Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Reminiscing while setting up new computer

My new computer arrived yesterday afternoon, so I spent much of today making it like I want. I was a little surprised that it got here yesterday as Dell told me it would probably ship on Feb. 8th and arrive here 5 to 8 days later. It shipped last Friday and arrived well ahead of schedule. Dell is known for that, though, so I had sort of expected it yesterday. But when I checked the tracking and saw that early yesterday morning it was just leaving Covington, Rhode Island, I moved my expectation to today.

This new computer is my first experience with Vista. New computer operating systems don’t generally scare me, though. I started using computers before Mr. Gates released his first DOS. It’s been about 30 years since I bought my first computer and I don’t really remember the letters associated with its OS. Seems to me it was something like CP-M. I can’t recall all the exciting things it had, like the amount of memory. It had two floppy drives for disks that really flopped, but hard drives hadn’t yet been used. One floppy was for program and the other for file storage.

Shortly after I got it, Bill Gates began his rise to fame and fortune and my computer became obsolete within months after I bought it. You see, nothing has changed about the speed of technology change. It was during this same period that I was introduced at work to an Apple computer, also with the dual floppies. There were others but I didn’t get to work with them. One I did get to use frequently was a Radio Shack TRS-80, affectionately called the Trash-80. Enough said about that one, but it did run on either IBM DOS or MS-DOS, both Bill Gates offerings to the world.

I remember I was in 7th heaven when I bought my first DOS machine. That devil had a real honest to goodness hard drive for storage. 10 megabytes, if my memory is correct. WOW! My word processing program fit and was at easy access. Wordstar was possibly the finest word processing program ever created. Unfortunately, it couldn’t or wouldn’t, at least didn’t, keep up with Microsoft’s Word or even WordPerfect and eventually fell by the wayside. I have a friend who, I think, probably still has his Wordstar program, and agrees with me it was the best, although he no longer has anything on which to run it.

Remember Lotus 1-2-3? It may still be around, although I gravitated to Excel many, many moons ago. I also had a Quicken-type personal accounting, check-writing program that in its day was better than Quicken. But it was another one of those great old-time programs that simply didn’t keep up.

I wrote my first spreadsheet program using GW Basic long before Windows came out. I was too cheap to buy Lotus. I ran my computer from menus I wrote to suit my needs. When I got my first website, I wrote that using HTML as again, I was too cheap to buy a web building program.

I’ve updated to every version of Windows since the GUI was first introduced. Some versions were fairly good, others, well, some didn’t quite do so well. Jumping ahead, I grew to like Windows XP as I found it quite stable. I’ve read that others didn’t share my feelings, though. That friend I mentioned a while back thought Windows 2000 may have been the best.

The time came a few weeks ago to replace my XP based laptop. I really don’t think the little guy was hurting because of XP as I have three other computers running XP and they haven’t had the constant crashing problems. They are very old, for computers, though, and the lack of memory and processor speed has put them on the back burner. My old desktop works, sort of, and the old laptop takes about 4 minutes to boot. But I have a great XP desktop that rarely even burps. All remain accessible and are on my home network. That’s a story for another time.

So my latest and greatest arrived yesterday. My friend wrote to me today and said folks he knows who’ve switched to Vista really hate it for the first month or so, and then find it to be pretty darn good. I guess I’m looking forward to that feeling. I think the hardest part is adjusting to the layers. And there are some familiar things I haven’t found yet, like Windows Explorer. (Edited to add: I found Explorer. It never moved.) I’ll get there and getting the thing to work the way I want it to, not the way Mr. Gates thinks I want it to, will get easier as I learn the little idiosyncrasies of Vista.


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