Sunday, January 9, 2011

Of Family Tech Support Part II

Best stock photo ever.
I had to go over to my grandmother's house today to set up her new laptop. Apparently she'd been playing "Bejeweled" on my aunt's computer while she was staying over between Christmas and New Years. She got to go to parties, one of them with Bernie Madoff's secretary, but it looks like Bejeweled was the pinnacle of awesome this go-around. So much so that she went down to Walmart, picked out a laptop, was told it was out of stock and bought the one they recommended to her instead.

Here is where we come to the travesty involved: my grandmother just bought a Sony Vaio with 500GB of storage and 4gb memory, a 15" widescreen LCD display and Windows 7 Home Premium 65-bit edition, with a free month's trial of Norton antivirus.

My grandmother does not have the internet.

Yes, she paid $600 for a pretty decent laptop–and made sure to get both "Bejeweled 3" and and value-pack of 250 thousand games (500 of them solitaire, seriously?)–all for the express purpose of playing Bejeweled. Me setting up her laptop involved making a user profile (her initials) and a password (her old dog), then basically deleting, disabling or otherwise removing from view/active function any program which might get in the way of spinning up the hard disc to get at that sweet, sweet gemstone action. I'm basically helping my grandma mainline fire gems directly into her eyeballs.

We still need to get her a mouse because a trackpad is just insanity to her. For reference, her last computer was about as useful as a 2nd generation iPod Touch basemodel with broken WiFi.

Seriously, it's this beige IBM box with a 3 1/2" floppy and a then-state-of-the-art CD drive. The monitor is newer than the rest, so that's about thirty pounds with a 12" screen, and maybe it's only about twelve years old. It's got an 8GB hard drive and 125mb of RAM.

Do you guys remember the Pentium processor from all of a few years ago? I remember the Centrino coming out for laptops that were made to be wireless. That was I think the first or second Pentium chipset to break from the "Pentium #" name scheme. That series was Pentium 1-4.

My grandmother's computer ran a 486 processor. 98% of you don't even know what that is. It's the thing that came before a Pentium. I don't even know why it's called that. The numbers don't work in base-2. I have no idea why it was called that. Whenever I've mentioned it to my Computer Science friends, they just stare in stupefied amazement that such a thing still functions. I'm pretty sure that any college kid who decides to be a CS major from this point in time forward will only ever learn about a 486 if (s)he takes the Comp-Sci equivalent of an art history course. This thing's like a a Rodin, just not by Rodin. It's friggin' kinetic sculpture more than it's actually a useful piece of machinery.

It runs Windows 95, for chrissake.

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