldn’t plug in to the projector. Seriously–no VGA plug? I am surprised even though my friends with Mac always tell me how much they like their machines and how frustrated they are by some tasks they can’t perform or programs they can’t run.

I found a way to convert the slideshow video to an m4v file (never heard of it before) which was somehow compatible with another laptop–a Dell. We used ‘sneaker net’ in the form of a USB stick to move it. The slideshow did go on.

At age 90 you get a note from your congressman (Rep. Rosa DeLauro) and a proclamation from the governor declaring your birthday as Ruth Meisel Day in Connecticut.

Ruth wore a crown. It’s good to be Queen.

&#185 – Sandy went to the hospital to give birth to their second child. It was only after the delivery they discovered there was one more child in there. Really.

Stef’s Laptop Dead And Gone

Unlike a desktop I can’t open this Dell 600m and replace components.

I would guess I worked 15-20 hours on Stef’s laptop. After being on for a while programs would randomly ramp up to 100% of the available CPU cycles. Everything would slow down to a crawl.

I ran every diagnostic program known to man (thanks for all your suggestions). No help. Then, this weekend, I wiped the hard drive clean and reloaded Windows XP. It ran fine… until Stef began to use it. Bam! It was redlining again.

My guess is, and it’s only a guess, there’s some hardware component that goes a little nuts after being stressed or heated. If that’s the case there’s nothing I can do. Unlike a desktop I can’t open this Dell 600m and replace components.

I checked the ads in Sunday’s paper and Stef headed out to Circuit City (one day prior to their bankruptcy) near her campus. She came home with a 15.4 inch HP with Vista, an AMD dual-core CPU and even hard disk space to last her a li9fetime. It will serve her well, though it’s a shame to be rushed like this.

The new laptop has Norton anti-virus software. Her school demands McAfee before it will allow her to log onto the on-campus network. These are programs that don’t like each other and don’t want to be removed. What a pain–and slow.

Before her old computer started acting funky I backed up her documents, photos and music. Tonight I’ll go in with Hamachi and move the files as if she was in the same room.

I really wish I knew what went wrong.

Stef’s Laptop Continues On The Slow Road

This is really vexing. I have no idea what’s going on, though it seems like something is leeching on normally occuring processes.

Though Stef’s laptop seemed stable for six or seven hours at some point this afternoon her problems came back. The CPU usage level shot to 100% with normal programs taking abnormal resources.

This is really vexing. I have no idea what’s going on, though it seems like something is leeching on normally occuring processes. I don’t even know a good search term to use on Google!

Helaine drove to Stef’s college this afternoon. I think (hope) she’s on her way back now. It was a computer swap with Stef’s modern Dell coming to me and an old PIII-800 laptop going to her.

“It’s as slow as the other one,” Stef told me on the phone after the tiny PIII was fired up.

That might be true, but the good news is, I’ll fix the other one and send it back. Or, possibly, I’ll just reformat and reload. Stef has few programs installed. Maybe the end’s in sight?

Stef’s Computer Slowly Limping Along

The computer is definitely not well. I poked and prodded. There are no simple signs it’s got a virus, but that’s probably what’s gone on, or possibly some out-of-control Facebook applet.

Oy! Stef was on the phone yesterday afternoon. Her laptop is running at stone age speed. She’s an hour and a half from here so I used Logmein.com for some remote access.

I’ve written about Logmein here and on AppScout.com. I used the remote access package they gave me for my AppScout story, but the free product would have worked–albeit, it’s tough to explain how to install it to my non-tech daughter.

The computer is definitely not well. I poked and prodded. There are no simple signs it’s got a virus, but that’s probably what’s happened… or possibly some out-of-control Facebook applet. The CPU was running at 100% but all the cycles looked to be assigned to programs that were supposed to be running. Maybe something is leeching onto already running programs?

I ran CCleaner (it was originally called Crap Cleaner) purged the caches and trash, checked the registry and rebooted. It came back close to it’s real self. I left a note for Stef and shut it down.

Unfortunately after five minutes of use today the problems were back. She’d started AOL IM and Facebook–nothing else.

Tonight around 7:00 I’ll jump back into her machine. Maybe there’s something I missed I can try? If not we swap.

I’ve got an older laptop which I’ll bring to Stef tonight (actually, we’ll meet halfway). As I type it’s running through some disk maintenance routines. It is much slower than her Dell–when her Dell isn’t slow itself.

It is frustrating I can’t find this problem. That’s something I normally do without much trouble.

How Many Passwords?

I readily admit, I don’t use a different password for every account I have. I do have at least 10 different ‘words’ I use – most on a daily basis.

Adding more passwords becomes problematic, because obscure passwords for accounts that aren’t used on often are easily forgotten. Remember, I lived through sixties!

