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Old 02-17-2009, 04:40 AM   #1
iamback
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Default New team member: Marie

"Poor old Grace", my current "main" computer, is seriously old now, and not upgradable any more - max 512MB RAM, for instance, all slots taken... I've stretched as far as it could go. Something like viewing video is not possible without jitters - if at all, let alone video editing. She needs to retire, but I have little money.

So, when a new acquaintance pointed me to a website that sells refurbished PCs they buy up from companies that replace their machine park every two or three years, I perked up. Found a nice machine for a really good price, in stock marker had 2 dots. the next day, I go out hiking with my friends, and when I get back home (flu and all), I find it's gone! So, I reckon things may move fast at that site, companies may buy in bulk as well. There was another machine, "workstation" class that had really nice specs for the price (a little over my limit though) - an that was gone (all of them) the day after. I kept looking every day, nothing new. What's left, doesn't have sufficient hardware specs - I'd need to upgrade too much immediately.

Then, last Saturday, I noted Aldi, a supermarket chain that cooperates with Medion who make hardware and sometimes have special offers in the store, had just a new multimedia PC. OK, so it's consumer class, but it's all brand new, 64bit, dual code processor (AMD), big HD, 4GB RAM, eSATA, 6 USB ports, a card reader, etc. Nice specs - all for EUR 499. Upgrading one of those old refurbished machines would easily have gotten me to that price level, and then it still would have old hardware in side and much less speed.

So, I jumped, and Marie has joined the team! The machine came with a quite usable keyboard and a (for me) unusable mouse: much too big for my little hands. It now shares my 22" monitor with Grace (switching is a bit fidly, but works.) It will take a lot of time to set it up the way I want it, of course. I started by removing some of the preinstalled software and cleaning up the Vista that came pre-installed, tweaking it to be a little less obnoxious. I already feared the "breadcrumbs" in Explorer windows instead of a real path, and not only do I really hate that, there are other things in the UI I also hate and seemingly can't be changed. So Vista (Home Premium) will have to go, I just keep it for now to use it to explore some other options. What I really want is make it dual-boot between XP and a 64-bit Linux distribution - but I need to try out some to see what I like best.

Of course, this morning, another one of my external HDs died - one of a pair I bought at the same time, the other failed just a few months ago, so I was sort of expecting it! Luckily with my new external backup drives, this time I have a backup on what's on that disk. It's well and truly dead: I cracked open the case (not meant to do that), took out the drive, and put it in an enclosure - when I powered it on, it didn't spin up. (The other one may still have a little life in it, but I haven't fiddled with it lately.) I have some nice little screws left.

So, from excitement to depression within 24 hours.

Now I need to look for another external (or cradle + disk) I can hook up to Marie (eSATA): the idea is to have everything in two places, but now I have only the backup.

Having a (closed) MacBook, two keyboards and three mice all on the same desk is a tad crowded (and confusing!) but of course that will resolve itself once Grace is truly retired...

Off to search for disk and cradles...

   
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:54 AM   #2
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Congratulations, and lamentations. I think we all will miss Grace! <g>

   
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:53 AM   #3
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Sounds like you got a quite a decent deal on the new system...I know how long it can take to get everything tweaked just the way you want it. I think that once you get XP installed, you won't find it all that different from W2K.

I think that one of the biggest differences is what TweakUI (for XP) will and won't allow you to do. For example in the W2K TweakUI, I had set my Programs (for software installation) path to H:\ (the drive I installed all my software on) and you can't do that via XP's TweakUI which is really annoying when you are getting things set up to have to manually change the software installation path every time you install something.

I took copious notes when I tweaked my custom system when I got in in December 2007 with lots of notes on XP changes I made. I'll look through those and see if there might be info you could use.

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Old 02-17-2009, 09:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by terrie View Post
I took copious notes when I tweaked my custom system when I got in in December 2007 with lots of notes on XP changes I made. I'll look through those and see if there might be info you could use.
The Tweak (UI) apps have always been good. But there are other things possible - and sites out there with lots of tweak, usually involving registry settings. But I have a very good Registry editor now, which even keeps a buffer of the latest changes (between sessions even) which allows you to undo if needed.

Your notes could be valuable though - always good to write up such things, and posting them may help others as well, so please do if you can find the time!

   
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
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marjolein: and sites out there with lots of tweak, usually involving registry settings
Yeah...as I remember I used annoyances.org to find a lot of goodies...

I should have a chance to get my notes out and take a browse in the next day or two...will report back...

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Old 02-18-2009, 03:11 PM   #6
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I just bought a new PC too - and it has kind of flashing blue lights on each side! Sometimes I can't decide whether I'm in a disco or being pulled over by the police.
It might be well-qualified; it has a 500 MB hard disk, 4 MB Ram and a quad processor etc., but doesn't have as much character as the one that I've had for the past five years.
It makes a prolonged moaning noise when it's first fired up in the morning - a bit like some people.
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Old 02-19-2009, 12:54 PM   #7
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I just bought a new PC too - and it has kind of flashing blue lights on each side! Sometimes I can't decide whether I'm in a disco or being pulled over by the police.
...
It makes a prolonged moaning noise when it's first fired up in the morning - a bit like some people.
LOL! I think that noise counts towards "character"; the lights help, too. Do you name your computers?

But don't forget that machines acquire a characters as they get used - any brand-new machine is almost character-less.

Meanwhile Marie has attempted to burn CDs (successfully), and a DVD (three coasters - different brand DVD without a hitch), so that piece of hardware has been put through its paces, too. Processor works, HD works, video works (with a bewildering array of options in the configuration panel for the video card, most of which I don't understand), network (gigabit) works. Untested: sound: I should just transfer the speakers from Grace to Marie to test but they won't stay until Grace is retired.

And I found I love just how silent Marie is! Both Alan and Grace are producing quite a bit of noise (which I'm used to), but I just don't hear Marie and sometimes wonder if anything is happening at all!

I've been downloading Linux distros (LiveCDs) so I can try them out (2 more downloading as we speak) - once I burned them all, that is. And getting a bit used to Vista - it's becoming borderline tolerable but only considering it's temporary - no way will I work with it day in day out!

   
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Old 02-19-2009, 03:22 PM   #8
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Marjolein:

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Then, last Saturday, I noted Aldi
Our Aldi (100 m from our front door) always has special offers—widely advertised—starting on Thursdays; there is usually a queue outside by 0800, and by 0900, when Aldi opens, it's too late: already sold out! But they're usually good offers, though in the computer line they're nothing out of the way.

   
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Old 02-19-2009, 09:12 PM   #9
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>> I already feared the "breadcrumbs" in Explorer windows instead of a real path,

Click in the blank area to the right of the breadcrumbs; they go away and instead you get the real path.

   
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:10 AM   #10
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>> I already feared the "breadcrumbs" in Explorer windows instead of a real path,

Click in the blank area to the right of the breadcrumbs; they go away and instead you get the real path.
Yes - I found that out purely by accident and was greatly relieved that at least it still exists (but it needs an extra click). It also took a while before I found how to add a status bar to explorer windows! Are they nuts?? I still hate Vista though - too many layers between the UI and what I really want to do, in some cases up to three layers extra compared to Win2K/XP.

I'm not complaining about the user model - that's fine with me - and I have Comodo installed with an extra-safe feature that's even more anal. It's just all the layers of indirection before you get at what you actually want to get at. Nice handholding for a beginner, maybe, but you cannot turn it off for an experienced OS user. I want to work with the OS, not fight several layers to get at it.

   
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