Upgrading vs. buying new: Bring a new lease of life to your PC experience

I remember buying my first portable pc by TwinHead. It was a 386 pc with about 16MB of RAM, and 80 MB hard disk. Yes, MB, not GB.

Nowadays, I’m using two PCs (both of which are or were secondhand at one time) at home: one with 2 hard disks topping out at 160GB, 768MB of RAM; and the other about half the size. I also have numerous portable disks (three, I think!), a DVD burner, and lots of memory cards,… I’m sure I don’t have enough computer memory now, and I know I haven’t solved my computer back up problems even now!

the \'second\' at home PC...

But for many people replacing their desktops isn’t much of an option these days: Vista sucks, existing XP installations are fine with current generation hardware, and perhaps financially ‘constraints’ limit replacement of your desktop for a while!

I was very lucky to replace my old 17″ CRT monitor (it’s still fine, if anyone in Taiwan wants one!) with a great quality monitor. In fact, I was so impressed at the quality vs. the price I actually bought two when I discovered our local PC store was running a special offer on ViewSonic monitors.

Monitor 19\" LCD

After getting it home, I realized something that I had been missing for a long time: excitement. I was thrilled to have extra desktop space on BOTH computers, it simply made using even the older one that much more fun. It doesn’t matter that the underlying PCs are over 5 years old, the simple upgrading of the monitors made them fun again!

I’m in the market for a replacement PC at some point for sure. But if I can keep these going for another year or two, where’s the harm? I only use them for surfing, music, email, blogging and other less intensive tasks.

If your budget is ‘constrained’, there are simpler and less expensive ways to upgrade older equipment like this. Buying certain add-ons can really impact how you FEEL about your PC. For me, that included buying a new monitor (at NT$6500 – about US$220 approx.). Other upgrades could include a new graphics card, a new set of speakers, even just a better quality keyboard or mouse. To bring back excitement without breaking your budget, buy something that you could use to extend your PC usage: a Skype phone, a new game, … Whatever.

You’ll certainly find that you can enjoy your existing PC much longer this way, save a little in the short term, and still upgrade to that brand new PC (with Vista, if you must!) … Oh, and there’s another huge advantage: not upgrading avoids a lot of upgrading hassles.

Ad: if you’re looking for new larger monitors, try these…

And don’t forget to check out my own download … [download#1]

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis

2007 IT Month Show in Taipei: People, Products, and Pi-zzaz!

It’s NOT Computex, there’s no John Chow… and there are no freebies for you guys! (This time!…)

Today was the last day for the 2007 IT Month Show in Taipei, and I went along to see what was going on, to do a little ‘bargain’ shopping and get some snaps of some cool devices… Unfortunately, most of Taipei City and Taipei County (combined population approx 6,000,000 inhabitants) also decided to go, too.


As you can see from outside, and inside!


It was difficult to get any pictures of the stall presentations because there were too many basketball playing supertall visitors! Mmm… Still, this is the Transcend stall, and free pens were being given away! I didn’t catch any: it was too difficult with a camera in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other!


Aha! The HTC stall, with lots of pricy but ultra cool models… They really do give Apple a run for their money, and they’re available NOW! So… why wait!?


The HTC stall had some really *cool* phones, including the TYTN II, the Touch, and I got to try one!


Can you spot this model? Of course, this one is MY hand… But the glare obliterates the lovely screen.


Slipping over to Lenovo, I thought I’d entered a car exhibition, as their F1 car was on show…! No mere pc simulations here…!


Vroom!… And onto the other Hall 3… where the Asus Eee PC had their very OWN stall separate from the ASUS stall! And it was crowded… but not as crowded as the primary stall… Wow! Still, there’s a large amount of interest in the ASUS Eee PC, and I found out that the black models are now available, as are 8GB models, and pricing is good…


I think this model is the 8GB model, but I didn’t get a chance to try it! I tried the 4GB and noted that the keyboard quality on the model seemed much better than the first models I tried a month or so ago! Of course, the Eee PC 8GB was on sale but there were no more in stock. ASUS were taking back orders only for that!