My run-in with Dell today was particularly annoying.

I want to post on Dell’s community forums because of a software shortcoming with this (mostly wonderful) laptop. I went to register using a password often used on ‘occasional’ sites where money is not involved.

My first choice was rejected, as was my second!

Password: must contain at least one uppercase character. Your password must be 6 or more characters, contain at least one lowercase character, one uppercase character, one digit, and no repeated sequence of 3 or more characters. Your password can’t be a subset of your login name.

AreYouK1dd1ng (that would work)?

At work, one system I use requires me to change my password every month or two. That’s another pain.

Passwords were a good idea when we only had one or two. Now, with large numbers of sites requiring them, it’s time for a better idea.

Computers Can’t Be Trusted

“Computer problem.” I’ve heard those two words a million times. Mostly, it’s a crock. Computer problems aren’t usually computer problems but problems which appear when humans operate computers. In other words, it’s mostly human error.

Computers only do what they’re told. Hardware failures that allow them to run amok are relatively rare. It’s that fingertip/keyboard interface where all the trouble arises.

With that perspective, it’s off to Chicago where, earlier this week, WGN radio found itself broadcast all over the radio and TV dial. I was tipped off to this story by Adam Chernow in Wisconsin, but I’ll quote the Chicago Tribune:

In the parlance of the Cold War era that spawned the federally mandated Emergency Alert System, launch codes were issued throughout Illinois on Tuesday morning, automatically pre-empting dozens of radio and television stations as if the region faced nuclear annihilation.

Rather than President Bush reassuring citizens after an atomic blast or some other calamity, the audience of many Chicago outlets was treated to the sound of dead air followed by the voice of WGN-AM 720 morning man Spike O’Dell struggling to figure out what had happened.

It turns out O’Dell’s pair of brief surprise appearances between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on everything from local public broadcasting to music stations — an “unintentional disruption,” a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman called it — stemmed from a FEMA contractor’s installation of the state’s Emergency Alert System satellite receiver in Springfield as part of a nationwide upgrade.

If the contractor had asked me to call all those stations, I would have pointed out the error of his ways. Computers are more obedient and, unfortunately, don’t question authority!

Why do we do this? Why do we allow an automated system take control so an errant human can cause chaos?

I know why. I was there the morning the old system failed!

It was February 20, 1971. As I remember, it was a sunny and mild winter’s day. I was working as a disk jockey at WQXT, located right on the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida. Life was good.

At 9:33 AM a series of ten bells rang out from the Associated Press teletype. Ten bells was the signature for a national emergency, an EBS alert… but this was Saturday at 9:33 AM. They tested the system every Saturday at 9:33 AM.

Somewhere deep within Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, a technician put the wrong put tape in his teletype. Instead of sending the test, he sent the real thing!

From Wikipedia: An EBS activation message authenticated with the codeword “HATEFULNESS” was sent through the entire system, ordering stations to shut down and broadcast the alert of a national emergency. A cancellation message with the wrong codeword was sent at 9:59 AM EST, and a cancellation message with the correct codeword was not sent until 10:13AM EST.

Most radio and TV stations did nothing! They had no way of knowing the message was wrong. In fact, every indication was it was real.

In my case, I heard the bells and disregarded them. It was test time. I heard those bells every Saturday morning.

By the time I looked at the teletype, the alert had been corrected. The few people listening to my little radio station were well served because I totally screwed up!

After that debacle the government worked to change to a better, faster, more streamlined, heavily automated system. And yet, with this week’s problem, the cause was exactly the same – human error.

It’s this automated system that has sometimes allowed cable companies to cut my television station’s audio as they run emergency crawls… even though we’re giving emergency info when they kill our audio!

Society has become so complex, we can’t operate without computer assistance. Unfortunately, that has forced us to put much too much power in someone’s fingertip. The folks in Chicago understand.

Windows Vista – Not Again

I went to do something on my laptop with Windows Vista last night and got shot down. This is starting to upset me.

It was a simple thing. I have a Bluetooth headset. I wanted to be able to use it with Skype or the ‘dictation’ feature of the operating system. I bought a cheap Bluetooth USB dongle&#185 and plugged it in. With shipping we’re talking $13, so this wasn’t a major investment.

In Windows XP, it would have worked flawlessly. In Vista, the driver installation failed. And, there is no other Vista driver for my device without paying more than the dongle itself cost!

This follows on the heels of my discovery either Dell or Microsoft turned off the ability to record directly from a WAV file or internal computer line input. Best example would be recording audio from a TV show I was watching on my laptop.

Again, in XP, this was built in and robust. Now, it’s gone.

When I read other comments about either of these two problems all I see is frustration from others. I guess that’s the WOW factor Microsoft was talking about.

