This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 30, 2008 9:39 PM. The previous post in this blog was Wanted: hardware geek. The next post in this blog is Metro demo shows density goals achieved. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Have you seen your motherboard, baby?

Mine was definitely standin' in the shadow as of early this morning. That burning smell I detected as my desktop computer died last night was eMachines el-cheapo computer goodness going up in smoke.

But hey, it was nearly five years old, and that computer and I had seen many good times and bad together. Plus, the fact that the hard drive was intact was good news.

Thanks to all our alert readers who suggested hardware geeks who could get things done for me. Some even generously offered to pitch in themselves -- special thanks to them. As it turned out, I called these guys, took the computer over there, and in less than 20 minutes was on my way with my hard drive encased in a new USB box that turns it into a portable drive.

As computer crashes go, that ain't bad. If only my car drive back to the office in rush hour traffic had gone so smoothly.

I'm still taking suggestions for the new desktop computer while I hack away on a laptop. I'm thinking a big-ticket Dell. All I need is the tower. The Mac folks are singing their siren song to me, but I just don't think I'm brave enough.

Comments (27)

Dell? Psssshhhhh......

Alienware, dude!

Make the switch to the Mac and OSX. If you have to have Windows for some special applications you can load it using BootCamp. I added XP Home Edition to my iMac last night just to see how it works. It works just fine but the OSX side is so much nicer and intuitive.

Jack stay away from the Macs and while we are at it Compact PCs too.

I would rather have a PC that I can fix in 20 min. rather than 20 days.

With the mac I have too take the computer too a Mac Store and then have them ship it too a repair center.
With the PC I can take the offending part to a store (5 pc vs 1 mac)hand it over to a clerk and get a new part is the biggest plus I can think of.

That said, I'm not a total PC snob I have two macs that I no longer use, but I have them.

Jack, get your educator's discount and buy yourself one of the nifty new iMacs. They've just upped the specs and kept the pricing where it was before, so you get more for less. Get down to an Apple store and check out one of the 26" screens--a wonder to behold.

Seriously, they're so much better than Windows machines, you'll wonder how you ever did without one.

Frankly I'm surprised you don't already have a Mac ( Educator, democrat, Blogster).
Why a tower? Laps now have everything you need.
Read the Q&A section of Metro Computerworks at the bottom of the link you posted. That will tell you about what you need to know.

Thanks for the tip about Metrocomputerworks.

I took the time to go to their Internet page and was quite impressed by how they present information and details about the work they do. They certainly don't sound like a firm that is going to "baffle you with their BS" (aka Geek-talk).

Again, thanks!

...ora et labora...


Recommending computers is a dangerous game. There is not one out there that can't turn your life into cyber-hell. I've had PCs, I've had 3 Apples. I guess I'm in the Apple camp but not without some major pain. Recently, I was stunned to find some bad news about a high def project I'm working on in 1080i that can be edited in Apple's Final Cut Pro 6. It just can't be taken back out without crunching the quality. There is a possible fix by transferring to other non-Apple programs but it will cost me several grand. Apple sold me something that feels to me like consumer fraud. You can see the cookies baking in the oven. You can smell how good they are. You just can't get them out of the oven. That is Apple at its worst. I would also avoid the iListen program that types what you say out loud. I returned to the store and told the salesperson it should be renamed iSuck. I've also gotten burned on the Apple mail program including life-changing calls to tech support that lasted 45 minutes. People who are religious about Apples sound like that first big love affair. It changes after you get burned a few times.

Jack, trust your gut and stick with Dell. There are many Dell-haters out there for one reason or another, but I can tell you first hand that their quality is top notch (I have over 350 running in the field). If you do decide on Dell and want the best deal possible, email me.

Just get an Intel Mac. Go to Bill Cantrell at Power MacPac off NE 122nd S. of Airport Way. No bravery required. Tell him you want a 60 day full refund / no questions deal. You won't use it.

They work better. They do more things easier. They don't break. And if they eventually do, they fix them right there in their shop. No shipping to anywhere required.

Macs are a triumph of intelligence and beauty in industrial design. Which, considering the typical quality of most of the products we consume and use in our lives, can indeed make one a bit uneasy, apprehensive, even suspicious.

Dude you're getting a Dell!

Go Mac, Bojack.

(I'm completely serious, as it happens.)

I've had both Macs and PCs. The simple truth is that the majority of software is still written for the PC. So if you're looking to upgrade any software, PC might be the way to go.
One last thing. If you get a PC, buy one with the Windows XP Operating System. Even Walter Mossberg, who writes the Wall Street Journal technology column, prefers the older OS. Good luck with your purchase!

If you go PC, insist on XP!

I am stumped as to what people are talking about when they say there is software that isn't available for Mac. Aside from some fancy proprietary GIS/CAD systems that get their own workstations and robed acolytes, I don't know of any. What are they talking about?

