Computers working again, and interesting tech discovered

I’ve had this new Acer laptop for about a week now, and I’m quite happy with it. I’ve streamlined the startup programs and eliminated as many extraneous features as possible, and now it starts up fully in about 20 seconds and shuts down in about 8 seconds… pretty good for a low-end laptop (at least compared to most of the computers I’ve owned in the past). Some of the software I found on this guide to freeware, particularly this startup program and this optimization program helped enormously.

Even better, our new desktop is formatting as I type. Faith’s dad sent us his second-best computer, but when it arrived a few days ago it wouldn’t start. I opened it up and monkeyed around with the connections, screwed in a free-flying video card and hard drive, disconnected and reconnected everything I could see, skimmed the motherboard manual, and checked out computer building tutorial. After all that, it still wouldn’t start. But today we went back for nearly the last load of stuff from the old apartment, including the broken computer (which I fortunately convinced Faith not to throw away). One switched out power supply and the addition of the RAM from the dead computer (and a fan, too), and our 160 GB storing, DVD burning, 1 Gig of RAM having, free computer is up and running.

As an added bonus, on the way back from the Super Walmart (the first one we’ve seen in CT, and it’s relatively close: sweet!) we stopped by a delightful Salvation Army store where, in addition to a stunning pearl-snap shirt, I got an IBM Model M keyboard (1391401). I had just read briefly about how some people like the old heavy-duty clicky keyboards, so I thought at $3.50 it was worth a shot. It totally was, and now that the desktop is running, I’ve verified that in addition to sounding great and feeling great, it works. And it’s only three years younger than me.

With all the free time before classes start, I’ve discovered a few other things on the web that I’ve gotten something out of. First del.icio.us, which led me to the above freeware site from its “popular” page. Second Flickr, which would have been much more helpful before the first computer crash that cost us all our digital photos. And finally, Amazon’s A9 search engine, which is roughly equivalent to a combination of Google, Google Search History, and a blog search engine… the real upside is that you get a 1.57% (pi/2) discount at Amazon if you use it regularly for a while, and it automatically uses your Amazon info so there’s no registration involved. I’m just using it a little each day (not actually switching to it as my default search page), but it uses Google results and has some other decent features without being too ad-heavy, so it’s seems worth it for the discount. The only real downside is that it’s fairly slow.

And with all this practice on half-broken hardware and new and interesting software, I’ve totally leveled-up my Computers skill.

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