Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Profit From Planned Obsolescence In The Computer Age.

I've got an elderly Dell desktop workstation named Edgar in the shop that I use for schematics and some basic internet browsing, and lately it has been running painfully (excruciating, really) slowly.

So I decided to reload the operating system, not without a few hiccups, so here's the score on how to avoid paying Microsoft-again. In my case I did not want to cough up a hundred bucks or so for a copy of Windows 7. In a philosophical sense, calling something a "workstation" when it's used in the office for fooling around on the internet is something of a puzzle but nevermind,

As a point of information Microsoft says it no longer supports XP but there are ways, my friend. Inside many cash registers and ATM machines resides a computer running XP, and there is a registry hack that is supposed to convince Microsoft that your computer is a cash register in a bar or an ATM at a casino. Either way I haven't bothered monkeying with it yet.

When Microsoft comes up with the message that says "You're screwed. Buy a new computer with Windows 8 and stop with the whining willya?" just ignore it. Let google be your accomplice.

The only caveat here is availability of drivers for equally elderly devices. The update to Windows 7 compelled me to obtain a new scanner to replace an equally good one for which drivers could not be obtained. Thanks again for adding to the growing mountain of e-waste, Acer and Microsoft. 

As it happens I'm ahead of the game all over this because we already got a couple of hundred dollars in a class action settlement here in Iowa-didn't you know it, Microsoft was overcharging us all?

In any event this computer started out with parts from my Dell computer that went to Goodwill a few years ago (memory sticks) parts harvested from a defunct TiVO recorder (hard drive and DVD drive), parts from Newegg and the now defunct CompUSA chain (internal hard drive, Western Digital standalone hard drive and DVD drive) a case with a motherboard, power supply, Pentium IV 2.8 processor and a floppy disc drive from Iowa State University surplus sales, and a Viewsonic 21 inch CRT monitor, all of which got me to about $150 over the course of six or 7 years. I still retained the OS disk from my Dell that went to Goodwill.

I also have a large box where I store all my spare cables, parts, software and miscellaneous stuff I've acquired over the years. It pays to save the stuff.

So, I redid the boot sequence as required, started a clean reload and all went well. They didn't even ask me for a product code so maybe they think I'm Iowa State University or maybe they don't care anymore. Either way you take your pleasure as you find it.  Installing the Linksys software for the wireless receiver took a couple of tries with different CDs before it took hold when I used an earlier version 4.0 of the software.

The big problem was that my OS disk was a very primitive installation, and I had to next install service pack 3. To make a very long story very short, you can get it from Microsoft for free (it's the version for network administrators) and put it on a DVD yourself. No other third party source will work properly as I found out.

Once you get a good working copy of service pack three, you can load it and then proceed with retrieving at least 133 updates, which took a couple of hours. I loaded the usual stuff for viewing images and documents-Adobe Acrobat reader and MS Office 2003 complete with product code, thanks to a former employer who shall remain nameless because they're world class asshats.

This morning I installed a nice flat panel display courtesy of Kevin Neal's studio, which predates USB ports but I did have an RGB cable ready to go-remember that big box of obsolete crap?

I may see if I can up the memory some more. Right now it's 2gb but it is cheap because it's obsolete.

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