does not compute

I would like to ask you all for some computer advice*, but first I want to tell you about a new blog in town: Be*mused. Jan is an amazing quilter and the mother of the amazing knitter Molly, who is spending the year in Japan and thus has access to all sorts of green tea items. I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out their relationship, because then you would all know just what an idiot I really am.
So, I am thinking I should probably upgrade my computer this year. It is 3 years old and is hanging in there, but when the DSL repair guy called it a “dinosaur,” it got me thinking. It’s a 700 mhz PC. The brand name rhymes with “smell.” Now, I don’t want to get another Smell for personal reasons (BLUE RULES), but I do want something that is reliable and comes with good support, since I am not very technologically adept. Yes, I would love to switch to a Mac, but I don’t think that is feasible. I use Microsoft Access ALL the time, and it isn’t available for the Mac. Besides, switching all my software would cost a small fortune. SO, if you have a minute, please tell me about your computer and what you like or don’t like about it. Merci!
*Your moisturizer advice was great. I got some of the Aveeno radiant moisturizer, and I am loving it!

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25 Responses to does not compute

  1. Katherine says:

    What does Microsoft Access do? There might be a Mac equivalent in the iLife package?
    Anyway, I love my Mac dearly and am SO glad I switched! Plus, it was a lot easier to switch than I thought it would be.

  2. Amy says:

    I just bought a rhymes with SMELL for work and I’ll say I’m not happy with it at all. I’ll leave out the part of the story where the tech support guy in Bangalore said, “You must be a very unlucky person”.
    I’m partial to Sonys. I still love the Vaio laptop I bought for myself a few years ago and wish I would have bought another one of those. The Vaio desktop I had was quite wonderful as well.

  3. hope says:

    I bought a SMELL 700m laptop a coupla months ago, and I LOVE it. It’s a perfect counterpart to my SMELL desktop, which I have had since 1999, and is *still* a brilliant system.
    macs are pretty, but i like being able to configure and manipulate my machine–something not so possible with macs
    SMELL all the way….

  4. Ann says:

    Ack, that contribution to Rick Santorum is seriously distressing…

  5. Alison says:

    We’ve always been a “D_LL” family – for YEARS now – I can’t begin to tell you how many of their computers we have in our house at this very moment (over 6 at least)… but I will NEVER buy them again! I had some horrible experience with their “bait and switch” and again with their tech support.
    IBM is now the computer of choice for laptops – although they are more expensive… HP and Gateway have been getting good reviews from family members who we’ve recommended them too — All in all I’d say PC is ok to say with – you just need to shop around to get good customer service (I would still NEVER buy from a “Best Buy” type store)
    And yes… 700mhz is really old (although it will make a great MP3 server in your house once you get a new computer!) Good luck and feel free to send any questions my way and we’ll help you out as best we can!

  6. Theresa says:

    I recently got a Gateway m505 laptop and I love it. It’s been reliable and durable and has a lot of nice onboard goodies. I’d also recommend IBM laptops.
    For desktop computers, another way to go could be to find someone local who will assemble one for you based on your basic needs and specs. That way you can also support a local business in your community. Most of the best computers I’ve ever had have not been name brands.

  7. Szarka says:

    I’m another supporter of the local build. That way you’ve got someone very interested in making sure you stay functioning. My guy also does a great job of staying within my budget. I say – ‘this is what I want to do’ and he tells me how to get there and what the various options are.

  8. claudia says:

    IBM laptops = good. I just bought 2 HP’s for the office (a730n) and I’ve been very satisfied.

  9. christina b. says:

    I know you said you’re interested in staying PC which is understandable because not all software is Mac-compatible and conversion things can be costly, but I do have to second Katherine. I’ve had the same Mac for over five years and only just now have a major problem with it (which is Microsoft-related by the way)…I’m not sure exactly what system Hope had tried on a Mac, but I think the main appeal of a Mac is that it IS extremely controllable. I like that I won’t have to worry about worms or viruses or anything like that because everything on my computer is right in front of me. Sorry, probably not so helpful to you but I just had to say something!

