Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Computers Then and Now

About three weeks ago, my nine year old Dell tower started to act up.  I rebooted it and it took over 30 minutes to start running again.  Several days later it did a couple of more odd things, which indicated that perhaps it is in the last stages of its slow and ponderous life, bringing a digital meaning to the phrase, the oxen is slow, but the Earth is patient.  So I decided to look into another computer while the Dell was still working.  Being retired now, I have no need to be compatible with the rest of the world so I decided to look into a Mac.  Through various arcane winnowings based mostly on a perceived sense of penury and a desire to buy an Apple, I came to the conclusion that the cheapy model of the latest iMac would be more than adequate to serve my needs.  So there it stood, and I more or less decided to hell with it, I would run the Dell into the grave and then buy the Apple.  Oh but I will lose all my files.  Hooray!  Start fresh with a clean house.    
2011 iMac 21.5
Then the Dell acted up again.  Hmmm!  Am I sure that I don’t care if I lose everything? What about those 15,000 photos of wild flowers?  OK, what can it hurt to go take look at it in a brick and mortar store?  You know, just to make sure that it is what I really want for when the Dell dies.  Big mistake of course.  There is still enough testosterone running in my worn out system that a flashy toy in a minimalist cool aluminum housing that close to Christmas can make the “I want to play” hairs stand up on the back of my neck and say woo woo woo.  Then I start talking to the salesman.  Another big mistake.  I let him talk me into buying the damn thing right there in the store.    "We will help you get it set up right now.  It will take 20 minutes!"  Uh huh.  I think I spent 90 minutes setting the damn thing up while roasting in a crowded store with people constantly brushing past me, all the while with my credit card number prominently displayed in 190 font on this giant screen. Never again will I attempt to setup a computer in a busy store 2 weeks before Christmas.  But they did throw in a scanner/printer for free (well free with a rebate).  So I walked out of the store with two boxes and 1200 1300 (not including the extended warranty and tax) bucks less in my wallet.  I’ll get $100 back probably in June for the printer!  
As I am huffing and puffing my way back to my car, parked 17 miles away in the parking lot--I love my fenders more than my knees, I got to thinking about my first computer, a used Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) that I bought in November of 1980 for $1000.  A few weeks later I bought a Centronics 9 wire dot matrix printer for $700.  Shall we compare my two purchases. 
In 1980, I bought a used Commodore PET Series 2001 computer and a Datasette mass storage unit for $1000.  I also bought a printer for $700.  Total expenditure $1700 not counting shipping and tax.

In 2011,  I bought a new Apple iMac 21.5  computer for $1200 and they threw in a printer/scanner unit for free.  Total expenditure was $1200 not including warranty and tax. 
Processor
1980 PET:   MOS 6502 running 1 megahertz clock speed.  Single core processor using an 8 bit word length.  
2011 iMac:   Intel Core i5 running 2.5 gigahertz clock speed.  Four core processor using a 64 bit word length.  It has a 6 megabyte on chip cache.
Comparing these two processors is like comparing a spear to a nuclear bomb.  The Intel Core i5 runs 4 extremely advanced cores, using a word length 8 times larger, 2,500 times faster than the MOS 6502.   Another way of looking at it in a simplified fashion is that in the time it took the 6502 to do one 8 bit operation, the Core i5 will do 2500 operations on 4 cores on 64 bits of data.  So the improvement  is 2500 X 4 X 8 = 80,000.   So in very crude terms we can say that the Core i5 is doing 80,000 operations in the time it took the 6502 to do 1 operation.  I would imagine that the improvement is far greater than even that due to on board cache, built in math co-processors and faster transit times. 



1980 PET 2001 Series Professional Computer
Memory
1980 PET:  32 kilobytes of memory, not expandable.


2011 iMac:  4.0 gigabytes of memory expandable to 8 gigabytes.  
That is 32 thousand bytes verses 4 billion bytes of memory.  Hmmmm.  That is
4,000,000,000 / 32,000  =  125,000
The iMac has 125,000 times the amount of memory, and it runs 1,333 times faster than the memory in the PET.  Word length is a huge efficiency here also.  The iMac is feeding and retracting 8 times the amount of data for each memory access.  If I so desire I can expand the memory to 250,000 times the memory that the PET had.  
Internal Mass Storage
1980 PET:  none.


