Dial-up Dell

Hello, Bloggies! I’m writing from Providence, RI using my mom’s new Dell and a 56k modem. I bought her a refurbished Dimension L933r. Great deal and the quality reaffirms my belief in Dell. They just make great, reliable stuff.
Even though it’s “refurbished” I can’t see any signs of prior use. I added a new Ensoniq AudioPCI sound card (it was a corporate PC with no sound) and moved her old Zip drive over. The Dell even had two extra rails clipped in under the bezel for adding drives. I love the no screws case – very easy to get into.

I put Windows 2000 on it so it doesn’t crash on mom, and added all her applications. It’s running very nicely. I’m going to make a Ghost image of the setup so she can restore it if something gets messed up. I’m also putting pcAnywhere on it, so I can dial in and work on it from California if necessary. She was using an old TigerDirect Cyrix 200-based PC with a 1.6 GB drive and 32 MB of RAM. This has a Pentium III 933 with a 20 GB drive and 128 MB of RAM, so it should be a much nicer machine for her.

Things went well in Cherry Hill. We didn’t have to turn anyone away (sorry Eve’s friend. You should have come!) although it was standing room only for the speeches. They expanded the room to double width so I think we seated about 500 people.

The presentations went pretty well considering the difficulties we had getting there. Pat gave his speech after flying all night. To make things worse, when he arrived at the hotel at 9am they had given up his room! Poor guy. But he did great. My plane from Providence to Philly on Saturday night was cancelled due to thunderstorms, so I rented a car and drove the 300 miles. It took about five hours and was surprisingly pleasant. My only mistake was buying a McDonald’s “cappucino” on the way. I don’t know what’s in it, but it ain’t coffee. Tasted more like a hot vanilla milkshake.

I’m not blaming the coffee, but my speech fell apart about halfway through. My train of thought left the track and I couldn’t get it back on. I guess I’ll have to break down and create a Powerpoint presentation just to keep organized. But we had fun and I got some great questions, so it went OK. I prefer dialogue to monologue, anyway. Afterwards Pat and I signed autographs right up until we had to leave for the airport. I think we got everyone.

Abby and Henry and I are having a great time in Providence. We went to the beach yesterday and had clam cakes. Something I haven’t done since I was a kid. Meanwhile Jennifer is at home hard at work packing for the move. We’ll come back to help on Friday. Moving day is July 5!

27 Replies to “Dial-up Dell”

  1. Thanks Leo,
    You are truly an inspiration to us middle aged geeks. Keep on keepin’ on.

  2. Well, Leo, at least you didn’t need a skin-graft for your lap after drinking that crapocino. Yowsa!! Even their regular coffee tastes like it was made with mop-water.
    BTW: When are you guys coming to Nashville TN? I’d love to meet you wild and crazy guys!

  3. What are you going to do without your cable modem Leo? Every power user needs broadband!!!

  4. It was great to finally have a few minutes to sit and “shoot the sh.. err Breeze!” with you Leo. I’m just curious.. Did Octay get the lock of hair (for cloning) and article of clothing he wanted??

  5. I agree about the McDonalda cappucino…. they’re just bad. If you’re ever back in NJ, let me know, I’ll recomend a couple of places to get REAL cappucion.

  6. what no alienware system for mom ? i would have thought you would have built one using an amd cpu . oh well. next time, visit delaware guys.

  7. Forget the pin, I want a Tom Servo. I know there’s plans on the ‘Net to do it, but I can’t find the parts. Anybody got ’em?
    Did ya go to Red Lobster, Mr. Laporte?

  8. leo its great to here great time back east. right now the sf bay area we are having a very long heat wave. it was 102! where i live in silicon valley. anyways i am wondering i was thinking of a great new segments for TSS. its called the antique computer road show. you could feature your old mom’s computer.

