September 15th, 2005


Laptops Everywhere and Which One Works?

So, as some of you on TF may remember, the screen on my 4 year old HP Omnibook 700 MHZ laptop running XP Pro died about a month ago (the same week the steering rack on the Volvo (6 years old) sprung a major leak and the lawnmower (20 years old) died - ouch!). Since then, I've been using the laptop with an external monitor (and I even got a 4 port KVM switch to make things easier - thanks Alex!). But, it is a drag not being able to catch up on email over breakfast or look thru IMDB while viewing a movie and so on. This is about the 4th major thing to go wrong with this laptop in the last 2 years and since it is now out of warranty, I decided to stop throwing good money after bad.

When we went to Bouchercon in Chicago over Labor Day, I took my "backup" laptop, an ~8 year old NEC Versa 6000 166 MHZ running Windows 95 with no wireless, no USB, no DVD, no etc. - ouch! Boy was that slow and helped convince SMOZZ I needed a new laptop. Shortly after we got back from Chicago I decided to bite the bullet and order the new laptop.

Unfortunately for the same money you cam get about a 1.7 GHZ 40 GB IBM ThinkPad or a 2 GHZ 80 GB Dell M20. As an added bonus, the Dell has all the legacy ports in case I'm in a place with a parallel printer. So, I decided to order the Dell. Special order – was supposed to be here by the end of the month - ouch!

Sometime in the last week, it occurred to me that I had an "intermediate" laptop - an older HP 4100 about 266 MHZ running NT. It had apparently died after about 2 years (4 years ago) and gotten really flakey which lead to Stratus replacing it with the HP Omnibook. I'd been meaning for a while to wipe the disk and get rid of this “intermediate” laptop.

So, I decided to wipe the disk on the "intermediate" laptop by formatting the disk and installing XP Pro (to write over the data).

Worked like a charm. After about 2 days there has been no flakiness and I have gotten it working with my wireless card. I guess it turns out that sometimes reinstalling the OS is the correct solution. My NT image must have gotten corrupted or XP Pro really is more reliable than NT. Knock on wood.

So, now at least it looks like a have a somewhat more usable laptop (266 MHZ with wireless and USB but still no DVD) to use until the new one arrives. And of course, the Dell website now says the new one has shipped - a week or two early.

So, I figure I killed about 3 birds with one stone: wiped the personal data from the "intermediate" laptop, made it reliable and usable for the time being, and forced the new laptop to ship more quickly.
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