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  1. #1
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Buying A New Computer To View Bike Forums-And My Web Sites

    Perhaps all of you might be suprised to find out that I don't actually own a computer of any kind even though I post a great deal here and other forums and am the webmaster to the World Of Folding Bicycles series. I now want to change that and purchase my very own first computer and a printer (laser), digital camera, keyboard, flat screen monitor, and anything else that is necessary to run a home office. As you know, I am almost ready to launch my commerical Web site-except I need more access to a 24/7 computer that is always ready to fire up for some action and possibly handling sensitive information that I don't want to use public computers for any reason. Please suggest some ideas if you can. I am sure listening.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 01-03-08 at 08:40 PM.

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    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    Perhaps all of you might be suprised to find out that I don't actually own a computer of any kind even though I post a great deal here and other forums and am the webmaster to the World Of Folding Bicycles series. I now want to change that and purchase my very own first computer and a printer (laser), digital camera, keyboard, flat screen monitor, and anything else that is necessary to run a home office. As you know, I am almost ready to launch my commerical Web site-except I need more access to a 24/7 computer that is always ready to fire up for some action and possibly handling sensitive information that I don't want to use anymore public computers for. Please suggest some ideas if you can. I am sure listening.
    Dell is a good and cheap source for computers and related accessories. They give great deals on some packages from time to time. Check the newspapers and fliers for deals--that's how I got the discounts on my laptop.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  3. #3
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Thank you, Nekohime. Dell is one of the desktop computers I am looking at seriously-and recommended by Consumer Reports magazine this month.

  4. #4
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    I would consider a laptop. They are really powerful now and, of course, portable. Prices have really come down. Look at the sunday flyers for best buy or circuit city. I wanted to buy one over the holidays and saw prices for basic models for around $400. From what you want to do, it doesn't seem that you need a high powered $1000 model. Good brands are Toshiba, Sony and Gateway.

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    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    You will also need a high-speed internet connection. In most areas that is Broadband, but Qwest now has fiber in some areas - don't know the ins and outs of services available in L.A. - you need to check that out, too.

    Will a desk top do, or will you need portability? Doesn't appear you are an RV'er like we are, so a desktop might be OK for you. (I have a desktop, but we use wife's laptop when we travel - wifi capability is also big if you travel.

    Hopefully you have a local geek friend to assist you.

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    You should consider an Imac, the real noworryabout computer. There is plenty programs from the open source that work really great for the office job and for website dev if you don't want to spent a big amount of money in Microsoft office and Adobe Dreamweaver/photoshop.
    When I bought mine, I was considering a Dell too but I finally switch to Mac and enjoyed it.
    i'm working every day on it (I'm a drawer) and have only minor critics about it. I did worked on Windows before and had some problems even if the computer did it's job anyway.
    Try a Mac before taking your decision, you wont regret it.

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    A minor detail about printers, in case you plan on printing your photos on paper: color laser printers can be had for really cheap nowadays. They do a good job printing text (although a B&W laser is still more economical for pure text in the long run), business graphics, drawings and such. But for truly good photo prints an inkjet is still the best choice, with specific photo paper and inks. You might consider getting one to supplement your laser, if you need quality prints. Or have a good photo service print the photos for you.

    --J
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    ...... As you know, I am almost ready to launch my commerical Web site-except I need more access to a 24/7 computer that is always ready to fire up for some action and possibly handling sensitive information that I don't want to use public computers for any reason. Please suggest some ideas if you can. I am sure listening.
    Happy New Year Folder Fanatic, & thanks for your bicycle posts!

    Bentox mentions a Mac. You're certainly in the right place, as Cupertino can't be too far from you?

    Recent macintoshes are based on intel microprocessors, so you can in fact run Mac OS X, based on Unix, & or Windows, eg. XP, or Vista, simultaneously.

    There are very good software applications already provided with Mac OS X, but if you need a bespoke Windows based application, it's now easy to run such.

