Adventures With My New Computer

by Gary Ratliff Sr. (eronstuc)

My adventures in buying computers have been many. I bought my first PET in 1978 and had to go out of state to do so, since they had not yet reached Mississippi. Then, when Dr. Dobbs' accepted my first computer article, Just Poking Around with my Pet, I knew I was to be a computer journalist. Soon, articles followed in kilobaud, PC Computing, and COMPUTE!. Then the folks at IBM introduced the PC and thought they had invented the personal computer. I wrote my very best article and received a rejection slip, since people wanted to read about the PC and not the PET! I vowed I wouldn't touch one of these with a ten foot pole!

Soon, I saw the folks at work struggling with a project, and told them I could save them money by writing a computer program to solve the problem. I was given a list and told to write down what I needed. Soon, a machine that I could only dream about was sitting on my desk. Later, I learned FOCUS and wrote some data entry files. The corporate programmer was now out of a job, since I soon took her place providing the programs needed. Later, I was assigned data entry over the network. I soon became familiar with the workings of Novell Networks. The department wanted a more up to date system, and I saw an ad for a 486 system named Cardinal. It seemed to offer the best buy for the buck. All used it except for the QC Manager, Tom Kent. He told me I should always buy from HP, since their equipment was the most reliable.

As the years passed, I made an effort to always buy my systems from them. As you know, my main system was until recently an HP Pavilion a1253w system. Now the systems are reliable and have caused no problems. The only fault I have with them is that once the warranty is out, they don't provide answers any more. The USB ports on the front of the system had all “given up the ghost.” The holder for the Flash Card had come loose and it was clearly time for a new machine, despite the addition of the SATA drive.

My ability to purchase a new computer is due to WalMart possessing a little Christmas spirit and allowing layaway for certain merchandise for the three months prior to Santa's arrival.

I looked at the options and again let the dollars make my choice. My selection was the eMachine from WalMart, which had a 1T byte hard drive and offered 3 gigs of memory, no monitor, and all for less than $300. Soon, I had set up the layaway account. I only had to make an additional three payments before I could take it home. One by one, the payments were made, and the big day arrived to go get my computer.

I hauled it home and went to put it up and surprise, it was the wrong computer. This one was $100 more and had included a LCD monitor. After waiting three months, I set it up and it only had 2 gigs of memory and a 320 gig hard drive. So, I decided I would take this computer back and swap it for the correct model. However, since I can only get to the store once a week, I had at least a week before I could return it.

Finally, just two days before Christmas, I had the computer I had actually determined offered the best buy for the buck - a brand new eMachine EL 1358G-51W. I soon set up my system and moved the 2T FlexDrive to the system. By enabling sharing, I could use this with my HP system, which was in the computer room.

Note the contrast in size between the newer computers with only SATA drives and the older towers. You can see the Seagate 2T GoFlex drive and the HP Deskjet 1000 mentioned in my December article. The new computer is called Gabriel, and replaces the older Gabriel, which is to the right. Beside the old Gabriel is Michael, which was my brother Dave's computer. It runs Windows 95 and has 16 megs of memory. It still functions flawlessly. Perhaps what has kept it safe is that I can't figure how to open the case!

In the last issue of the magazine, there was a picture showing the inside of the HP computer with both PATA and the new SATA drive showing. Compare that with the more compact inside view of the new machine:

Gone are the wide ribbon cables. The cables for the SATA hard drive and DVD drive are smaller around than a typical power cord. The system also has a dual core processor, which greatly speeds up operations. Windows 7 has borrowed many items from Linux. It actually insists that you set up a password. Actually, the trial of the first system, before I returned it, was quite embarrassing! I actually forgot the password and was unable to get into my earlier eMachine.

The only thing that saved me was that I had followed instructions and created a complete set of recovery DVDs. As I was trying to remember the password and being rebuffed, the machine told me that I should have created another drive, which would provide a clue as to the password. It’s funny that they forgot to mention this item. The recovery process brought the machine back to the enter password selection, and this time I wrote it down.

I have been very happy with the new computer. Before closing the article, I want to mention another item which should appeal to video buffs. While watching TV, I happened to switch for a few minutes to QVC. They were demonstrating an item called the Roku HD. They were offering the system for four payments of only $19.99. What the Roku HD does is bring in channels from the Internet to either your high definition or standard TV. The standard TV will need the stereo and video RCA jacks, which attach to the Roku through a special jack.

You set up your account information through your computer, and the device uses the wifi of your router to reach the Internet. You just select the channels you wish to view and the items appear on your TV. There are TV shows, movies, Pandora and other radio providers, and games which may be sent to your TV.

If you need more channels than your cable system allows, you will love this item. The sale from QVC is over, but you may purchase one directly from Roku. If you can’t follow the previous link, just do a Google search on Roku to learn how.

As you can see, the Roku is very small (sitting on the top left of the small table). The shown cable is the one provided by the default system, which goes to a standard TV. By connecting it to a VCR, DVD Recorder, or digital PVR, it is possible to save the movies, which you download from the Internet. Here again, this is possible using what is becoming an obsolete technology. Its redeeming feature is that it works.

I’m planning a future article, featuring a tutorial on how to use Dolphin to store your files on the GoFlex drive.