New Computers

Finally deciding to upgrade your computer to a new one is a leap of faith. You are hoping that the new computer with its shiny new processor and extra-humongous hard drive will bring a quantum leap in computing ability. The new computer will allow you to be faster, stronger, and jump higher or so you hope.

What you forget is all the tedium involved in actually making that switch. Going through your old computer, finding what you absolutely must save, what you think you might need in the future, and the files that you decide to save just because takes time. Then you have to burn these files to CDs or DVDs or copy them to your spare hard drive which you plan to move to the new computer. All of this takes time which you could have used for important stuff like blogging or posting the latest political meme on Facebook. I know there are programs that are supposed to make the switch easier but I didn’t have them and wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money to get them.

Then there is making sure that you have a way to save all the old emails, bookmarks on your browser, etc. I was fortunate to find some utility apps that let me do this fairly easily. I wasn’t so much concerned about bookmarks as I was about capturing my old emails and address book. I’m guessing it would have been easier if I had been using Outlook instead of Mozilla’s Thunderbird. That said, I started many years ago with Eudora and Thunderbird was as close to that as I could come to it.

The new computer is an Acer Aspire with lots of RAM, a huge hard drive, a smaller solid state drive to handle the start-up, and a fancy graphics card running Windows 10 Home. When I compare that to my early PCs, I’m blown away. My first computer was a Kaypro 4+88 which ran CP/M 80 and had a co-processor to run MS-DOS v.1.25. It was followed up by an AT&T PC-6300 which actually ran DOS v2.10 using two floppy drives. I upgraded that PC later with a Quantum Hardcard 20 MB hard drive which cost as much as my entire new computer. Many other computers followed it over the years as new software demanded more and more power.

I’m still in the process of making the conversion. Yesterday I went to install my 1 TB secondary drive which had tons of files from the earlier computer. Of course, I ran into problems. The new computer only had two SATA connections on the motherboard and they were already taken. Not being a techie it took some research to find that SATA data cables are dedicated and that you can’t use a splitter like you can with power cables or like you could do with the older IDE drives. I was going back and forth between the new computer and Google images to figure out if I even had an open slot. In geek-speak, it was a PCI Express +1 slot. Thanks to Amazon Prime, my new card that will allow me to add the extra drive will arrive tomorrow.

I don’t know how much the new computer will impact my blogging but I hope it will allow me to post better photographs. I have a new copy of Photoshop Elements which I couldn’t use on my existing computer because it needed Windows 7 or better. The old computer was from the Windows Vista era if that gives you some idea on its age.

I think back to the computing power that it took to put a man on the moon or for Lockheed’s Skunk Works to design the SR-71 and this new computer puts it to shame. That said, those were tremendous accomplishments and no amount of computing power can take the place of the innovative mindset that those engineers and project managers possessed.


9 thoughts on “New Computers”

  1. This is always an endeavor that fosters a love / hate relationship. The shiny new hardware and software combination promise to make your life better and easier, but often times the new bells and whistles suck up more of your time, to save your time. Funny that…

    Apple does a pretty good job of making computer upgrades fairly simple with their computer’s “Time Machine” backup and restore capability and “migration assistant”. It quite literally makes your computer like a Cylon ! When the old one dies, it’s just reborn with upgraded hardware / software. if migration assistant gives you static, @pple support can sort it out. It not only preserves your files, but the permissions, change date, profiles, printer and network connections. it’s pretty well thought out.

    if you have important files that you can’t afford to lose, a network drive with RAID 5 or RAID 1/0 is a good choice. You can migrate data to the network addressable storage (NAS for short) and even if your computer suddenly departs the earthly realm in a smoking heap, you still have your data. RAID disk arrays give you “fault tolerance”. You lose a disk, you replace the disk, rather than lose your data too. Hard drives have a relatively short life expectancy, about 3-5 years. Anything more than 3 years is a gift. I’ve had them last years longer, but this is borrowed time. I’ve yet to kill an SSD, but they too do eventually fail.

    I personally do not like losing data, so my strategy is: 1) nightly full hard disk clone to a bootable device. 2) hourly @pple time machine backups to 2x 6TB NAS. This is faster than mirroring or replicating the backup to the 2nd device and easier from a computer management perspective. This puts my important data in 4 places.
    I can still remember that sinking feeling the day my first computer died.

  2. I enjoy having a computer on my desk that is valued at about 1.5 million dollars (in 1988 money, that is, when we were paying $500 for a meg of RAM and $1,000 for a one GIG HD)

    1. Heh. As I was telling a nephew last week, I once spent two full (pre-tax) paychecks on a 40 MB hard drive for my first PC (a Columbia transportable). How would I EVER fill up 40 MB?

    2. I thought I was in heaven with my 20 MB hardcard. No more switching 5.25" floppies in and out of the dual drives. I still have those floppies somewhere.

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