Ray's new PC

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Bob Buchanan

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Tom said:
Your suggestion of "new PC = Vista, old PC stay with XP" makes a lot of sense.

Am very careful to do the IMHO thing here, Tom  :), because at this juncture many are doing what works for them, for whatever reason. And as Ron and Jerry mention from my post, I had no choice. I would probably not even have Vista installed now had it not been necessary for me.

When I tried installing Vista Home Basic over XP Home, I ran into what I would normally consider a "take it back to Fry's" problem. Vista does a thing up front that examines the machine to be upgraded to display all the items that will need to be fixed, with updated drivers or whatever. I had built that machine about a year of so prior and was pleased to get a message that it would be OK to upgrade without any problems so I proceeded.

Well, it did have problems -- and not only where they not correctly identified up front, the problems were not displayed during the upgrade. When Vista ran into a problem the screen would just go completely blank -- with no clue as to why. Each time this would happen I had to begin taking hardware items one at a time and update their drivers -- then proceed until the blank screen displayed again. Finally, the only thing left was the MB, which being relatively new was not a top priority in my list of possibilities. The "only" reason I doggedly continued was because I "had" to get it running as a developer. Even tho I had it running, I was still not sure how stable it would be and perhaps other driver problems might crop up - so that became the straw that broke the camels back of my decision to also buy a machine w/Vista already installed. And I for sure double checked the 30 day return policy at Fry's before proceeding. :)

I then beat the new Fujitsu to death -- and just could not make it fail. Also, the "upgraded" machine has  never crashed or caused me a problem. So my opinion of Vista slowly changed to from warning folk to wait, to the formula you post, Tom. I am not seeing posts here of Vista machines crashing over and over the way Win98 did before SP2 -- or the first Versions of XP. It certainly hasn't for me. In fact, have never had a system crash in several months of continual usage.

By the same token, it isn't just a case of being OK with Vista because it works -- it is because at every turn, I like it better. One of the biggest problems reported is actually one of the best features. And that is the security thing that has raised the bar considerably. Any EXE that finds it's way into an XP computer will be executed when clicked by a user inadvertently at any level of privilege, or by some other SW while any user is logged on -- regardless of the nasties it might introduce. Way back when, DOS was designed to recognize an EXE or BAT extension as files that are to be "executed". So that is exactly what any version of XP will do - regardless of the potential danger that EXE poses. Vista will not do that -- unless one disables that feature. If it does not recognize it, it will bring it to the operators attention and "requires" a higher level of privilege to execute.

As I work with Vista little things I was not aware of keep popping up. Eg., another complaint folk have is how things are done differently so they do not have the time to re-learn. And that is OK and a valid reason hold off. However, I have generally found that if Vista does it differently than XP, it represents an improvement over how XP did it in terms of where it is located to how it is done. When I find something is not where I would find it in XP, I just click Help. Many things are done exactly the same so the learning curve has not been steep at all.

Here's one of "many" examples I could list. Outlook Express is now called Windows Mail in Vista. And that dumb idea of "Identities" is gone and has been replaced by a My Contacts file -- found where you would find My Pictures, My Documents, and so forth for each User. You can back it up or copy it to another computer just as you would My Favorites. You can send the whole file or a single contact to someone else just as you would pass a business card to others. Several years ago I purchased an OEM version of Outlook 2003. I have "never" been able to get it working in XP. In Vista it loaded and is now up and running perfectly.

I prefer Windows Explorer vs. My Computer for file management -- and that works so much better now. The Search feature does the thing where as you type in each character of the search string Vista moves ahead with the search based on each significant character. When you click a folder in the Left Pane, it only opens in the right pane -- not also in the left. In order to open on the left, it must be specifically opened. That really bugged me in XP.

So the new features and improvements over XP just go on and on. Visually, the Sidebar gives me the stuff I would normally have to have displayed in a Google or Yahoo "My" screen. Multiple tasks are displayed in a three dimensional array on he desktop vs. just in the task bar. And the icons in the task bar open when passed over by the mouse to small displays of the screen that was minimized. The graphic improvements just go on and on.

