Sunday, January 15, 2012

Random Ramblings: New Computer and Yard Chores

Old Toshiba on the left
(I used it so much, I wore-off the silver paint!)
It was a Workhorse - and I have no complaints, but "It's Time..."
Brandy-New Dell on the right (Niiiiice!!!)

So I mentioned, the other day, that I was having some laptop issues... My machine (A Toshiba Satellite Pro something-or-other) (Gift from Santa Hubs, several years ago) was starting to overheat and shut down randomly.

The machine was over 4 years old and it really never gave me any problems. And I abused the hell out of it. Couple of Hubbie's favorite phrases (Hubs is a "Desktop Guy") are: "You are very hard on your computers" and "You have bad luck with laptops!" And the latter used to be true (Due, primarily, to the former!). Until he bought me the Toshiba. That machine really was a workhorse and was a lot like Timex in that "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking" (and if you remember that phrase: "Thank you for being old like me!").

Hubs seemed rather distraught when I first told him I was having issues ("I paid Good Money for that!"). But then he calmed down, a bit, when I pointed out that "Google sez the Life Expectancy of a laptop is appx 3 years. We beat that, okay?!!"

Honestly, I thought it was rather "polite" of my Toshiba to give me 'warning' before it completely took a sh*t (unlike my previous HP laptop - which completely fried itself with NO warning. I couldn't even get to the hard-drive to back-up my stuff!).

Anyway, as soon as I knew there was trouble-brewing, I did run a full back-up. And then I consulted my good friends at Yelp, to find a good computer repair shop. Thankfully, there is one - right around the corner - that got rave reviews. So I took it over there the MINUTE the shop opened, the next morning.

So, what is it with these "Hardware Geeks" and their utter and complete lack of a sense of humor? I mean, yeah, when I showed up I did look a bit bedraggled in my leggings and Harley shirt (it was 8:00am ferchrissake!), but it's not like I was a full-on candidate for People of Walmart or anything (I mean, hell, I brushed my hair and teeth - at least)!

So I sashayed into the place with my laptop in-hand and explained the problem: "It's been starting to overheat, a lot, lately - and when it does, it just shuts itself off without warning. The fan is working, and I sprayed it out with air, but I suspect there's lots of dust and crud on it. I hope all it needs is a good blow-job." :::smile:::

He gave me the *strangest* look and remarked that that was the first time he'd ever heard it referred-to in that way.

(internal :::eye roll:::)

Well, he got one of his geeks working on it, "We'll call you back in a few hours..."

They determined that the fan did need to be replaced (and, yes, it was encrusted with sludge and dust-bunnies!). The hard-drive appeared to be fine (got lucky there!). But - due to the overheating issues - there was some damage to many of the internal components, and the motherboard was about to go. Cost would be appx $200.00 to repair - but the remaining life-expectancy (even with repairs) was only gonna be about 6 months...

So yeah, realistically, it really didn't make sense to throw any money at that computer when I could buy a new, bottom-of-the-line laptop (that would be at least equal to what I had) for like $100.00 more. (And, of COURSE, they do sell computers at their shop. But - based on the Yelp Reviews - I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and not *assume* that they're just trying to "push" a new computer on me)...

So, PC Repair-Guy asks me "What do you want us to do?"

"Well, I'm only into it the $39.00 Diagnostic charge, right?" ("Right") "What say you just duct-tape it back together so I can use it this weekend. I wanna do a bit of research to see what I can find since I get discounted pricing on laptops through my work. I'll definitely want to talk to you - because you 'see' the repairs all the time. So, like, if I think I wanna get ABC brand, and you know that ABC brand is sh*t 'cuz they're in your shop all the time..." blah-blah and he seemed agreeable to that. He also suggested that I provide him with info on the PC's I *do* find and he'd see if they can price-match, yada-yada...

Of *course* I wasn't gonna end up with the bottom-of-the-line. But I did set $450.00 "cap" (knowing it was gonna end up closer to $500.00!). I did go back, that night, to retrieve my laptop. I also did some preliminary web-surfing (including looking at my Employee Discount sites), and I'd printed-up a spreadsheet comparing about half-a-dozen different models/prices of laptops. I also made notes for what I considered to be my "Bare Minimums." (2 GHz, 4 GB RAM, Windows7, Non-Glare screen, Bigger HD, ~$500 or less)

I think, upon my re-appearance in the shop, armed with my spreadsheet... And my mention of the fact that I work in software design... I guess maybe he decided I wasn't "People-Of-Walmart" person, after all (Well, that and the fact that I was prepared to spend $450-500 on a new computer). Or maybe it was just the fact that it was no longer "First thing in the morning!" - but he seemed a lot more personable at that point!