    Since you enjoy contributing to forums, there are some excellent macintosh ones, which would doubtless help, certainly initially.

    If you need to get ideas or replies down quickly whilst away from your office base, a mac laptop is very useful on the road, as it'll easily find available wi-fi hotspots at Starbucks etc.. Recent laptops have pretty big screens too. I recently got a largish (1680 by 1050) second monitor for my wife's brother's iBook, so now he enjoys using both screens at once, eg. Web page design on one, & viewing the results, & surfing, on the other. He just pulls out the monitor cable plug, & his iBook automagically adjusts back to its internal screen & away he goes travelling :-)

    Bear in mind, just like your folders, macintoshes are *extremely* attractive to thieves!

    Feel free to ask more questions if you wish.

    HTH.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    A minor detail about printers, in case you plan on printing your photos on paper: color laser printers can be had for really cheap nowadays. They do a good job printing text (although a B&W laser is still more economical for pure text in the long run), business graphics, drawings and such. But for truly good photo prints an inkjet is still the best choice, with specific photo paper and inks. You might consider getting one to supplement your laser, if you need quality prints. Or have a good photo service print the photos for you.

    --J
    Hello Juha.

    Yes, agreed with all that. We use a printer intermittently & were fed up of all the ink jet cleaning cycles!

    We now use a Samsung CLP-300 laser which plugs into our iTunes Airport socket so we can use it from any computer, wirelessly. The laser was only $200 even here in ROB® ;-)

  10. #10
    recovering stroke victim senseamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bentox View Post
    You should consider an Imac, the real noworryabout computer.
    +1 on the iMac (or indeed ANY Mac, I'm a long-time user). If you are not a committed M$ PC fan then you should really look at Mac OSX. The iMac offers a compact form-factor but a full size keyboard. So it doesn't cost as much as a laptop, but can still be moved around quite easily. It has WiFi built in so you just need a power socket.

    I bought one for my wife and she usually uses it on her desk, but sometimes moves it to the dinning table and does a jigsaw and watches a DVD at the same time!

  11. #11
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    The best thing about Macs running out of the box is the software it comes with which is tuned for exactly the sort of enthustiastic creative user like yourself. It has photo software that links to web software that means you can publish new pages, galleries in a fluid transparent workflow which is a fair bit more elegant than cobbling together stuff on disaparate applications.

    It's oft said that Macs are more expensive than PCs, and at one time this was indeed the case but I think there's a real competitive edge on the pricing these days and what you do get makes you feel all snuggly when you open it. I don't hear of such feelings often when opening and using a Dell

    Sorry - don't mean to bash the PCs. What I mean is - people like macs for a reason and it's for the same sort of reason people like high end Bikefridays. Something about the build, the far-sightedness of the design, the soul y'know.

    I'll shut up now before my mysticism goes up my bum.

    If anyone is considering a Mac laptop - it's maybe worth waiting till Jan 15th as there are likely to be new lightweight models (maybe with battery saving flash hard drives) launched as well as performance hops on the existing range.

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    Another vote for a Mac, I've been a user since the mid 90' s. If looked at as a whole, the often stated argument that they are much more expensive doesn't hold water. The other repeated claim that they only use proprietary hardware is also false.

    Check out the software package included with an iMac and figure what that's going to add to the cost of a PC. Also make sure that you compare the hardware side of things when looking at both systems. Low end PC's frequently don't include firewire and the like.

    I'm using PC's two days a week and find even the simplest things require jumping through hoops that are non existent on a Mac. I have found that many PC users actually enjoy constant monkeying with their systems, both with the hardware and the software.

    Me, just want to push the button and go to work.

    Are Macs perfect? No. Any mass produced product is going to have potential for problems. However, in the 13 or so years of using Macs I've only had two meltdowns. One was hardware related and the other pilot error. Have learned the wisdom of backing up data.