It has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal flash memory and runs on the same 900MHz Intel Celeron chip. Battery power is rated at 3.5 hours, as well. So it’s quite a respectable device. Matched with a portable 2.5″ hard disk with 120GB of space, this would make an acceptable device ‘for the road.’


This picture was taken from the Sony Cybershot T2 trucks, I managed to get the pink truck, but there were three or four different colors of trucks all selling the range of Cybershot cameras… Cute trucks, nice cameras!


And so I thought I’d end today’s trip to the World Trade Center’s IT Month 2007 with a picture taken in neighboring 101 shopping mall. The Mercedes C Class… with a rather unique paint job. (Anyone know why shopping malls and exhibitions like to display CARS…?)

Sunday Newsbytes: EeePC, BlogDesk, and good food!

It’s morning time in the US, late evening in Taiwan.

A Delicious Meal: Needn’t be Expensive to be Delicious
We really didn’t do much today, but we had a lovely dinner last night at one of our favorite restaurants Dante’s (not the coffeeshop by that name), located on the campus of the National Taipei University of the Arts in Taipei City. In fact, we live less than ten minutes’ pleasant walk from the campus, so we go there often.

The meal is quite simple and very affordable: an small but well-prepared all-you-can-eat salad bar with lots of fresh salads, cold meats, and so on. Next to that is the deserts with cakes and fruit. There are also breads, and soup you can feast on. Once you order, you will also get a main course that you can select from pastas at the low end to steaks at the high end. In all, we paid about $1250 for a nice meal for two, including everything but wine. The view over Taipei is quite staggering at night, and well worth the price: you can typically see 101, the Shin Kuang Mitsuokoshi Tower and a lot in between. It’s a fantastic view.

Asus’ Eee PC 701: A hands’ on experience!
Today, we also went to FNAC in Taiwan where I finally had a hands-on experience with Asus’ newest baby: the Eee-PC 701 (in white). It was priced at about NT$11,665 which is about US$360 or so.

Asus Eee PC 701

I came away suitably impressed with the machine, in a number of respects. I found it easy to use, networking was straightforward, it was easy to find the applications, it was a snap to start up, shut down. So, I think this device will be remembered as the device that ‘created’ a whole new generation of small but highly effective smaller-than-laptop internet connected devices. It is truly a wonderful machine… but here’s why I’m not plumping for it just yet:

1. the keyboard and touchpad: in a word, awful beyond belief;
2. the screensize: why not make it 10″;
3. and, the available memory is too small.

A slightly faster processor would help, but in the Linux system it was fast and responsive. The XP model was poky beyond belief. It was great to work in a familiar environment, though the downsides of the XP model really left it wanting more, much more: more memory (1GB), more disk space (at about 350MB), a bigger screen, and some useful productivity tools. In two of the those four areas, the Linux model was easily better. Easily. The XP model would have been quite easy to add software, too, except for the lack of space. The Linux model… well, I couldn’t figure out how to do that, my level of technical Chinese isn’t great yet, so I couldn’t find the right options in the screen.

In both cases, though, one of the biggest disappointments for me was the lack of an English Language model for sale. I was told that Taiwan only had Chinese Language Models (a fact that I doubt!). So, I’m holding off, for now. For NOW! But can I wait for Spring’s new models…? I wonder.

BlogDesk has been giving me grief, though, and I think I know the reason. First of all, here’s the error message I keep getting and I don’t have a clue what it means… but I tell you, it’s because of the video I keep trying to link to. It’s screwing up this posting as I had to rewrite almost 50% of this entry. Blogdesk caused my PC to emit a string of beeps before it gave this error message.

24 as it was in 1994.

And the Video that’s causing all the trouble: almost like it was intended to create problems similar to the one in the video. Watch it, but I’m just linking to the page, until I can figure out why the code is borking my system! Perhaps it’s a mole inside College Humor.

Happy Sunday