2011 iMac:  500 gigabyte hard drive.
The PET had no way to work beyond the capacity of its memory.  The program plus the data had to fit within the 32,000 bytes of on board memory. If it exceeded the memory, the program crashed.   The hard drive in the iMac allows the system to temporarily or permanently store programming or data on the hard drive and rapidly retract it when the  memory is available again.  The hard drive contains all of the iMac’s programming and data and has it available almost instantly.  The PET did have an available external dual single sided 5 1/4 inch floppy drives which allowed some flexibility during a program run.  Each floppy held about 100 kilobyte of data.  The drive was exorbitantly expensive.  I am not sure but $1,400 or $2,400 sticks in my mind.  It was well beyond my means (thank God, what a waste of money!)
External Mass Storage
1980 PET:  Dattasette,  audio cassette recorder configured to handle digital data.
2011 iMac:  Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
I have no idea how much data a cassette could hold.  I think the optimum length was 30 minute tapes.   If I remember correctly, 60 minute cassettes were prone to errors because the tape was too thin.  The data was stored in a linear fashion just like songs on an audio tape.  I don’t believe that the unit had a fast forward search.  It would only find the correct file in play mode.  You could fast forward manually and then search for the file, but if you passed the beginning, the computer would never find it.  Transit rate was abysmal, 750 baud.  A double layered DVD can store 8 Gigabytes, 250,000 times the PET’s memory.   Speed is slower than a hard drive, but much faster than any previous method. 
Pointing Devices
1980 PET: None.  The mouse had not been invented yet.


2011 iMac:  Magic mouse or Magic Trackpad capable of detecting finger gestures.


All cursor movements on the PET had to be done with the keyboard arrow keys.   There were no screen buttons to click.  All commands were executed with the return key.
    
Screens
1980 PET:  Built in nine inch diagonal monochromatic (green characters on a blank screen) cathode ray tube. Character resolution was 7 X 9 pixels allowing true descenders!  40 columns by 25 lines. The normal mode was defined characters.  “High resolution” graphics could be accomplished with machine language programing, not using the resident Basic programming language.  Screen resolution was 280 X 225 or 63000 pixels total. There was no separate graphics processor. 
2011 iMac:   21.5 inch LED-backlit widescreen with support for millions of colors.  Resolution is 1920 by 1080 HD pixels per inch, roughly 403 million pixels total.  The graphics is driven by an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 512 MB of memory.  
Operating System
1980 PET:  Commodore Basic 2.0.
2011 iMac:  OS X Lion.
Bundled Software
1980 PET: None.


2011 iMac:  24 applications, 22 utilities.
Here is an area in which a huge difference exists.  When a PET was started it could only do one of two things:  receive a program via the Datasette, or input a Basic program or machine code program through the keyboard.  The computer had no inherent capability other than to receive a program.  Between the iMac’s advanced operating system and the bundled software, the iMac can browse the web, play music, videos, process photos and movies, do simple word processing, do simple calculations on the calculator, translate foreign languages, has a dictionary, sticky notes, a fairly advanced music program, an email program, an appointment calendar, and a chat application with a webcam. 
One of the things I remember about the PET was the lack of software.  Besides a Basic language coded word processor and some lame video games, there was very little software available.  I did two things on my PET, some elementary word processing at which I marveled, and I taught myself how to program in Basic.  I wrote some educational programs, check book balancing program, a budget program, and various household inventory programs. I think I actually bought two pieces of software for the PET, the word processor and a very lame computer game. 
Ports


1980 PET:    There was two specialized 6502 ports, two dattasette ports, and 1 IEEE 488 (sort of) port.  I say sort of because if I remember correctly the port was not a true physical IEEE 488 port, but rather a set of contacts printed on the mother board which would require an adapter to make it a true port.


