Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My New Computer

The computer we've been using for, oh, about five years or so, was due for replacement. It had gotten very slow and aggravating, so my son who does all of our IT set-up got us a new one. This is a machine that he built, with lots of (all the things that make it work faster and better that I can't think of the acronyms for) along with a new keyboard, etc, and installed it. The old machine had the XP operating system; the new one skipped over the discredited Vista and has something called Windows 7. Well, it's different but similar. Different enough so that I have to do many things in slightly other ways than I used to and it's really slowing me down.

The new computer is very fast and that part is very satisfying. The downside, however, is the keyboard (or "keyborad" as I've typed at least 500 times by accident). It's not an expensive one, and I'm thinking that if you're going to get spendy on any one thing, it should be the keyborad. The old one I had was a heavy, expensive one. I got it (second hand) because it was just like the expensive one I used to have at work that I liked. Unfortunately, that one wasn't like an army blanket: I couldn't steal it.

Anyway, the new keyborad (might as well do what comes naturally) is a cheaper, plasticky thing that takes more deliberate pressure on the keys and likes to ignore the space bar a lot.

The real point of aggravation is the spacing between the very top line of keys (the F-numbers row) and the second row, the numbers and more importantly, the back space key. When you have a crappy keyborad, you especially need the back space button a lot. My old keyborad had a lot of space between those two rows, like 3/8 of an inch. This new one has about 1/16 so it's really easy to get into the F-numbers row by accident. I discovered that the F-12 key, right above the back space, is the Death Key. At least on this computer. When you hit the F-12, it goes irrevocably into the computer shut-down mode. So for example, if I am writing one of my posts like this, it all goes away.

I'd like to plug my old keyborad back in right now, but it has the round plug. My new computer only has USB sockets. You can get little adapters to go from one to the other, but we tried the $2 one and it didn't work. There is another one for $10 and I may have to get that one. It would be worth it.

Isn't it amazing how quickly expensive electronics become obsolete? At five years of age, my old computer was considered ripe for being done-for, just on the basis of age alone. Not long ago, I was at the Goodwill Outlet store where they sell all the dreck that doesn't move in their retail stores. The Goodwill Outlet store is not like the Donna Karan outlet store, for sure. Anyway, I found a little Minolta DiMage Xi digital camera in the electronics bins for 49 cents a pound; at 5-1/2 ounces, what's that, about 17 cents? This camera came out way back in 2002 and cost $449 new. It's rated at, if I remember correctly, 3.2 mega pixels. Now you can go to Walmart and get a 8.1 MP for what, $50? The little Minolta DiMage isn't worth anything; you can see that quickly online. However, because nobody wants this obsolete item any longer, the special proprietary batteries that it takes are very inexpensive now as well as wall chargers.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So What's the Deal with Bright Headlights?

Used to be, the DOT had national standards for specifications on car headlights that included brightness. For some years now, there doesn't seem to be any standard in how bright headlights may be and they get brighter and brighter with every passing year.

I can't speak for what's going on in other parts of the country, but young pukes around here like to install extra-bright lamp bulbs in their little Japanese cars and blind everyone else. Like with the blue lights, for example. I'm not sure why they do this; a form of aggression I guess, like they have brighter lights that you do, hahaha. Having the brightest light is like having the fastest car; it's a form of oneupsmanship. Or they get a feeling of power from being able to blind other motorists.

There's no getting around it, but for some people their eyes become more sensitive to light as they age. However; I've never liked having bright lights pointed in my eyes at any age.

Remember the days when the police would pull you over for headlight offenses? These days, there aren't enough of them around to waste time on such trivial matters. Also, as bright as headlights have gotten on newer cars, how would they even tell if someone was driving around with their high beams on?

Then there's the deal with fog lights. Lots of people who live in the city and the 'burbs feel compelled to drive around with fog lights on in addition to headlights, in any weather. Just because. I know extra illumination is nice to be able to see, but it comes at the expense of every other driver that is forced to deal with overly-bright lights.

I guess some of this comes as a consequence of of the lack of civility and manners that keeps creeping insideously into our society. In times past, motorists might've had some consideration for other drivers on the road. Now, it's "I've got mine and screw you, Jack."