  9. leo itis good to see yoe revistiing the east coast! i grew up in connecticut so i know how much fum you and the family must be having.i hope the rest of your vacation is warm wet and wild fun.we miss you live on tech but hey you got a real life too!
    take care and hve a clam for me.

  10. Leo, You are such a maniac! You work harder on VACATION than most people do at work! But then again, you love all that computer stuff and it’s fun for you, not a chore. (Mrs. Pffercorn will be so glad you got a Dell!)
    BTW: I also made that same mistake with the McDonald’s cappucino, that is so *mean* of them to make such a bad product! It is truely, awesomely, awful! Blecchh! (their regular normal coffee is good if it is fresh, you know, made within the new millenium.)
    Your presentation was very well received from all the folks who kindly wrote in to Leoville and filled us in on the event… not to worry about the brain-train leaving the track, I think that just added to the mystique of the Future of the Internet. :^)
    OK, any bloggers from New England, can you tell me what a clam cake is? Is it like a crab cake? I think the only *great clam* is a clam in a linguini and white clam sauce…. but I am willing to expand my horizons and try a clam cake some day…. maybe.

  11. “Eve’s friend” (Amy) says hi. She said she’ll be there for the next one I go to, no matter how long the drive is (but, of course, that’s because I do the driving). The six hour drive home really wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be, and I met some nice people at a gas station outside York, PA who I traded demo tapes with (theirs weren’t as good as mine, but whatever) and I realized a friend of mine from Western PA now works on a radio station in DC so I called him on the cell phone going 65 miles an hour on 70 towards Fredrick (Fred-Rock to the hXc people), so see? Several good things came out of a solo drive to Jersey,… and I had no idea that you could drive 90 miles an hour on the Penna Turnpike in a downpour for over an hour straight without being pulled over. Now you know. Go do it.

  12. Overnight flights, no hotel room, unexpected 300 mile road trips – talk about “above and beyond the call”! And after all that, both of you were gracious, articulate, and funny. What’s your secret? ; )
    Thank you (and Patrick!) for a wonderful day and for all the great work you do every night on TSS!
    (Best of luck with the move!)

  13. I hope your having a good time in Providence Leo. I live just up 95 near Boston and those storms last weekend were awful. We picked up about 5 inches of rain in a few hours. It was what was left of Allison. Hope you’re having a good time in the hazy, hot, and humid weather Leo. You deserve it. Good luck with the move!!

  14. Leo,
    The seminar is an excellent format for your visits to the Phila-South Jersey area. This area is becoming “Silicon Philly”, and even non-professionals are crazy for TechTV.
    Because you are from Providence, would you recommend the best way for a geek to spend a day at Brown U. during the middle of August? What about a good restaurant, too? I’m going to MA for a family reunion, and can spend all day in Providence. (Last trip I asked for a tour of the Van De Graff particle accellerator at Yale)
    By the way, great job pronouncing “Bala-Cynwyd”

  15. Having made more than a few presentations with PowerPoint myself, I can vouch for the fact that, if nothing else, it reminds you about what you meant to say! I am also biased towards Q&A versus just me up there droning onnnnnn . . . 😛 But I bet that whatever happened it was just the cat’s meow for everyone who was lucky enough to be there. And *I* want a Tom Servo pin, too!
    Now we see the plan at work, your wife’s at home attempting to put your life into moving boxes while you’re wiggling your toes in the sand. 😛 Does it seem that the difficulty in preparing for a move is related to the amount of time spent living in one place? I don’t know how long you’ve been in your present house, but it always appears to me that the more nomadic among us can box up and move on more quickly than the rest.
    You keep having a wonderful vacation, Leo. Stay away from the McDonald’s cappucino (I had no idea such a thing existed) and keep playing with Mom’s computer if that’s what makes you happy. I bet it makes her *very* happy.
    Clamcake Smooches,
    P.S. Just for grins, last Friday’s coinage of the day from Paul McFedries was “PowerPointlessness”. The entry for it is here: http://www.logophilia.com/WordSpy/PowerPointlessness.html