2011iMac:  To save typing, a copy and paste from the Apple Store Web site:
  • One Thunderbolt port on 21.5-inch iMac
  • Mini DisplayPort output with support for DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI (adapters sold separately)
  • One FireWire 800 port; 7 watts
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • SDXC card slot
  • Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
  • Audio in/out
  • 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
  • IR receiver
Audio
1980 PET:  None except built in beeper.


2011 iMac:  Again to save typing a copy and past from the Apple Store:
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Two internal 20-watt high-efficiency amplifiers
  • Headphone/optical digital audio output (minijack)
  • Audio line in/optical digital audio input (minijack)
  • Built-in microphone
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone
Wireless
1980 PET:  None.
2011 iMac:  WiFi and Bluetooth.


Internet Ready
Audio Coupled Modem.  Yes it could communicate!
With what? 


1980 PET:  The Internet did not exist.  The US Department of Defense had ARPANET which connected the military establishments with defense contractors and universities conducting military research.  It was possible to get a telephone modem to connect with an external machine but the communication protocols and compatibility were problematic.  Data transfer was glacial.  But who the hell did you connect with, and why?    
2011 iMac:  Plug in the connector or enable the WiFi and off you go surfing the net.  
Word Processing
1980 PET:   I bought a word processor for I believe $40.  It was written in Basic, and had about 250 lines of programming.  I made some corrections and improvements in the program.  It was fabulous!   Wow, you can correct mistakes on the screen, edit or insert entire paragraphs...even pages without retyping.  It even keeps track of page numbers automatically.  Wow, you can save your work on the datasette and reload it later.  Wow!  When you are happy with your text, you can send it to the printer and get “hard copy”!  This thing is fabulous.  Spell checker?  Search and replace?  What is that?  You checked spelling the same way you did on a typewriter, but you corrected the screen copy.  No white out or correction tape required!  No retyping your entire document because you decided to insert a new sentence.   I kept a small paper back dictionary and a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style close to the computer.  You couldn’t multi-task on a PET, but I believe you could append portions of a document on the end of document from the Datasette.  I don’t recall of being able to copy and paste within a document.  I believe that one could chop up a document into a series of small files and then append in the correct order the smaller files to create on large file in order to insert text in a different spot.  Caution!  Your document plus the program can not exceed the computer’s RAM memory.  A very good argument for buying the 32 K machine verses the 4, 8 or 16K versions.  Also what you saw was not what you got.  The screen only had 40 columns, the printer would support 80 columns.  So you had to print your document to see what it really looked like.  There was no tables or image capabilities.  But wow! How fabulous it was to be able to correct mistakes and edit documents on the screen.  You could save your document on the Datasette and load it again next year.  You could print hundreds of copies (ear protection suggested).  
2011 iMac:  I downloaded Apple’s Pages Word Processor for $20.  For me, it will principally do everything Microsoft Word can do, but it does not seem to have a grammar checker.  I just bought a copy of Elements of Style for the Kindle, $2.99 that I can use on Kindle for Mac.  The only thing I miss is the Old English font.  
Spreadsheets
1980 PET:  None available.  Visicalc had been released for the Apple II but it was not yet available for the PET.  When it did become available, I could not justify the cost.  I was able to write my own Basic programs to perform any household math functions.

2011 iMac:  Apple’s Numbers is available for $20.  I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I will.  Again it can’t do everything that Excel can do, but for my use, it will be beyond what I need. 
Of course I can get Microsoft Office for Mac for a variety of prices all exceeding $100, but I don’t need PowerPoint or Outlook so why bother with it?  The Apple software will do every thing I need.
Printers

