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The ALEX VAN STARREX Website
MY (ONCE) NEW COMPUTER
I seem to be buying a new computer every five years - which is pretty good considering the technological changes that have taken place since I bought my first on in 1983/4. Deciding on a computer to last me the next five years, however, hasn't been the easiest of processes, given the rapid growth in computer advancements of late. I've had to aim over my usual requirements, while trying not to strain my financial resources.
Given the final choice in system specifications and price, it's quite plain that I could have settled for a perfectly adequate system for around half the price. The reasons why I haven't are briefly as follows:
Due to the mass of information that I accumulated over the course of computer-hunting, in November/December of 1998 I settled on the following system.
||Intel® Celeron processor 333MHz
|Memory:||192MB SDRAM (upgraded from 64MB in
|Cache:||128KB L2 Integrated Cache
|Hard Drive:||6.4GB Ultra ATA HDD
|Floppy Drive:||1.44MB 3.5" Diskette Drive
|CD-ROM:||DVD-III ROM Drive + Phillips
Recordable / ReWritable CD-ROM
|Sound Card:||Soundblaster Audio PCI 64V Sound
|Speakers:||Starbird Turando stereo speakers with
sub-woofer (added February, 2002)
|Graphics:||4MB ATI rage Pro Graphics Accelerator
PLUS 12MB 3Dfx Voodoo II
|Monitor:||VX700 17" (15.9" viewable
area) Colour Monitor
|Case:||Micro ATX Tower Case
|Ports:||2 USB Support, 1 Parallel, 2 Serial, 1
PS/2 Keyboard, 1 PS/2 Mouse
|Expansion Slots:||2 PCI & 1 ISA Slot
|Keyboard:||104-Key Windows 95 Keyboard
||MS IntelliMouse & Gateway Mouse
|Fax/Modem:||TelePath® 56K Data/Fax Modem + *Big
Pond Internet Kit
(*NB Big Pond kit includes free 50 hours Internet access)
|Standard Extra:||McAfee Virus Scan
||Microsoft Windows 98
||MS Office 97, Small Business Edition
||Gateway 2000 Desktop Warranty
(Includes Lifetime Technical Support)
||$ 3680 Australian as configured (as at
On the hardware side, so far I've bought the following:
As far as future plans, I've listed the following in order of necessity, and hence the order in which I'll probably end up buying them:
I was initially going to buy a ZIP drive, for exchanging data with my current/previous computer, the Amiga 1200. But this would have meant upgrading the 1200 one way or another - so I've put the plan on hold until a better transfer method comes along.
As has been the case for many years now, developers and magazine distributors are falling over themselves to give software away. Together with the vast resources of the internet, this means that the PC-based magazines that I collect are supplying me with virtually all the software that I could hope to use in the immediate future. Anything not available as a giveaway, shareware or demo will only be purchased reluctantly, or on promise of its indispensibility. This applies especially to games - since I rarely want to get beyond the 'limited demo' stage.
Here's a list of most of the software I've kept installed since owning the new computer. These programs are accessible through the Programs area of my Start Menu. The full programs usually came with either magazine cover-disks or else were supplied with my computer. In time, of course, many other things will be added and/or taken away from here - though, in the meantime, I'm happy to hear from readers wanting to compare notes on the software performance of these or similar programs.
NOTE: With my February 2002 computer fix and upgrade, I re-formatted the disk drives - I am only re-installing programs as I need them. Many of the following programs have been wiped or saved to CD-ROM for possible future use.
Chat: AOL Instant Messenger, Mirabilis ICQ, Microsoft ComicChat, NetMeeting, The Palace 32, Tribal Voice PowWow 3.6, Yahoo! Pager, WorldClock, ZWorldClock (note that these are rarely used, since I don't find chatting online enjoyable - I may, however, start video conferencing if the right people turn up to try it with).
DVD: Power DVD (demo), Cineware DVD Player, DVD Genie, DVD Region Killer, Free DVD (doesn't seem to work).
Graphics: ArcSoft PhotoMontage, FotoBee (for my digital camera), HyperSnap-DX, iView, IView32, Kaleid952, Microangelo, PaintShop Pro, Screen Thief 95, Tierazon (fractals), Ulead Morph Studio 1.0, Ulead PhotoExpress, WinMorph.
Games: Full games that I have include: Battle Arena Toshinden 2, Motorcross Madness, Mortal Kombat Trilogy), The Sims (including House Party and Living Large) and Test Drive 5. For a current list of "what's currently playing"on my PC, check the Personal News page.
HTML: Crayon, CyberSpider 21, Front Page Express, Hypertext Builder 5.0, Linkbot, Web Publishing Wizard.
Internet Tools: Audiogalaxy, AdWiper, Black Widow, Copernic99, Forté Agent, GeoBoy, Internet Explorer, MediaRing Talk 99, NetLoad, Limewire, Netmon, NetToob, Netscape Navigator, Outlook, Outlook Express, WebTabs, WebWatch, Ws_ftp, ZoneAlarm.
MusicConverting: AudioComp, AudioTools, BladeBatch, BladeEnc, CDex, MIDInight Express II, Pop Remover, Razor Blade, Sound Forge Demo.
