Sunday, June 29, 2008

Status of Laptop -- Tip Top Condition

For the past six months my poor old Dell laptop (actually a mere youngster at 18 months old) has been in need of a serious upgrade of memory. It seemed to be getting slower and slower and I was needing to reboot it so often it was driving me crazy.

With a dual core memory system this required the replacement of two separate memory boards and after inquiring of the "old scientist" if this was within his capabilities, which he assured me it was, I started looking around at prices locally. No problem, just fork over $160 and Bob's your uncle. But wait a minute, that does sound a bit expensive, so why don't I look online to see what they cost there.

Well imagine my surprise to see that you could get a Kingston 2GB memory upgrade kit, that is two 1x 1GB modules of RAM, online for $47 and change, with free shipping within the USA from Unfortunately they don't ship to Canada however my daughter who lives in the States was planning a visit here, with her family, at the end of June and I decided to buy it and ship it to them and they could bring it with them.

This is something that makes all Canadians very angry, these much higher prices that we are forced to pay here on so many items. The Canadian dollar has been around or above par with the US dollar since September of last year but we are not seeing a reflection of that in the prices in the stores. So there is a lot of grumbling, especially as we can now compare prices so easily on line. It is also a huge issue with books since they have the Canadian and the US prices right on the dust jacket and we were seeing a book which sells for $25.95 in the US being marketed here for $35.95 and there was quite a rebellion against that. They could not use the excuse of customs duty since books are duty free coming into Canada and of course we have the North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA as it is commonly known, to boot.

Anyway I have been patiently waiting for them to arrive with the new memory and yesterday my son-in-law who is a research scientist at IBM and an absolute computer whiz installed the memory into my laptop in about two seconds flat. Of course he could not leave it at that but ran all kinds of diagnostics and defragmented the hard drive which apparently I am supposed to do regularly but have not, since who knew? Certainly not I. But I will do so in the future.

Recently Nobody Important has been getting a myriad of fraudulent emails from various "banks". I always delete them immediately but those from the "Bank of Montreal" seem to contain a virus which my internet provider security program catches fortunately, sending me warnings and cleaning the emails. However we ran an anti-virus scan too and that was clear so I think this laptop is a good as it can possibly be for now.

Now I will have to see if I can avoid all those crashes I get when visiting Second Life. I certainly would appreciate that a lot. To be honest I have not noticed a great increase in speed but my SIL tells me that the speed is governed by the hard drive so not to expect miracles in that area however he assures me everything is working well and it is in tip top shape. What more could I ask? I was toying with the idea of buying a new gaming laptop but it seemed a bit idiotic after less than two years.

When I think back to the first home computer we had, around the early 1980s, I can't believe how far things have come. It was a North Star Advantage, with 64 KB RAM, no hard drive and it made its way home as the "old scientist" upgraded his work computer to something better. It used 5.25 inch floppy discs and ran MS-DOS as I recall and I used it only for word processing with a program called Wordstar. When my son went to graduate school in the Physics Department at the University of Toronto in 1985 I would type an email to him, at home, put it onto a disc and the "old scientist" would take it to work and send it from his computer which was hard wired into the University computer which was of course connected to the "internet" between universities Eventually we got a better computer with a dial-up modem and we connected to his work computer via a program called PC Anywhere although we still used MS-DOS. I don't remember when we changed to an early version of Windows.

Well we've come a long way, Baby, in this area. Things we take so much for granted now are really very recent technological developments. However I, for one, am very grateful for my laptop and while I am not on the cutting edge I am satisfied with it for a little while longer now that the memory has been upgraded.

But my old 6GB iPod mini has definitely got to go. I think I'll take a look at the new 32 GB iPod Touch any day now. It looks like my kind of toy.

I apologize in advance for lack of visiting my blog friends and light blogging here as my daughter and family will be here for two weeks and I have to be a good hostess. I'll try to keep the homefires burning with snippets here and there.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Sounds like SIL has done a very good job for you there, jmb. I hven't even gotto grip with my MP3 yet!

Nunyaa said...

I have no idea when it comes to the ins and outs of a computer, I know the basics but need to learn more.
Have a great time with your family JMB, am sure you are wonderful hostess :-)

Dr.John said...

Every time I defrag my computer seems to get slower.
Glad you have such a talented son-in-law.

Dragonstar said...

How useful to have a computer doc in the family. Obviously yo need to spend time with your family - family first, last, and always!

I know what you mean about prices. W live about 45 miles from the Northern Ireland border, where prices magically change. Anything coming across there costs twice as much postage!

CherryPie said...

I always buy my computer bits off the internet too. In fact my current PC was built by my brother for me, then I installed and configured all the software.

Enjoy your time with your Daughter and family :-)

jams o donnell said...

It sounds like your computer will be raring to go! Have a great time with your family jmb

Carver said...

Congratulations on the computer upgrade and I hope you have a great visit with your daughter and family. By the way, my first home computer was also in the early 80s and I used WordStar too back then. My first home internet access was through a local newspaper and was all text. This was prior to when I had windows. Yep, its come a long way . . .

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

This is something that makes all Canadians very angry, these much higher prices that we are forced to pay here on so many items.

It's always been an issue, this cross border price difference.

Cathy said...

I only know how to do what i do on my computer. I could not ever install anything. I'm sure I couldn't. I did take the back off our older desk style one we have and used the canned air on it. Thats about as brave as I am. I am now so use to the laptop I can hardly stand using the desk one.

I agree about the money situation you guys have in Canada with us. I can remember when we use to go to Windsor, once or twice a year, with our 100.00 each to spend (donate) to the casino. We would turn it in when we got there and get back almost 170.00 in Canadian money. The last time we were there it was almost a dollar for a dollar. Almost no difference. Now, I don't think we would even get our 100.00 in exchange. It is very unfair to you that the stores have not yet recognized this change in the exchange rate. Thank goodness your daughter was able to bring it to you.

We haven't been there for awhile and I was wondering if you can tell me if we now have to have a passport? I know they are soon going to make us but wasn't sure if that had started yet. For years we got across the bridge into Ca. with ID only.

Liz said...

Once again I am in awe of your technical knowledge and ability, jmb!

When I started work in 1974 the computers were five huge boxes kept in a specially heat and humidity controlled warehouse-type place. And they had a mere fraction of what is available on laptops now.

Happy computing and Second Lifing with your new whizzy-whiz memory.

jmb said...

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting. Not much spare time these days.

YTSL said...

Don't you just hate it that a computer is considered old when you've had it for just a few years? My current computer is over 5 years old now and I live in fear of it dying... this even though I've actually done quite a bit of replacing bits and bobs of it (including an entire hard drive) over the years. :S