Anyway, it works for me. If I were not a developer and know what I know now, I would easily prefer Vista over XP. As a developer, things are now just the opposite in that I am forced to keep my XP desktop because of XP users of my SW -- and my older Toshiba is maxed out at 512mb of RAM so cannot be upgraded. Otherwise I would go all Vista . . .  :)
 

Ray D

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Bob, you have done it again. You sure do a heartening post. Thanks.  ;D

You said,
By the same token, it isn't just a case of being OK with Vista because it works -- it is because at every turn, I like it better.

I'll sure be happy to get to that point, if I ever do. That will be my goal.  :-\

Figured out some more on syncing the phone with Outlook. Does most of what I want, now. Gotta get used to the format. I have used Palm for so many years, I don't have to think about it. So, it is fast. I'm dead slow using Outlook. On the  other hand, it is really neat to wake up in the AM, turn on the cell, and have it tell me what I have in line, for the day!  ;D That part I like!

I'm hanging in there! (Where is the teeth gritting smiley?)

Ray D  ;D
 

Ray D

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Well, a month since the last post, and I seem to have crossed a line. Noticed it over the last several days. I do most things on my new Vista Laptop. But, I go in and do some things on my old, now Dani's new, XP.

I like the Vista system better. It is a lot faster at whatever I do. It seems safer. Both Windows and McAfee warn me about things as I cruise. Sometimes, both at once. To open a picture, here on the  Forum, for example; I have to tell Windows I meant to do that, and then I have to tell McAfee, also. Both are blocking! On some sites, McAfee warns me quite intensly! I head the warning and back out. I like the idea that both are active and aggressive.

I solved the touch pad issue, finally. I put a tape hinge on a 3" X 5" card, over the touch pad. It covers it. When I want to use the touch pad, I flip the card. Don't have that aggravation, any more.

The cell phone, now, blishes well with the computer and I can do all the tricks I care about, except one. I can do several that I don't care about. The one remaining that I care about is using the phone as a modem. Haven't tried it, yet. Suppose I should.

It works as a PDA quite adequately. I'm surprised. Now, I don't know what to do with my old Palm. No longer trying to get it to sinc. In fact, removed the program from the laptop.  ;D

It will take pictures, and I use that feature quite a bit. Surprised at that. That was something Dani wanted, and I now use it more than she does. Always have my cell, so, always have a camera. Very convenient. Small files, but I don't do much, anymore, requiring larger files. If I need to do that, I still have the old cameras.

We can do text messaging. Ho, hum.  ::)

It picks up my E-Mail! Doesn't do that all the time, just now and then. Fascinating!  :-\ Guess I need to learn how to control that.  ::) Can't think of a need for that, but it is an interesting problem/feature - whatever. Too small to enjoy reading my mail, there, but who knows? Maybe, someday - - -. Even when it does that, my computer still  picks up the same E-Mails. Get them twice.  ::)

I am supposed to be able to download music and listen to it on the cell. Haven't done that, yet, and have no plans to do it. Same with videos, etc.

Anyway, the system, including the human part, is working, finally. I wouldn't recommend switching to Vista. However, if it's a forced move, as it was in my case, it can be done and it's not so bad. Just a long learning curve, for me.  ::)

Having gotten to this point, I wouldn't go back. Thanks for the encouragement, Bob.  ;D Thanks everyone for the assistance through this fiasco!  ;D

Ray D  ;D
 

CujoQuarrel

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The first step to deciding on a new computer purchase is to determine what you are going to do with it. How much horsepower do you really need? Drive space? Screen size? etc...

If you aren't doing software development on it or video editing  or something like that you really don't need the top of the line.

If someone is looking for very simple webbrowsing / picture editing etc you might want to take a look at this new model that just came out (not recomending the vendor here just the first google I found)
http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product_Id=4206912&JRSource=googlebase.datafeed.ASU+EEEPCBLACK

It's getting extremely good reviews for what it does.

It has no HD , no CD rom/writer. What it mainly has is a very small size , a very small weight, a very good battery life and still be a fully functional computer and not a PDA. I believe there will be an XP version of it soon (it doesn't have the horse power to run VISTA).