Music Create: Beat 2000, MAGIX music maker (full programs).
Music CD-Covers: CDEdit, cdrLabel, JewlLinr, LaBelle CD Toolbox 1.5.
Music MIDI: AutoMID 3.0, Beatnik Player, Evolution Audio Lite, mPiano, midiart, MidiGate, Quickscore.
Music-Playing: CD Player, CD Spectrum Pro, MIDInight Express II, Notify CD, RealPlayer Plus 7, Spectrogram, WinAmp.
Music MODs: FastTracker 2, MadTracker, MedPlay, Modplug, Modplug Tracker, ScreamTracker 3.
Music Playing: AutoEject, Earjam IMP, Liquid Music, MusicMatch Jukebox, NotifyCD, n-track, RealPlayer G2, Spinner, Winamp, Winplay.
Music Recording: Adaptec Easy CD Creator 3.05 (full program), Anvil Studio, cdcopy, Goldwave, Musician's CDPlayer, Toshiba Music Mover, (Microsoft) Sound Recorder, WAVclean, WinDAC 32.
Music Synths: (none currently being used).
Music Tablature: Bucket o'Tab, Desktop Guitarist, FastTab, Tune It, Tab Transcriber, Tab31win.
Oracles: AstroMart (astrology), Att1.exe (hypnosis wheel), Business Tips, ColorTest, Dream (interpreter), Iching, IQtest, Numeyoga 3.2, Pas32 (personality evaluation), Personal Ancestral File 4.0, Quotes, SofTarot, SoftMatch, Truster (lie detection - demo) WinBio (biorhythms).
Reference (on CD): Axion 3D World Atlas, Blockbuster Entertainment Guide to Movies & Videos, Complete Reference Collection 1998, Corel All-Movie Guide, Corel All-Music Guide, Library of the Future, Microsoft Bookshelf 1996-7, National Geographic Interactive 1997, Voyage through the Solar System 2.0, World Travel Guide.
System Tools: McAfee VirusScan, WinRAR 95, WinZip 7.0, Zip Magic 1.0
Scanning: OmniPage LE, Canon CanoCraft CS-P 3.7.
Type & Talk: TypeItIn V1.4, UltraHal 6.0, Typing Master 98, TalkBack Limited Edition, WillowTALK 2.01 Trial.
Video (& Video-phone): Aviedi (editor), EasyXpress VideoMail, Fast Movie Processor 1.44, GOTCHA! 3.0, HyperCam, HyperSnap DX, LifeView USB CapView, Dr.John's Movie Maker, MPEGJoin, MPEG Scissors, MediaRing, Personal AVI Editor, PicMail, RBCap, RealProducer G2, VideoLive Mail Plus, WebFlix Pro, Windows Media Encoder.
Windows: All Media Library, Cacheman, Mover 98, TurboBrowser 98, WhereIsIt 1.26, File Renamer 98, CoolInfo, Fileview, TrayIcon.
Writing: Desktop Lawyer (common business forms), FaxWizard, Jot+ 2.0, ProtoFax, ForeWord (anagrams), Microsoft Camcorder, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, Notepad, Sophocles (script writer), Super Note Tab, WordPad.
I've also zipped many programs onto my hard drive that I haven't even looked at yet. Sometimes this is because I've forgotten what they are, or what they're supposed to do. They may stand a better chance if they had proper explanatory text or .id files. I'm looking at ways of getting around this problem in future.
CHANGING COMPUTERS AND PLATFORMS
When I changed from my old Commodore 64 to the Amiga in 1988, I had no way to transfer the information from one computer to the other. After simply gathering dust for a number of years, the 64 with most of its software, hardware and magazines out for the junk-collectors (I hope the went to a grateful home). Luckily the situation has improved this time around. At the very least, I can now share text and graphics files between the Amiga and new PC by DD floppy disks. A new external ZIP-drive would almost make child's play of the operation - if only it were easy to set up.
Actually, changing over to a new computer is the least of my problems. I've accumulated 10 years worth of Amiga-related junk - 2,000 odd disks (including commercial packages, games, public domain and disks of my own creation) plus piles of Amiga-based magazines. I'm looking forward to rationalising the collection into the smallest and most useful package, before disposing of it one way or another.
At the moment, I've got my Amigas 1200 set up in the laundry of my home. This way, whenever I need something from it, I can simply walk around and boot it up. I was going to eventually give it to my brother Johan, but since I won an iMac in a competition, that's gone to him instead. I've had an offer from someone to buy my 1200, for an as yet unspecified sum, but couldn't do this with so much personal software and files possibly going to waste. I hope to have CD-ROM compilations of the best files available sometime.
In February 2002, the computer died a seemingly natural death. In an effort to analyse and fix the problem I re-formatted the hard-drives - after saving as many essential files as I could to CD-ROM. The people at the shop fixed the problem, re-installed Windows and upgraded the RAM to 192MB.
Having a "clean" computer allowed me second thoughts on what I really needed - and reminded me how many extra programs it takes to transform an "out of the box"machine into something really useful. It also reinforced how many additional programs I'd installed (or at least saved onto the drives) but rarely if ever used.
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