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Computer rehab time already?

January 6, 2010, 9:14 PM

Next month marks three years since I got my Dell. And that means it’s almost time for my computer’s mid-life rehabilitation. Why get a new computer when you can make your current one last another few years with a little TLC, eh?

Yes, I do my computer like transit systems do rolling stock. Go for such an amount of time and then rehab the thing. It’s just like Metro recently did with the Breda cars. Rail cars generally last 40 years. So at roughly the 20-year mark, they do a mid-life rehabilitation on them. That brings them up to more modern standards, and gets them ready to go another 20 before retirement. Computers have about a three-year life span in my experience, and so a mid-life overhaul makes it go another three. Which means that I won’t need to replace my current box until 2013 or so. Now my last computer lasted nearly nine years. It went three years, had its mid-life rehabilitation, and then went almost six years before it finally was put out to pasture. That was for financial reasons, though – I couldn’t afford a new computer, since I wasn’t doing as well money-wise.

On my last computer’s rehab back in 2001, I upgraded from 128 MB to 384 MB of RAM, upgraded both optical drives, went from a 10 GB hard drive to an 80 GB hard drive, upgraded the video card, and upgraded the TV tuner card. I deliberately didn’t replace the motherboard and upgrade the processor, because that’s about where I reach my level of incompetence. Everything went quite well in the rehab, and it got me to 2007. I was pleased. I had contemplated a second rehab around that time, but I ultimately determined that a second rehab was more than I wanted to do for an eight-year old computer, and so I replaced it.

Now this time around, working on a Dell Dimension E521, I’m thinking that the rehab won’t be as big as the one I did in 2001. Based on the way I use this thing, I don’t need to. I want to put more memory in, going from 2 GB to something bigger, but the hard drive is probably good. Of a 320 GB drive, I’m only using 173. So I’m probably fine there. Then the optical drives are giving me fits. One doesn’t like to read the discs unless you hold the door closed (otherwise, it just opens back up and takes many tries to get it going), and the other one doesn’t like to open. On the latter, if it closes without a disc in it, you have to use the pinhole eject button to make it open. It just plain won’t open otherwise when empty. So a CD always lives in that drive for when it’s needed. Why it won’t open without a disc already inside, I don’t know. So both drives are going to get replaced with faster versions, since the current ones make me want to scream. Maybe I can get one that plays Blu-ray. That would be kind of cool. Then the video card is fine, as I upgraded that only a year or so ago so I could run Aero Glass on my dual-monitor configuration. Yeah, Aero is mostly just eye candy, but it’s kinda cool.

Then this is also probably going to be when I spring for Windows 7, and see what that can do. I’m told that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. Vista was a bit of a letdown, though I did eventually get Vista to run fairly well, like how the human being and fish can coexist peacefully (sorry, couldn’t resist). So Windows 7, if the pundits are right, will be a good thing.

Then meanwhile, there’s the discussion of the Lappy. It’s the same age as the big computer, but it doesn’t see as much use as I’d hoped. The Lappy generally comes out about once a month or so, when I need to do some computing on the go. Then whenever I go traveling, of course, it comes with me so I can get online and do Journal entries and such on the go. Beats having to borrow a computer or go without. So whether it will also see a rehab is somewhat up in the air. I’m leaning towards not. But we’ll see, I suppose.

Otherwise, my cell phone is eligible for an upgrade starting later this month. My current phone is a piece of junk. It is basically just a cell phone, with very limited Internet capability, and the camera is kinda subpar. Plus the straps on the cover for it block the camera, requiring me to unsnap the cover to take pictures with it. I’ve basically had it with that phone. It’s time to finally go to a smartphone. While I was down in Stuarts Draft, Katie, Sis, and I went to the Verizon store in Staunton to look at phones. I was originally contemplating a BlackBerry, but I think that the Droid is more what I’m thinking. That thing is basically like a Linux version of the iPhone with Verizon’s network (which I’ve been pleased with), plus it has a real keyboard on it. That’s important, you see, because touch screens and I for the most part don’t get along very well. I’ve tried the iPhone in stores, and I can’t type on it to save my life. So forget that. Plus I don’t want to switch carriers.

So there you go. It is time to upgrade one’s electronic toys, and with ideas in mind, now I just have to figure out how I’m going to pay for all this.

Web site: This is just cool - it's a video about how plastic bottles become polyester.

Song: The sound of the Wheelock NS. We had a fire alarm at work yesterday, and it turned out to be an accidental one on the part of the building management. They stopped us before we left our floor to tell us it was an accident, and then killed the alarm shortly thereafter. How ironic is this - they were in the process of covering a smoke detector so that they wouldn't trip it while doing some work. And then they tripped it in the process of covering it. Oops.

Quote: Oh, yes, a happy new year to all.