Thursday, June 08, 2006

Just Too Old

I spent a couple hours tonight over at a friend of my Dad's helping repair her computer. Oddly, her computer actually used to be my computer.

Its a long sequence, but my current two-year old computer is a Pentium 4 3.2Ghz. It replaced a Pentium 3 933Mhz computer, which in turn replaced a Pentium II 300Mhz. Long ago, when the 933Mhz was brand new, I sold the 300Mhz computer to my Dad. He used it for a few years, and then sold it to his friend.

She's had the computer for quite a few years (2-3), and actually I was somewhat amazed to hear that it was even still in use, considering it will be 9 years old in August. Since they do virtually nothing with the computer except check e-mail a couple times a week, and occasionally print things, I guess it works out OK.

But then recently the printer stopped working, and they couldn't get the Internet to work anymore making the computer into a fancy paperweight as far as they are concerned.

After hearing about the rather random problems, I came over fully expecting to find the computer choked to death with spyware but surprisingly they didn't have anything serious. Perhaps it is because they only have dial-up and so don't do much web surfing. Or it could be that Windows 98 is too old, even for the spammers to want as a zombie system.

And if that isn't a sign that you should be getting a new computer, I don't know what is.


Bill Roehl said...

I am still sitting on a Pentium *1* 133mhz laptop with 40MB of RAM that I use for web surfing and SSH. It has run Win95, Win98, Linux, and back to Win98 (due to the BIOS not being upgradeable it can't run Win2000 which I would prefer to use). I runs just fine for what I use it for.

Of the three machines upstairs I only use two currently. The server (web, NAT, firewall, mail, etc, etc, etc) is an older 1.8Ghz Celeron purchased back in 2002. It has been upgraded to 1500MB of RAM recently but only runs console based Linux so it doesn't need much horsepower other than for the webserver.

The newest machine upstairs is my Mac Mini. It's a 1.42Ghz PowerPC with 1GB of RAM. It works fine for what I use it for which is Word, Web, and SSH. I do some other odd apps but never cared for the OS X interface so I don't try to screw with it much.

The oldest machine is the 1998 2x400mhz Celeron SMP box running XP. One of the fans recently died and I haven't gotten around to spending the $80 to replace both of the fans. It is maxed out at 768MB of RAM and works just fine for everything when it's running.

I'm a big fan of older hardware. I'm usually at least 3 years behind any current trends (with the Mac Mini being the only machine I have bought within 1 year of its release ever).

Personally, people that just use their machines to surf and write e-mails don't need to waste the energy on anything more powerful than a P2-200. Save the energy hogs for the gamers and number crunchers or do it at work.

Steve Eck said...

The trouble with old hardware and people who don't know much about computers, is the difficulty getting things to work correctly with it. Because they are the same people who go out an buy a new printer and then discover that it doesn't work with Windows 98.

Or want to buy songs from iTunes, only to find out that requires Win 2000 or XP.

But in general I agree, if the computer does what you need then there is no reason to buy a bigger, better, faster one.