A New Work Machine

First there were Minnie and Henry and then came Neddie, Bluebottle, Eccles, the test machine, and Grydpype, the Internet server.

Minnie and Henry, both 486 DX 100s, retired long ago to the desks of my nephew and niece.

Neddie eventually replaced Minnie at my niece’s and, just recently, I decided that it was time Bluebottle performed the same service for my nephew. 

Bluebottle had been groaning under the load I was placing on him and I, too, was growing old while I waited for applications to load up and for things to be done. I hesitated for a little but eventually I decided I owed myself a present and phoned my usual supplier. 

The request was that they supply me with the most potent PC possible for R6500 including tax but not a screen; I already have a 17-inch MAG which I wouldn’t willingly part with. 

My relationship with Bluetoo, as the new machine was to be called, did not start auspiciously when I forgot to fetch him from the hospital, er, supplier, on the day he was born, er, burned-in. When I got him home I found that he had a Pentium III 733Mhz CPU, 192Mb of RAM, a 10Gb hard drive and an 8Mb display card. 

My first moves were to install Windows 98, my HP scanner, and then, over the top of everything, Windows 2000 Professional. Things went smoothly at first but I soon realised there something amiss when W2K kept forgetting its settings every time I rebooted it. 

I could do my work but I had to reinstall both printer and scanner after every reboot and the network just never worked at all. I reinstalled W2K a couple of times and was just thinking of suicide when I thought to take Bluetoo back to the supplier. 

A searching examination revealed a minor flaw in Bluetoo’s CPU which was causing all the problems. I would have thought that a CPU would either work perfectly or not at all but I was proved wrong when all Bluetoo’s gremlins disappeared after the faulty CPU was replaced.

I had thought that Bluetoo would be fast, and I was quite right, but what I never guessed was just how much faster and how much difference it would make in my life. Bluetoo loads Word 2000 in about two seconds instead of the 10 or 12 it used to take Bluebottle. 

When you’re opening and closing programs all day, the extra speed makes a great difference. Everything happens much faster and processor-intensive tasks, like image manipulation, now take me much, much, less time than they used to. 

The 8Mb video card adds to the machine’s speed but what really helps it motor is its 192Mb of RAM. I’ve mentioned that it takes about two seconds to load Word from the hard drive but, once in memory, Word reloads literally quicker than you can blink. 

Eccles, the test machine, has a very roomy hard drive but I’ve never had much space to spare on my work machine. With a 10Mb hard drive, however, I now have more than enough space for all the applications I’m likely to need in immediate future. 

Next week I’ll have more to say on Bluetoo and on my experiences with Windows 2000 Professional which, I now find, really comes into its own when it has a muscular PC to work with. 

Part Two 

Last time I told of the addition to the family of a muscular young PC known as Bluetoo. 

The story started out sadly with a number of teething problems but those were corrected when a technician swapped-out the machine’s CPU. An mail from reader Raj said that he was experiencing identical problems and, guess what, his machine also has a Pentium III 733Mhz processor. 

Apart from the shaky start, however, Bluetoo has been an absolute pleasure and I’m still amazed and delighted with his power and speed. Bluetoo is a great tool and an ongoing treat. 

Speed is one of the great benefits I’ve experienced but so is the 10Gb of hard drive space. I installed all my data files plus all the applications I thought I might need and noticed that I had only managed to fill about 3,5Gb of space. 

I then went ahead and copied the Bookshelf 99, Encarta and Greetings Workshop CD-ROMs onto the hard drive and found that this makes them run at phenomenal speeds. No more having to swap discs continually or waiting around for things to load off of the CD-ROMs. 

After spending most of a day getting Bluetoo just the way I wanted him, I got a strong feeling that I didn’t want to go through the process again in a hurry. I therefore installed another hard drive and, using Norton Ghost, cloned Bluetoo’s main hard drive onto it. 

If necessary, I’ll be able to restore Bluetoo’s hard drive including all applications, settings and data in little more time than it takes to tell. I have also set up the Task Scheduler to back up new and modified data files each night and have installed Norton Antivirus 2000. 

Windows 2000 Professional is performing brilliantly and giving no cause for complaint whatsoever. The only crashes I’ve had were during the installation of Norton Antivirus 2000 which has never, in any case, had my vote as the most stable application around. 

My experiences with Bluetoo have only served to underline the bitterly-learned lesson that you cannot afford to skimp on tools that you use every day. I wasted plenty of time and added immeasurably to my stress levels by sticking with the previous machine, a Pentium 166MHz, for so long. 

I’ve just received a parcel of Christmas goodies from Microsoft including Midtown Madness, which is motor racing game set in the streets of San Francisco and London. One of the cars you can drive is the new Audi TT, which has been heavily featured on TV lately, and I’ll definitely be taking it for a spin around Hyde Park. 

Other promising games include Microsoft Golf 2001, Metal Gear Solid and Crimson Skies, a Hollywood-style air combat game. Also on the review list are Picture It! Photo and Print Studio and Windows 2000 Server.


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