Monday Afternoon Open Thread

I'm just coming up for air since my recent robbery. Four days and it's still a logistical mess. I won't be blogging for a few more days as I need to get back to my real job first.

My burglar alarm system is just about ready and yes, I got an insurance policy.

Two big questions now: Among other things, I have to replace my Sony laptop and my Macbook. The Macbook is not a problem, but the PC is. I can't figure out whether to get 64 bit or 32 bit, whether to get Visa Home Premium or Ultimate, and whether to get a 5400 or 7200 hard drive. I don't need business network capability but I want it to be fast for word processing and internet stuff and getting through dvd-roms of discovery, including audio and video files. Is it too soon to get a 64 bit machine because older programs won't work with it? Are there other considerations I've missed and does anyone have a new laptop they just love? The two I'm liking the best so far are the Sony SR series and the Dell XPS M1330.

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    Computer (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 05:38:18 PM EST
    recommendations are like car recommendations....

    I have had 1 HP/Compaq and it had various problems including bad CD/DVD drive, two memory chips... Obviously made on Monday or Friday PM.

    I have had three Toshiba Satellites that worked flawlessly,including my current one..

    My youngest daughter had a HP/Compaq that worked and worked and worked... My oldest swears on Dell...

    so go figure.

    Whatever you buy make sure to:

    Load it with all the memory it will take.

    Get the largest hard drive it will take.

    Make sure the seller deletes all the "free" software and other "offers" you don't want.

    Get a great security package.

    Have the seller shut off all the software you don't want to start every time you boot up. Unwanted software programs booting up every time is one of the prime reasons for slow starts.

    Get a portable hard drive for backing up your files. They are really dirt cheap.

    If you are going to use WIFI wireless at your home/office talk to someone about the security issues. Wouldn't want your defense strategy to be compromised...

    Have fun! Prices should be good and it's like "Breakfast at Tiffany's!"

    Glad to hear you're OK (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 04:32:04 PM EST
    and I have absolutely no clue on how to advise you about the laptop.

    Any word on the perps?

    If so, any word on what (if anything) they said when told they'd crashed the home of a defense attorney?

    I am a bit of a nerd (none / 0) (#2)
    by eric on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 04:36:04 PM EST
    so I will offer my advice, fwiw.

    First, I don't think there is any need to go 64 bit.  32 is fine unless you are using top-end apps that require significant processor power.  The truth is that you will not notice the difference with everyday applications.

    With regard to windows, I have Vista Premium and it works fine.  I cannot speak to Ultimate because I have not tried it.  I note the Microsoft has a page that shows the differences.  If you think you would use the added features, then perhaps you should go that route.

    Finally, with regard to hard drives, data access is faster with a 7200 RPM drive, but that difference is not noticeable to me.  Again, if you want higher performance, go for the 7200.

    One thing to add about Vista ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 05:16:49 PM EST
    the code for all versions of Vista is loaded on your machine whichever version you buy.  If you want upgrade you just buy a key, and it unlocks those portions.

    So if you get Premium and decide later you want Ultimate, it's no big chore to upgrade.

    I doubt you use any applications that would benefit from 64 bit.

    But if I were buying a new machine this month I'd look into getting a desktop with the one of the new Intel Core i7 processors.  These were just released and will give your machine great future proofing.

    All reviews suggest these processors are blazingly fast.  Again, doubt you use any aps that will make much use of this now.  But in a few years you'll be glad you bought it.  And it never hurts to have a top of the line processor.


    Good point (none / 0) (#33)
    by eric on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:16:28 AM EST
    about the Vista.  Forgot about that.

    I don't know about the new Intels...I'm an AMD person, all the way!


    I once liked the M1330 (none / 0) (#3)
    by stoic on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 05:05:09 PM EST
    but realized it has a relatively lo-res screen. Check out the Lenovo Thinkpads. I have a Thinkpad T60p right now and you couldn't pry it from my cold dead hands.

    Jeralyn did you have homeonwers insurance (none / 0) (#6)
    by Saul on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 05:20:43 PM EST
    on your home when the robbery occurred?  If you did then you would have coverage for a robbery on the contents.

    If you did not have any insurance when the robbery occurred you need to check if you bought any of the lost items with American Express.  During the first 90 days American express will pay for any items stolen if you purchased them with American Express.

