Friday, December 12, 2003

First computer impressions

Scott Wickstein observed to me yesterday over instant messaging that moving computers is like moving house. It is, but with the exception that you have both houses available to you for an overlap period. So moving files is something I can do slowly. As there is no CD burner on the old computer, the memory card and card reader that I purchased to go with my digital camera is suddenly extremely useful to me. However, more than transfering files, it is about configuration, which means finding the CDs that came with my hardware and installing appropriate drivers. I am also simultaneously upgrading from Windows ME to Windows XP. Whatever my feelings towards Microsoft, this is a vastly superior operating system. If I hadn't had to put up with all the earlier crappy versions, I might even feel better towards Mr Gates. Of course, when I am installing hardware, in a lot of cases this means that the driver I have is too old to be sure of working correctly with XP, and I have to download a new version over the internet, demonstrating that I didn't need the CD after all. It's interesting though the way that many new hardware devices will now essentially pretend to be an external storage device of some kind and latch on to the built in standard driver sortware, and don't need you to install driver software at all. We really have just about reached Plug and Play.

Plus there are little bits of software I like to be downloaded over the internet, and semi-essential things from non-Microsoft parties (Quicktime, the Google toolbar) that need to be installed. And I have just downloaded iTunes, which will be useful for keeping track of music for my cute little MP3 player that was my "free gift" that came with the computer. (The choices for me "free gift" were printer, digital camera, a second battery or an MP3 player. As I had the first two already, it came to a choice between a useful accessory or a new toy. The new toy won.

Now, having commented a few months back that my next computer needed to have lots of USB ports, I have once again got one with only two. This was because the Dell system I got was so good for the money in other ways that I went for it anyway, although other brands did in some cases have many more USB ports. As I followed the advice of my readers on that occasion and bought a USB hub, this doesn't matter so much. At least I hope it doesn't. I do have IEEE1394 (Firewire) port as well, which may come in useful if I ever buy a camcorder. Although given that my USB ports are the new high speed kind, it also may not be needed.

Anyway, having fun. I just now need to find a free WiFi hotspot in a nice cafe somewhere nearby.

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