Centronics 739 With Proportional Spacing! 
1980 Centronics 739, 18 X 9 dot matrix with proportion spacing!  Only $700!  Straight right edge and high resolution graphics (if your computer had the drivers to do it--which seemed to not exist for the PET or probably any other computer at the time).  I paid through the snout for that stupid proportional spacing.  Why?  Beats the hell out of me, but I thought it was the best thing since canned beer.  The elite fancy font supposedly approached  the quality of the fabled daisy wheel printers in that age.  I suppose, but it still looked dotty as hell to me.   The printer supported both friction drive or a pinned platen sort of tractor drive that was murder to start the paper with the holes aligned to the pins.  I remember buying huge boxes of perforated tractor drive paper for vast sums.  I used to steal rolls of cheap yellow telletype paper from work so that I could run a rough draft of my work without costing an arm and an leg.  Color?  Whatever the color of ribbon (yes ribbon) that you stuck in.  You got that single color.  I only really remember of black being available.  That was another murderous and expensive proposition.  The ribbon came in a box that you fitted into a magazine and then tore away the cardboard.  Of course only Centronics made the ribbon so it was expensive. The ribbon was compressed in the box and flew out like a slinky.  Then you spent an hour trying to get the ribbon in the magazine with no kinks or wrinkles.  It was an offset mobius strip so the printer would use both sides of the ribbon top and bottom for longer life.   When you used the printer, ear protection should have been required.  The thing screamed.  My wife would go out side in the summer when I printed anything.  It sounded similar to a circular saw.  I believe it only printed in one direction due to the proportional spacing.  That printer was a total pain in the ass to use and I came to hate it with a passion.   
2011 iMac:  Apple “gave” me a “free” printer.  It is a HP 3504 A photo color inkjet with a built in scanner.  I had to buy the printer for $100 which will be rebated.  Cool.  When I got home I checked the price of the printer on Amazon.  $50.  So Apple sold and will rebate a $50 printer to me for $100.  So eventually, after I receive my $100 dollar rebate check probably next summer, I will have a free $50 printer.  Very cool.  Why not charge me $50 and rebate $50 for a $50 dollar printer.  I am so excited about this printer, it is still sitting in the box unopened.  My printing needs don’t seem to be as urgent as they were in 1980.        
Price
1980 Used PET, Datasette, and printer:  $1700 total.
2011 New iMac and printer / scanner (after rebate):  $1200 total. 

79 Monte Carlo, mine had stock wheels. 
But wait a second, let’s put this in perspective.  In 1979, I bought a new Chevy Monte Carlo for $5400.  In 2007,  I bought a new Honda CRV for $25 grand.  So let's revisit these prices, corrected for inflation.  
My PET and the amazing Centronics printer would cost $4,857 in 2011 dollars.
My iMac and $50 printer / scanner would cost $420 in 1980 dollars.  
What a phenomenal ass I was in 1980.  No wonder I was the only person at work that owned a personal computer.  Just a little ahead of my time.  But I learned far more on that PET than I have on any computer since.  I spent hours programming it.  I wrote about a half dozen articles that were published in the computer magazines at the time.  All for naught, but I didn’t know that at the time.  
So what could I do with my PET?  Play some very lame games which I had no interest, word processing for which I had an inordinate interest for reasons that are beyond me today, and do my own programming.  Like a carpenter with a new hammer, I used my new toy for things that were unnecessary.   I wrote programs out the wazoo.  I calculated prime numbers.  I took out Pi to some extraordinarily small number of digits defined by the Basic using some weird method of calculating Pi.  I wrote educational programs that were boring as hell, some that got published in a magazine, but none that would have ever sold.  Home finance programs for balancing check books, doing taxes, budgets which we never paid any attention to, grocery lists which my wife could not be bothered with. Never used home inventories for the insurance company in case we got robbed--ha!  They wouldn’t have even taken the computer.  I could do my taxes by hand in about 30 minutes once I gathered the documents--or I could do them on the computer in 25 minutes after I gathered the documents, but due to the fact that I didn’t trust the program for taxes involved with the IRS, I rechecked it with a calculator spending and additional 10 minutes.  Either way the computer only did the calculations, it did not print acceptable forms.  Wow a real time saver!  What my PET really did for me was to convince myself that I was far smarter than I actually am and that if I got laid off from work, I would be able to find a computer related job with ease.  The fact that I had neither a heart attack or a nervous breakdown over worries about employment in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s would justify the cost of the computer.  I was, of course, a naive ass.  God, fate, or the US Government saved me from unemployment not the PET, but it was a nice fantasy.  
Well the PET was only the beginning of a 31 year stint in wasting money on computers.  Here is a quick list with pricing as best as I can remember.
1981 Commodore VIC 20 and Dattasette $350.  Wow color and sound!
1982 Commodore 64 and floppy Disk Drive $800.  Wow 64 K of memory and the disk drive was heaven. 
1982 Timex Sinclair  $49 (bought it for curiosity). Commodore would rebate you for trading up to a Commodore.  They used the turned in wedge shaped Timex computers for door stops. 
Kaypro II Vaguely Portable
1983 Kaypro II. Darth Vader’s lunch box, with twin floppies and a software suite.  $1700. It was portable...somewhat. 
In 1984 I had a MS attack and I suddenly lost interest in computers.  That was a bit of a wake-up call.  I got more interested in doing things with my wife and son, and less interested in spending hours in front of a computer.  
1988 Tandy PC-6 Pocket Computer. $120 + $20 for 8K memory expansion.  More of a programmable calculator, but what a handy little computer.  It had a big enough memory 16K to store many small programs that I used at work.  It was about the size of two deck of cards set end to end.   It still works but I don’t have that much use for it since I retired.  