I was along for the ride when Apple became Word compatible and that's finally working. There used to be a ton of hassle sending documents between Apple and non-Apple computers. It still isn't 100% smooth. I get a Word document from a client with PCs and it opens fine. But I can't just amend it and send it back. I have to convert it into plain text or it will look crazy when they open it. So we're not all the way there yet.
One thing Apple can't do now is author a Blu-Ray, although other non-Apple programs can. So you can edit in 1080i but you can't export in 1080i and that is frustrating. I thought the whole point of high def was high def.

Oh, there are some kinds of software that are hard to find for Mac, but you're right that it tends to be really specialized stuff or games.

But remember that new Mac hardware is perfectly capable of running XP if you need that too. (Or even Vista - if you're a masochist.) The only downside of using Mac hardware for Windows is that you have to buy separately and install XP yourself, but with Boot Camp that's so easy even a lawyer can do it. :-p

Anyway, Dell is okay but the real reason to switch is the OS. You won't really discover how much there is to hate about Windows until you use OSX for a while and try going back.

Also, I second the laptop suggestion. Even a low-end new Macbook is a hell of a nice computer for everyday use.

The PC / Mac debate is sure to trigger a religious war in the most reasoned of folks...;-)

I have four XP machines here and are very happy with them. Previous comments on hardware repair-ability and software availability are very accurate. Truth is, the bulk of business software is still written for the Windows environment. I know you can run XP on a Mac and OSx on an Intel box (and I do know that the new Mac's have 'Intel inside') but it's not the best path.

Long and short of it is that a computer is a tool. Use the tools you're familiar with, running the software you like to run.

Dell is good, very good, but don't overlook the recent offerings from HP. Quality hardware with great support...well worth a look.

Good luck, Jack -

You got an eMachine to run for 5 years? Kudos.

Actually, I owned it for almost five years, but only really used it for about three years and nine months. Still, a very good run.

How much did they charge for your drive in a box (which is what I need)?

I own 3 Dells; have been extremely happen with all of them. Dells popularity means replacement parts galore on eBay; I've never had a problem with their warranty service.

Recommendation depends on what your plans include ...
(1) Length of Service? I wouldn't trust a laptop for more than two years good (hard) usage. Towers are more easily upgradeable; but it comes with a price.
(2) Intended Function? If you're looking for a machine to run graphic-intensive children's programming, tower + fancy graphics card + lots of processing power + RAM galore. If your looking at running a text editor and some I-net windows, probably not so much.
(3) Portability? Blogging from the road? Work from the road?
(4) Existing Compatiblity? Are you already entrenched with the cool games for your Windows machine?

I tend to treat computers as short term investments -- buy cheap, use hard and replace early. Others want them as a long term thing ... buy expensive, lovingly maintain and last.

If you have a keyboard and a display, a Mac mini is a good buy and makes for an easy transition, should you want to go that way. There's no shortage of software for the Mac, but some PC software is better. Quicken is the standout example. Mac Quicken is a neglected orphan. PC Quicken is not so wonderful, but Mac Quicken is a mess.

Well Cris Coyle, no matter how much you spend and lovingly maintain, buying computers is just like buying bananas! (Think about it)

How much did they charge for your drive in a box (which is what I need)?

$25 for the box, $20 labor to take the drive out of the PC and set it up in the box. The diagnosis of my PC's problem was free.

You know what they say, "Once you go Mac, you'll never go back". Best move I ever made was getting a mac.

I would consider speccing it from individual parts. I wanted a machine that included redundant hard drives for data protection, a powerful CPU and graphics card and lots of RAM, and almost completely silent. I built this machine from scratch and am very happy with it.

First, the machines from major manufacturers like Dell include very little variety. You have a "choice" of a powerhouse that sounds like a jet taking off or an anemic machine that is silent. No manufacturer made anything like what I wanted. There is a huge variety in enthusiast parts.

Second, I got higher quality components. I've cracked open Dell machines half a dozen times and found poor quality parts. For example, my parents were having trouble playing a train game with 3d graphics. The board had a video card slot, but it turned out Dell had disabled the video slot in the BIOS to prevent it from being upgraded. As a result my parents had to buy a brand new machine they did not need. I also bought four machines from Dell one time and all four died within 9 months. It turned out the drives they used had been recalled by the manufacturer before Dell shipped them. Manufacturers like Dell compete on price not on quality. You will get far better quality parts from a custom build.

I would consider picking the individual parts yourself and either putting it together yourself or getting your favorite shop to build it. I can give more details or parts recommendations if you are interested in going this route.

Thanks for the recommendation of Metro Computer Works. Took our dead laptop to them yesterday to try to recover the data that was there. He had the same recommendation for us - turn the hard drive into a portable drive - but didn't have any boxes on hand. I asked him if I could find the appropriate equipment at Frye's and he sent me on my way to do it on my own - no charge even!

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