Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Poor PC

CAUTION:  The following post is somewhat heavy on the nerdy side.

As my profile indicates, I am a nerd.  I'm not a hardcore nerd.  Just one of those lightweight nerds.

One of the issues related to being a computer nerd has to do with always wanting to mess around with different computer technologies (hardware and software).  Many of my friends are more into the hardware side of things.  I tend to be more on the software side.

So, whenever given the chance, I love to install and learn free software, beta software, etc.  For example, I recently chronicled my experiments with various desktop distributions of Linux (for the record, I liked Freespire and MEPIS best, with Ubuntu a close 3rd). 

Currently here is just some of the software I have installed:

  • Office 2003 as well as beta version of Office 2007.  I think Office 2007 is going to be really good.  It has some incredible usability changes.  Just hope Microsoft doesn't price it so far out of everyone's reach that most people can't afford to use it.  That would be a real shame.
  • Opera as an alternative browser to IE.  I like Opera better than Firefox.  Still some sites that have IE specific content that Opera doesn't handle...but those sites are not all that common.
  • Windows Live Writer beta.  Nice to be able to blog to several sources all from a single tool.
  • IE 7 beta - This version of IE has tabbed browsing and nice RSS integration.  Not 100% sold on some of the other UI changes.  Had a heck of a time finding the Find On This Page option.  Ended up being easy to find...just not intuitive to me.
  • OpenOffice 2.0.3 - A strong (and free) alternative to MS Office...especially now with a desktop database component.  It also has builtin support for saving documents in PDF format.
  • Microsoft Virtual PC - Allows me to install a separate OS that is executed inside of Windows.  Saves me from having to deal with partitioning my hard drive.  I now have a Linux desktop distribution installed as one of my "virtual machines".  really cool.
  • GAIM - which allows me to IM Yahoo, MSN, AIM, ICQ friends all from a single client.
  • Microsoft SQL Server Express (with management tools) - great, free way to learn Microsoft's enterprise database engine without a cost.  Also provides an alternative to Access when you go beyond Access'/Jet's database capabilities.
  • Microsoft Visual Basic/C#/Web Developer 2005 Express Editions - Again, free software that can be used to develop applications for Windows and Windows Web Servers.  These are very powerful versions of their Visual Studio development IDE.  Really nice features.
  • Windows Desktop Search
  • Astonsoft's DeepBurner - which allows me to burn ISO files (create install CDs/DVDs).
  • I have downloaded the newest release candidate for Windows Vista (next version of Windows).  Just haven't got the courage to install....yet.

As you can guess, my poor PC sometimes struggles to handle some of this less than optimal software.  Occasionally, I have to reload my machine, which leads me to the more critical software I recently purchased....Windows Live OneCare.  One of the things it does is manages backups of my data files.  I hook up an external hard drive and tell it to perform a backup, and wham, My Documents, Outlook settings, etc. are backed up.  One of the really nice things about OneCare is that its licensing allows for it to be installed on up to three PC's in my house.  I like that. 

Of course, Mrs. WHW's machine is completely off limits to me.  I am allowed to log on to fix problems, but that is it.  For some odd reason, she doesn't trust me.  Go figure.

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