EDIT  4-4-2013:  Last November, my compatriots called me from work wanting me to verify a calculation for them.  The PC-6 churned out the answer.  I changed out the batteries in it yesterday.  This computer used a backup battery for the memory.  I changed the memory battery first, and then changed the main batteries. Back in business, didn't lose a byte.   Some of the the programming resident in this computer has been in there unchanged since 1988. 

There are collectors for everything.  I found a PC6 on sale at Ebay for $79.   Here is an interesting writeup on the PC-6:

Tandy PC6 Circa 1988 and still kicking. 
Flood Gap, Retrobits: TPM: Tandy Radio Shack Pocket Computer PC-4 and Tandy Pocket Scientific Computer PC-5, PC-6, PC-7

1990 Magnavox 286 with 110 meg hard drive.  $700.

1992 Zenith 386 with a 150 meg hard drive. $600.  To put software in perspective, somewhere in this time period, I bought WordPerfect 4.5 for DOS for $495 and a Dictionary for $90.  Sometime around 1993 - 94 I remember the electronic version of Encyclopedia Britannica selling for $1200.  I told myself when that breaks $500, I am going to buy a copy.  Wow. Imagine having the Encyclopedia Brittanica (over $3 grand in the print version) for $500 and to be able to use the computer’s search function. 
1996 Micron Pentium with a 2 gigabyte hard drive fully loaded with Windows 95 Professional and Microsoft Office Professional. $2800.  Six months later a guy at work bought a computer that doubled everything I had for half the price.  My Zenith broke down right at the end of a long price / function plateau.  I was pissed!  If that damned computer would have only lasted another 6 months.   Then I spent hundreds on Autocad Lite and Visual Basic (using student discounts) and never did a damn thing with either of them. 
2002 Dell Pentium 4 with a 120 gigabyte hard drive again loaded with XP professional and Microsoft Office Professional.  $2200. 
2011 Apple iMac Core i 5, with a 500 gigabyte drive.  No Microsoft anything.  $1200, with a free $50 printer, that I had to pay $100 for, but will be rebated hopefully sometime before 2013. 
So what can I do with my iMac?  Computers are very anti-climatic purchases.  After you get it all set up and running, it does everything the old computer did--only instantaneously.  The new computer high lasts for about an hour!  I don’t type any faster than I used to, so like the old computer I can use my iMac to sit around for hours writing dumb blog posts.  I still need a life.


EDIT 8/23/13:  Here is in an interesting graphic showing the historical market share of the various operating systems.  Wintel is a combination of Windows (operating system) and Intel processors. 


Click Image To See Expanded Image
Image Credit:  The Atlantic.com
The graph shows that Wintel had the market sewn up from 1985 to 2009.  This was the supremacy of the business and home desk tops and lap tops.  In 2009 note that Apple and Google Android operating systems take off on a very steep rise...cell phone data apps and tablet computers.  The dark blue area in the late 70s and early 80s was predominately the CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers) for Intel 8080 and Zylog Z-80 machines.  This graphic is taken from the article:

The Atlantic. com, Why Steve Ballmer Failed, Derek Thompson, 8/23/13 



Image Credits

25 comments:

  1. Fascinating and I love computers. The times they are a changing

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  2. Nice write up. So glad to see you're one of the "converted"! Hallelujah.

