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My new undesired project is shopping for a new laptop.

 

My old Thinkpad is on its last legs. The battery won't charge anymore and the fan is getting loud. It makes a buzzing sound in the outgoing audio channel when I'm on Zoom calls. I can't hear it, but my friends complain, so I have to stay muted as much as possible.

 

I have been running Ubuntu (a variation of Linux) ever since Windows 7 support ended, and I don't want to go back to Windows. That makes things a bit more complicated. I don't need lots of computing power or bells and whistles. I use my work computer for any heavy lifting.

 

Computer-savvy Nerds, tell me your opinions -

  • How hard is it to install Ubuntu (or one of its siblings) on a Windows 10 laptop? Is this something a casual user can do?     I'm okay with working with a command line, but have only a passing understanding of the back end of computers.
  • Is a Chromebook a decent choice?  I hear they run Linux easily.
  • Is there an easy way to sort through all the options for different models?  I tried reading reviews, but I seem to pick ones that are out-of-date.  I suspect I will care more about form factors than blazing speed and memory. I already have external hard drives for storage.

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3 hours ago, Mistr said:

Computer-savvy Nerds, tell me your opinions -

  • How hard is it to install Ubuntu (or one of its siblings) on a Windows 10 laptop? Is this something a casual user can do?     I'm okay with working with a command line, but have only a passing understanding of the back end of computers.
  • Is a Chromebook a decent choice?  I hear they run Linux easily.
  • Is there an easy way to sort through all the options for different models?  I tried reading reviews, but I seem to pick ones that are out-of-date.  I suspect I will care more about form factors than blazing speed and memory. I already have external hard drives for storage.

 

Define "casual"? You're doing it a little bit, but the install is not the hard part. The hard part is what happens when the Unbuntu .iso you used is missing a critical driver (like the wifi) and you have to go find them and install them manually. Are you comfortable with that, or is that just not something you want to do?

 

I would not start by looking at available options... decide what you need your laptop to be able to do, and look for that. Do you want to be able to upgrade memory and storage a few years from now? Do you stream a lot of music/movies/etc? Does it need to be able to run any games at all? Do you need good speakers? Lots of storage for photos? Do you want to be able to use optical discs?

 

Dell and HP make solid laptops that are easy to upgrade. So does ASUS, though they cost more. 

 

Suggestion: Checkout the Ubuntu hardware support resources and look for the brands and models the user community says work very well with Ubuntu. You could avoid future headaches by going for something that hundreds of other users have already tested your preferred OS on. :) 

 

ETA: Can't speak to Chromebooks, sorry. 

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38 minutes ago, Scaly Freak said:

Define "casual"? You're doing it a little bit, but the install is not the hard part. The hard part is what happens when the Unbuntu .iso you used is missing a critical driver (like the wifi) and you have to go find them and install them manually. Are you comfortable with that, or is that just not something you want to do?

 

This is theoretically a thing, but not a thing I've had to deal with in the past 8 years.

 

There's no command line. It's all GUI,  and very user friendly. Ubuntu has a good installation tutorial page. Basically, the only bits that my technophobe mother couldn't do are make the USB installation stick, which you can do and Ubuntu's tutorial walks you through, and telling your new laptop during bootup to boot from the USB stick rather than its own drive. Because all BIOSes are slightly different, Ubuntu can't tell you how to do that, but it's usually hitting F12 or F10 on a certain screen and choosing the drive you want it to boot from. It's Googleable. After that, you're basically inside desktop-lite Ubuntu the whole time, running from your USB drive. It'll ask if you want to test Ubuntu or install it, and then it'll do that for you. If you choose install  it's a very user friendly wizard.

 

Seconding HP, Dell, and Asus. They're all quite good for Linux. Going for last year's models makes the above problem dwindle to just about nothing. The only time you're likely to run into driver issues is when the machine and the Ubuntu release are both new, so the Ubuntu release is still a little beta and the machine hardware has not had time to be profiled in depth. Plus they're cheaper. Somewhere there used to be a website that did hardware compatibility reviews for Linux, but darned if I can remember what it is. I feel pretty safe with the above three, and maybe Acer, and do a quick search in the Amazon reviews for Linux and Ubuntu, because the odds are someone's done it. I once got a machine I loved that needed some tweaks to load Linus, because it was an early touchscreen and wasn't well supported, but I found all the support tweaks in an Amazon review, and the setup went fine.

 

Chromebooks, however, I hear are a murderously difficult install. They should run it, because Chrome is Linux based, but actually installing seems to be hard, or was last time I was shopping.

 

If you get a laptop where you can replace the drive (less and less the norm these days, you can be very clever and buy a blank laptop drive, and just pop out your windows drive to store for later, leaving your copy of Windows intact for any future Windows needs. But most things are switching to embedded drives for the operating system these days, following the path of Chromebooks.

