In active use

Monday April 3, 2006

23 days to M-day

“That’s my new computer,” I said with some glee to the Amtrak guy when he called just after 7:30 this morning.

He regarded me with some suspicion. “It’s a bit light for a computer,” he said.

“It’s a laptop.”

“That’d explain it. Hope you’ll enjoy.”

“I shall do my best. Technology marches on and I try to keep in step.”

As I closed the door Graham came bustling into the kitchen, tying his robe. “Right,” he said. “You make tea and I’ll get this thing going.”

By nine o’clock, and three mugs of tea later, my new toy was connected wirelessly to the home network and through it to the Internet.

“Have a good play while I’m getting my shower and then we’ll start you off transferring files.”

Using the Windows XP file and settings wizard, we started the process off, the lights on the Netgear network hub started working harder and longer than we’ve ever seen them go, and the massive job of transferring all my stuff from my PC was underway.

“This is going to take a good while,” I said. “I think I’ll nip into Spilsby for a couple of bits while it’s running rather than sit here watching and biting my nails. You want anything from the Co-op?”

“Liquorice alsorts.”

“Right you are.”

True to April form, it was a showery day. I caught a shower each way in the car but escaped free and dry while I was walking about on my errands. It was a three-layer day, not as warm as yesterday and the day before, but I was comfortable, and enjoyed my outing.

Back home the laptop was chuntering along merrily, almost at the end of the file transfer. When it was done I checked out my email and browser settings, to find them a complete mirror image of the desktop. Then I left it to update Windows and Norton while I prepared lunch. By siesta time it was done so I shut the lid and took myself off for my afternooon nap.

Back at the table, I resumed my familiarisation and, somewhere along the line, it stopped being a new toy and turned over to being a new workhorse. The display is probably the best I’ve ever seen and, to check it out, we played the first part of the newish Wallace and Gromit DVD. The result was a rock-steady, beautiful rendition, in full wide-screen. Even the built-in speakers and sound card perform clearly and seem perfectly balanced for personal use. I’m coming to terms with the keyboard, and can almost touch type on it already. Can’t say I much like it when compared with my old IBM clickety-clack keyboard but in a day or two I’ll be perfectly at home on it. The touch pad is another matter entirely. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but so far it feels very strange indeed, and I feel very clumsy when performing cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop operations.

On power and performance, I can’t give an objective report. Subjectively it feels at least as fast as my desktop and, for all the things I commonly do, as instant in response as is reasonable to expect. On Internet operations it is, if anything, a little bit faster.

After loading all my data, including seven year’s photographs, and MS Word, Excel and Publisher, along with a few utilities, the system reports 12 gbytes of the hard disk in use, with 64 gbytes remaining free. No problem there, then.

I’ve yet to try the built-in media card reader but I don’t expect any problems.

If I hit any snags I’ll report them but my first take, on the first day, is that the HP Pavilion dv4000 is a fine machine. Perhaps a bit big and heavy for frequent travel use but that’s not what I plan to do with it.

Graham says it would not be able to play advanced graphics games like the latest Doom, but I don’t do that. For the kind of thing I do, I’d happily recommend it to anyone with similar needs, with the usual injunction that the first thing needed when choosing a computer, any computer, is a full and honest appraisal of the way in which the user is expecting to employ it in practice.

I don’t commonly go into detail on prices of these things, partly because I have an old-fashioned view that discussion of money is slightly vulgar, but also in recognition of the fact that prices vary from country to country, even within the European Union and especially between Britain and the United States. Given the very high element of reader participation in establishing the laptop fund, however, the figures worked out thusly:


Purchase price: 763.70GBP Donations and
advertising revenue:
    From savings: 155.35GBP
Total: 763.70GBP Total: 763.70GBP


So, one more time, my profound and heartfelt thanks to those who’ve felt able to contribute to the fund in one way or another. I’ll do my best to keep to my part of the bargain and keep the journal entries going with minimum interruption throughout our move to Somerset and all the way through the house hunting while we’re living in the caravan at West Quantoxhead.

Lastly, I should perhaps say that I’ve already cut over to full-time use of the laptop. This entry was written and uploaded with it, and while it took me a bit longer than normal, I reckon that I’ll be fully up to speed by the end of this week.

Soon as I get the camera connection worked out I’ll post a photograph of the beast in active use…

Somewhere around mid-evening, I pronounced myself fully familiar with the laptop and that the desktop machine was now ready to be packed away. We plan to use it in a cupboard somewhere in the next house as a network hub, serving a giant hard disk and the two printers along with the start of an audio-visual home network.

“Is it plonko time yet?” I asked, closing the lid of the laptop. “I’m ready to do dinner now.”

“Thought you’d never ask.”

We opened the second bottle of Californian wine, an anonymous and exceedingly generic ‘white’, and found it reasonably palatable but not so much so as the Napa Valley chardonnay we had yesterday. We’ll stick with the chardonnay when we next go shopping for wine.

“I’m just about finished packing,” Graham said, having been busy all day.

“Great. Here’s to the future. May it be as smooth and worry-free as today.”

“I’ll drink to that.”



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