Old computers, Vista and Macs

My laptop just lost the “E” key and no replacement keyboard exists anywhere (and putting the “E” back is not doable.) My desktop computer has major problems with Firefox, locking up multiple times a day. Ditto for the laptop. Both computers are about three years old and have a creakily obsolescent 512MB of RAM and CPUs first made in the Pleistocene era.

On a hunch, I tried using Sue’s desktop, it’s a Core 2 Duo with 1GB of RAM. Firefox runs fine on it. No lockups. Plus everything else runs much snappier too. So the real problem was underpowered computers.

My new laptop, on order from HP, will be a

HP Pavilion dv6700t
Vista 64, 4GB ram
160 GB HD
15.4″ monitor
Core 2 Duo 2.0

Vista 64 can address 4GB of RAM, while regular Vista can’t. So, this computer will be able to handle anything for a couple of years to come, as 64-bit apps are just now starting to emerge.

Yes, I do want to get a Mac, someday. Was at a Mashable Monthly Meetup on Thursday in S.F. Met a personable guy at the door and we chatted. Turned out he was Pete Cashman, founder of Mashable. He said, hey Macs are great but I’ve been using Windows for years and I know how everything works. Yes, that does count for something. Quite a lot, actually. Plus, I have a few apps, crucial to me, that only run in Windows. Sure, I can get VMWare and run Windows off the Mac desktop, but this starts to get complicated.

So, no Mac this time, rather, a solid workhorse for a very reasonable price that’ll easily handle anything I’ll want to do, including video editing.

But Apple is sneaking up on me. I have an iPod and my next cell phone with be an iPhone. And maybe a Mac Mini is on the horizon too.

PS The Mashable Meetup was excellent. Lots of smart people with a zillion startups, everyone talking geek, wanting to know what you’re doing too, with none of the egos that inflate to fill the room that you sometimes see at other tech meets.


  1. Will be interested to hear future updates re: how well it works, for how long, any HP service or MS vista pluses or minuses as you come across them.

  2. Most of what I do is in the cloud anyway, and this is a new install of Vista, so there shouldn’t be much in the way of compatibility problems. I got the HP at a discounted price so that helps even more.

  3. I’ve been running the 17 inch dv8000 Duo Core with a customized (I am, afterall, a pro, even if I am out of work) XP OS for a little over two years now and have ben nothing but happy with it. I think you’re gonna’ end up hating Vista – my daughter-in-law’s brand new Dell is a total dog no matter how I tweak it.

  4. I don’t know anything about Vista, but I’ve run XP, both on a Compaq and from my OS X desktop. The differences between Mac and Windows are really matters of ‘fit and finish’ and not kind. They both use many of the same desktop metaphors. If you ever get past the fear of the new and try Mac I think you’ll be surprised at how easy the transition was. On the other hand, staying where you know the terrain and everything is safe has its points too.

  5. Ten Bears: Out of curiosity, how much RAM does your DIL’s Dell have? I’m hearing 2GB is almost a minimum for Vista.

    Richard: The two programs I genuinely need that are Windows only are Fidelity Active Trader Pro and Password Safe. I have well over 100 passwords and Password Safe allows me to sync across PCs simply by copying the data file from whatever computer I use as the master. Active Trader is essential to me for trading stocks and options, can’t do without it, and nothing can replace it.

    Sure, I could run them in virtual mode on a Mac, but then I’d still need to install and support Windows. Hmmm.

    Also, Sue is a CPA and forensic, studying hard now on a Masters in Taxation. That part of the business world speaks PC and Microsoft Office only. Not Open Office, not Macs. So we need compatibility. Even Open Office won’t cut it. I had this discussion in 1984 when I bought my first PC. I was programming in Clipper then. The business world back then only knew PC databases, and not anything that ran only on Apple.

    A Mac Mini to play with would be fun though.

  6. Firefox 3 locks up about every 30 minutes for 30-60 seconds on my core duo laptop. While locked up the hard drive light is on solid, so assuming it simply can’t do maintenance in the background. For the first time in several years I was forced to look at other browsers.

  7. I’m with Bob on this: compatability is essential in my business. Among other things, I need to run both Quickbooks and professional tax software. Unfortunately, Intuit has yet to release a professional-quality version of QB for the Mac (you can’t keyboard it, and forcing an accountant to use the mouse when entering data is quite counterproductive). As for tax software, no company I know of even supports Mac. And sure, I could put Vista on a Mac– but then, what’s the point?

    This year I bought a mid-range Toshiba built to handle Vista, added on some extra RAM, and got it with XP instead of Vista. It runs great, and I know what to expect. And it plays well with others, something Vista doesn’t.

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