Geek manqué

The goods we shipped from London to Berkeley arrived last week. Most of it is in storage, but we picked out about one-eighth of the total for a variety of reasons.

The most important box contained my wife’s desktop computer. She’s been surviving, barely, with my ancient laptop (circa 1999). So we happily unpacked her computer, set it up and switched it on. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I suspect somewhere in the journey from southeast London to the East Bay the container ship slapped against too big a wave and the judder did for that Dell box.

I trooped over to a local computer store and bought a wonderfully inexpensive eMachines CPU. Everything is now fine. In fact, it’s better because there is a wonderful freedom to having a new machine without all the crud that accumulates over a few years of use (particularly when you allow your children to play on sites that gum your computer up with all sorts of malware).

The one potential hitch was we hadn’t recovered our boxes with various software disks from storage, so we didn’t have any application software. I downloaded OpenOffice 2.0 until we can find my wife’s MS Office disks.

I suspect we won’t bother now. OpenOffice seems to do everything you want (and more: the drawing program and the equation editor far exceed what Office provides). I’ve now downloaded OpenOffice at work and am pretty darned happy with it. I know memory is nearly free these days, but I was impressed that a 197kb Excel file that I opened turned into a 13kb Calc file (still readable and manipulable by Excel) after conversion.

My next step in releasing my inner geek is to convert that ancient laptop into a Linux machine. I figure I can get rid of all the frustrations and slowness of Windows 98 (the processor won’t handle an upgrade to Windows 2000 or XP) and have a nice, clean new environment.

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