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Bought a new computer.

Sunday, 3 April, 2011

I went into the purchase of an Apple iMac with the assumption, Apple’s larger hardware items were still five-year appliances. The iMac I acquired at inappropriately great cost and not the money so much, during November 2007, has either a power supply or breadboard issue. The cost of repair for either one is just north of the acquisition cost of a brand new machine.

The iMac and PowerBook lines are unprecedentedly old. The updates, which may be dramatic, are coming soon … or Apple is abandoning that market. I made the critical error of visiting both Apple Stores more-or-less convenient to my home. While I had yet to make the decision to just charge another iMac, the staff and clientele of Apple Store made my decision meaningless. Just before my second Apple Store visit ended I somberly considered climbing on top of the table with the iStamps on it holding my Amex held high and yelling “Who dares to take my money!”

My second choice was to get a netbook. Just a dinky little netbook that would let me do my reading, communicating and media consumption while I get over my frustration with those who made a dent in the Universe twenty-seven years ago. The object of the exercise was to find which computerette was utterly linux compliant and, ideally, available at a brick-and-mortar store in the Austin area.

I stopped at a couple of old-computer stores, but the new netbook is clearly a better value for the same money.

Within a half-hour I worked out that the machine to get was the Dell Inspiron Mini 1018. Although it is not available with Linux out of the box, it was designed to be Ubuntu compliant. I very quickly established that Fry’s, by some bizarre coincidence, had this very unit on sale 20% off this very weekend.  I bought the chips to max out the internal memory for a few dollars more. This very unit happens to be in regular inventory at Wal-Mart.

After the stop at Fry’s computer-component desk, and a few hours of monkeying around, I am typing this very message on my Ubuntu netbook which shall hold me for a while. I know I’m going back to Apple eventually. Only because when it comes to multimedia, and not having to [expletive deleted] with your machine every week, they are the only game in town.

You know how I advice Mac neophytes to get an external drive and use Time Machine? Yeah, I didn’t actually get around to it. My pictures, video and music are stranded on that device. Indeed, my two external drives are also Mac formated and I do not yet know if or whether I can get to that data without another Apple-branded machine. For amusement look up disassembly instructions for the aluminum iMacs. My old machine may literally get the ax.

By the way, so far so good with the 1018. It handles 720 video quite well. I did have to apply a kernel patch to get the wifi working, but that was trivial. That is, I found step-by-step instructions online. I have it set up on my desk with my USB hub and the keyboard and mouse I used with the Mac plugged into the hub. The audio is similarly good because I am using my premium speakers. It’s a cute little beast.

Besides, for now it will have to do.

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