    You didn't, but could have asked for my 2 cents worth on a possible computer upgrade. And I would have told you to invest in a Mac. Absolutely best computer system, bar none in the world as we know it. We've been using them for over 15 years..iMac...eMac...iPods, iPads, Mac Books..I think we have bought enough equipment to have shares in Apple.com
    Our household has 3 MacBooks, 3 iMacs, several iPods, 2 iPhones....especially anything to do with graphics, photo stuff..well..I'm sure you've done your research well, why am I telling you for Gods sake.....you bought one. Nuff said.

    You will NOT be disappointed.

    Been busy in the shop working on another "new' used vehicle. More on this in the New Year.

    Christmas was good, had the family over...just the right amount to eat and drink....didn't get too carried away this year.

    Looking forward to the New Year, lots more pictures to take, lots more vehicles to buy, lots more blogs to write. Ya..should be good...and maybe, just maybe no flood this year....wouldn't that be something!

    Happy New Year my friend.

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  3. DeanO,

    Thanks for dropping by. Yes times are a changing. I walk into a Best Buy any more and I have no idea what half that stuff is. You see young people always fiddling with some gadget. I am moving toward more simplicity myself, I just replaced my cell phone with a senior citizens model. It rings loud enough to hear it, the buttons are big and the numbers on the screen are big, and I don't have to worry about taking a picture of my self.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting and have a happy New Year.

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  4. Bussman,

    Good to see back and about. Wow I didn't realize you were such an hard core Apple core. You have more Apples than one can shake a stick at.

    I really didn't have much to decide on buying the Apple, my spiritual advisor on all things non spiritual from work had sort of convinced me a while ago that an Apple was the way to go. I just needed to sit down and figure out which one. I originally was leaning to a Mac Mini. But when I got it configured out how I wanted it is wasn't much cheaper than the iMac andI I would be using an ancient VGA monitor, and my old keyboard, which I may go back to anyhow. This Apple keyboard, while looking spiffy is too damned small. Its kink of like driving a VW beetle when you are used to old sloppy full sized Buick.

    Well there are some things I liked about the older computer, and there are some things I like about the iMac. I think I will be happy with it. So far I am, but like I say computers are rather anti-climatic. After you use it for a few hours its just like the old one only faster, and gee wilikers it is fast.

    Glad to hear Christmas was a success. We had our usual bash at my mother in law's with my wife doing all the cooking as usual. But for the past two years she has made lasagna on Christmas Eve and then just heats it up on Christmas day. Me and my 9 year culinary tastes loves that. Some of the traditionalists grumble, but my wife clued them in that she would eat any meal they prepared without complaint. Hushed that faction up in a hurray.

    How's the new camera doing? I kind of figured there would be photos out the wazzoo coming out of Manitoba, but its been kind of quiet. Well I know you have been busy. I haven't even tried to connect my camera up to the new computer yet, damn am I getting lazy any more.

    Well here is wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, and I hope to see some good photos riding along on those Alberta Clippers you guys like to send us. So far hardly any snow this year. My back and knees are singing praises to the Lord. Well take care and I am looking forward to hearing about the latest new used car. Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. i have just alittle laptop..a acer aspire 6920..i have ahd it for about 3 years now and is very satisfayed..and the virus system is working very good on it too..never gor any bugs..but thenaagain i dont surf much on the net..only here and facebook and u tube somethimes lookinf for artist photes..ok..i hope you r happy with yours!!

    have a very good new year and we will see soon!!xxxxx

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  6. Anita,

    Your laptop sounds very nice and if you are happy with it, what more can one ask? Unfortunately the internet is the source of a lot of the junk that clogs up our computers and make them run slow and unreliable. I am hoping to have less problems with that on the Apple. So far I am very pleased with this computer.

