My Epic Computer Disaster

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Well, the timing couldn't be worse (have to work on critical book and documentary stuff this weekend)--my main computer, my Gateway Tablet PC, died some time after 4:30PM today. Not the hard drive, but something to do with the system, so it's fully shot. After a frantic run to the stores in the evening right up until they all closed around 9PM, no suitable replacement was found (seems like the stores are pretty much cleared out until after the 22nd, when they'll all mostly no doubt be Windows 7-based; I could have gotten an iMac, but I did not want to pay the Apple premium).

I ended up getting a refurb HP TouchSmart Desktop through JandR, though that will take until at least later next week to come (at least): http://www.jr.com/hp/pe/HP_IQ524_hy_RB/ . That's an expense we didn't need (not even close), but at least I got it for half the price of what it would cost new (my personal target was as far under $1000 as possible, so a "perfect" system was not practical for that goal). Luckily a few days ago my wife and I changed the way we work in our family room from sitting on the sofa and using portable tables to proper desks and chairs, so the desktop solution is now a practical one. Frankly, I used my Tablet PC as a desktop most of the time anyway, and it was on all the time, so I'm sure the heat (older tablets run hot) eventually got to it. I'm going to inquire with Gateway about getting my tablet fixed, but it would have to cost under $200 for me to bother. Luckily, most of my data is in the cloud, so I can temporarily use an old laptop with a bad keyboard (I have an external keyboard, naturally) until the new system comes and I get it configured. Also, when the new system comes, I should be able to pull whatever miscellaneous data off the old Gateway hard drive (I do have a full backup of it, but it's an older backup) with another device I got from JandR: http://www.jr.com/ppa-international/pe/P2A_2599/ . That will come in useful in other ways too. Sadly, I recently bought a new 300GB hard drive for my Gateway Tablet PC to replace the small drive that was in there, so now I"ll probably put it in my wife's laptop as I get her on Windows 7 at the end of the month over her present Windows 7 RC. So, one way or the other, I'll have at least one spare laptop hard drive.

I could have used my work laptop, which is already configured the way I like it and has all the software I need, but, as usual, since I haven't needed it on weekends, I didn't bring home the power adapter (and I won't be back at work until Tuesday!), and of course of the dozens of adapters I have, this particular HP laptop uses a highly proprietary connector, hence my use of an outdated and pretty crappy notebook. So, once all the dust settles and my HP TouchSmart takes its place as my primary system I can use my work laptop for my laptop needs or my wife's netbook. Inconvenient, but ultimately not a major deal, and there's still a chance I can get my Tablet PC fixed for a non-rapey price.

By the way, the last thing in the JandR order was this: http://www.jr.com/razer/pe/RAZ_DESTRUCTOR/ . I had to reach a certain minimum dollar amount to qualify for the credit special I wanted. I'm a thumb trackball kind of guy, but I've since re-acclimated myself to a mouse at work and may as well do the same with this new system, since it comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse combo (it should create a striking profile on the desk and in our family room). Hopefully I'll like the keyboard, as I do tend to prefer split, natural keyboards which I use at work for convenience over the laptop's keyboard. I'll certainly try my best though, regardless, because it would be a shame to ruin the system's profile.

Finally, when the system comes, I'll put Windows 7 Ultimate over the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. Unless my Tablet PC gets fixed, I'll still have a spare copy of Windows 7 when Amazon sends my two copies. And that's assuming that JandR doesn't send me a copy as well, which is possible, but may not be likely (due to there being some type of qualifying tier for a particular system, which the TouchSmart probably doesn't meet).

Computers, so helpful to get things done, but perhaps too critical of devices at times. Disaster really can strike at the most inopportune times and there's really nothing we can do about it or how it negatively impacts our lives.

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Mark Vergeer
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My brother had a similar

My brother had a similar experience, his and his wife's (both share one) Laptop stopped working for them and they want me to take a look at it. Pfff....
Good luck with you computer troubles.....

