Friday, October 18, 2013

Gradually Crawling into the Twenty-First Century

Although I'm not aggressively luddidic, it would also be fair to say that I'm not usually on the cutting edge of technological advances.  I tend to learn how to use something well enough for my purposes, and then just sort of stick with it... forever.

With that in mind, is it any shock that, until yesterday, I was still using a computer which I got in 2004?  A computer which was, even at the time, considered nothing more than an affordable starter computer?  A computer which was, frankly, incapable of doing more than the most basic of computer-related activities?

Well, that's all changed as of Thursday.  My parents, clearly well aware that I would continue to clunk along on this dinosaur of a PC indefinitely if they didn't act, splurged and bought me a new laptop as a birthday/Christmas/every other gift-giving occasion for the rest of the year present.  I've got 6 GB of RAM to play with now, baby!  I'm not entirely sure what that means, other than "faster," but compared to the 512 MB I was previously running on, it's supposed to be a major upgrade.  I'll finally be able to watch videos on my computer without first disabling any other programs!  If I ever decided I wanted to get into some of these "computerized games" that are all the rage, it would be my skills and interest level that would stop me, instead of an inability to run the games in the first place!

Anyway, I'm pretty excited.  So I hope you'll forgive me if I spend the weekend getting this thing set up and figuring out how to use Windows 8.  Then on Monday, I'll have a review delivered, for the first time ever, via a computing device that... well, it's not some souped-up gamer station, it's true.  But it's also not a decade old, and for me?  That's awesome.


  1. My advice? Find yourself a Start Button app, install it, then use Desktop mode and never look back. Windows 8 is a monster to operate otherwise.

    Okay, it's not really overwhelmingly hard, but it's ugly and cumbersome in a lot of ways.

    And if you do decide to try some of these "computerized games," I'm sure some of us might be interested in joining you for some "fun times" online.

    1. Thanks (and thanks to everyone else as well) for the advice. I think I've got everything set up so that it's vaguely functional and not "ipad-by-way-of-North-Korea," as I very, very quickly came to regard the aesthetic and utility of the setup.

      All systems more or less go!

  2. As IAH said, for the love of good User Interfaces install a proper Start button. I recommend Start is Back: it's free for the first month (and continues to be so as long as you can put up with it asking you to pay each time you boot the computer). It made such a huge difference to the otherwise terrible Windows 8 experience that I gladly gave them some money for their troubles.

  3. Windows 8 is the devil. I'd have to be desperate to get paid for using that tripe. Hell, if I had any choice I'd have a 64-bit copy of Windows XP and be perfectly happy.

    Damn Microsith to hell!

  4. > I've got 6 GB of RAM to play with now
    > the 512 MB I was previously running on
    Oh goodness.
    > how to use Windows 8
    Oh no.

  5. Slow down, grandpa, before you bust a hip. :|

  6. Chris finally posts something I can constructively comment on!

    If possible, try Linux! Since you're running a new machine, 64-bit cinnamon should be a good choice. There's a number of good tutorials you can find by searching youtube or google.

    You should use linux for the following reasons:
    -It's faster
    -It's extremely inconvenient for people who push technology to deal with closed source (Windows)
    -Security. Linux has a lot more people looking over its code, so it turns out it has fewer security holes. Also, nobody writes viruses for linux.
    -After you've adjusted to the new OS (which you're doing anyway), things just work better
    -You aren't forced to use a tablet OS (which W8 is)

    This is a useful guide for getting things you want/don't want squared away.

    Came across this Windows 8 instructional video trying to find a good Linux tutorial.

  7. Why more RAM makes your system faster and more stable:

    Open a program that you haven't opened since you turned on your computer (a web browser is a good choice); time how long it takes to open. Close it. Open it again.

    The second time you opened it, it should have opened more quickly. This is because something called 'disk caching' occurs. Moving information from your hard drive is very slow; moving it from RAM is fast. So, if we store information we just accessed in the RAM instead of the hard drive, then we can access it faster. Disk caching makes your system much faster!

    Applications also take RAM, and Bad Things happen if [amount of RAM you have] < [amount of RAM your applications want]. So having more RAM means things break less. 4 gigs is sufficient for contemporary power usage, so you should be good for the foreseeable future.

    1. And thank you for defining RAM in a way that's several times more comprehensible than my Dad's attempt was. I came away from that particular conversation aware that big numbers are better than small ones, "faster," and... well, and that was about it.

  8. Your technology habits sound like mine. I had a laptop I got in... I want to say 2005, which I finally replaced last year with a snazzy new one. And last week I got my first smartphone, mainly because my parents are cutting off the phone plan that came with a bunch of basic cell phones we all have been using for the last four or five years.

    The nice thing about clinging to your old devices is that you're that much more surprised by all the advances that have been made when you finally do upgrade.

  9. It sounds like we have a little bit in common when it comes to technology like that. My laptop is far from ancient, but it's rather more low-tech than the things that most of my friends use (although a lot of them do use MacBooks, to be fair). I'm still perfectly happy to use it while it still works, though.

    Also, I don't think I'll ever want an iPhone or any other smartphone like that. Or at least not until my current phone breaks and I'm forced to replace it, even though I barely use it anyway.

  10. Has anyone else had trouble commenting? I swear I posted something before Inquisitor (basically just told Chris to downgrade to Windows 7), but I'm not seeing it

  11. I saw Windows 8.1 yesterday. It's very pretty, but it looks like you're logged into Facebook, and every time you navigate somewhere, the new information appears 1 cm to the right of where it's going to end up, and then slams over the left in what is supposed to be catchy animation. After one minute I couldn't take it anymore. It would make me motion-sick if I had to use that.