You may wonder why I’m sending lifestory writers to a site with tips for professional writing. Those tips will improve any writing, with the possible exception of poetry. If a tip doesn’t make sense to you, post a comment here, or ignore it.
For right now, if I can give you one gold-plated tip, it is to back up your work! I had one file on that trashed laptop that I cared about and had not saved elsewhere. I’d worked about six hours on that file and would hate to lose it. I feel sick when I hear of people who lose a whole hard drive full of files that weren’t backed up. The good news here is that after spending a solid day hammering on that system, searching for answers, talking to tech support two places, consulting with my personal ‘Puter Guru, and thinking way out of the box, I finally managed to bully the machine into letting Ubuntu (a version of Linux running from a CD) rescue my files.
A related silver-plated tip would be to avoid purchasing a computer with Vista installed. Most businesses are avoiding it like the plague. I finally found an article on the Microsoft website explaining that the particular file I’m having trouble with is often corrupted by a specific Windows Update. I’m very angry about this system that has probably wasted over a billion hours of user time in the few short months it’s been out.
How can you avoid Vista?
- Order a custom-built machine from a small shop. It may cost more, but it will work better, have the operating system you chose (i.e. XP), and you should get stellar tech support. Do check references on shops before buying though. I found my ‘Puter Guru by asking strangers in CompUSA if they knew of anyone. They did, and they'd forgotten, and we all left without making a purchase. I've now purchased nearly a dozen machines from Jack, for myself and others. (No, I do not get a frequent buyer discount, but I do get unlimited advice.)
- Convert your old computer to Linux. Linux runs beautifully on far less memory and power. Unless you use high end commercial programs like Adobe® Photoshop® , you don’t need Windows. Dell™, Lenovo™ and a couple of other vendors are beginning to offer computers with a choice of XP or Linux operating systems. Walmart’s first batch of $200 Linux-based machines sold out in 48 hours (I am not endorsing these machines, merely mentioning them). You can download Ubuntu, the most commonly used free Linux OS from the Ubuntu site, or order a low-price disk from sites listed there. It includes my favorite OpenOffice suite and enough other free open-source utilities to let you do pretty much anything you do with Windows or Mac. It works much like Windows, and you should quickly feel at home there. Learn more about it from the Ubuntu site or on Lifehacker.com.
Write now: about your experience with computers. When did you start using one? How do you feel about them? How did you learn to use them? What great computer-related success or disasters have you had?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal
P.S. Did I mention how much I hate Vista?