Thursday, October 23, 2008

Learning to use a new PC

I had never touched a computer until June of 2006. I went to the downtown library and asked the library techs in the special needs section to show me how to use a mouse on one of the large 19" monitors. I had him log on to a site I wanted to explore and then I'd look at various pages within the site. I went back about every two weeks all summer and got pretty good at finding my way around a couple of sites. I even got them to show me a couple of basic key strokes so that I could find more specific info faster on those sites.

In September of 2006, I put the word out that I was looking for an old keyboard so that I could learn a little more about where keys were. I was never great with typing in the first place - in fact, I'm rather pathetic at it. I hadn't touched a typewriter since about 1984 and I've only gotten worse!

As it happened, a friend of a friend was upgrading and had been unsure of what to do with the old one. It was offered to me, for free, on condition of anonymity. Being an honest soul, I knew that my friend would not lead me astray so I accepted. All I had to supply, was the speakers, mouse pad and surge protector.

I got the computer in mid October, 2006. My friend delivered it, set it up and spent an hour or so customizing it for my sight and showing me some basic things.

Two years ago today, I got connected to the Internet.

My first computer was a mix of brands and had a big old 19" monitor, Windows XP pro (sp2) with a 256 ram and 20 gig hard drive. I was careful of what I downloaded and managed to avoid any viruses, but by earlier this year, I had outgrown my first computer and it was time to upgrade. I did a lot of research and asked a number of people about various brands and systems. I learned that Dell is either loved or hated - mostly hated. I learned that HP and Compaq were pretty much liked by all. A couple wanted me to go to Mac, but since I learned on Windows, that is where I felt more comfortable. I knew I would have to give up XP and learn the justifiably despised Vista, but I thought I could deal with that.

So, I looked around and finally settled on an HP Pavilion Desktop with a 24" wide screen monitor, 4 gig ram and a 640 gig hard drive. I was going from an old beater to a Cadillac.
I was trying to explain to my non tech 83 year old mom why I needed to upgrade and how much better this new one would be. She really didn't get it until I used this analogy; You're trying to prepare a full course meal with a hot plate, and an ice pack in a cooler. With the new one, you are cooking on a 6 burner stove, 2 ovens, grill top, exhaust fan, full size fridge and freezer!
The light bulb went on and she understood what I wanted and why!

Well, the new PC arrived on the 12th and was actually pretty easy to set up. Customizing the accessibility's was a pain in the ass - I've had to reset it several times already as it doesn't seem to remember what I want from one day to the next. I don't think this computer likes me - actually the feeling is mutual.

It's big, fast and sleek but the white on black keyboard is hard to see and VERY sensitive to touch. The mouse on the other hand is lazy and doesn't want to go where I want it to. I can't seem to get the cursor to go larger, so with a 24" monitor, I am forever playing "Where's Waldo?" (aka where is that damn cursor!) My old mouse was a laser one with the little side saddle buttons for going forward and back on web pages. When I disconnected the old PC, the connector on the mouse somehow got bent - I got a new connector put on, but it still wouldn't work.

I wasn't able to upload any of my files to the new PC either, but in hindsight, I guess that is a good thing though, as the Cadillac is going back as soon as I get it packed up for shipping. As of yesterday, the beater up and running again. I'm back into XP for a little while and all my games, music and files are at my disposal! Good thing too - I was getting way to good at Hearts!

I think I'll go for a mid range model this time. In fact I already have my eye on another model with a little less features - 19" LCD monitor, 3 gig ram and 320 gig hard drive. I've already bought a new laser mouse and keyboard since the new one is also white on black. It goes on sale through my Internet provider on November first, with delivery within 7 business days.
If I could afford it, I'd buy Windows XP (I know of a couple stores/sites that I can still get it.) and install that instead of Vista. The problem is that XP sells for about $260.00 and I would have to have a tech install it to do it properly - which would be another $80-100.00! I guess I'll be dealing with Vista until the next version of Windows comes out sometime in 2010. From all accounts it is rumoured to be as good as XP was.

Note to mom: The computer that I am looking at now is pretty much like a basic 4 burner stove with one oven and a decent sized fridge/freezer!

I've come a long way in two years, but this is obviously a work in progress, so I will let you know down the road how this is going. Wish me luck, 'cause after the last two weeks, I think I'm going to need it!


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