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting, and thanks for the good wishes for the New Year. May you have a very happy and good year in 2012!

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  7. I just purchased my first ever laptop! For the past 4 years I've always said, "Next year I'm using my income tax refund and buying a laptop!" Then the water heater went out, the refrigerator quit refrigerating, the car needed tires, the air conditioner had a leak...and well on and on. Ahhhh, home ownership. Can you believe I happily rented my whole life until 4 years ago when all my loved ones and enemies said to me, "What? You're still renting? You know you're just throwing your money away!" Well I was throwing away $440 a month on a two bedroom apartment and now I'm throwing about a $1,484 on a three bedroom house that is slowly falling down around my head and on top of that I have to do yardwork!!!

    But I digress...I just bought a laptop, it's a Dell and I love it. I hang on to that computer high for years, but then again I love computers! I probably don't use my laptop for half the things I could/should, but I love it nonetheless! My first PC was an HP and it was great! I had a dial up line and met so many people that I ended up flying to Chicago to meet up with them all. I quit talking to my real-in-the-flesh people, but hey, virtual friends are some of the best I've ever had, present blogger included!

    Oh Sextant...how you made my heart sad when you said that with your new cell phone you don't have to worry about taking pictures of yourself *sigh* how can you immediately post to facebook? How can you check-in and immediately let 320 of your closest friends know you're at Jack in the Box? It's just sad my friend, say it isn't so...a senior citizens phone *sigh*. Is that what I have to look forward to?

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  8. Alicia,

    Yes home ownership is a blessing is it not? Of all things I have bought, my home brings me the least joy. It is an enduring problem, a hole in the ground to discard excessive money. A wood pile that seems to fall down faster than you can rebuild it. But on to happier and more important things.

    Congratulations on your laptop. I am glad that your computer high is not ephemeral like mine. I used to be that way with computers, but have come to regard them as tools more than toys. I would like to have all the cash I dumped into computers in the 80s. It did teach me one thing though, buy something and then forget about it. Computers were my interest and every year I had to have a new one. Then I learned, don't read about them in the magazines, don't follow the latest crazes. All it does is to breed contempt for what you own...this one is faster, spiffier, more memory...bla bla bla.

    Anyhow good luck with your laptop, may it give you many years of good service and computer high. May you also have a very Happy New Year.

    Regarding photos. I have a sense of aesthetics. As a public service I try to minimize disturbing images, such as those that I must endure when I am shaving. My new computer has a camera built into it. With my wild gyrations on the tracker pad, I managed to turn it on several times, much to my dismay. Who the hell is that ugly son of bitch on my screen? Oh its me! What the hell am I doing on there? I found which app controlled the damn thing and got it moved off the docking bar. Then I managed to get the docking bar off the bottom of the screen. I am considering removing the
    damned app from the machine altogether and cover the camera with tape, before Mark Zuckerberg figures out a way to turn on the camera remotely and publish images of me picking my nose. These damn contraptions can listen to you and watch you. Isn't that what big brother did in 1984?

    Have a conspiracy free new year! Thanks for stopping by Alicia, always a delight.

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  9. This brings back so many memories of then and now...shocks me how fast things changed drastically

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  10. Kim.

    I had to laugh when I wrote this post. Those early computers that I paid an arm and leg for were really useless other than to write programs to print a screen full of snowflakes, and yet look what happened. I was shocked at the price when I converted it to 2011 dollars. It was an amazing transition.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

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  11. Hi..i tried many times to comment on your blog yesterday without any luck!!but today it is better.I have written a comment about the painting on my blog.thanx for comment and i look forward to your new postings!!Greetings from norway!!))

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  12. Anita,

    Thanks for the heads up on the comment. I will go over and and check it out. Thanks for dropping by.

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  13. thank for nice comment..i am not used to have comments soo..fell good..specially for an art lover like you!!))

    some of the days i do something about Ophelia!!you know.i love shaeksphere and those old painters which made paintings to the srtories..you know Even Scubert made a song for Lady of Shaloff..Ellens Gesang 1825http://youtu.be/XNuoTSphW-Y


    I wanne read Hamlet tooo..and all the kings arthurs men!!wish you a very nice day!!Hugs!!

