Friday, October 30, 2009


Blazing Sunset at the Placerville Elks We’ve been at the Placerville Elks Lodge (click here to read our earlier review and see photos) in Shingle Springs, California, for five days, a whirlwind of New Computer Craziness interspersed with relaxing visits with my (Laurie’s) parents, welcome oases of calm in the chaos of technological upheaval.

Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn’t it?  That’s exactly how it felt to me!  Doing the endless research, making the buying decision, and handing over the credit card was just the beginning.  Switching from our old computer to a new computer, with a new operating system (Windows 7 64 bit vs. Windows XP 32 bit – and no Vista in between) seemed like a daunting task to me – and I was prepared for the worst.

I’m so, so happy to report that everything is coming along excellently, so far.  Maybe my obsessive preparations paid off, or maybe Windows 7 is as spectacular as early reviews promised – whatever the reason, the transition (still happening) is going well.

We’ve received several emails asking for specifics:

New Toshiba on my little computer desk. We bought our computer (on Monday) at Best Buy, so we can take it back to any Best Buy, anywhere, if we have problems.  This is important to us, since shipping a computer back to the manufacturer can be problematic if we are moving frequently and camping at state parks, COE campgrounds, or in the boondocks of the southwest.

Because our prior Toshiba gave us four years of trouble-free, heavy-duty daily usage, we stuck with Toshiba.  Besides, I feel their pricing is super-competitive in the category of computer we purchase.

The new computer is a Toshiba Satellite A505-S6980.  Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium.  Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 processor.  4 GB DDR2 RAM.  500 GB hard drive (our old computer has 2 GB memory and 80 GB hard drive and was sufficient for us!).  16 inch widescreen display.  4 USB ports.  And, unusual but important for us: a 12 cell battery, giving us in excess of 5 hours of battery operation.  Wow!

We paid $599.99 for the computer, on “special” at Best Buy this week.  We added a 3 year service plan for $179, a first for us.  The service plan covers one new battery in the 3 year period (any time after the first year).  Since replacing a 12 cell battery is expensive, we decided it was worth the extra money to cover the battery and any other problems that arise. 

We added $70 to have the Geek Squad “optimize” the computer before we took it home: make sure everything worked (including all USB ports and the built-in WiFi connection), removed all the trial software we didn’t want, activated the 30 day free antivirus/antispyware program (Norton), download and install all the Microsoft updates, and make the Restore disks (there are 5 of ‘em).  Yes, yes – I could have done all that myself, but my plate seemed overflowing already.  Those $70 bought me several hours and great peace of mind.

New computer storage, 2 feet long and a foot deep. The problem I DIDN’T expect, or plan for: where would we keep an extra computer?  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, does it?  But it was.  We actually need a new, bigger motorhome now, with at least 3 slides.  :)  In lieu of that, I spent all day yesterday (after dropping Odel at the golf course) looking for the new piece of furniture we needed to provide some extra shelf space. 

I started at Ikea (with lunch, to fortify myself) and spent 2 hours examining and measuring every piece of furniture that seemed like a possibility. Everything was TOO BIG.  How disappointing!

Okay – implement plan B.  Off to Target, where I found exactly what we needed within 10 minutes.  As I was loading my cart, Odel called from the 18th hole – 30 minutes until he was ready to go.  Zip, zip – another charge on the credit card (just $60, less than anything at Ikea) and I was off.

Odel is an astute reader of his wife’s moods.  As soon as we got home, we set up the new shelves – then he took himself off to the bar in the lodge for a beer while I bustled around with vacuum and dust cloth, cleaning and rearranging my nook.  I am so pleased with the result!

Computer Nook, set up and ready to use. There is still a lot to be done, but I’ve completed all the priority moves and installations that had me worried:

Microsoft Money 2003 (where I have more than 10 years of financial information stored) works – a total miracle.  Microsoft doesn’t even sell a “Money” product any longer, so I was really worried about this since upgrading to a newer version is not an option. 

My Canon Camera connected with no problems, and I’ve transferred all our photos from the old computer.  I’ve download both Picasa 3.5 and Windows Live Writer, so blogging can resume. 

Our old (at least 8 years) HP printer/copier/scanner works, with drivers included in Windows 7. 

Our Verizon USB aircard works, with new software I downloaded from Verizon with help from the friendly Verizon phone rep.

I need to keep plugging along, but YES, we are over the hump!


  1. Glad to hear the computer switch went so smoothly. Now I am jealous. I want Windows 7!

    So how is your dad doing?


  2. My Dad is doing really, really well. I took him to his final physical therapy appointment on Wednesday, and his therapists "graduated" him. I saw him do many things that surprised me - like stand 4 feet from a wall and thrown a 10 pound beach ball at it, then catch it and throw it again, half a dozen sets of six tosses. Bend down and pick mats up off the floor without holding on to anything, etc.

    His eyesite apparently is permanently damaged (no more driving), but his brain should eventually help compensate for that. He is still using a computer for email and blog reading. :) He does normal household chores (vacuuming, sweeping, laundry), but still has some short term memory loss.

    All in all, everyone in the family (including my dad) is pretty happy with his current condition - rather than what "might have been". Thanks for asking!

  3. Glad it went so smoothly. I shiver thinking of getting a new computer, it's always been a frutrating pain.

  4. Nice computer, Laurie and a good deal too! I think the $70 you spent to get everything all configured and setup was a good idea. Our new Windows 7 Dell laptop is arriving Nov. 3rd so I'm really looking forward to playing around with Windows 7.

  5. We too have a Toshiba laptop & have been very pleased with it's trouble free operation over the past 3 years. XP on both our computers is working fine but I would still like to move up to Win 7. Maybe next summer:))

  6. Nice computer and a great price. It all looks very nice.
    We continue to enjoy reading your blog. I'm a big fan of your pics.

  7. Hi Laurie... I am so glad your transistion to your new computer went smootly... We had to do that last summer and after all I heard about Vista I was frightened... BUT it all went well and I was pleasently surprised... We also love Tosiba... It is a very dependable system... Have a great day!

    Happy Halloween
    Travel Safe

  8. A little off subject here but aren't those the best chairs ? We have 2 and couldn't live without them, we ordered attachable tables from that tilts and swivels and swings down be stored down along side the chair, I'm typing on it right now. It's a perfect size to fit a laptop on and really saves on space! Enjoy your new computer. :-)

  9. Sounds like everything is going well -- glad to hear your Dad's doing well also. Computer changes are seriously traumatic; I went through a similar experience last spring (with Vista, though, not Win 7)and I'm with you on the value of having the Geek Squad optimize and check out your machine. There are some things that are just not worth the aggravation of doing yourself -- there's enough that you'll have to do as it is! Now I'm facing the task of upgrading a desktop from XP to 7 -- it sounds seriously complicated and a little voice is whispering in my ear <"geek squad">! We'll see. Enjoy Sacramento!