I think everyone is selling it for the base price of $399.

For me , it would make a great 2nd traveling computer (well, actually a FIFTH computer ...)

 

Tom

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After much procrastination, I bought a new Gateway desktop PC today to replace Chris' ailing (read very slow) PC. For what she needs, $599 at Costco is just fine. It came with Windows Vista Home Premium. In the box was a new LCD monitor we didn't really need, but Costco's 90 day return policy and 2 year warranty swung the decision.

Out of the box, the PC configured itself and it appeared to work just fine. The default resolution didn't match the monitor resolution (didn't fit the screen, so none of the controls were visible). Changed the resolution to make it fit before realizing there's an "auto" button on the side of the monitor.

First two things I did was download and install Firefox and Thunderbird. Both installed and work just fine. I have several other apps on my list to install, including Open Office.

Chris uses a trackball rather than a mouse, but her trackball wasn't recognized by Vista. Fortunately I had a couple of spare ones in laptop bags and one of them worked just fine.

Next, I hooked up Chris' existing HP all-in-one machine via the printer port. No driver. Went to the HP web site and got a message saying (I'm paraphrasing) "that printer is too old and we won't be providing a Vista driver for it". That's a pretty good machine too. Not a big deal, I hooked up one of my other all-in-one machines, a Lexmark, via a USB port. No driver. Popped in the disk that came with the Lexmark, and Vista burped part way through installing. Tried it a couple of times, then went to the Lexmark site and downloaded the driver. It warned me there was an old driver installed and asked if I wanted to uninstall it. Clicked yes and Vista froze part way through uninstalling. After several gyrations and about an hour of screwing around, I got the driver installed and the print function works (haven't tried the other functions yet).

I consider all this to be par for the course when dealing with Microsoft products. Like many others here, I've been using computers since long before "the PC" came out. But I can't help wonder how the average Joe is supposed to deal with this stuff.

Meanwhile, after just a short period of use, I have to agree with Bob's comment about the bar having been raised on security in Vista vs XP.
 

Ray D

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Tom, you tell a good story!  8)

I felt like I was sitting in your chair, and wearing your shoes!  :-\

Uummm - - hope your don't mind -  ::) :D ;D

Ray D.  ;D

Got both of my HP All In Ones installed. One on each computer. Had the most trouble with Dani's, and that was an XP tp XP swap! Go figure!  :mad:
 

Tom

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LOL Ray. Mind? Heck no, why should I mind? Glad you enjoyed the story.
 

Ned

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Printers have always been a problem for new versions of Windows.  Printers useful lives are so short, there is no incentive for the mfrs to write new drivers, and with the price of printers so low, and ink so high, it's usually cheaper to just buy a new printer.

Gateway was one of the better systems, then they went into a big slump, closed their retail stores, but now seem to be coming back selling through the big box stores.  I'm comfortable recommending them again.  Their service was always excellent, I hope it still is.

There are lots of web sites that can help you make Vista behave the way you want.  Watch out for many older programs that don't comply with the separate of program and data rules that are being enforced in Vista.  They were there in XP too, but mostly avoided by running as Administrator.  Can't do that trick with Vista and UAC.
 

Tom

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As I reported previously, Fry's have had in-store specials offering printers for free with any new PC. (IIRC they're free after a rebate.) Obviously not every make and model of printer, but certainly several models from each of several manufacturers. A sales guy claimed that was one way around the driver issue.

Being aware of the potential driver issue was one reason for my procrastination and a reason for several visits to Fry's. But the average Joe who is merely looking to upgrade their PC is likely to get a surprise when the get home with their new purchase.

There are lots of web sites that can help you make Vista behave the way you want.

The point is that this shouldn't be necessary and is merely a proliferation of the "Microsoft way". The average Joe (or Chris in this case) shouldn't have to browse the web to figure out how to make Vista work the way they want.

What's UAC?
 

Tom

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Ned said:
Gateway was one of the better systems, then they went into a big slump, closed their retail stores, but now seem to be coming back selling through the big box stores.