    No insurance and no AMEX (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 06:34:58 PM EST
    Unfortunately, I had neither insurance nor an Amex card.

    Repot robbery loss in your 2008 Tax Return (none / 0) (#29)
    by Saul on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 09:35:16 PM EST
    There  is some compensation left not exactly equal to an insurance compensation but some anyway.  

    There is a section in your personal income tax return or your business tax return to report these type of uninsured or uncompensated type of personal losses.


    64 Vs 32 is not an issue (none / 0) (#7)
    by Manuel on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 05:27:03 PM EST
    Pick the machine that you prefer ergonomically.  Chances are it will be 64 bit as those are the newer machines with the advanced graphics, nicer screens, storage, etc.  64 bit systems are capable of running 32 bit applications.  Even so, there is a benefit to 64 bits for the underlying operating system (Vista in particular).  However, if your preferred machine is 32 bits (as it might be because of cost) don't worry about it.

    WRT Vista edition, take a look at the features and see if they are worth the upgrade price to you.  The Ultimate Bitlocker feature is interesting, particularly given your recent experience, but would you really use it?

    ok that person is banned (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 06:39:21 PM EST
    from your threads, but please be nice here in my open thread. Only good thoughts tonight please.

    Let's delete this entire exchange (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 07:35:27 PM EST
    The person lied.

    And now came to your open thread to pretend she did not.

    I suggest you delete this entire exchange from this thread.


    I'm doing that now (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 08:32:00 PM EST

    I'm tempted to advise you (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 06:53:28 PM EST
    just to install Windows on your new Macbook, but I don't want to complicate your life further.

    64/32 really isn't going to be an issue that you grapple with. The bottom line is that any windows notebook that you pull off the shelf is going to be good enough for what you want to do. My advice is to get yourself a business class machine, either from Lenovo (a Thinkpad) or Dell (latitude). The general rule of thumb is that if a notebook starts at less than $1000, the whole line is flimsy junk. Stay away from Sony and most HP. Yes, I know they're shiny etc., but they're PLASTICPLASTICPLASTIC and break pretty easily.

    This is a very good idea (none / 0) (#17)
    by talesoftwokitties on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 07:10:45 PM EST
    I run Parallels on my MacBook and it works great.  All of my Windows programs work fine.  Very easy to switch back and forth between Windows and Mac.  Very easy to install and set up.  You do need to buy a copy of the Windows operating system of your choice however.  Saves having to buy two computers.  I highly concur with andgarden's advice.

    And sorry to hear about your ordeal Jeralyn.  Logistical mess, sure, but emotional as well, I'll bet.   Take care.


    I've had Sony laptops (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 08:44:10 PM EST
    for many years, at least six of them. I'm typing on an old one now. I don't find them plastic, just expensive. I paid $2,200 for the one that was stolen in 11/06. I don't want to pay that now, I'm looking in the $1200 to $1500 range.

    I've had one IBM Thinkpad, the first one they made I think. The TL kid has a newish one. But while they made be better made, they give you less bang for the buck, you need to buy a top of the line at $3k to get the bells and whistles Dell offers for $1500.

    Who knew this would get so complicated, it's wearing me out.

    As to the Mac, I will replace my MacBook with a new one when I have some money which will be after I replace the PC laptop -- I use the macbook for my iPod and have the 23" monitor for it which I would hate to waste or sell. The macbook and legal work don't mix that well for me, whether it's Adobe or Lexis or Wordperfect.

    All your suggestions are really helpful -- even those I don't take. I'm at least considering more factors. Thanks.


    Understood (none / 0) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 09:01:04 PM EST
    I'm not big on Windows notebooks, but I've seen the Latitude E Series suggested.

    My advice: you'll forget about the bells and whistles when your "s" key falls off after a year. Seriously consider a sturdy business class laptop. You can find one well within your budget.


    Any Windows laptop. . . (none / 0) (#21)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 07:48:42 PM EST
    for which you pay over $500 is going to suit your needs fine.  Vista Home Premium will be fine.  A computer with an AMD, rather than an Intel, chip will save you a hundred dollars or more.

    Basically you need to decide whether you want small and light or a big screen, with the corresponding weight.

    I work with computers professionally, and spend pretty much all my time with an HP dv9000 series machine with a seventeen inch screen and a full keyboard, including numeric keys.  It weights about 8.5 pounds and is a bear to carry around, but I don't miss having a desktop machine.

