• Posts Tagged ‘computer’

    Stretching the Life of my Laptop

    by  • March 25, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    When I completed my undergraduate degree I was rewarded with the gift of a laptop through a joint effort from my parents and my brother. It was the perfect gift for me at that time since I was headed into graduate school. Six years ago, that laptop was brand new to me; officially I think it was refurbished.

    In the following years the laptop has taken some punishment from the rigors of everyday use and a little pinch of clumsiness. I’ve dropped it twice which both times led to the monitor breaking. Fortunately for my broke ass graduate student self, it was still under warranty and was fixed for free both times. I’ve stripped screws trying to replace the RAM. The battery doesn’t hold a charge; its portability is laughable since it must be plugged in for it to operate.

    Nonetheless, it still works. And it works very well for basics tasks such as surfing the internet, spreadsheet applications, word processing, and even some light gaming (hello Civilization 3 and/or Starcraft). It even has a DVD-ROM so that I can watch movies on it. I like to take it with me on business trips instead of the ones supplied to us by my employer since I like to blog, among other personal things, when I’m away. I’d rather not have that stuff on the company property, you know?

    The biggest hurdle for its usefulness right now is its non-functional battery. It’s a pain to always search for an outlet in whatever airport I’m in. And even if I find an outlet there are about 34589734968 other business people charging their Blackberry/Treo/iPod/portable DVD player/phone.

    A few years ago when the laptop was 4 years old I researched the price of a new laptop battery directly from the manufacturer: $150. I didn’t use it much back then so I thought I’d wait a few years.

    Now that the laptop is 6 years old, I looked up the price again: $150. WTF. There’s no way I’m going to pay that much for a battery; it’s probably worth more than the laptop itself. I started to look for alternatives.

    There’s two choices: (1) a compatible battery from an online dealer for around $90 or (2) a compatible battery from eBay for $50. Both seem a little dubious, but it beats buying a new battery for the 25% of a brand new laptop, right?

    I’m going to do more research, and keep you updated.

    Free (More Expensive) vs. Not Free (Less Expensive)

    by  • February 11, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This year we’ve resolved to be a little more organized in life. These days much of our lives is on our computer, whether it be financial data, photos, music, or old emails. In the last 10 or so years we’ve been using computers on a (near) daily basis, we’ve managed to accumulate gigabytes worth of stuff that we’d rather not put into the recycle bin. Regular old CD’s aren’t cutting it anymore for large-volume long-term storage solutions, therefore we decided that we would like to have a DVD burner for our storage and backup needs.

    This past Christmas I was given a $100 Best Buy gift card, so I decided to look for a DVD burner there.

    Last week’s Best Buy sales ad listed this Samsung DVD burner at $49.99. The same Samsung DVD burner at Amazon was $34.98 plus $8.32 for shipping, for a total of $43.30. The same DVD burner at Newegg (OEM version, pretty much the same thing but without all of the packaging) is $29.99 plus $5.84 for shipping, for a total of $35.83. So which one did I go with?

    Best Buy. I found a coupon online for 10% off, which brought the total to $49.09, all of which was subtracted from the balance on my gift card. No money out of my pocket, plus if something goes wrong with it I can always return it to the store.

    The question I have for you, readers: Would you “pay more” for something if you had gift card to pay for it, even if you knew you could get it for cheaper if the money came out of your own pocket?

    DIY Computer Saves a Lot of Money

    by  • November 3, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Warning: This post has much geek speak. Those who are offended or more likely, bored, can look away.

    Our computer at home is dying. Lately we’ve been getting spontaneous reboots, freezing, and general slowing down. It has trouble with more than 3 tabs open at once in Firefox. Itunes can’t play songs without it being choppy. Photoshop takes forever to open.

    That’s okay though, it is an archaic 8 years old. I’m surprised that it has even last that long. The original computer was a Dell XPS-R450 – it had a Pentium 2 processor (a screaming 450mHz), 64MBRAM, NVIDIA 32MB RIVA Video Card, Turtle Beach SoundCard (are these guys still in business?!?), a DVD-ROM drive, and a 6GB hard drive. And Windows 98. Shiver.

    In order to lengthen the lifespan of this computer, here are the modifications that I did to this computer:

    • Swapped out the measly 64MB RAM for 512MB. Cost: $100. Go expensive PC133!
    • Replaced hard drive (it died anyway) with an 80GB one. Cost: $60. Go rebates!
    • Replaced the video card to a Radeon 9500 Pro. Cost: $200. Go keeping up with the geeky joneses!
    • Installed Windows XP Home. Cost: $100. Go Upgrade Edition!
    • Installed a CD burner. Cost: $50. Go, uh, burning CDs!
    • Upgraded the 450 mHz Pentium 2 processor to a Celeron 1.3 mHz. Cost: $150. Go Powerleap for coming up with the technology that allowed this upgrade!

    Total cost for keeping an 8 year old computer alive and able to keep up with today’s software: $660.

    Instead of completely discarding the poor computer, I’m going to gut it for parts – namely all of the ones listed above. I figured out that all I need is to buy a new case, power supply, motherboard, RAM, and processor. We have budgeted around $300 for these new parts, and I’m pretty sure we’ll go a little bit under since I’m only going to buy the parts if they go on sale. The best part about building my own computer is that I am going to choose parts that will allow me to easily upgrade it in the future.

    I’ll also be able to sell the RAM and processor upgrade on eBay – and get around $100 for all of that stuff.

    The total amount spent on a “new” computer: $990, spread over 8 years. Not bad considering I know people who have purchased at least two computers in this same time span. I hope to keep this computer for at least 4 more years before I have to upgrade anything else.

    Let’s just hope the 8 year old clunker can hold out until we get all of the parts.