  10. melissa says:

    I’m a Mac person. No viruses, no problems. You’re right, though – there isn’t an Access equivalent. But, the new Minis are ADORABLE. And reasonable – $499 base price.
    That said, I use PC’s at work, and have been very impressed with IBM laptops. SMELL has gone downhill – they used to be excellent machines. I’ll still buy them, but I’d stick with the buisness- targeted machines instead of the home-targeted machines.

  11. knittykim says:

    I agreed with the comment in regards to “SMELL’s” business computers being great. Use them at work and home. I have had nothing but problems with HP products (lap top and desk) purchased 3 years ago. I would not purchase another HP computer…

  12. Jaime says:

    I have a Sony Vaio laptop (FRV31) that I really like. I would not get another Compaq laptop (though I rarely have problems with my HP iPaq). I have my Sony as a result of needing to return a Compaq because of power cord problems (all the ones available in the store had the same problem).

  13. Manders says:

    Hello, new reader! *waves*
    I have a really decent Gateway; unfortunately, mine’s been really susceptible to viruses (and I’m a fairly responsible Internet user), so keep that in mind. Macs are awesome, but as far as I know they don’t have an Access equivalent (sorry).

  14. Marie says:

    What a pity there isn’t an Access equivalent for the Mac. As soon as I can justify buying a Mac Mini, probably around Juneish, I’m getting one. Our current home PC has been reliable but has begun to have some probs. I hear such great things from my Mac-using friends that I want to switch. Plus the Mac Mini is so cute! 🙂

  15. jillz says:

    I have to agree with the Mac people. I’ve always had them and never had a problem with viruses/spyware or them breaking down. My laptop had to go in for repairs only because Apple used bad motherboards in my model so they replaced it completely free of charge in a recall.
    If you switch to a Mac, you won’t have to buy a new computer for at least 5 or 6 years, not like a PC that you need to replace every 2-3 years. It may cost a little more up front but it’s very worth it in the long run. What do you use Microsoft Access for? There probably is a Mac equivalent… Or you can get Virtual PC for the Mac and run Microsoft Access under that.

  16. jillz says:

    A quick google search on “microsoft access” and “Mac” brought up a Mac equivalent program called Filemaker.

  17. holly says:

    without reading the other comments, i’m going to say one thing you could do if you already have a mouse, keyboard, and monitor that you like you could get a new mac mini (, base model price is $499). to continue using your pc applications, you could get microsoft virtual pc, which lets you run windows xp and any windows-only applications exactly as if you still had a pc. (you should be aware though that you are also vulnerable to any pc-targeted virused while you are running virtual pc) unless i am mistaken, virtual pc costs 99 dollars.

  18. holly again says:

    another thing, if you do get a mac of any kind they ought to also offer you a free 1-year subscription to a mac magazine like macaddict or macworld with your purchase. take it! they mostly have reviews of new products whenever there is a big announcement from apple but they’ll also have features on time-saving shortcuts and important things to know about maintenance and security issues, and generally stuff that is helpful to mac users who are not exactly tech-savvy nerds (like me!)

  19. gaile says:

    Ok, I hear all the Mac people and I know you love your Macs for lots of good reasons, but I have a few things to add – filemaker is **not** the same as Access, and as an Access developer who’s used both, I feel qualified to say that. The only thing that is the same is they’re both database programs. If you’re concerned about spyware and browser hijacks, use Firefox instead of internet explorer. It’s free, and it works. The only reason Macs don’t get viruses as much as PC’s do is because people aren’t yet writing them. THe more market share Mac gets, the more viruses they will get. There is no replacement for responsible internet use, a non I.E. browser, a firewall, and a good virus protection system. I would say find someone to build you a new computer – you could keep your monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you might even be able to keep your current motherboard, sound and video cards depending on what you have and what you need. It’s not that hard – I built mine and was quite surprised to find out how intuitive it was to do. But perhaps insane brother can do it? If not him, I bet it wouldn’t be that hard to find someone else. Hey, maybe you could even do a trade – you could knit or sew someone something, you buy all the components, and they put it together and get all your stuff transferred. If I lived closer, I’d do it for ya myself! But Craig’s list might be a place to post something, if your blog doesn’t turn up an offer.