&#185 – Hey, I don’t name this stuff.

Vista – A User’s Observation

Now that my laptop’s no longer brand new, I suppose I can talk a little about my experiences with Windows Vista. Vista is a hot topic on many geek boards.

The laptop itself is a joy to use. I know Dell is no longer the darling it once was, but this laptop performs just as well as I’d anticipated. With 2Gb RAM, a reasonably large hard drive and very high resolution screen&#185 it’s sweet.

Vista is not as nice!

Maybe it’s growing pains. Maybe it’s just no one likes change. Maybe things weren’t well thought out. Whatever the reason, Vista is nowhere near as easily operated as Windows XP was.

I know of at least three programs I want to run but can’t, because they’re not Vista compatible. I sense it’s not just these individual pieces of software, but whole classes of programs which have to deal with Vista’s architecture.

Kaspersky virus software (I have used the freeware AOL version) won’t load. Neither will Nero, the disk writing software. I used to use Nero a lot.

I bought a wireless remote control to allow me to control PowerPoint presentations from afar. They say there will be Vista software – just not now. The remote’s currently a paperweight.

My poker software from FullTilt is also Vista challenged. The sound and video are no longer in sync. Cards will come to me, I’ll make a bet and then the signal “ding” will sound telling me it’s my time to act… though I already have.

Just as troubling is Vista’s ‘improved’ security. As far as I can tell, all that means is asking me incessantly if I approve of what’s going. Usually, I know the correct answer. I assume less sophisticated users will not and just say “Yes.”

Microsoft has been advertising Vista as having a WOW factor, based on its Aero interface. I certainly don’t think there’s any functional difference with Aero. And, some programs have problems properly displaying in this Aero configuration. I have never seen a reason to use the 3D floating windows feature that Aero is known for.

There are more troubles when it comes to files. I still haven’t figured out how to allow my networked computers to write files to and from the Vista machine. One program I use, which tries to write data into it’s own directory, is thwarted by Vista’s security ‘features.’

Even worse, Windows Explorer has devolved to be less friendly and less usable.

Like I said, I like the laptop a lot. Using a free program from a Scandanavian developer, I now do most of my DVR watching on this machine. I’ve also used it with Photoshop and Picasa to manipulate photos with no regrets.

But Vista – it’s just not ready yet.

&#185 – I have one of those newer glossy screens. It is more prone to glare than the original matte LCDs.

A Bit About The Trip

We’re in the hotel room right now, but here’s what I wrote enroute:

“Wow, is it pouring.” That’s what Helaine said as I began to type this entry.

We’re sitting on Flight 1103 at Gate B16, Chicago Midway Airport. Our through flight from Connecticut was not a through flight today!

After an hour of left turns, killing time while waiting for a chance to land, we put down hard during a light rain. The Chicago passengers got off and we sat back… for a minute.

Someone from the Chicago ground crew came onto the plane to tell us there would be a change of equipment. We were currently on “A.” We’ll be leaving from “B.”

Midway is considered a small airport. Obviously, whoever came up with that hasn’t walked the terminals!

We got to B16 and stood in the pre-board line. With no boarding passes, Sandra checked our drivers licenses against a list and we were off to the plane. Though those darned wheelchair people snuck in before us, but we were squeezed in before the (soon to be) screaming babies.

Helaine is looking out the window where unfortunately, she’s now seen our bags – totally drenched as the rain beats down!

We’re going to be a little late getting into Vegas where clothes changing (at least this evening) is probably out of the question.

There is one thing we’ve tried on this flight we’d never tried before – watching “Vegas Vacation” on the plane. My old laptop had enough battery stamina for the coming attractions. This new Dell has a beefier, newer battery.

Yesterday I headed to Radio Shack to buy a splitter cable. It, and the laptop in general, worked perfectly. Cruising along at 40,000 feet we watched the movie.

I was surprised to pick up a lot of throwaway dialog I’d never heard before… and we’ve seen this movie plenty of times.

The pilot says we’ll be around 1:20 late. Nothing I can do about that. There’s barren land below us. Nothing to do but wait.

The Laptop Arrives

UPS arrived early yesterday afternoon, my new Dell Laptop in hand. After lots of anguish, and an email and call to Dell executives, I decided to purchase a Inspiron 640M.

If you have haven’t purchased a notebook computer in a while, or you’ve just pointed to one in a store, said “mine” and took out your credit card, you’ve missed a terribly weird experience.

No matter what you do, you’re never quite sure what you’re doing!

Dell’s site is that way – but so is HP’s and a few others I tried. There are lots of options, but many of them are only described in marketing hyperbole. What’s the difference between different processors in absolute terms? Got me.

