Closing Windows – Not Yet

Although I’m still a long way from being a Linux guru, I have progressed steadily in knowledge to the point where I feel comfortable using it as my primary computer operating system. In fact my newest desktop is Linux only.
My experiences with Microsoft Vista on my neighbor’s new Compaq desktop have led me to conclude I don’t want to have Vista on any machine of mine – ever. For a while I was thinking that maybe I’d dump Windows completely and go over to Linux cold turkey as it were. But I decided it isn’t time to do that – yet.
I don’t use Internet Explorer or Outlook Express. Firefox and Thunderbird Mail work great and they are basically the same in Linux or Windows XP. So the online experience is the same with both systems.
Windows XP runs fine on the older hardware I have it installed on (upgraded Dell Dimension 4100 from 2001.) XP will be supported with another Service Pack and with security updates until 2014. I don’t care about eye candy and desktop glitz. In fact I have XP looking like Windows 2000 right now. There’s no rush to get rid of it.
There are a few things that I still prefer to do with XP, frankly:
(1) Income tax. Quick Tax is Windows only. I could use Quicken’s online service or Ufile I suppose, but I prefer having the software on my local machine.
(2) ACDSee photo management software. It’s still the best, and I’d have to see if it works under WINE emulation in Linux. Not sure, but it’s fine in Windows XP.
(3) Slide scanning. My old Minolta Scan Dual II can be made to work in Linux but it’s designed for XP. Its software will never, ever run in Vista though.
(4) Roboform. The best password manager in the world. I’d really miss it if I went to Linux only.
In conclusion, I’d say that God willing I’m going to explore every opportunity to do things the Linux way over the next six-odd years. When XP finally is no longer supported, or I can’t keep it running on my old Dell, then it’ll be Linux time. Any new machine will never run a Microsoft O/S. Trust me.

Vista Free Computing

I had a couple of totally new computing experiences earlier this month.
I bought my first clone computer after 25 years – everything else I’ve ever had has been branded (for better or worse.) Also I got my new desktop with no operating system at all.
After a never ending sequence of Linux junkers I wanted to see what my favorite O/S would do with a modern system.
So I headed down to Everbest Computer in Nepean and they built me a new box – AMD X2 4600+, 2 GB RAM, DVD-ROM, Western Digital 320 GB Hard Drive, ATI X1250 Integrated Graphics. What’s even better was they didn’t insist on any Microsoft Tax – no Vista or XP installed as part of the package. Without that bloatware I saved about $400, brought it home and installed Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon myself.
Now I have a great new system that just flies…I knew Linux was good on middle aged hardware but I never expected it to be as great as it is on relatively state of the art machinery. So I am now officially Vista Free for the foreseeable future.

Adios Old Friend

We said good-bye to an old friend a couple of weeks ago.
Our 1995 Dodge Neon gave up the ghost after 13 years, 150,000 km and countless trips in and around Georgetown and lately Ottawa.
We had noticed a smell of gasoline in the garage and then when I took the Neon out for a drive there was a trail of gas on the road behind me. This is not a good thing.
Having been warned about a rusty gas tank last summer, I expected something dire. The Arnprior Chrysler service dept. informed me that in addition to the leaking gas, I had rotting brake lines, and bad front end steering components. The total bill to fix it was about 5 times what the Neon was worth. We could not justify it at the age of the car.
So one of the most fun-filled and at the same time exasperating cars I’ve ever owned had its plates removed and went to the wrecker.
In its heyday it went like a rocket, cornered like a snake on sandpaper. At the same time it was noisy, had a poorly designed 3 speed transmission, rode like a lumber wagon and had the worst wind noise I’ve ever seen – thanks for those frameless windows, Chrysler!
I fixed the A/C twice, had the inevitable head gasket repair, tire replacement and various computer glitches an old car will give you. But I loved the old beast.
The Neon’s spot in our garage is now occupied by a Jeep Compass – very smooth, great view of the road, sophisticated continuous variable transmission – a delight to drive. But I still get a lump in my throat when I go out there and get in.

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