    Go out and kick the tires on both systems. Set up a simple series of tasks and see what's required to complete them using the latest hard and software. That you are working on building a commercial site indicates you have a pretty good idea already.

    If considering a Mac, waiting 'till after macworld this month is good advice. New stuff will be announced and the current lineup will drop in price.

  13. #13
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Hello Everyone,

    It has been a few days since I started this thread and there has been quite a few changes in my life:

    I decided that my computer would best be kept in one place and not be too portable. As some of you are aware of, the area where I currently live is a high crime one. This means that carting a nice portable laptop computer of any kind around is asking for trouble. I am really pushing my luck with the folding bikes! But the bikes are intended for emergency transport in the event of our oh so wonderful (!) pratically nonexistant public transit goes on strike again or stop running after hours-so I am willing to take some chances with bikes over a computer.

    I am looking at both operating systems at this point, so I am trying to keep an open mind of each one's strong points and weak points. I have used both Windows and Apple in the far and recent past.

    I am now looking at broadband connection, over the old dial up. The prices are not too far apart and I mostly work online now. I will buy one printer right now for sure. But then again I might buy a B/W laser printer and a inkjet printer for photos if the prices are right.

    My sister has a BA in Mechanical Engineering from a fancy east coast university and 20+ years in her areospace industry. Even she is completely blown away with what is out there now. I hope to drag her along for moral support as well as advanced technical knowledge she has aquired over the years (I hope this does not go to her head). I am not shy about admitting to not being blessed with very much technical knowledge.

    I will also get a simple digital camera. The main requirement is it must be able to directly connect to my computer to upload the images directly. The drugstore one time use cameras are messy and running into much money with the hefty surcharges the company places on "development" of the images. I rather burn my own CD myself if need be for backups.

    Please keep commenting. I hope to print out all your comments and thoughts and take them with me when I actually buy it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    Sounds like you do have a friendly "nerd" to assist you - your sister - good.

    1) You'll never be able to manage websites over dial-up. I cheap-skated with dial-up for almost 10 years before biting the bullet. Broadband is a world apart. It has been very dependable and very fast. Wife likes it because she can be online simultaneously on her laptop, too.

    2) Just about every digital camera has "removable" media - my little Pentax Optio 50 uses an SD memory card. Just select a PC that has slots for a variety of these cards. You simply remove the card from the camera, slip it into the slot on the PC, and your photo software will suck the pictures off the card into a dated folder and then erase them from the card (an option).

    I gave my 63 yr old, very impatient sister my original Olympus digital camera which uses the same type of card. She has had no trouble dealing with it.

  15. #15
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Regarding Cameras - I think the best little point-and-shoot cameras you can get are the Canon Powershot range (aka IXUS in Europe/Asia). A lot of features for the money, great software for easy connection to your computer and tremendously well built. When it comes to cameras it really has to be a name company that goes back to pre digital days like Canon, Olympus or Nikon. Or Leica. But their cameras are silly expensive.

    Laptops can easily be carried 'camoflaged' in day-sacks and needn't advertise themselves to thieves. I have started to wonder since the affordability of decent laptops to the home user why anyone gets desktop machines any more. To whit - I'm typing from the sofa of an appartment in Manhattan on my usual machine, even though I'm thousands of miles from home. For some the 'being at a desk' thing is good for getting in the right mental state to work, but a laptop is so nice in the home - it doesn't require extra space, can be easily put away. You can look up stuff while watching TV and read the news from your bed. Even if you never even take it outside, (I don't really carry mine about unless I need it at a client location or for a long trip), a domestic laptop is just so much more usable (esp with WiFi) than one that's chained to a desk.

    Re internet connection - if cost is not really an issue you really should go for broadband speed. I've used Broadband for about 5 years now and really wouldn't want to go back to dial-up. I think where you'd really notice the difference here would be when you want to upload images to your blog or watch videos on sites. With dialup you sit there waiting for 10s of minutes, whereas with a good broadband package it's nearly instantaneous.