Oh, and then I had mentioned (after b*tching about the expense of a new laptop) "I still need up upgrade my SmartPhone" and he got ALLLL excited about that. "Who's your Carrier?" "Verizon" and - oh gee what a coincidence - they are affiliated with authorized Verizon yada-yadas... So we got to talking about different phone models (right now I am vacillating between the Motorola Droid RAZR and the Galaxy Nexus). He was an iPhone Guy - but his Top Geek, an Android Dude, had a Galaxy (and he was most eager to show his phone to me). Annnnnd... Whenever I'm ready to buy - please let them know and they'll see what kinda deal they can get for me...

I'm okay with that. But first I wanna do the Touchy-Feely thing @ the Verizon Store...

Annnnnnyyyywaaaaaayyyyy... Long Story Short (HA!). They ended up customizing one of their in-stock Dell laptops (added more RAM, gratis), and meeting my price-point. No, it's not top-of-the-line, but it's "pretty decent." Runs Windows7, AMD 1.8-2.4 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HD... And it was $449.99 (woulda been under $500.00 if we hadn't added the wireless external back-up drive!)

And, incidentally, I felt that was a "very fair" price. It was less than what Dell has on their site (for that specific model). And it was "in-line" with what I was finding thru my searches (with Employee Discounts and/or what I could find at BestBuy/Tiger Direct, etc. - who did not have the exact-same model/configuration). I'm sure, if I wanted to spend a buttload of time on it, I probably could have located a "marginally-better" price - but, overall, I felt the deal was "very fair" and I am satisfied (I guess this means I have to add a posting to Yelp. Yes, I will!)

I put it through it's paces this morning by doing the following, simultaneously: Running 2 browsers, playing an MP3 (on Real Player) while running a video (on Windows Media Player), AND running Spotify (it was a cacophony - with all the "sound apps" running!), WHILE transferring files from my external HD, AND editing photos, AND playing with an xls spreadsheet all at the same time. No problems with performance (although my brain was about ready to explode with that many windows open simultaneously!)

Yup. I'm pretty happy with the new beast. I've had Dells before, and they seem pretty damned sturdy. (Don't EVEN get me started on my "Why I hate HP" rant. HA! The PC Guy tried to steer me toward some of the HP's they had in-stock [that another customer ordered, but changed her mind!]. As soon as he showed them to me, I held up my fingers in the sign of the cross and backed away - literally!). Anyway, I think I'll be pretty happy with this one.

I spent the ENTIRE EVENING, last night, downloading and installing all of my software, and getting my desktop arranged to my liking. Then, this morning, I started bringing some of my files back-over from my external hard-drive. The Toshiba had a 150GB HD (and I'd filled less than half of it), but I still had a lot of "crap" on it. I figure since I've got a Shiny-New machine, I want to keep it "somewhat neat" (for now, anyway!).

But - that's a roundabout way of saying that I didn't bring over the latest batch o' pics from my latest "Culinary Adventures." Not sure if I'll ever get around to posting the Illustrated Versions of the last couple of recipes. I suspect you'll survive (assuming anybody even *reads* this blog - HA!).

Although... If you DO read the blog, you might want to make note of the fact that I am now trying to segregate "substance" (i.e. RECIPES, GARDEN UPDATES, etc.) from "Blah-Blah-Blah" (who really gives a rip?) stuff (i.e. This Post!).

In fact, if I find myself getting long-winded (you know, kinda like NOW???), I'll probably end-up "breaking up" the posts so - if you choose - you can skip my Random Rambling and just focus on stuff that might interest you! HEYYYY!!!!

And with that thought: I'll probably END this madness. But I will mention that yesterday's PLAN of tackling Yard Chores never happened (Hubs interrupted me by suggesting we take the Christmas Lights off the house - which actually *was* a good idea!). I did start to tackle some of my chores today - but maybe I'll yammer about that in a separate post, hmmm???


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