Thursday, September 06, 2012

Whole Again (Almost)

South Burlington

About 10 days ago the hard drive in my laptop failed.  It failed completely and suddenly.  I tried the OS recovery software and it failed too.  Uh oh.  So that was the bad news I was without a computer.  Even with the Droid phone in my pocket, I felt naked.  Those who know me well (Libby  is at the top of that list) know that I might survive one day without a computer, but not a whole week.

So, first step to recovery was to get my laptop fixed.

  1. I paid an exorbitant amount of money to Best Buy to buy an extended warranty for the laptop when I bought it.  That extended period ends in November.  Hooray! I beat Murphy's law on that one, having the failure just before expiration rather than just after.
  2. Best Buy agreed to put in a new hard drive free, but I had to order a Windows recovery disk from Samsung.  That took a week to arrive.  Not a whole week!!!
  3. They completed the repair and recovery yesterday.  Now I have a clean version of Windows 7 minus all the bloatware that Samsung installs on a new PC.  (Samsung is not nearly as bad as HP)  Now it boots much faster than it ever did.
  4. I brought it back to Jen's, and set out to see if I could restore anything from my backup.   First question, how old was the backup?  Second, would it restore successfully?  Well, the backup was only 3 months old, and it restored perfectly.  Hooray!  I was back in business.  The only data lost were pictures from this summer that I had not uploaded to the blog or to Picasa.  Not a big deal.
  5. Google's cloud restored my bookmarks and preferences, and my password manager program restored all my passwords.  I love it when technology works.
But that's only half the story.  How did I survive the week?   Well, Libby expressed an interest in having her own laptop.  I'm delighted by that.  Maybe she'll get more connected on her own with her own machine.  Plus that, I could use Libby's new machine for myself during this first week.  Win win.

What to buy for her?  A used laptop?  A new one on sale?   I decided that the day has passed to spend even a single dollar on a laptop computer.   Just like desktop PCs, laptops are relegated to legacy.  The future is all smartphones and tablets.   I bit hard and bought a brand new iPad for Libby.   It is very expensive, but Libby is only partially computer literate, and the ease-of-use of an iPad suits her better.

Yes I know that new and better Kindle and Android tablets are just announced, that are much cheaper than iPad, and perhaps even better.  Still, for Libby the iPad's ease of use is unsurpassed and a decisive factor.

After a week playing with the iPad I like it of course.  The screen is beautiful, and I discovered iTunesU where you can access free university courses.  I already started a course on quantum mechanics from Oxford.  Every sailboat captain needs quantum mechanics ;)    But the on-screen keyboard sucks, and the Safari browser sucks. I had a lot of trouble trying to compose a blog post in Safari.  Despite iPad's famous pinch-zoom, I found that a number of attractive news reader apps don't support the zoom, nor do they provide adjustable text font sizes.  They use tiny fonts.  It is probably deliberate, like Wired Magazine they want to drive off old fart customers.

In the long term, I'll continue with my Windows laptop most of the time while Libby uses the iPad.   By the way, I was able to download a Wi-Fi hotspot app for my Android phone.  It works great, and with it I do not need to pay a monthly fee to Verizon.  On the boat, I can use my laptop and Libby can use the iPad simultaneously, both making use of the phone's Wi-Fi.  When it works, technology is great.

p.s. I sold our old MaxProp on eBay in as-is condition.  I got almost $400 for it.  It sold in less than 5  minutes.  $400 is the same price as an iPad 2.  So, financially it was a nearly even swap.  

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dick,
    Where did you find the android hot spot app? I sure learn allot of good technological tricks from you reading your blog....thanks, plus Andy and I love seeing what and where you and Libby are up to.
    s/v High Hopes


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