  20. MJ says:

    Get a Mac! BF has already been converted; he’s ditching his SMELL and getting a laptop soon.
    Consider Price: The new $500 Mini is their lower-priced model designed for consumers who want a value and quality. Your mouse, speakers, monitor, and printer should work with it; just download the drivers. Safari is an excellent browser.
    Consider Value: If this will be your workhorse for the next 5-6 years, get a G5 tower. Expensive, but it lasts. You can find good bargains for more RAM and other goodies if you shop around. My 3-year old G4 is still going strong. If you have a bunch of PC apps, you can run Virtual Access (I think that’s what it’s called) which was created by Microsoft to enable Mac users to run PC apps on their machines.
    Good luck!!!

  21. freecia says:

    Ah. I would advocate the mac mini move except I understand the need for a pc. Even a software engineer like me understands the need to have a pc (perhaps especially) due to software and platform constraints.
    Depending on how much you want to spend, how big you want it, and how long you want it to last-
    quality-counts- You want it to last. You’ll have to get something that is self-upgradeable. Eh. This might be more trouble than it is worth. But if you must, then get it done piece-meal by a local computer assembler who has been in business for a while. For the CA area, you might try Or your brother 😉
    Out-of-desktop space- Laptop, IBM has the best quality. I just got a Sony S260 which is superslick and my best friend got a IBM t42 workhorse which is “beautiful on the inside”. Hers would probably outrun mine if it came down to a performance war.
    Another option is a “shuttle” sized pc with a LCD flat screen monitor like this one Alienware makes.
    Enough with the computers, I want to use that money towards yarn- Scour sites like for a deal. Usually has the best deal notification on dells, but it also lists good weekend deals for major electronic stores which might and can knock off a few hundred dollars off a HP/COMPAQ/sony desktop/laptop. Same for office stores. I bought my pc at office depot for an extremely good good price after rebate (the rebates came within a month, too).
    Companies- most of the computers aren’t “quality” these days and with the way things go, you will be “ancient” in 2 years or less anyhow. Brands I would buy myself- IBM laptops, sony systems, dell if on a budget crunch and didn’t need tech support who speak english. Gamers like to buy- alienware and other gaming-oriented pc assembly companies. Generally, “gaming” systems are very high end systems which are moderately to easily updateable. Changing a piece out usually won’t void your warrantee (unlike sony). However, since they’re so high end, they’re also extremely expensive.

  22. thuy says:

    i have no pc advice but i have good news! i just got a $500 pledge for the avon walk! $1275 to go, whee! happy new year, oh purple one!

  23. erica says:

    OK! I had to comment in order to weigh in on the PC side of things.
    I was introduced to computers via graphic design, so I used to be a Mac-head…
    After years of being in pc-based-science-land, I am a convert, but this only happened AFTER wishing for a Mac for YEARS. Finally, cost and general cross-over on software applications have convinced me that Macs are not worth it (yet). SO remain strong–don’t go Mac! You NEED to use Access AND one can practically buy a new PC every year and still come out under Mac cost for equivalently capable machines…
    I recently bought an Averatec 3200 laptop for $800 (after rebate, 1.52 Gz & 512 MB ram) and LOVE it.
    Oh, I use Firefox and a firewall too and have had no problems with viruses…

  24. Silvia says:

    My IBM laptop is so old it could be the mother of smell…It’s also still just fine and works like a charm. I’d certainly buy another.

  25. Jenn says:

    I have a Mac and I use Access via Virtual PC. I tried it two years ago with my iBook but the iBook wasn’t powerful enough and the VPC software wasn’t as good as it is now, so it ran very slowly and I ended up doing Access stuff on my husband’s PC. But last fall I bought an iMac G5 (upgraded to 1GB RAM) and the latest version of VPC and was thrilled to see that I could actually use Access and get that part of my job done on my own computer.
    I was like you for years – used PCs, wanted to switch to the Mac. Macs truly are wonderful machines and I wanted to make sure you knew you *can* actually run Access on the Mac before you make your decision!
    The software cost is a consideration, but by the same token you could probably run your current software in Virtual PC and buy the Mac versions on down the road as your finances allow. And the Mac ships with great software for your photos, music, movies, email, etc.
    Good luck!

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