  16. Hidy, Leo — Just to reaffirm your comfort with your mom’s Dell refurb: I bought a Dell “refurbished” laptop (Inspiron 3000) on their website in the spring of ’98. By today’s standards it’s a little weak but it still works like a champ, and for the time I bought it, it was a killer (plus I had ’em add memory), and I’d never have been able to afford anything like it at full retail.
    They didn’t want to tell me its history at first, but I cajoled and begged and sweet-talked till they told me that particular group of machines was from an “over-order” at some college, and that it had never actually even been unpacked, but since it had already been sold once as “new” and had been returned, they couldn’t sell it again as “new”, only as “refurb”. Who knows if that was the literal truth, but it was pretty plausible.
    Like you, I checked it out as soon as it arrived, and mine sure looked and acted like a new machine, and Dell stood by the new-machine warranty all the way through the three years (although I never needed anything but occasional telephone support with things that were more “user deficiency” than “computer problem”). It was my only computer for two years and I worked it like a plow horse, with word processing, spreadsheets, PP, website creation/management, and telecommuting with a Unix-based system, plus lots of miles on planes and late nights working in hotels on business trips, and it never let me down.
    I hope your mom enjoys her new Dell and I bet she’ll use it happily for years and years.

  17. Hi Leo,
    Interesting that you installed Win2k on your mom’s computer. Do you think it is likely that Windows XP will have a difficult time displacing either Win2k or Win98 ? I know some people still using Win95, and I have a difficult time seeing people lining up at midnight to get WinXP like they did Win95.
    However, maybe Microsoft’s revenue comes primarily from new computer installations (rather than upgrading existing users).
    Take care,

  18. Leo, You remind me of myself in certain ways. Especially when it comes to the PC. When I take a vacation its always nice to get back to pluggin on the keyboard. I too, set-up or built a pc for my 80 year old mother. Installed PcAnywhere. Two partitions(linux and Win98 SE).
    I hope your house move goes better than mind. I had 3-days to get it done. My movers was a no-show. My in-laws(in their Sixties) help move furniture and everthing else.
    Good luck, your a WINNER in my book. I’ve watched you on ZDTV-Techtv since May98(first day on air).
    Inspired by Leo

  19. Hey leo! My friend Matt and I drove over to see you in Cherry Hill. We got There just at the end of your speech, but it was cool seeing you anyway. When everyone got up after the prizes were given away, I thought we’d have a chance to talk with you, but I didn’t realize that everyone was getting up to go around to the back of the room for a meet and greet. We were going to wait in line, but we figured we’d never get to you, since you only had a half hour to catch the flight out. Anyway, It was cool to see you. You’re like almost exactly my height! Well, I hope The Screensavers on the Road can come to the Philly area soon. We love ya here! PS–New Jersey DOES NOT have better Cheesesteaks!

  20. Patrick sure is “something else” before coffee… He almost ran me down in the hall (cool shorts dude) but hey, draging after a bad flight, no sleep, no coffee will do that to you… Thanx for signing the SCREEN of my PDA! The only problem with a 7 year old PDA is that the file formats are not compatable with anything current (GEOS 1.0) Oh well… at least I got a picture too… Until you come back to the east coast, I’ll see you guys on tv.

  21. Leo! Great to see you blogging again! You deserve a vacation, but you sure are missed when you aren’t here! Thanks for the message boards though! We had a great time “chatting” while you were out. Some interesting conversations, to say the least. Anyway, I especially enjoyed reading everyone’s posts about seeing you in NJ. Makes us feel like we were there, almost. 😉

  22. by the time you get done vacationing I hope you have some time left over to relax. vacations are for the retired. usually they are too short and you go back to work feeling half dead wishing you had some time off to recuperate. I’m still waiting for the time to take a really good one. when I get back I want a week just to unwind. that’s just me though. you need to hurry back for monday’s show. Have fun at your Mom’s!

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