Then there’s the matter of price. It’s tough to look at any price conscious website and not see a link for a Dell deal, that leads back to the Dell site. I configured the same laptop in a few similar ways and came up with wildly differing prices!

As I told the woman I spoke to at Dell, I didn’t want this experience to be like buying a car, or worse purchasing an airplane seat. I don’t want to make a purchase only to find the person in the seat next to me paid a lot less!

My laptop has a Core 2 Due processor, 2Gb RAM, CD/DVD writer, 120 Gb hard drive (which shows up as a 110 Gb hard drive) and a WXGA+ screen – meaning 1440×900 resolution.

That was the deal breaker for me, resolution. As far as I could see, there were no other laptops priced in the same ballpark as the Dell that gave me as many pixels on a 14.1″ screen. Pixels are important to me. I edit lots of photos.

Like I said, the laptop arrived and I am favorably impressed. I am not as gung ho about Windows Vista – and that might just be because it’s different.

In typical Microsoft fashion, I loaded some updates, which busted the Vista sidebar! I had to do a rollback.

I also now better understand the Apple commercial where John Hodgman (playing “PC”) is asked for permission to perform a variety of tasks on a steadily maddening basis (go ahead – watch the commercial).

My idea of security isn’t sitting at my door with a shotgun. That seems to be Microsoft’s answer.

At nearly every instance where I installed or tweaked something, Vista asked if that’s what I really wanted. Often it asked two times and sometimes three.

My friend Peter says some savvy users have turned this ‘feature’ off. Maybe me too, though not now.

Speaking of security, though the system came with a trial subscription for security software, I’ve been using the free version of Kaspersky’s virus scanner, given away by AOL. When I attempted to install it, I found it was not Vista compatible.

The battery life on the new laptop is much more than any I’ve ever used before. It looks like it will be at least 5 hours in real life. That means it becomes a DVD player for airplane trips – even cross country trips. That’s cool.

More observations later. Right now, I’m pretty happy.

Agent (Gunjan_143463): “Please do not worry at all.”

Why pull punches. The disk drive in Steffie’s laptop is nearly dead and will be replaced. CHKDSK ran for over 12 hours, correcting nearly 8,000 clusters and shedding 8 Gb in capacity. Even then, the laptop was ‘challenged.’

This morning, I went to Dell for tech support. This laptop is protected against everything for three years. The father of a college student is prudent.

I chose to chat with Dell because I am comfortable conveying technical info via the keyboard. And, I wanted Dell’s operator on my side. I was as nice as I could be.

All things considered, my chat request was probably taken in India. In the past I’ve asked where the call was being answered and the support tech was always forthcoming.

It is obvious from my conversation that there are differences between the English I speak and the English Gunjan speaks. When I was confused, I asked. He did the same. We never strayed too far from understanding each other.

The transcript of my chat is attached below.

Steffie will receive the new drive at school and install it herself. In a laptop, installing a hard drive isn’t much more difficult than plugging in a light. I have confidence she’ll be able to handle it (if she can find a Phillips head screwdriver).

Should a drive die this soon – only about a year and a half after purchase? Of course not, but stuff happens.

The bottom line is, within a few days, this will all be resolved and resolved to our satisfaction.

Continue reading “Agent (Gunjan_143463): “Please do not worry at all.””

Wow – Thanks For Responding

Yesterday, I asked for laptop advice (which continues to come in). I appreciate it all. I have not made up my mind yet, so don’t stop.

I do want to address one suggestion – Apple. There are two consistent comments I hear from Apple owners.

  • I love my Mac
  • Why don’t they write this software for my Mac?

I am much more familiar with the Windows world, where I know how most things operate – even ‘under the hood’. Mac’s operating system is based on BSD (a Unix flavor), which I’m not quite as conversant in. So, yes, that lack of deep knowledge is also a problem.

But, again, it’s the easy availability of software that’s my main concern… and the price. A comparable Mac seems to be 40-50% more than its corresponding PC.

Steffie will gladly tell you how much prettier Macs are than PCs. I agree. That isn’t entering into this decision.

I have looked at all the brands you have recommended. Believe it or not, at this time, Dell seems the best value. I have looked at a Dell laptop with Vista home premium (or whatever the second step on their ladder is called), 2Gb RAM, 120 Gb drive, 14.1″ WXGA+ resolution (love them pixels), for under $1,000.

Software or OS tech support, the scourge of PC buyers, is less of a concern for me since I do most of my own IT work. We were very satisfied with Dell when it came to hardware support.

I also appreciate the two of you who wrote to explain the difference between Core Duo and Core 2 Duo (32 vs 64 bit processor). Why don’t the laptop manufacturers reveal this on their configuration tools?

As a guy, by law, I have difficulty committing. Hopefully, tonight or tomorrow I’ll make up my mind and pull the trigger.