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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... life ... art

New computer blues
April 7th, 2010

Several months ago, I had a problem with my computer which I was ultimately able to fix, but it took several days. I realized then that Scarlet Quince really needs a spare computer — there are spares of most other equipment, but not the computer. Unfortunately, aside from being busy, I really don’t like to shop and especially not for a computer. My last few have been Dells, but nowadays when you go to configure a system on their website, there are ALL these different processors and very little information about how they differ. Sometimes they don’t even tell you the clock speed. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore and it just makes me tired.

Luckily, a friend’s company benchmarked a bunch of processors and he said Intel’s i7 chip blew everything else away. So, armed with that hint, I went looking for a computer with an i7 processor. Now, generally, my instinct when buying something new (especially in the technology area) is to look for another exactly like what I already have. MRA’s instinct is to get whatever the very latest thing is. (It’s easy for him to have this instinct because I do all the system administration.) This time, he persuaded me to go with the 64-bit version of Windows 7. I found out that most of my old 32-bit software should run in some kind of compatibility mode (not my 16-bit copy of Quicken, which is so old that it has trouble with years after 1999, but I soldier on with it).

Unfortunately I didn’t think about device drivers. My printers and mouse are all pretty old (but good) and while they all work in some fashion with the new computer, it’s not the most desirable fashion. For example, HP put out a 64-bit printer driver for my color printer but they didn’t bother with the toolbox, so instead of clicking on a menu to align the printheads, you have to press and hold the Power button, press the Resume button two times, and then release the Power button. So instead of having a new computer and a spare, I now have a two-computer network. Fortunately my ancient database software works over a network, which never ceases to amaze me. (I think I bought it in 1995.) It’s not what I had in mind, but at least if one of the computers conks out, I’ll still be able to send and receive email. And I can work on gradually upgrading things.

The thing that bothers me the most (now that I have gotten the desktop icons not to be huge — funny how annoying minor issues can be) is that Windows itself doesn’t seem really stable. Stuff that was working half an hour ago stops working, and I either have to restart the program or (more likely) reboot. Not that we look for quality from Microsoft, although I’m sure things will get better as time goes on and they fix more bugs. On the positive side, this is a really fast computer. The hard disk is ridiculous — one terabyte. (By the way, if you want to look it up, it’s an HP Pavilion 170t.)

It has taken me several days to get things sort of limping along, and I’m still in the phase where every time I need to do something new, I have to install something else or reconfigure something. But maybe now I can start to get back to whatever I was doing before.

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