At last the old laptop has all but expired after nearly five years and I cannot complain. It has been heavily used, almost daily, giving me hundreds of hours of access to news and other information, plus the great pleasure of watching and hearing my musical heroes and heroines past and present thanks to YouTube. How many hours per week I have “played” with the laptop I would not care to admit but for well under £2 per week I reckon the computer was brilliant value for money.
Last week I bought a new machine (an Acer Aspire V5 Touch), which promoted me instantly from a user of the Windows Vista 32 bit operating system to the latest version of Windows 8, 64 bit. The change to Windows 8 has been much easier than I was expecting though I have a lot to learn yet before I can claim to be fluent at navigating the system. Despite substantially more RAM and storage memory than my old computer, this new machine is nowhere near as quick as I was expecting, though it does handle large quantities of data with considerable aplomb and a complete absence of hiccups. It is also very quiet and runs remarkably cool. I have now emptied 150GB of files from my desktop hard drive into the Acer, together with most of the files on my old laptop (another 120GB), and sorted and condensed all of this down to about 100GB of files which now reside in both the Acer and the independent hard drive, ie. all my digital files going back several years in one computer plus a complete and easily accessible back-up with lots of space to spare all round.
The old laptop hasn’t finished yet. Some time ago, when it was becoming slow and frequently freezing in the middle of a task, I emptied it and reinstalled from scratch. It took hours and was not fun but it did improve the performance considerably. Now, a couple of years on, I cannot face the idea of repeating that procedure, especially as Vista is getting a bit old and some updating seems to be a good idea. However, while the old laptop seems no longer able to handle large files, or bunches of small ones, it still plays music and MIDI files and video files (via Audacity, Notation Composer and Real Player) and has no problems with everyday office functions (Word and Excel). So I propose to keep it for those functions while it remains able, permanently linked to the printer and external speakers but disconnected from the Internet. Future downloads for this computer will be filtered through the new laptop and the comprehensive anti-virus (etc.) software installed there.
It has been a pleasant surprise to discover that moving from Vista 32bit to Windows 8, 64 bit has not required vast expense on new software to support all my interests. My main worry concerned Adobe Photoshop. This cost a small fortune when I purchased version 5.5 in the 1990s and have been using ever since. The modern version is simply unaffordable so far as I am concerned and I was expecting to change to the very similar (the last time I looked) free Open Source software called GIMP. If I remember correctly I first used Photoshop 5.5. at least 15 years ago in conjunction with Windows 3.1. It has never been updated yet it works with Windows 8.
Some other packages were simply loaded into the new laptop from the old CDs and worked perfectly. I discovered that my genealogy programme, Personal Ancestral File, has been discontinued since I last used it so I downloaded the free version of Ancestral Quest , a straightforward replacement. To replace other software with which I am familiar I downloaded free versions (which will be upgraded now that I know they work) or at least reconnected on the Internet. These included Realplayer, Audacity, Evernote and others. I had to buy a new version of Microsoft Office. Given the price of the computer I had hoped that it would be included. No such luck.