Saturday, June 18, 2005

Lead Me Not into (Technical) Temptation

I’m temporarily departing from my normal fare to discuss an issue of critical, life-altering importance. I’m really fighting the urge to buy a new computer right now. The biggest snag in this idea is money. Rather, our lack of money. We have several bills to pay off and, from a financial perspective, our money would be much better applied in this area. We also have Child # 2 due in mid-December. On the other hand, we aren’t missing any meals, as is exemplified by my ever-expanding waistline.

Both of us are having some problems with our current computers. Julie’s left mouse button has a short in it and her monitor’s controlling circuitry is going out. Buy a new mouse (cheap) and a new monitor (not so cheap) and we’re done. I, on the other hand, can no longer burn anything to CD-R. Newer drivers (free) or upgraded firmware (free) may resolve this issue, or I could just buy a new recorder – even the new dual-layer DVD+-RW units aren’t that expensive any more (under $100). I may have to wipe and reinstall the OS, applications, etcetera (cost: a bunch of time). This is a major pain and can be almost as much fun as getting a root canal.

My current system is from ABS: Athlon 950 MHz with 768 MB of RAM and a 30 GB hard drive. Julie uses a Dell Dimension 2100 with a Celeron 1.1 GHz, 256 MB of RAM, and a 40 GB hard drive. These systems don’t exactly fall into the Screamer category. However, we really don’t do much heavy-duty computing. We work in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and, on a really wild day, Access. We play The Sims and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. These programs are fairly old and don’t require much horsepower.

If we buy a new computer we plan to donate one of our current units to a local non-profit organization. Probably mine. My computer, that is – not my non-profit organization. I like having all the RAM and I think it’s a stronger system overall, but it has too many fans and sounds like it should hover over the desk when it’s on. So buying a new PC would mean that the Catholic Center of the local community college would get a new computer (and, later on, new hearing aids).

Another option: we could upgrade pieces of our current systems. I could probably get by with a new motherboard, new RAM, a new CPU, a new video controller, probably a new power supply, and a new dual-layer DVD recorder just for good measure. But then, we wouldn’t have a computer to donate and I don’t know that the Catholic center would even be able to use my old parts in their existing, ancient computer.

Do we need a new computer? No, not really. Do I want a new computer? Yes. Am I trying like hell to justify a new computer? Of course I am. Besides, I’m dying to try out Quake III and my current system just won’t hack it. Also, when the successor to Diablo II comes out it’s a safe bet my current system won’t hack that, either.

Decisions, decisions.


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