    Best of luck recovering from the robbery.  I hope you didn't lose anything that wasn't just "stuff", but the worst part is the feeling of insecurity.

    No on Dell laptops (none / 0) (#30)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 09:40:33 PM EST
    I have spent the past five months trying to get my brand-new Dell laptop to work.  Their customer service/techie service is simply appalling -- I won't go into the horrid details, but it is utterly unacceptable.  I have bought Dells for years, but no more.

    I'm leaning towards this one (none / 0) (#31)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 10:45:19 PM EST
    here, any thoughts?

    I love buying computers. (none / 0) (#32)
    by JeriKoll on Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 11:13:40 PM EST
    First whatever you get, try to find a place where there is a demo model that you can try.  Type on it, read on it.  Do whatever it is that you do normally.  And do it for half an hour.


    Lenovo is good.  They now make the old IBM Thinkpads, and the Idea Pad.

    Toshiba is ok too.

    I've used Dell a lot. They are pretty good. The XPS 1330 with 13.3 inch screen seems to be the replacement for the old Latitude 12.1 inch screen machines.  The Latitudes were very durable but I didn't see a 12.1 inch one when I looked just now at my latest Dell Business catalog and of course they are not in the regular catalog.  

    I think you are getting a small one but one that can still be typed on easily and read well.

    I can't speak for the Sony from experience.

    What I greatly recommend is the Fujitsu Life Book machines which are the only ones I now use when on the road.

    They have everything 12.1", 13.3", 14.1, 8.9, and smaller and larger still.


    A good notebook will cost $1,000 at least, but it should last you up to 5 or more years so don't be afraid of spending $1,500 to $2,000 and up.  Like someone said get all the Ram memory you can afford and a large disk.  Get wireless up to at least g, and preferably n.  

    And there are many other things that are neat too, but I will recommend strongly only one more thing if you travel to a lot of places.  Normally the computers now come with wireless, and a ethernet connector, but sometimes they leave off the old dial-up modem.  That is a good thing to have for the backwoods places.  All you need then is a phone and a service then.

    Of course most good machines will allow you to put a phone service card in your machine, and then you can go on line where-ever there is cell service.  Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for example.

    And then add the maintenance plan for at least 2 years preferably more.

    Get the damage plan if you drop things occasionally.

    Don't fret 32 or 64 or 128 bit.  That will be transparent to you.

    I don't like Vista, so if you can get a copy of XP you should do it.  But Windows 7 is on the horizon.

    And of course a anit-virus and firewall.

    You should realize now that the computer was not the important thing.  It is the data on it. So get a backup external drive like someone recommended, and also look into the online storage services.  Dell will offer one free for a while, and others do also.

    I use Mozy.

    Windows (none / 0) (#34)
    by Andreas on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 02:34:14 PM EST
    Are there any specific Windows applications on which you depend? If not: moving to Linux might also be an option.

    a few comments, (none / 0) (#35)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 03:15:30 PM EST
    relative to replacing your notebook:

    1. i just had mine refreshed at work, the make/model are irrelevant; none of the leading sellers actually "makes" anything, they buy generic parts, put them together, slap their name on the case, and there's your laptop.

    2. hard drive: get the biggest you can, preferably running at 7200rpm. also, as noted by someone else, secure an external hard drive to automatically back-up all your data. try and get sata external ports on the laptop, they run faster than USB, and sata peripherals are getting cheaper. western digital's "my book" externals are inexpensive and easy to use.

    3. RAM: get the most you can have them stuff in there, at least 2gb's, if not more. RAM, cpu speed and HD speed are interrelated, much like amps, volts and watts are in electricity. you can have the fastest cpu, biggest/fastest HD, but if you have little RAM, it's a waste.

    4. Operating System: as i noted above, i got a new laptop at work. oddly, there was a "Vista" sticker on the machine, but it actually had XP, sp2 loaded on it. take that for what it's worth. if you need to get all new peripherals (printer, fax, scanner, etc.) Vista will most likely not be an issue. if you're using (like i am) previously acquired items, then it probably will be, as all new drivers probably will need to be downloaded, for them to work with Vista.

    5. i've mentioned this site before, it's where i get pretty much all my computer parts: www.newegg.com. they also sell complete systems, both desktop and laptop. check them out.

    good luck.