Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Happy Computer

This gets a bit convoluted.

1. Bought new computer for Cheryl/Allan
2. New computer came without a video card (shared memory) - I've never done THAT before
3. Ordered ATI Radeon 9600 128 MB video card from
4. Tried to install video card in new computer: no go
5. Trouble shoot why new video card doesn't even go in the slot
6. Discover 8x/16x AGP video cards do not fit in PCI-express video card slots.
7. Try to figure out what a PCI-express video card is, after all
8. Order ATI 128 MB PCI-e video card from
9. Install new video card in Cheryl's new computer - actually, it installs itself in seconds
10. I call Beth and tell her, "I have a new video card for your computer - bring the box up this weekend."
11. Fast forward 4 days: Beth arrives sans computer box.
12. I spend 3 minutes on Dell Support looking up her computer manual online.
13. I discover that Beth's computer takes a PCI-e video card also.
14. I order a new ATI 128 MB PCI-e video card and DVD burner for Beth (Christmas come early - like Cheryl's new computer)
15. I discover that my computer (Dell 8300 2.6 GHz) is the only Pentium 4 computer in the family that is still capable of being upgraded to a 128 MB AGP video card as Jean's Dell 8300 3 GHz already has an ATI Radeon 9800 128 MB card.
16. Hardware installation completed shortly after this discovery.
17. Open photo software with glee.
18. Knot develops in pit of stomach when photos of Jean make her look no younger yet she looks like she weighs 105 - 110 lb. (very thin)
19. Settings checked, Device Manager (working fine - Windows drivers)
20. Reinstall of drivers using the CD that came with it: no change
21. Use Microsoft Troubleshooter (does it ever help?)
22. On advice of Troubleshooter I download new BIOS (A07) from Dell's website and install to upgrade from A01.
23. Check Jean's photos again: she still weighs about 105-110 lbs. - Beth, in retrospect wonders why I ever wanted to change softwear that makes EVERYONE look thin!
24. Off to ATI's website - Lo, there is a new driver! Download and install done pronto.
25. Computer restarted and YEAH! The new video card makes people look normal and not look distorted.
26. Epilogue: after installing the BIOS and new video drivers, not only do photos open very fast, but MY COMPUTER, which I used to be able to go get a drink of water while it opened, now "snaps" open almost instantly! I've put up with poor performance for over 2 years that was fixed with a BIOS upgrade. Sigh. BIOS upgrades used to be so touchy to do that I never checked to discover that they are installable under Windows without using a bootable 3.5" floppy and files that needed extraction, and the right alignment of the planets to work properly.

Allison and Brian - your turn is coming. I just have to find the "right" computer in the outlet.

UPDATE - 6 PM Sunday: I found a Dell 9100 for Allison and Brian - it should be here, I suspect in about 10 days.

My goal is that everyone in the family have a 3 GHz processor, 128 MB Video card and DVD burner. After that, they are customized a bit depending on individual needs and my pocket book at the moment of purchase.

Actually, I rather enjoyed getting to do an upgrade again. I like to upgrade computers. Lately by the time I feel that some component of the system would bear upgrading, I figure that all of the systems inside the computer are "due" for an upgrade as well.

This is reasonable given Moore's law (18 months to double processor speed) and I typically upgrade my own PC about every 3 years.

So it figures. It's now about 26 months since I bought my computer and the only upgrade prior to this new video card was to install my trusting internal 100 MB IDE Zip drive. I am probably due to "clean" my registry and other similar housekeeping chores to make it run more efficiently. But the BIOS and Video card upgrade make it behave like a completely different computer, which I am enjoying.

I Lost $1,000

Well, that's what it seemed like when I was working on my budget. There should be more money in my budget and I couldn't find it despite doing all the numbers twice. Spreadsheets do not usually misplace that kind of money, nor does my Money 2002 program. I finally decided some time after 11 PM that I must have over spent on computers, software, and accessories for my children, vowed to be more temperate this coming two weeks and headed to bed. By the time Jean was to the same "stopping place" with cutting out 11 Bible Times Costumes for her Sabbath School children it was nearing midnight.

In the early morning hours I "found" the $1K that was missing:

The major part of our home improvement activities for this year was to replace the front door. The old door was a Stanley metal insulated door that did not have weatherstripping on the bottom and did not have an adjustable threshhold and as a result let in much fresh,unheated Maine winter air - despite attempts to caulk it with Mortite and put rugs up against it every fall.

The new window has miniblinds built into the Thermopane window that open and close (but do not go up and down). This is a great upgrade that we are already enjoying as that corner was always dark and dismal. Both Jean and I have thought: "The front door is open" because there is so much light despite it being dark and gray for the past 8 - 9 days.

We included in the cost of the project having a professional painter spray paint the door before installation and do the trim painting after it was installed as well as prepping (chipped paint due to bath tub caulking leaks upstairs) and re-painting the kitchen ceiling.

We are also replacing a medicine cabinet and a vanity in the upstairs bathroom and a medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I Talked With Dave!

Yes, Aviator Dave called me last night. OK. Jean dialed her cell phone and handed it to him. It was sure good to talk with him and I got to talk IRL to someone who has and uses a G5 iMac!

Best Wishes and God's Blessings to him and Gail today!