Monday, February 15, 2010

New Computer

I bought a new computer! My old home computer, an Acer 2200 Travelmate that I originally purchased in early 2004, finally succumbed to the onslaught of really nasty viruses. I picked up the third “rogue antivirus” in three months last week, an obnoxious beast calling itself “Antivirus Soft” that combined with Microsoft Windows Update in an unholy union that completely disabled the computer – it can no longer boot at all.

Anyways, in looking into the cost of professional attention for my computer, I discovered the price of laptops has dropped precipitously in the last few years. There’s a computer store not far from my home, a branch of Computer Trends, that offers repair services and sells new and factory-refurbished computers. I went down there on Thursday (they’re open until 8:00, happily) and dropped off the old machine. Complete virus removal and clean-up costs upwards of $150, but just pulling data off of an otherwise inaccessible hard drive costs between $40 and $60; they’ll drop what they can recover onto a DVD, but won’t go through the trouble of actually bringing the machine up to workable condition. I figured I’d just buy a new computer, and put what files I want from the old machine onto the new one and reformat the hard drive of the old computer. I don't know what I'll do with the old computer once I get clean and working.

So, the new beast is home. It cost only $400, which is amazing to me. From googling for reviews of this thing before I bought it, it seems like this machine was cutting edge about a year ago, and considered highly desirable about 6 or 8 months ago. Mine is a factory-refurbished individual, which is fine by me – I don’t need the newest game monster, but I would like to play some games newer than, say, 2004.

The new machine. An Acer Aspire 5532, with a 1.6GHz Athlon 64 TF-20 processor. I think processor numbers have become nearly meaningless in the last couple of years – my old computer was supposedly something like 2.0GHz, but this machine is much faster when it comes to actually doing things.

My choices were pretty good at the under-$600 range, but I went with this one partly because it was the cheapest (there were several attractive machines at around $500) and partly because it has Windows 7 and NOT Windows Vista. The salesman initially tried to convince me that Vista is a fine program and does not deserve its reputation (that reputation is: it’s complete crap); I was unconvinced. So far, Windows 7 is fine, and I was able to quickly turn off the Vista-style paranoid nanny-nagging fairly easily.

After messing about with it for a couple of days, I decided I wanted a new game. So I bought The Orange Box.

I put the “system requirements” sticker on the front of the box because it seems useful and was holding the case closed.

I played Half Life on my Playstation 2 a few years ago, on loan from Carlo. I know The Orange Box was a big deal because it includes Half Life 2: Episode 2, which was anticipated with near-feverish excitement when it was released (plus the sleeper-hit Portal). But, I’ve never played Half Life 2, nor either of the sequels, but all are included in this box! Five games for $30, not bad at all! I’m well into Half Life 2, and enjoying it greatly.

The one flaw with this computer I’ve detected so far is the shortage of USB ports. I bought a powered hub so I can simultaneously use an external hard drive (which require two USB ports because of power demands) and my proper mouse; I am not a fan of the touchpads on laptops.

Further contribution to the rat’s-nest of cables on my kitchen table.


Carlo said...

I also have a USB hub on my MacBook - it's amazing how a few years ago I had no need for USB and now I suddenly have too many USB devices. Well getting a new computer is always cool, especially to nerds like me. I'm still enjoying the netbook I got in December. I'm glad that you'll be able to play some of the newer games - gaming is, of course, my main method of work-related stress relief. You'll have to post your impressions of Windows 7.

King Aardvark said...

Nice tangle of wires. I have a similar tangle of wires, but it's all kitchen appliances.

I second your amazement at the price and the lack of meaningfulness of the processor numbers. I still remember $2500+ computers boasting processor speeds in the low hundreds of MHz, and I half expect computers to still be the same way now.

Oh, and there's nothing wrong with having no games newer than 2004.

King "still playing Baldur's Gate 2 and Fallout 2" Aardvark

TheBrummell said...

I have yet to play any Baldur's Gate game (I, II, or otherwise) and I really want to check out Fallout 2 - the first one was great!

So, yeah, assuming I have any free time I'll be playing some new-to-me games.

Rick said...

or you can download DOSBOX and play Doom 2 with me... "I pulp you in the name of good"... Do yourself a favor and grab MS Security Essentials from ... it's the free consumer version of their enterprise Forefront security suite... so AV, spy, mal etc etc..

TheBrummell said...

Doom 2. That would be great! I'll try to get that going. Anybody have any suggestions on where to get Doom 2 for cheap? If it's included with Doom 3, I'd be willing to buy that.

And I'll check out that security essentials thing. I should probably have at least a basic level of protection running on my computer. I just find anti-virus software to be worse than 99.9% of the viruses it's supposed to protect against.

Lance Vartanian said...

Congratulations on the new computer! The new models of Acer are indeed faster than most other brands in the market that are going for the same price (I’m talking brand new, of course). I too am using a hub for my USB devices because my netbook only has 3 ports, which is just enough for my external hard drive, my cooling fan, and my mouse.