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Bill Loguidice
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Gateway responded
Mark Vergeer wrote:

My brother had a similar experience, his and his wife's (both share one) Laptop stopped working for them and they want me to take a look at it. Pfff....
Good luck with you computer troubles.....

Since it's out of warranty, Gateway quoted me a price of $199 to fix it. I'll probably take them up on it at some point. Maybe I'll sell some duplicate or two from my collection. In any case, I'm not sending it in until I pull the data off the hard drive, and that means waiting for the new system to come.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Matt Barton
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Ouch, sorry to hear about

Ouch, sorry to hear about your troubles! Few things inspire as much dread or anxiety in me than something happening to my beloved PC.

Sam's Club had those TouchSmarts, too. I almost bought one instead of my HP Pavilion, though I was eventually turned off by the idea of having to touch the screen all the time (acceptable in a tablet or mobile, but didn't like it the idea in a desktop). I also heard the touch capability dramatically reduced the performance, so I'm very curious about what your experiences will be like. On the one hand, touch does seem to trump a lot of other considerations, especially with certain apps and games (hidden objects in particular!).

I think I'll always have as big and fat of a desktop as I can get for my main. I love expanding my computer and fiddling with it (although this can often lead to nightmares as well). Just yesterday I replaced my case fan (it had been making a funny racket). The new model is much quieter and soothing sounding. :) One thing I don't like at all about my current setup is that my graphics card is HUGE (EVA GTX 210, I believe), and I had to really cram it to get it to fit inside my case. I also had to replace the power supply and ended up with one with a huge sprawling mess of connectors, which I had a very touch time cramming inside the case. I learned some tough lessons about case size and such this go round. I'll probably end up building my own system from scratch next time, assuming I am finally able to invest in such a thing. My wife's computer is a very old Dell (probably at least 7-8 years old by now), and the poor gal could really use a Mac for her graphics and design work. If this movie deal works out, maybe I'll be able to get her one.

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Bill Loguidice
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I'm not sure how much I'll

I'm not sure how much I'll use the touch aspects, but I appreciate that they're there. I can always disable them if need be, but I shouldn't have to for what I'm using the thing for (and I plan on using the mouse anyway). In any case, for the price, I couldn't have gotten a better all-in-one, which was the ultimate goal since this will be sitting in the family room (asesthetics). It was get a good all-in-one or get a relatively underpowered laptop. Either one would have been fine, but I preferred to go for more power and more screen real estate.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Catatonic
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Glad you didn't lose

Glad you didn't lose anything. I used to back up to CD's and DVD's - such a pain in the ass! One of my favourite Mac features is that they back up every hour when you have a hard drive plugged in. You can quickly find files from months ago if need be.

I put Mozy on my parents' Dell - makes regular back ups over the Internet - works great if you only have a couple GB of critical files.

Bill Loguidice
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Thanks. While I didn't lose

Thanks. While I didn't lose anything, I won't have access to the files until that hard drive caddy comes. Really, the only thing I need access to is my Microsoft Money data file, which I was slowly transitioning to one of the online services. Sadly, if this happened in another two weeks, I would have been entirely self sufficient from any hardware disasters. Oh well.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Rowdy Rob
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Computer horrors!

I had my scare last weekend. I tried to upgrade my main PC's motherboard and processor. Plugged it all up, and.... nothing. Fiddled around some more until I gave up, then went ahead and plugged up my original motherboard. Powered up, and.... nothing! My life flashed before my eyes!

I fiddled around until I got my old mobo working properly. Whew! I might try the upgrade again next week.

I've been using my old laptop while staying at my friend's lake house this weekend. I hate laptops; they are just too clunky, and especially this one with the horrific "touchpad" cursor control. And this laptop is so slow, I couldn't even watch Matt Chat, so I came back home to watch it! :-)

Ok, back to the lake house... :-) Glad to see all is not lost, Bill, except maybe a portion of your wits.

