Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Pleasures of Upgrading a New PC - Reloading

Part Two of a series.  The first part is at this link.

Having gone through the decision process of whether to stick with the old or get new, in this very tough economy, I went with Repair and Upgrade.

To get this Thinkpad T60 repaired and upgraded, I sent it off to have the dim panel swapped out and got it back from IBM/Lenovo repair within the week.  Out on Monday, back on Friday.  Had I had the parts, it was something I could have done on my own - I've done it on an old Mac iBook and if you can work on Apple Hardware, you can certainly do it on a Thinkpad.  After all, all the repair documents for a Thinkpad are on the web and available.  If you were presented with a box of parts, you could literally build a Thinkpad for yourself.

The Apples were not meant to be repaired... so think about that if you are planning on getting one. 

On the other hand, I have had good luck with Dell machines.  The one that failed me I had used for four years AFTER the corporation retired it and I got it on a bet.

While the machine was away I ruminated and finally decided to go at it full force.   This machine would take a maximum of 4GB of memory, and would take a fast for today 7200 RPM hard drive.  So I ordered a 500GB 7200 RPM Drive and the memory and it got here a week later.  Plenty of time for me to shake down the Thinkpad and make sure everything worked and could be moved off onto the server when the reload was going to happen.

Yesterday the hardware arrived and the great upgrade began.

First.  Ground myself, and open the machine up.  The old Thinkpads used to have a convenient door you could easily open and pop memory out.  User Upgradeable Parts are meant to be accessible like an old Tube Radio set. This thing made you take out four screws, snap the hand rest slash trackpad out and unplug it from the machine, then swap out the memory.  I wouldn't tell "Mom" to do it, but it isn't all THAT hard.  It took me 10 minutes and would have been less if I hadn't dropped a needed screw under the couch.

Second.  I tied the machine back together and swapped in the brand new hard disc drive.  Five minutes max.  Yes, I dropped the screw on the floor, what did you expect?  Easy replacement, really.  I've done it dozens of times.

Now I have a machine with 4GB of memory, new hard drive, and no operating system.

Since it was 5pm, I grabbed my official shiny and Oh So Legal copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64bit that I had gotten in a care package for answering a survey along with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Visio.  Yes, I'm that guy who LEGALLY has all that stuff.  Just wanted to make that clear.

I dropped in the copy of Windows and started the installer.  It wanted to format the hard drive into one partition of 100MB for scary weird unknown System Stuff and a 465GB partition for what we call "userland" where we put all our "stuff".   You know, pictures of LOLCats and links to You Tube and the operating system.

When the format was done, I nudged the installer on to load up the operating system with Redmond's Finest and of course fed the dog.   While Lettie was eating, I grabbed her gear, checked that the machine was still installing and went out for a lap around town.

When I got back, it was asking another question and was done.  Restart, clear it's head, prepare for first use.

Been there and done that.  Windows 7 Pro install is pretty painless.  It asks you which network you want to use, a password if you have it, whether it is Home/Public/Private... all straightforward questions.  It was basically installed.

The rest of the night I was spending getting the required software on the machine for a bare bones minimum for what I need to do my 160 web pages worth of job search this morning.

Not knowing where the Microsoft Office discs were (They were hiding inside my credenza behind the old equipment, later found late that afternoon), I installed Libre Office.  I needed a spreadsheet, and Libre Office is a Free and Open Source alternative that 99% of the people out there could use instead of using MS Office.  If you don't use Excel or Word as a power user, Libre Office is a great alternative.  What it doesn't tell you is that if you download it you need to grab JavaOpen Office, from which Libre Office is derived, was a Sun product.  It was packaged with Java and now both Open Office and Java are part of Oracle.  Libre Office is not.  So download Java and all is well.

The problem is that Java seems to feel that you need some piece of garbage that is called the "Yahoo Toolbar".  Under no circumstances does any user need a toolbar from any of the search engine companies, nor from any virus company or any other.   It merely is spyware.  It watches what you do and reports back to the company what you're doing.  Toolbars are evil.  Got it?

When you install your software, take the Expert or Custom install and watch for that "Free Software".  Make sure you uncheck that box because when you ask me why your machine is slow, that will be the first thing I will look for.

I needed Firefox and grabbed that installer.  Got through the install easily and installed two required "addons" to Firefox that makes life easier.

1) Adblock Plus which will block about 90% of those annoying blinky advertisements as well as a significant amount of spy sites and spyware from ever infecting your machine.  When you install it on Firefox, it forces you to restart your browser and asks you for a subscription.  I took the Easylist subscription that was offered when I restarted the browser.

2) Forecast Fox which merely puts the temperature and the weather conditions along with radar on the bottom stripe of your browser.  It strictly speaking is not a requirement, but if you live in a Hurricane or Tornado zone, it will tell you when you have an event coming.  Peace of mind is a requirement.

Virus Scanner.  For Windows, I use Microsoft Security Essentials.  If you have a legal copy of windows like I do, Security Essentials is completely free.  It also is seen as one of the best virus scanners out there and you won't be forced to click through a lot of nonsense to do your work - like McAfee or Norton will make you do.  It is highly effective unlike AVG or Trend Micro.  It has caught quite a few trojans trying to install themselves on my computer in the past and it is what I recommend.

Or you can pay through the nose and be annoyed.

When I got all that installed, I found I needed the annoying to install Flash from Adobe.  Why is it annoying?  Well you start the installer and it will glower at you until you close the browser window that you had open in order to get the software in the first place.  So make sure you save all your web pages and all your work in this time that we're transitioning to The Cloud.

One other install that was a requirement for me is Winamp. I start the morning grind and I have a lot of websites that stream music that I like instead of listening to commercial pablum on the radio here out of Miami.  The nice thing about having Winamp playing music is that I will know if Comcast and their shoddy infrastructure here "burps" and I lose connection.  I pay for an always up connection, I expect it.

When you install Winamp, take the custom install path, do not take the Yahoo Toolbar, and don't take the extra links to the 50 free MP3s.  I'm sure you have enough music to listen to.  If you don't surf DI.FM or the excellent Discover Trance for their 192KB Streams or if you don't like trance, theres always my disco fix at for your listening pleasure.

That got me so I could get online, listen to music, and go through the morning routine.  There are a few things that are still missing, but that got me through the Morning.

Tomorrow, I start on installing PDF Reader and Writer software.  Yes, all for free.

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