A New Laptop

My old laptop computer died, so I went and bought a new one. It arrived almost in time for my birthday, so the time I’ve spent setting it up was my birthday present.

Or rather I tried to convince myself that I was enjoying the challenge.

I have many happy memories of new computers with new or updated operating systems and discovering the innovative features of my new machine.

The last time I found that was with a Windows 3.1 computer. I had gotten my feet wet with a graphical interface, as one of my clients used Macs.

I was more than ready for running multiple programs at the same time and jumping from one to another. At that time I had a client who still posted his books by hand. Each time I went to see him, he presented me with a trial balance handwritten on ledger paper, and I dutifully copied everything into a file on my hard drive.

He in fact needed Windows more than I did. He had two desks, both covered with papers and open ledgers. He, like me, needed to refer to many sources as his work progressed; hence the second desk.

Unpacking my new box, I expected a voyage of discovery as I got the thing running, completely ignoring every version of Windows since version 3.1. Microsoft confuses change with innovation and thus changes the interface with each new version with little or no actual additional (or improved; often the opposite—KD) function. My voyage crashed on the rocks as the Windows logo opened on the laptop.

I had planned to make this a dual-boot machine, Linux or Windows. Step one was make a Windows recovery disk, and step two was install some basic applications, with Emacs and Open Office at the top of the list. I struggled and finally got to installing Linux.

Linux refused to partition the hard drive, which apparently Windows encrypts.. I got to a website that would “explain”—they fondly suppose—how to deal with the encryption. I gave up. I’m not a Windows fan anyway.

I still hadn’t given up hope of encountering some innovative features. I dove into the Linux install process. It didn’t take long to have a functioning laptop again. It was something of a relief that I had an administrator login and a user login, something still absent from Windows.

I started using Linux in the early 90s and have not looked back. Many years have brought a better install process, so the tedious things like partitioning and formatting the disk are done for you. Every year brings some new application or feature, and I’ve adopted many of them. All require installation and configuration. So while I quickly got back a working computer, I’ve spent the past two days installing the applications I wanted.

In terms of discovery, I discovered that Window Maker is spelled wmaker (Ugh—KD). We won’t discuss how long that discovery took or how many dead ends I went up in the discovery process.

I guess in some perverse way I still miss Windows 3.1. (It’s hardly perverse if it’s logical and reasonable.—KD)

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