    Huw

  16. #16
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    FF-

    I love my Mac Mini.

    Speedo

  17. #17
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I am not going to argue for or against the PC/Mac. I have used both and the both have their strong and weak points, I also have a pure Linux machine. I would highly recommend a laptop over a desktop, with a stand alone backup drive. I have both and the desktop is only being used for backup and large file storage. We have a WiFi network at home that is DSL or Cable based (depending on which one I hit). Broad band is the only way to go!

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  18. #18
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    Regarding Cameras - I think the best little point-and-shoot cameras you can get are the Canon Powershot range (aka IXUS in Europe/Asia). A lot of features for the money, great software for easy connection to your computer and tremendously well built. When it comes to cameras it really has to be a name company that goes back to pre digital days like Canon, Olympus or Nikon. Or Leica. But their cameras are silly expensive.

    Laptops can easily be carried 'camoflaged' in day-sacks and needn't advertise themselves to thieves. I have started to wonder since the affordability of decent laptops to the home user why anyone gets desktop machines any more. To whit - I'm typing from the sofa of an appartment in Manhattan on my usual machine, even though I'm thousands of miles from home. For some the 'being at a desk' thing is good for getting in the right mental state to work, but a laptop is so nice in the home - it doesn't require extra space, can be easily put away. You can look up stuff while watching TV and read the news from your bed. Even if you never even take it outside, (I don't really carry mine about unless I need it at a client location or for a long trip), a domestic laptop is just so much more usable (esp with WiFi) than one that's chained to a desk.

    Re internet connection - if cost is not really an issue you really should go for broadband speed. I've used Broadband for about 5 years now and really wouldn't want to go back to dial-up. I think where you'd really notice the difference here would be when you want to upload images to your blog or watch videos on sites. With dialup you sit there waiting for 10s of minutes, whereas with a good broadband package it's nearly instantaneous.

    Huw
    Little Pixel,

    Can you clarify something that confuses me about the portable laptop computers? I thought that you have to drag a huge battery around with you or suffer a extra skinny electric cord to power the thing. I though that with desktops, you don't have to do this. Am I missing something here? What about things to plug into it like a permament printer, CD burner, or some other item like that? Forgive me, but I am not too familiar with these things as I learn how to "make do" over the years without luxuries like these.

  19. #19
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    Little Pixel,

    Can you clarify something that confuses me about the portable laptop computers?
    I can but try!

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    I thought that you have to drag a huge battery around with you
    You do but they get lighter and last longer as technology improves. I carry a large 15" Powerbook to work with me on a bike in a small rucksack reasonably often and find it fine. It would be even better in a pannier.
    To clarify—the battery is built into the chassis of the unit and not something 'extra' to carry along with it, (unless you wanted to carry a second one as a spare which some business travellers do but is not something most owners do.

    [as a side note - interesting to read that 2008 US FDAA regs that have just come in ban extra lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage on planes - supposedly to do with fire risk]

    Most laptop batteries will last you about 4 hours at full charge, though you can eek it out longer by running the screen at lower brightness, avoiding use of the CD/DVD drive and using the inbuilt power-save settings so the processor is more efficient in it's power use.

    Similarly, the power cord to use at your destination (or on some trains, planes) is usually pretty small and light, and can easily be stowed with the machine if you do decide to take it on the road. Have a look at these: http://www.actionoutdoors.co.uk/laptop%20rucksack.htm and tell me if these sort of bags don't advertise their contents and provide space to stow power cord, discs, even a mouse

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    I thought that with desktops, you don't have to do this
    Well with a desktop - sure - there's no battery but you can't run it without a power hookup.
    And yes - the power 'brick' as some people call them is usually built into the machine (though not on all machines - ie Mac Mini)

    So to sum up - both need a power hook up for constant use. Batteries are internal on a laptop and not something 'extra' to carry with you, and the power lead for a portable is not some huge behemoth. As an example a Mac power lead for a laptop has little built in lugs on it so the cord can be easily coiled, is about 3" x 3" by .75" and weighs about as much as a packet of butter.

