New computer hassles, software issues


Moving from my old (7-10 years old) Dell 2350 with 1 GB of (really slow ) DDR2 RAM running Win XP SP3 to a new Compaq Presario (who makes up these stupid names?) with 2 GB (much faster) DDR3 RAM running the 64-bit Win 7 Home Premium amounted to culture shock on a world shaking scale.

I’ve never met anyone who wished he had a slower, older computer. If I ever do, I’ll sell him mine. My only complaint with the Presario is that it only has 4 USB-2 ports on the back plane, and both the keyboard and mouse connect to the computer via USB. Which means that my wireless adapter, mini-cam, UPS and printer all competed for the other two ports. Until I got fed up and paid $15.00 for a 4-port unpowered USB hub, which hangs ignominiously from its USB connector trailing three or four USB cables where nobody can see it.

Later this month I’ll purchase another 2 GB of DDR-3 RAM for about $43.50. All of my 32-bit software installed and ran without a problem and seems to run just fine, thank you very much.

I think Microsoft has finally figured out how to write OS code that actually works the way the user expects it to work. Not that I’ve got Win 7 figured out. I don’t. Yet. But it appears to be very well organized and other than dropping the wireless connection at odd moments, it works just fine.

We brought the new machine home Sunday night from Best Buy. I had a short job to do Monday morning, but around 2:00 that afternoon I started to set it up. I had backups of my backups from the old machine, and printed out all of my passwords and product keys, and then I backed up everything all over again, just to be sure.

The biggest hassle – 2 hours’ worth – involved configuring the wireless adapter in Win 7. I still don’t know how I managed to get it done, but the OS finally recognized the home network and when I entered the passkey it all clicked just like it was supposed to do.

After that it took another day to install all of my software apps and system tools and get them configured. I use QuickBooks SimpleStart accounting software to track my expenses and sales (yes, I have both, technically, kinda-sorta. I am a writer, after all, and selling books is the whole idea). It’s a small business since I don’t have to do more than track the internet sales and record whatever sales deals I close with retail buyers or consignments to indie booksellers.

I’d like to purchase a copy of QuickBooks Pro because it includes sophisticated stuff like inventory tracking. SimpleStart by definition does not. So inventory just goes into a spreadsheet I have to update for changes. It works. It’s admittedly a kludge, but what’s a boy to do?

Unfortunately, Intuit no longer offers a downloadable desktop version of SimpleStart on their web site. They’ve figured out that they can charge people $13.00 or so a month to access SimpleStart on the web. Well, that is a good marketing decision for them I suppose, but I want my data on my computer, not on their servers where I have to pay to play with my own business data. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I got in touch with one of their reps via the chat tool on the Intuit site and she was kind enough to send me the URL for a download page where I could access the desktop version again.  Thank you very much for that, Intuit! Truly, thank you.

Intuit makes good, serviceable products and they have a great reputation for standing by their customers. And SimpleStart is a good, easy-to-understand and logically well laid out program. Not only that, but Intuit has a very large community of users whole will jump in and answer any questions you may have about using their products.

You just can’t go wrong with this company.

Win 7 has lots of nice features, and a lot of the features carried over from XP are much more robust. I thought I use the magnifier in Win 7 so I turned that on, but it quickly became an infuriating nuisance, so I got rid of it. If you’re legally blind and really need it I am sure it will prove a valuable tool, but I’m not, so there.

All in all, after a week of moving software and configuring this and swapping out that I finally have a reliable machine to carry on my writing. It’s not a whizz-bang machine with super-cooled over-clocked quad processor running 16 Gb of RAM and quad RAID backup drives, but that’s okay. I’ve got an uninterruptable power supply and a few more USB ports than I need right now. And I’m gonna get another two GB of RAM in a few weeks.

Have a good week


About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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