November 29, 2005

The Computer Blues...

We have the computer blues here at our home. It is hard to believe it but it is true. We are to the point where a couple of our computers crash daily and just can no longer chug, chug, chug through the daily email and web-surfing grind. It really is an odd thing because we run an Internet-based business and I work from home as a graphic/web designer. So I guess I should explain.

My computer is great. Tip-top shape because it has to be. They bring home the bacon, so to speak, and need to be dedicated to work only. I have a Gateway 500 Series XL with full multi-media support running WX Professional. I have had it over 3 years now and have not had one issue with it. This past summer, we purchased an IMAC G5 so that I would have two systems, one from each platform, to work from. I was really excited to get the G5 but have to say that once I got it home and started working on it, I found out that it is very noisy, often overheats, and generally makes my workload tougher (not lighter). My days are spent on the XP with occassional work on the G5. It works for me and for the most part I feel that I can be pretty efficient having the two machines side by side (well kitty-korner from each other).

My dear dh's computer, on the other hand, has a well-loved and trusted old Apple G3 that is, as we speak, hanging on by a thread. I was donated from my loving brother who had used it for a number of years of his computer-based design business. It was a dead-horse as he called it. Not good for anything and was sitting in his closet. In fact, he said it couldn't even start up. He kindly shipped it to me and I set it up, plugged it in and voila! It worked. It needed some TLC as my brother had removed most of the good stuff (drives etc) to his newer system. Nonetheless, I was grateful and set to work to get it working in the best order possible. I added a new NIC card, a bigger hard drive, a USB card and then began the enormous task of upgrading the operating system. If you are not a Mac person or are a OS X newbie, then this will just not make any sense to you. But for oldie Mac users like myself, upgrading an OS is just not something that can be easily done -- unless you happen to own a computer Software store or are a licensed Apple Technician (even then it is not possible anymore). Apple has made it impossible to upgrade old systems and they force consumers to retire their old machines in favor of the new breed. Well, I was not ready to do that and headed off to EBay to find used copies of OS 9. Thankfully, I found a brand new version of OS X with Classic bundled in to boot. Since that time (almost 3 years ago) dear dh has been sending and receiving email, browsing the internet, and creating his business documents on an old dinosaur of a machine. It hums now, sort of loudly, but not too noisily to really bother anyone. It gets overheated so we need to keep air moving around it. We have talked about getting him a new Dell PC but dh is not ready to trade in and become a "gates convert" yet. We have looked at the new Mac Mini but think that it offers a limited palatte of options. Even though it is very price-friendly, a new Dell will out perform and out last it.

So, that brings us down to my dear son's computer. DS has had the cast-off's of the family and the business since he was 6. I gave him his first computer, a Mac SE (anyone remember those?) with a 10 MB hard drive (yes, that is MB). DS drew on it and wrote stories mostly. He loved it. The next computer was handed down to him after DH upgraded from the IMac Blueberry (which dreadfully overheated and locked up daily) to the G3. DS got the older still, Mac Performa system. Non-internet capable, it was a fun machine to play games on and just do silly things with. As DS got older though he wanted to play more advanced games and that required a bigger, more robust system. At that time, I was working off a HP Win 98 system that had a very nasty habit of not turning on or off. It was a fairly solid computer system, just wouldn't always behave as it should. I have since come to loathe anything made by HP! When I upgraded to my newer Gateway PC (for business), DS got my old HP. Not a bad system for a while but then it began to fade. Memory leaks were the main source of problem and a virus did it in. We do run anti-virus but ds had downloaded a game from a website that had a very malicious bit of code in it and it just destroyed that system completely. About that same time, my MIL decided she needed a faster computer (for her church work) and bought a Gateway system. She donated her HP ME edition to ds. It was clogged with viruses and after several cleanings, reformattings, and then reloading of the software, was in somewhat usable condition. DS has modified it to the best of his ability -- and has slowed it down to a crawl with all his games and other computer software code. He is now asking for a full-fledged multi-media system so that he can run Battlefield 2 on it. I am holding out -- because I pretty think dear DH needs a computer first (did I mention that he has less than a GB of space now -- he is walking on water -- literally!)

So our computer/office/schoolroom looks like this:

One brand new, very noisy IMAC G5 (I love it - but cannot tolerate the noise or the excessive heat it generates!)
One very sturdy and excellent WIN XP system - my beloved Gateway
One very old IMac Blueberry that doesn't do much of anything anymore except get too hot and then lock up
One very old IBook G3 notebook that cannot do much of anything either. We use it when we travel to check email.
One very old Powerbook G3 that was donated to us (another Brother) that as of this writing is still sitting under the cupboard in desparate need of repair
One very weary HP ME edition that works some days and not others. Generally, dysfunctional but still part of the family.
One very hearty but quickly fading G3 -- in need of well-deserved retirement.

As I write this blog post, I laughed because our computers almost take on personification (becoming human). My brand-new IMAC is very high-maintenance (just like someone I know). The sturdy WIN XP is all business and never gives me a moment's trouble. The old systems are seem to reflect different stages of life, mostly aging, some still hanging on, some already passed on. Curious. Just made me think of life and how quickly we go from being brand-new to being close to death. Hmmm...have to think more on that thought.

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