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Bill Loguidice
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In my experience, Rob,

In my experience, Rob, today's laptops are brilliant and the way of the future, if not already the way of the present. Unless you're a gamer, I personally think most people are better off with a good laptop. Desktops are already a dying breed and will be the minority in the future (there will always be a place for them, naturally, just not as primary systems). The only reason why I didn't get another laptop is I wanted a certain power level and didn't have the money to get what I wanted in a portable form factor, plus I'd be using the thing mostly stationary, plus I plan on fixing my broken laptop at some point. To me, there's very little advantage to a desktop these days, and, even if you're into gaming, there are some killer gaming laptops now as well, of course you will pay a lot more for those. Laptops are also far easier to dual screen than a desktop, which is a very, very productive way to work.

Of course I say the above with the caveat that I NEVER use a laptop's touchpad--they're awful. I use either a trackball or mouse, which makes the experience quite pleasant.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Rob's Laptop (not verified)
Laptops
Bill Loguidice wrote:

In my experience, Rob, today's laptops are brilliant and the way of the future, if not already the way of the present. Unless you're a gamer, I personally think most people are better off with a good laptop. Desktops are already a dying breed and will be the minority in the future (there will always be a place for them, naturally, just not as primary systems).

Well.... desktops/tower systems will remain primary rigs for "non-ordinary" people... and especially for business. Laptops tend to have the ability to walk off the job in a workplace environment... if you know what I mean.

Sorry for all the periods.... but I just discovered my comma key on the laptop doesn't work! What do I do now?

Not trying to bash laptops... because I have one and they certainly have their place. In fact several of my friends do indeed use them as their primary system and it serves them well. But I tell them "for gosh sakes... get a mouse!"

As for the "kit-bashing" aspects of modern PC's... I agree with you. Up until I got into the Windows platform... all my previous computer experience has been with almost console-like computers (i.e. TRS-80.. Apple II... Atari 8-bit... Amiga... etc.) with limited parts interchangeability or expandability. Which is why my last excursion into "motherboard hell" last week ended in failure. But I will give it another shot soon since I've already committed myself to that path. And I'm one of those guys who craves the power of quad-core super-GPU megasound all-in-one-boat appliance.

Consoles are a great gaming systems because they are cheap compared to a "gaming rig" PC. Laptops of today are powerful systems that can do everything an "average" PC user wants to do from wherever they are. Desktops have power... cheap upgrade paths... and are easier(?) to configure and repair.

What I want to see is the technology to broadcast computer/laptop video to the HDTV wirelessly! I could kick back in bed or in the living room or in the hotel room and watch my computer video on a big screen when I want to! And want a better solution to the "touchpad" or trackball on a laptop that doesn't require an external mouse. Gesture recognition or something similar might be a boon for laptop users! I would also like a degree of "modularity" with laptops like we see with "kit" PC's. Laptops are convenient... but the current trend is very proprietary to each model/company. The "kit" factor of desktop PC's helped drive down prices to the average consumer.

A few thoughts. Typing this was a nightmare though. :-(

Matt Barton
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One of the conference rooms

One of the conference rooms here in the English dept of SCSU is pretty friggin' awesome. It's a huge wall-mounted flat panel and a Mac mini, attached to a wireless keyboard with a laptop-style touch pad built in. It's truly a wonder, and I love using it. I really love the concept of a Mac Mini in general; if you haven't seen them, it's one of those "wow!" moments when you realize how much they've packed into such a small box.

That said, I'll always be a desktop man. Give me a big honking tower and lots of gadgets and cards to stuff into it and I'm a happy camper. I just can't get used to the idea of a laptop as my main, though I see why Bill enjoys them. I hope, though, that the qualifier "if you're a gamer" will ever apply to me, though. :P I don't care what anyone says, a device of ANY sort that can run kick-ass games is probably more than enough to handle any OTHER application or need you might have, so you might as well always go for the best.

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