PC; Mac

Yes, yet another missed post yesterday, and as luck would have it, I got of work early today and have to work late tomorrow. What this means to you is that my every other day update schedule is going to continue for at least a couple more days. I had no plan for it to do so, but sometimes we just can’t plan for anything.

The good news is that my missed update had nothing to do with “Deadly Rooms of Death”! The bad news is the only reason for that is that I am quite stuck on a board, and with the drod website still down I am not able to find any clues as to how to beat the board. It is quite an irritating little board, sicne it is just straight-forward, lots of roaches and spawners. The problem I keep running into is that after I kill the first spawner I am not able to get near any of the other spawners without having the little roach babies gang up on me from all sides. I may give it another go tonight, as I saved the room when I was in a far more favorable position than all of my failed attempts yesterday. Why do I feel that I have to solve this? You may as well ask why the sky is blue..

• What did consume a lot of my time yesterday was computer related, in that I was looking for a value in upgrading mine. I am sure that I have mentioned many times before that my current pc is a real dinosaur. I have been married for three years, and the computer was with me in the old apartment that we lived in for almost a year after we got married. I think it is almost five years old at this point, and it shows, kind of.

I am one of the idiots left in the world that approach computers with a ‘buy the base and add on’ mentality. I am not so sure if this is a good or a bad thing at this point, but five years ago a decent computer system was a hell of a lot of money. The computer that I use currently is an “eMachine 466is” yes, with the ultra fast 466 mhz processor. When I got the system it had an astounding 32 megs of Ram, and a 4.3 gig hard drive. Lets just say that it was not the pinnacle of modern computer technology even when I bought it, but hey, it was under 500 bucks, so it seemed a value at the time.

The first upgrade that I made was the hard drive, how anyone can survive with 4.3gigs is beyond me. I remember thinking, when I bought it, that it would barely be enough to hold a couple of video games. That was before the diablo 2 expansion came out, and I was damn sure right, you wouldn’t be able to have that one single game fully installed on a drive of that size. Anyway, I upgraded to a 40gig drive (which does not transfer at the correct speed due to the fact that my motherboard is so antiquated), which did allow me to store some photos and all the games that I play. Then I added a CD-RW drive to it, you should have seen the look on my wife’s face when I had the system open and started to smack it with a hammer and chisel so that I could add a new media drive. The final upgrade was to the ram, which I now have maxed out at 256megs. I did also add a 32meg 3d card also, but that wasn’t actually necessary it was added since I was playing everquest at the time. So the absolute total cost of the system with upgrades was about $750 over five years, I think that is pretty good over that span of time. -I also bought a larger monitor but that was a necessity, well a new monitor was since the old one died and the larger one was only a couple of bucks more, but it will be used with my next system so it doesn’t really count.-

A note about computer shopping. I have been seeing ads on t.v. and the internet for complete Dell Systems including monitors for about 500 dollars. They are airing the same commercials for Gateway Systems. I looked at the systems that they are offering at that price and they are just crap by todays standards. I did look at a bunch of systems on ebay, but was turned off by the fact that most did not have operating systems, and that you had to read the fine print to see if it actually had a hard drive. Amazon has a lot of systems, but there prices are not quite as low as I had hoped. I was about to give up before I decided to just go and check the websites for less expensive computers. eMachines.com was the first site that I visited, and though I went to a few more after that I ended up going back to it.

I hear a lot of people dogging eMachines, but that is what I am using now and I haven’t had a single memorable problem with it in five years. Sure there have been some software issues, but that is Microsoft’s fault, eMachines just puts the components in a box they don’t manufacture any of the hardware or the software. I did have a few problems with the machine while making upgrades, but they just required possibly a better than average knowledge of the system BIOS, and as such were not anything to require tech support. With the performance of this machine over the last five years I was absolutely confident when I hit the confirm button on the purchase of my new machine.

The computer (which I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of) is an eMachine. It breaks down thusly (skip this section if you just dont care);

2.8 Ghz cpu
400 Mhz System Bus
512 Megs Ram (upgradable to 1 Gig)
CD-RW/DVD combo drive
64 Meg 3d video card

There are, of course, a lot of the specs that I am not going to mention. I did find a bit of humor in that this new system has a front side bus that is damn near as fast as the cpu on my current system. Holy shit, now I might have to start going to star trek conventions. A bit of Nerd humor there.

I did pay the same for this machine as I payed for the one that I am currently using, about 500 dollars. It seems a bit pricy in that respect, but the new machine has sextuple the processor speed, triple the bus speed, double the memory already installed (upgradable to quintuple), a dvd drive and double the 3d video of my old system. I think it will likely be enough to get me by for another few years at the very least. When video games start demanding more than one Gig of Ram it must either be like actual virtual reality, or about time to let the game run without windows trying to slow it down at every step.

This is all subject to change, of course, once I get the computer and find that nothing on it actually works.

• I must admit that while I was going through the pricing while looking at purchasing a new computer, I actually checked out a few Mac systems. From all that I have heard/seen the OS on them is so much more reliable that I would likely have given it a go (keeping in mind that this is like a hick who grew up a “ford man” deciding to try a “Chevy”), had I been able to find one in anywhere near the price range that I paid for the new PC. The real “plug and play” aspect of them, that is you plug it in and it works, as opposed to having to spend a few hours on the internet looking for drivers, would have made me drop an extra hundred dollars or so just to check it out. The fact that the MAC systems that you can buy for over 2000 dollars have slower processors and less ram than a PC that you can buy for one-quarter of the price was why I didn’t.

I am not so naive as to think that the windows operating system is better than the mac system, far from it. I have no doubt that the mac system is way better, and to further that I am sure that the reason that the PCs need so much RAM to simply view web pages is likely because of the software clogging up the memory. I really don’t have any doubts that a MAC with a processor half the speed of a PC and half the RAM of a PC could probably perform better doing any task (ask yourself, if that was not the case wouldn’t Microsoft focus on that to try to slay their only real rival?). As the earlier Ford/Chevy reference would hint at, it is damn hard to sell someone on a different product regardless of how much better it is than the current product.

The part of that which I find a tad funny is that if you try to copy the look of the old product you will get people to buy it even if it is crap. For instance, I bought an electric razor back in 1991 or so that looked just like a “Norelco”, it wasn’t and I paid less than half the price of the name brand. Within the space of about three weeks I found that the blades were clogged, brushing them out helped a little but it still felt like shaving with sandpaper. Guess what, they didn’t sell replacement blades for the razor, not even the company that made it. They had invented a look-alike “Norelco” electric razor that was disposable. I have been soured to imitation products ever since.

Now, Apple has gone completely the other way with it. They want their product to stand out and look nothing like a PC. It has worked for them so far, or at least they haven’t gone out of business yet. That is why I am pretty sure that if I ever had the opportunity to use a Mac I would go with it and never look back. There must be a reason why your average “CompUsa” store will have a dozen systems on the floor and only one is a Mac, the fact that people that have used the Mac will walk past all the PCs to get to it is, I think, certainly proof that once you use one you will wonder what the hell you did without it. This is all conjecture, as I did buy yet another PC mostly based on price, but I really doubt that anyone that is currently reading this on a Mac would ever consider a PC as their next computer purchase.

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