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    Am I missing something here?
    Possibly!

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    What about things to plug into it like a permament printer
    The lead you'd use to plug it in to peripheral devices is called a USB lead and is an identical piece of cable for a laptop or a desktop machine. Again - it's lightweight and easily stowed if you wanted to transport it with you. The printer sadly won't be portable but with a laptop you can use it like a desktop machine, then simply unplug the USB connector and off you go.
    A lot of people go to printshops like Kinkos, or to Internet cafés when away from home if they need to print. Also a lot of hotels offer a 'business center' nowadays where you can show up and print off things you need for a modest cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    or a CD burner
    Almost all but the very cheapest Laptops have a CD-burner built in these days (same for desktops). Oft called 'Superdrives' or similar they can burn CDs and read DVDs too. A lot of laptops can even burn DVDs too. So the need for external device is unlikely, but if it was something you needed to use, it too would connect with USB or, on a Mac with the choice of USB and Firewire (which is an alternative to USB which transfers data even faster between devices).

    FYI - USB stands for Universal Serial Bus - the word 'universal' being the one of note. Everything can be connected with this connector - Camera, full size keyboard, webcam, printer, scanner, mouse...

    At one time - having a laptop meant sacrificing function for portability, but this really is not the case any more, the only real down sides being battery life when away from a power source and ergonomics for sustained use.

    Hope that's some help!
    Huw
    Last edited by LittlePixel; 01-05-08 at 08:01 PM.

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    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    I can but try!


    You do but they get lighter and last longer as technology improves. I carry a large 15" Powerbook to work with me on a bike in a small rucksack reasonably often and find it fine. It would be even better in a pannier.
    To clarify—the battery is built into the chassis of the unit and not something 'extra' to carry along with it, (unless you wanted to carry a second one as a spare which some business travellers do but is not something most owners do.

    [as a side note - interesting to read that 2008 US FDAA regs that have just come in ban extra lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage on planes - supposedly to do with fire risk]

    Most laptop batteries will last you about 4 hours at full charge, though you can eek it out longer by running the screen at lower brightness, avoiding use of the CD/DVD drive and using the inbuilt power-save settings so the processor is more efficient in it's power use.

    Similarly, the power cord to use at your destination (or on some trains, planes) is usually pretty small and light, and can easily be stowed with the machine if you do decide to take it on the road. Have a look at these: http://www.actionoutdoors.co.uk/laptop%20rucksack.htm and tell me if these sort of bags don't advertise their contents and provide space to stow power cord, discs, even a mouse


    Well with a desktop - sure - there's no battery but you can't run it without a power hookup.
    And yes - the power 'brick' as some people call them is usually built into the machine (though not on all machines - ie Mac Mini)

    So to sum up - both need a power hook up for constant use. Batteries are internal on a laptop and not something 'extra' to carry with you, and the power lead for a portable is not some huge behemoth. As an example a Mac power lead for a laptop has little built in lugs on it so the cord can be easily coiled, is about 3" x 3" by .75" and weighs about as much as a packet of butter.


    Possibly!


    The lead you'd use to plug it in to peripheral devices is called a USB lead and is an identical piece of cable for a laptop or a desktop machine. Again - it's lightweight and easily stowed if you wanted to transport it with you. The printer sadly won't be portable but with a laptop you can use it like a desktop machine, then simply unplug the USB connector and off you go.
    A lot of people go to printshops like Kinkos, or to Internet cafés when away from home if they need to print. Also a lot of hotels offer a 'business center' nowadays where you can show up and print off things you need for a modest cost.


