Losing my hair and losing my mind in Western New York

Friday, June 03, 2005


As you know if you read my earlier posts, I am having a storage issue on my home network. While I will still need to expand, I have managed to free up some extra space on the primary storage drive on my server by deleting some more unused and unneeded data. I have slightly less than 30GB left, and that should be enough to last me another month or two. In the meantime I have had to curb some of my downloading activities until such a time as I can afford to pick up that external hard drive.

Now, it's not as though I couldn't afford a larger hard drive for my server. It's just that I decided to put my money other places. Namely into a new laptop. My current laptop is my primary writing vehicle, and it is getting so aged that I am starting to experience occasional hardware failures on it. Also, due to overheating issues, my wireless card has been damaged to the point that I can no longer use it's built-in WPA-PSK hardware decoder. In fact I can no longer run any kind of encryption on my wireless at all! Fortunately for me my home is a brick and aluminum siding house. In addition to that, all or most of my windows use aluminum embedded tinting in them for energy efficiency. Essentially I live inside a Faraday Cage. I have tested the wireless strength outside my house using Net Stumber. You cannot get a signal more than 5 feet from my front door. So in order to steal my wireless connection, someone would literally have to be standing in my front yard!

All discussions of my wireless setup aside, my current laptop is pretty much on it's last legs. I can't really do anymore upgrading to it, and frankly, it's not worth it. It's an old IBM Thinkpad i1400 series with a Celeron 433 Mhz processor and an ATI Rage mobile 8 meg shared RAM video card. I got it for free from a relative for repairing her identical laptop by scavenging parts from this one. I have repaired and upgraded it as much as I can over the past year by adding more RAM (256MB, the max it can take) and replacing the original 2GB Hard drive with a new 40 GB Toshiba drive (7200 RPM with a 12MB Cache!) But even that is not enough to stave off the inevitable. While it's still ok for surfing and e-mail (and blog posting!) The wireless setup causes undue heat buildup, which makes the machine lock up after about 3-4 hours of use. I also suspect there may creeping CPU and other component damage due to the overheating problems.

Therefore, I decided that it was time for a change. I have been shopping for a new laptop off and on for the past six months. While I really wanted an Apple Powerbook with the new Tiger OS, I really can't afford the $1500-$2000 one of those goes for. I ended up selecting this. Yes, it's an XP machine, and not really in the same class as a powerbook, but for what I will be using it for it will do fine. I also ordered an extra 512MB stick of Kingmax RAM to go with it, so I shouldn't have any memory issues with it. Despite the 128 MB shared video RAM, I'll still have 640MB left over to run the OS and anything else I might need. I suspect I may even be able to play a few lightweight older games on it.

So it's on it's way from Newegg as we speak, and I don't mind saying I'm more than a bit excited to finally be moving into a modern laptop, even if it's not a top of the line machine. It will be particularly nice to finally be able to run a few multimedia apps and watch DVD's on my laptop. While I don't expect to be replacing my Desktop anytime soon, it'll nice to be able to use a PC while being upstairs with my family rather than down in the basement PC area where I do my gaming.

Of course, when I want some time away I can still head down to the beast downstairs and get some frag time in. But I will no longer be tied to that location if I want to do anything multimedia related on a PC. In addition, I should be able to add some wireless security to my wireless network, and perhaps find a way to bounce the signal out to my hammock in the back yard during the summer!

That's the real promise of a good laptop. An hour or two lounging in my hammock blogging away in the dappled afternoon sunshine. A nice cool drink waiting on the nearby picnic table, and my kids playing in the sandbox or spending time with their teachers.

The anticipation is killing me.


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