Post details: Blog Your Blessings Sundays: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends....


Permalink 08:46:24 am, by Email , 1333 words   English (CA)
Categories: Blog Your Blessings Sundays

Blog Your Blessings Sundays: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends....

Blog yer Blessings

So, I took yesterday off from the blogsphere... In truth, it's because I was honestly too tired to really do much of anything more than the other reasons I listed. (Yeah, sorry folks... no sock-puppet theatre this week!)

None-the-less, I received a phone call from a friend in the afternoon... asking my to *gasp* work!

Now, allow me to impart some important information about myself...

#1: I am not truly a computer geek. I get paid to work on and build computers and do so eight-hours per day... I do this (blogging), in all honest, because I enjoy it and yeah, I'm hoping it's a means to an end.

#2: I loath having to "work" after hours... as much as I loath having people TALK to me about effectively work after hours...

...that said...

This friend has been talking about getting a new computer... and as he is a friend, I of course told him not to run out willy-nilly without talking to me first... thus breaking my rule #2 above...

Well, he talked to me yesterday and the deed is done...

Since it's actually pretty rare to get me to "talk tech", allow me to share some of my wisdom here... these are the simple rules of Customer Computer Acquisition:


Rule #1: Big-box or even small chain stores that sell computers hire (usually) pretty useless staff. Try to know what you want before going in because HONESTLY, aside from "geek speak" and buzz words, the sales-weasel will be of little use.

Rule #2: To test the sales weasel, when he or she approaches and asks what they can help you with or what you're looking for, just tell them you're looking to buy a computer. If they IMMEDIATELY start talking about the one you SHOULD buy, tell 'em to bugger off. The first question is, What are you going to be doing with the computer? When they DON'T ask this, in my eyes, it's a lesser version of going to a Ford dealer, telling them you want some transportation without explaining that this would be a second car used for taking the kids to school and groceries... and so they sell you the cab to an eighteen-wheeler.

Rule #3: "Techy Friends" are great! Thanks to them, I made a wonderful living for many years because of them "fixing" things for folks... after which I'd be called in to clean-up and fix the "fixing". If you're friend is NOT a professional (earning his or her keep by working in the field,) they should probably NOT be fixing OR BUILDING your computer. (Think to yourself when a "friend" offers help... could they replace my stuff if they damage it?)

Rule #4: If you want reasonable quality, but never want to upgrade in the future (read: You appreciate a disposable computer) then buy a name-brand system. They are usually proprietary and difficult for anyone outside that company to do anything with. Sure, some of them SAY fully upgradeable... and they are... but right now, in Toronto, one-gigabyte of RAM is about $30.00... unless you own certain "name brands" in which case you CAN be looking at $120.00 for the same thing.

Rule #5: If you're willing to "take your chances", but have a system that will probably last many years, buy a "clone" or parts and assemble one yourself. This is fine if parts and "clone shops" are abundant or within easy striking distance... but otherwise... Also, make sure if you buy a clone that you fire it up for about 24 hours and "do stuff" (anything) with it... Computers have precious few "moving parts"... if it works for the first few hours, chances are, without a tonne of unnatural abuse, it'll last for the next few years.

Rule #6: Laptops are great... and also disposable. Upgrading a laptop is as easy as herding cats. Again, the "big boys" will tell you THEIR products are upgradeable... just don't ask about the price, the guarantee that if your equipment goes in for upgrading, it will come back with your data intact, or whether or not everything on the laptop can be upgraded. Screens and video cards, for example, are pretty much a "lock" on a laptop if you don't have effectively the money to purchase a complete new system.

Rule #7: AVOID VISTA right now... For those whom read "Slash-Dot" and other geekly things, you know that Vista is starting to tank... and Sony is now offering "downgrades" to Vaio owners to go back to Windows XP... This is NOT to say that if you currently run Vista you'll be in trouble, but if I was buying new, I'd go XP without question.


Okay, there are the BASIC computer acquisition rules...

My friend heard my rules... so he called and he told me that he needs the system for his kid, mostly, to play games and chat...

Right away, I'm thinking "Pentium 4 of some stripe will be fine... or AMD K64... a decent video and sound card will be a good thing".

Then, for himself, he wants high-speed internet and Office... and to eventually start playing with his digital camera pics.

This clinched it... if the kid's playing heavy-graphics games and he wants to muck with Photoshop and the like...

AMD Dual-Core K64 5200+ (or better) processor, 2 or 4 Gigabytes of RAM, 160 Gigabyte or higher hard drive, NVidia or ATI or even an S3 video system (PCIE preferred... AGP okay) would be good... everything else is relative...

That last bit above was absolute gibberish to some, wasn't it?

I actually had written a FOUR PARAGRAPH EXPLANATION of it... but heck, it's Sunday... and gotta keep it AS short as possible... let's just say that what I suggested above is perfect for his needs and uses.

So, I went to a "trusted parts discounter" website, told him the EXACT bits to buy and an hour and a half later, he arrived with them...

Three hours later, I had knitted him a kick-butt system... loaded, tested, and ready for wear!

My total "fee" for this work?

You know, the work I openly said I HATED doing on my days off at the beginning of this blog entry???



Well, obviously he's a friend... he bought the parts... but my labour and work at installing and tweaking everything was something I did while watching a movie with Sue and our little one... then finished after dinner.

I was extremely happy just to help this friend of ours.

Granted, he's proven in the past to be happy to help us... like moving to an apartment with no elevator (only a few stories... not a high-rise,) for only a few slices of pizza and a beer...

...but isn't that what friends are for? Helping where and how they can without grumble or expectations of "something in return"?

This fellow DID help us move to our apartment... and it's nice to be able to repay a debt that, oddly enough, was never really a debt as he helped us because he could... I have now helped him because I could... putting aside my "NO GEEK ON DAYS/TIME OFF" rule.

My blessing today is the help of friends...

No strings attached, no compromises in efforts, no worries about repayment... 'cuz that's what friends are for.

I am glad I can count on our friends... and I'm equally glad AND PROUD when I prove that they can count on us.




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Comment from: NeoBluePanther [Visitor] Email ·
Nice article with some great tips on buying a new computer.

Friends counting on us and, us being counted upon by friends has always been a great blessing.

Have a great week ahead!
PermalinkPermalink 09/30/07 @ 10:33
Comment from: SandyCarlson [Visitor] Email ·
Great post. I remember the manuals that used to come with computers. Who read them? They were the thing you put the coffee cup on. Now, no manuals, only the oral tradition: talking, listening, trying things out, trying again--with friends. Pretty cool, and a real blessing.

Happy BYB Sunday.
PermalinkPermalink 09/30/07 @ 14:14
Comment from: Kuanyin [Visitor] Email ·
I've also read this about Vista, and I'm glad I didn't upgrade to this! Your posts are always so thorough and amazing. Friends are good! I'm sure you are an excellent friend! Happy BYB Sunday!
PermalinkPermalink 09/30/07 @ 15:42
Comment from: Admin [Member] Email ·
Hey NeoBluePanther... Thanks kindly... and yeah, I had a "geek out" today!

Hello SandyCarlson... "In the biz", we still often use the letters RTFM to describe user's issues... which stands for "Read The... um... Freaky Manual"... but you're right... 90% of what people use is by demonstration by friends or simply messing about with stuff!

Welcome Back Kuanyin... Lenova (IBM) and Fujitsu are now backing away from XP... meaning Dell, Sony, IBM, Fujitsu, HP/Compaq are all off the bandwagon... Guess Microsloth should re-think their new releases! :)
PermalinkPermalink 09/30/07 @ 20:49

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