6.0278 On Buying on Computer (1/81)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 6 Oct 1992 16:58:56 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0278. Tuesday, 6 Oct 1992.

Date: Sun, 04 Oct 92 22:52:55 EDT
Subject: What Computer to Buy: DECISION

I want to thank all those who replied to my computer purchase
query some time ago. The advice ranged from "buy a Macintosh
Quadra" to "buy the parts and build it yourself". I will not say
how much I spent (someone can *always* get a cheaper system
then the one you just bought). But I will say what I bought and

I purchased a 486/50 ibm clone manufactured by AIC Systems. I
made certain that it came with 8 megs of 70ns ram and a 240M
hard drive. It is not the best machine available, but it fit within
my budget.

I now find that the twin fans are rather too loud to have the cpu
on my desk. This is quite annoying. The CTX non-interlaced
monitor is either defective or not as good as I though it was when
I first saw it. It is grainy, type in wordperfect for windows is
difficult to see at less then 14 point. And there is a visible
red/brown tint. I am having a technician come and take a look
at it to see if this is due to a defective video card or monitor. If
it is not I will try and replace the monitor with a NEC, if I can
afford it.

Windows is quite good on a 486. I can now run WPWIN, Procomm
for windows and Library Master and switch between them with
no real delay. I will not go into the headache of setting up these
programs, or the bug that WPWIN has.

I can say now that a mouse is an absolutely foolish thing to have
to deal with when using a pc for writing. I now have to contend
with mouse-shoulder. Will look into attaching a track ball to my
keyboard to see if this make things easier. The mouse should be
were the keypad is presently found. CPU's should be designed to
easily go on the floor, with the floppy drives attached to the
monitor, in easy reach. Cords such as keyboard cords and mouse
cords should either be longer or routed through the monitor.
May try DESQview and throw my mouse out, but the thought of
going through another major program installation is unnerving.

All in all, the business of purchasing and configuring a pc is a
nightmare and the industry had better wise up to this if
computers are not going to be confined to the techno-elite who
must go through a rite of passage at every purchase and upgrade.

I looked into getting the Mac Quadra, but prices in Canada are
outrageous. Would cost close to eight thousand dollars for big
Mac. UNIX boxes are equally over-priced, and not suited to my
immediate needs. My university offered no real discount on pc's,
unlike some rather amazing situations I have heard about in the

One thing that I have come to realize is that if you do not have
the necessary money to always buy the best whatever, life is one
big compromise in the face of shoddy manufacturing. I have a
tape deck that continually fails, a receiver that lasted one month
longer than its warranty, and various other techno bits that are
in some state of malfunction or another. I fear the day my wife
and I will have to buy a car and have come to see that the life
span of most things manufactured today, whether a garlic press,
pepper grinder or optical scanner, will not work in the way they
are "supposed to" and will have a life span that ensures that the
middle class will always be paying homage to the god of

If you are involved in documenting networks and writing user
manuals or other frequent/constant online activity, a 486/50 is
certainly a wonderful thing that gives near seamless integration
of your wordprocessor and communication software, but do not
look to silicon valley for lasting fulfilment and peace.

Michael Strangelove
Department of Religious Studies
University of Ottawa

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