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A new laptop

28 December 2010

My Dell M1530 went kerput on me for the 2nd time.  The first time the HDD died. That wasn't so bad because it was still under warranty and Dell sent me a new one. The second time it went, it was the motherboard. This time I was out of warranty. The cost would have been around $500 to replace it so I got an Asus laptop from Best Buy for $550.  So far so good.  I guess when it comes to laptops, I need to just budget money for a new one every two years.  Every single laptop I've owned has gone out with in three years.  Gateway, IBM (pre-Lenovo), and two Dells.  They usually just sit in a room.  They don't get dusty.  They don't get too hot.  I'm very mindful of them when I travel.  My Dell desktop had several problems as well.  It still runs but it needs some TLC to stay running.  Why am I boring you with all this talk of busted machines?

Well, I used to build custom machines.  I say build but really it was assembling about a dozen components inside a case.  "Building" sounds cooler, like you are magnetizing each sector of the drive and etching the circuits on the CPU.  Anyway, those beige boxes lasted a long time.  They lasted for several different customers that kept them in a variety of work spaces and to my knowledge none of them ever broken down.  I'm not saying I had any great workmanship (I didn't, my wire organization was awful).  What I am saying is that the corners that get cut in a large company's assembly line seem to make the difference between real PC longevity and two years of use before the machines goes dark.  It's hard to make a profit on a computer.  The big PC manufacturers have to make them as cheaply as possible.  When you build your own, you build it slower and with (a little) more attention to detail.  Most cases these days are spacious enough to have good air flow to keep things from getting too hot inside.  That's probably the biggest difference right there.  I have a custom machine from 1998 in my basement and when I went down and turned it on, it booted right up to Windows 2000.  But enough about desktops.

I got the new laptop and erased the drive.  I made a large Windows 7, NTFS partition and two partitions that are around 100 GB each.  I loaded Ubuntu 10 on one of those and Fedora 14 on the other (Ubuntu and Fedora are different flavors, distros, of Linux).  It took a while to configure each OS and get all the software loaded.  I still don't have the Linux partitions like I want them but I know so little about Linux that I'm happy that I got the laptop to triple boot at all.  All in good time. has been my backup provider for a while and I have been pleased with them so far. $5 a month for unlimited backup.  I bought a 2TB external drive where I'm going to store iTunes data and other files.  I'll point Mozy at that and have it back up a few folders on the actual Windows 7 partition.  I think I can have the Linux partitions write to a shared location that I can have backed up as well.  I'll figure it out.

That is all for now.  I'm not going to do any die rolls for the next several posts because I have some ideas about what I want to write about.  Mostly they will have to do with a Microsoft developer learning how to develop on the Linux platform.  There will be some writing related posts as well as a recap of my second semester at UPenn.  All in good time.

By Jon Wear

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