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  14. Anita,

    You are welcome on the comment, although I fear you overrate my capacity as an art lover. Yes I love art, but I know almost nothing about it.

    Your literature / painting ambitions sound interesting. You did a very good job with Lady Shallot. I am very much looking forward to seeing more of your posts and those lovely mysterious photos of the dark world of Norway!

    BTW for my other readers, Anita lives in Norway and has a lovely blog called
    The New Treasures.

    http://anita-somethingiliketodo.blogspot.com/

    It features these wonderful, dark, mysterious photos of the woods near her home that are mystical. She also posts poetry and beautiful works of art. Not terribly far from the Arctic circle, Anita's photos are magical with the faint light of a winter sun barely rising off the horizon. I get can get lost in her photos.

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  15. ohh thanx Sextant!!!..i dont know what to say..But iam glad you like the posts..as i comment to you on my blog..i like to observe things ans se the little tiny things behind!!

    and now i have this working time ahead of me..So only time to work and sleep..but i still got his Ophelia in my mind..you remember her??the storie about her and Lancelot??and the stoiries viewed in our time is interesting!!She didnt die..she got pregenant and made up her own death and moved out of the history!!Ok..this was out of what i was speaking about..but hope you will have a good time..and i enjoy your post and comments.

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  16. Anita,

    Thanks for stopping by. I will enjoy what ever you have time to blog. Hopefully, more than your current predictions. Orphelia sounds interesting.

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  17. I love the last part the best.. you can still sit and waste time, writing dumb blog posts. LOL! (Dumb blog posts are interesting, though.)

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  18. Carol

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, for as smart and quick as the iMac is, my post are still as dumb as ever. You can lead the horse to water, but it will still be the same dumb horse.

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  19. Anita,

    Where did your blog go? It disappeared.

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  20. So how are things going with your new Mac ?
    Hadn't seen any posts recently and thought maybe the Mac had let you down mechanically?
    Are you suffering any post purchase dissonance ?

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  21. Busman,

    No the iMac is cracking along smartly. Alas, while it accesses website quite fast a does all of its internal digestions instantaneously, it does no more than the old computer as far as inspiration to post.

    For some reason I am in the blogging blaws, and just can't seem to find a topic to post about. I am also suffering the mid-winter lazies. There is 3 inches of white manure laying in my driveway and my back has gone into preemptive spasms. No problem though, it will be 48 and raining on Monday.

    Thanks for dropping on by, hope your enjoying your cool weather.

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    1. ya...cool weather indeed........like the bloody north freakin pole here.
      Get me back to global warmer or whatever they are calling it nowadays....minus the flooding of course... :)
      Good to hear from you as always.. keep up the spirits.......
      Busman

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    2. Actually it got up 61 F yesterday, but I panicked in the morning because everything appeared to be turning to ice. So I busted my ass and got a couple tracks up the driveway. Woke up this morning and it was all gone, I could have relaxed. I hate when I do that.

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  22. I have had macs from the get-go. I learned computer graphics on them back in the early nineties and have never looked back, not during the gaffaws about how Apple would go out of business or ever since. I never had trouble about compatibility because there was always some program to solve that for me. Besides I do not play games on line and such.

    But I hope you get over the blaws, there, Sextant. I miss you. Winter is the time I wake up, which I realize is very odd. And I have done that. I have a digital camera now, and a Kindle! BOTH. Maybe I will approach this decade soon. At any rate, I suspect you are around lurking, my friend. I hope so!

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    1. Jette! Great to hear from you. My compatibility problems were limited to work, no longer a problem, so yes I love my iMac. It does things rather instantaneously. My old Dell was ready to use about 8 minutes after you turned it on. The iMac is ready to roll in less than 25 seconds. Of course the Dell was 9 years old, but even at that it spent way too much time working for Bill Gates and Peter Norton.

      Well I keep waiting for the blogging inspiration and it just keeps evading me. Don't really like posting just to post. My life is not exactly faire for Entertainment Tonight, thank God. Great hearing from you.

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