I've been favorably impressed with my Gateway laptop that I bought at Best Buy almost 2 years ago. This experience was one of my reasons for having no concern about buying another Gateway. I could get better deals on Compaq and HP machines, but prior bad experiences with both companies and their proprietary software kept me from falling into that trap again.

Watch out for many older programs that don't comply with the separate of program and data rules that are being enforced in Vista.

Thanks for the heads up. So far I've only been installing new downloads of software and probably won't install any old apps on Chris' machine.
 

Ned

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(U)ser (A)ccount (C)ontrol, the visible part of Vista's security.

If you don't like the Microsoft products so much, why don't you try Linux?  You can get all the standard applications, Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, GIMP, etc. that everyone needs and, best of all, they're free.  However, even Linux has to be customized to work the way you want.  You have a choice of at least two UIs, KDE and Gnome, and the eye candy is there for your pleasure as well.  But, the security is much better and easier to work with than any other OS that I've used.
 

Tom

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Thanks for the explanation of UAC. I'd have never figured that one out.

I have Linux on one of my laptops with the intent of becoming more familiar/comfortable with it and eventually moving away from Microsoft. But I'm not ready to use Chris' new machine as the guinea pig for that.
 

Ned

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If I don't replace my motherboard in the near future, I am seriously considering installing Linux on my desktop and running Windows in a virtual machine under VMWare.  VMW can clone my whole existing system to a virtual machine so I wouldn't have to reinstall anything.  The biggest problem is picking the right distro :)
 

Karl

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The discussion of Vista should really be two separate topics - one addressing Vista on a new computer, and another addressing upgrading to Vista on existing hardware. If this is your first computer, Vista may be all you could ask for, but upgrading is another story altogether. Hardware and software incompatibilities abound, and you may find yourself shelling out a lot of money for new, Vista-approved programs and software.

An example of a 'new' Vista-based system recently reared its' ugly head. A friend had purchased a new HP desktop, a M7750n media center computer from Circuit City. While he is not a power user, even he was frustrated by having to learn a new operating system (previously XP) and having to reboot on a irregular basis to get various things to work, and asked me to install XP. Try as I might, I couldn't get the system to accept XP and support the SATA drive. Seems HP has some propietary hardware AND BIOS, which left us with no choice but to return it to its' original Vista state. Simple, right? Wrong!! The Geek Squad had installed it for him and created their own version of a recovery cd, and had taken the original restore cd with them! Their cd was password protected and requires a call from them to recover the system! Fortunately, we had just installed (before the update fiasco) an external USB drive and Acronis True Image, and made a backup, from which we were able to get the system back again. O.k., so it wasn't Vista's fault directly, but rather a conscious decision by HP (can you say "collusion"?) to make Vista the only viable O.S. for this product.

For those of you who are looking for XP drivers, go to driverguide.com. It's free, but a paid subscription gets you additional software that will scan your computer hardware and look for the best driver matches for you. Subsequent runnings will alert you to new/better drivers as they become available; either from techies contributions or directly from the hardware manufacturer. Can't recommend them too highly. 
 

Tom

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Ned said:
The biggest problem is picking the right distro

I see the recommendations on that changing periodically, which is another reason I'm not ready to make a full commitment to Linux. I'm nowhere near as close to, or knowledgeable, of the issue as you, so I think I'll wait until you convert and iron out all the problems  ;D
 

Tom

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Karl said:
The discussion of Vista should really be two separate topics - one addressing Vista on a new computer, and another addressing upgrading to Vista on existing hardware.

Agreed Karl, and that was Bob's point earlier (or at least my interpretation of what he was saying). The point was well taken and is one reason I'm not planning an upgrade of existing machines. I was much more comfortable with a new PC coming from the factory with Vista loaded. But, as I found out, that still had pitfalls.

Thanks for the driverguide.com link. Do you know of an equivalent one for Vista drivers? One caveat for anyone signing up to driverguide - you have to navigate through a number of commercial offerings before you get there. Don't know if this is for first time users, free users, or everybody.
 

Ned

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I would avoid the Geek Squad after all the negative publicity on their recent shenanigans.  Firedog (Circuit City, Geek Squad is Best Buy), on the other hand, has gotten some very positive reviews in the computer press recently.
 
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