On Maker Culture

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So I’m a huge fan of technology. I’ll take any excuse to get my hands on a new video game system when it’s funded on Kickstarter. Actually, I have a huge weakness for Kickstarter projects in general. One that I seriously considered getting when it was suggested was the Makey Makey.

 

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Tales of a Successful Purchase

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My new computer. Suspiciously clean of fingerprints on the screen.

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The utterly fantastic birthday card I got from my mom (interestingly enough, on the same day as I got my computer). The insides reads “#3 is a family trait too.” I’m serious about my family’s skills!

Previously, I wrote a rather lengthy post about how my computer had kicked the bucket–a lamentable, though expected loss. Though I was a bit worried about buying a new computer (it’s a lot of money and it’s the middle of term), I managed to find one that I love. I am quite sure that it is the best deal on the market too–thriftyness cheapness is a trait–nay, a skill!–cultivated by Winnipeggers in general, and my family in specific.

After dishing out the dough, I am now the proud owner of an Asus S400CA. I got the super fast processor I wanted, and I have both a standard hard disk drive and a solid state drive. My operating system and programs are on the SSD, and my files and videos, etc are on the HDD–my computer boots in seconds! Speaking of operating systems, I have Windows 8. Despite my early fears, it isn’t actually that bad. This perception is likely aided by the bonus inclusion of a touch screen, and the fact that I don’t use much more than the Internet regularly. Windows 8.1, launching October 17, will bring back the start button and I am looking forward to that though. There’s no optical (CD/DVD) drive, but I didn’t really want one anyways. I paid another 40$ for one that attaches via USB for when I need it, but I haven’t had cause to use it. All of my games are in the cloud, and simply require an internet connection to install (I have a feeling that my portion of the internet usage in the house my be a bit more than my share this month).

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The USB optical drive I bought (and the computer’s box).

I have to say, I’m very impressed with my Asus computer. The price was excellent–about the same as the low range HP, Dell, or Acer offerings–but it has solid parts, and an aluminum body. My computer screen is not going to crack at the hinges and fall off, like one old Dell I used did! Plus–and this is a big plus, for set up–there was a minimum of bloatware on the computer. Bloatware is all of the extra programs included by the computer manufacturer that you look at and think ‘Hey I might use that!’ but never do. My old Sony had reams of the stuff. This Asus had maybe three programs (an Office 2013 demo, and two very, very minor other programs), and they were easy to identify and uninstall. I had allotted lots of time to familiarize myself with the new system, but it was very intuitive and I was done setting up within an hour or two. Everything was done, from Office to (ok, I’ll admit it) my games.

Ultimately, I’m pretty happy with my purchase!

Computer Woes

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I have a problem. My beloved Sony Vaio (which was a lovely green colour that was not well-received by the reviewers at PCMag a few years ago when the computer was first released, but was well-loved by me and everyone else who saw it) has reached the point where it will be going to computer heaven soon. My screen has failed, resulting in a 1.5 inch black strip through the middle of my screen. I’m not quite professional IT tech calibre, but (not to brag or anything) I am the person who my family calls to fix their computers (I get free dinner. I’ll take it). I knew going into the campus computer store that it was a hardware failure, but I was still hoping that the guy would tell me that it was a virus or a driver issue. No such luck. The broken part is a $300 repair plus labour. That said, I knew my laptop was going to fail soon (I was hoping it would last the term, but no such luck). I thought it would be the fan or the hard drive that went, though. I prepared, and was working off Dropbox, just in case. I had no idea that the screen was getting ready to go.

So I get a new computer! Yay, right? No, not really. I really liked nearly everything about my Vaio (especially the colour, they just don’t sell bright colours anymore), and finding something to like as much is difficult. I’m also on a tighter budget than I was when I bought my Vaio. Any good, durable computer will cost $800-1000. That’s how much good parts cost. It’s practically a computer sales law. I really can’t afford that right now, so I’m looking at cheaper computers. That means a Dell, HP, or Acer. I’ve had personal problems with two of those companies and won’t buy their products anymore. Everyone I’ve asked about the third has told me similar stories. My options are limited.

Luckily, I have found one! Even more exciting, rumours are that Intel is putting out a new generation of i5 chips at some point in the next two weeks. AND Windows is releasing 8.1 on October 18th, including a return of the start button (my biggest worry about a new computer is having to say goodbye to Windows 7. That was a great OS). All I need to do is wait two weeks, and take advantage of sales, hopefully.

In the meantime, I’ve kludged together a rather elegant-looking workaround. I am very glad I brought my ‘enormous’ tv with me when I moved across the country for school (it’s 19″) because I was able to hook up my computer and use it as a monitor. I’m using my tablet’s wireless Apple keyboard (my Android tablet and my Apple keyboard hate each other, so no big loss there), and my wireless mouse. My laptop is across the room and I’ve got my tv on my lap. It’s not a replacement, and it won’t work for long, but it will do until I can get a new computer in the next two weeks. Creative problem-solving? Oh yes.