    Almost all but the very cheapest Laptops have a CD-burner built in these days (same for desktops). Oft called 'Superdrives' or similar they can burn CDs and read DVDs too. A lot of laptops can even burn DVDs too. So the need for external device is unlikely, but if it was something you needed to use, it too would connect with USB or, on a Mac with the choice of USB and Firewire (which is an alternative to USB which transfers data even faster between devices).

    FYI - USB stands for Universal Serial Bus - the word 'universal' being the one of note. Everything can be connected with this connector - Camera, full size keyboard, webcam, printer, scanner, mouse...

    At one time - having a laptop meant sacrificing function for portability, but this really is not the case any more, the only real down sides being battery life when away from a power source and ergonomics for sustained use.

    Hope that's some help!
    Huw
    Oh yes it is! I expect my sister for a extended visit within the new few weeks. This is when I think I will actually buy the computer and it's accessories. I certainly have to digest all this useful inforrmation first and be able to make a good choice just like I have done with the bikes, rather than being "guided" or just plain railroaded to choices that I should not be involved with in the first place.

  21. #21
    Explorer CaptainSpalding's Avatar
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    +1 on the Mac.

    The limitation of the laptop is the screen size. IIRC, I think the smallest display Apple makes now is a 20", and the largest laptop is 17 inch.
    I came to say I must be folding . . .
    Dahon Jetstream XP
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    — or not . . .
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  22. #22
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I thought that I might resurrect this old thread and let all of you know the status of my new computer. I have decided to let my mechanical engineer sister do the actual purchase. But with all of your suggestions and guidance, I still have a strong imput to the purchase of this device. Here is the dream computer she wants for herself:

    http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspndt_530s?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~tab=bundlestab

    And a copy of her pleading e-mail to me:

    "Looked into laptops -- the one you want is availableonly through Dell. To that, you have to add Apx $500for extras such as the printer, scanner, camera, powersupply. But look!

    Link to a video of her choice in action-same link as above.

    This desk top has nothing but the keyboard for thecats to throw up on, and for that you can place it onits side for storage leaving them nothing to barf on.My cats barf all the time but they have yet to barf onany electronics...Look at all the stuff you get on this desktop! Iwould buy one if I weren't so poor and I could get acopy of Office 2000 for my use..."

    And the background of what is happening to her in her own life. She has come down with a serious eye problem (facing possible blindess) and has cataracts. Here in the U.S. with the for profit health system the way it is structured, she lost her job, her house, and her savings. She was once a proud professional. Now for reasons beyond her control, she is reduced to moving back in a overcrowded house in a high crime area she orignially escaped from and wait to see what comes. The poor girl cannot even afford this computer anymore like she once did. So if she can come up with solutions from protecting this dream machine from our out-of-control spoiled animals, I will go along with her choice. Not as giving in on my part-far from it-but as a means to help us both escape from our own bad situations. I think I want my new business to reflect helping, not hindering people. Perhaps with a good positive foundation like this to build on, I will pull myself up and take care of my sister and brother like I promised my father before he died.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 02-13-08 at 01:40 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    A couple of the comments noted that Windows Vista is a memory hog, and that it might be a good idea to upgrade to 2 GB of RAM. That's $100 more on the price, but probably worth it.

    Looking through the specs it seems that you can get this system with Windows XP. I've never used Vista, but the techies at work have been whining about it. You might think about going that route.

    Generally, as a proto-geezer, I am always amazed at how cheap a very capable computer is now adays.

    Oh, also, my cat doesn't seem to have any interest in barfing on my computer equipment. She seems to prefer the inside of my slippers.... Maybe you will be similarly "lucky".

    Speedo

  24. #24
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    +1 on what speedo says, get xp, vista alot of driver problems

    check your pm's

  25. #25
    Senior Member donlab's Avatar
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    Since this is a bike forum, I would recommend the Panasonic Toughbook. Perfect for carrying it on your backpack while biking. Or you can even hold it on the handle with one hand while steering your bike with the other hand.

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