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5 hours ago, Mistr said:

My old Thinkpad is on its last legs. The battery won't charge anymore and the fan is getting loud. It makes a buzzing sound in the outgoing audio channel when I'm on Zoom calls. I can't hear it, but my friends complain, so I have to stay muted as much as possible.

 

Batteries and fans are often replaceable, BTW, if you're handy with a screwdriver and can find generic replacement parts on Amazon. Also, fan noise in outgoing audio sounds like it should be fixable with the right headset, say a Bluetooth one. I can only imagine that being a thing if you're using the case mic rather than a headset mic, or the fan is vibrating the jack of a physically connected headset. If the mic is no longer on the case and the jack is out of use, the fan should be able to whir away without bothering anyone. I recommend a brand called Arctic. Good quality, great battery life.

 

Of those two, the fan is the only one that's potentially a lifespan issue. Running hot isn't the best, especially with summer coming. The battery is mostly the annoyance of having a desktop now. The first thing I'd do is turn it off and vacuum out the air vents. They may be dusty. If you can open the case to get into the fan, I'd inspect it for dust and give it a gentle vacuum. Then I'd find a way to let it ventilate better when in use. Perhaps a cheap stand to elevate it a tad to get airflow under the laptop. That'll help carry some heat away. Find some Linux utility that lets you do hardware monitoring, and keep an eye on the temperatures. You might also be able to bring them down by lowering your memory and CPU usage. If your Thinkpad is getting old, it might be time to swap to Xubuntu for a less resource and power hungry desktop than the standard Ubuntu one. (They recommend a clean install, but you probably don't need one. Theoretically an Ubuntu install can have many installed desktops, provided they don't clash in terms of packages, and Xubuntu plays pretty nicely in my experience. You can choose what desktop you use when you log in.) These are, sadly, just time-buying measures, because fans can and do fail and hardware gets old. But if we're just talking overheating due to dust buildup or struggling to run a new Ubuntu desktop on an older machine, get a Bluetooth headset (good to have anyway), install xubuntu-desktop packages, and do a little vacuuming and ventilation, and you can buy some time.

 

Edit: Xubuntu is just "Ubuntu packaged to use the XFCE desktop by default", rather than KDE (Kubuntu) or GNOME (regular Ubuntu). So it just swapping the default desktop, which is basically just the user interface portion. And you should be able to install both desktops and switch, so you can just add XFCE to your current installation. They recommend using the install with the one you want packaged in, because it's cleaner than installing several side by side, but Linux is perfectly well designed to handle juggling multiple installed desktops. There's a very simple login preferences menu to switch them. The recommendation is because it's theoretically opening the door to a possible glitch - once in a while, two random desktops will fight over what the default version of Java is or something dumb, but I've never had that happen with XFCE. Sometimes a version of KDE gets uppity or something. XFCE and GNOME seem to play nicer together. It may not give you the full power savings; I'm not sure what happens in terms of things under the hood, like default utilities and so on, if you're mixing environments. But I'd imagine there's nothing worth mentioning, and even if there were, those are really minor compared to the desktop itself.

 

It'll change the look and feel very slightly, but not dramatically. XFCE is just a touch simpler and less branded, but very similar to the default, and takes significantly fewer resources to run. I use it on older machines, or servers where I don't want power wasted on the desktop, like my media center. The media center software has its own user interface and the desktop is just for occasional maintenance and jobs, so I want the desktop to leave more resources for the media center. There are even lighter desktops in a pinch, but there are a few more compromises, while XFCE is really just as good as the default GNOME. Not as flashy, but I find that with a little custom appearance polish on the wallpaper and icons to give it a little more visual design smarts, I don't really notice. It's mostly that they don't have the visual designers Ubuntu can afford, so they're just the boring but serviceable and smart khakis and polo shirt of desktops.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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@sarakingdom I'm currently running Ubuntu 18.04. It tells me that there will be no more updates for i386 hardware anymore.

 

I am sure that the audio buzzing problem is not actually the fan. First, it does not happen at the same time when I hear the fan. Second, it happens with two different audio inputs. I have a headset that plugs into the mic and headphone jacks. I also have a headset that uses a wireless connection. Both of them have the problem. I use the wireless one for work all the time, so I know that does not have any hardware issues.

 

I hadn't looked into replacing the battery because those were expensive when they were new. Thank you for suggesting that, it would be much cheaper than buying a new computer and would make it portable again.

 

It says something about my computer use that I don't need anything more than I did 10 years ago. It needs to do spreadsheets, run GnuCash, a browser and talk to my printer. All very basic.

Thinner, lighter and with a number pad would be nice, but totally not necessary.

 

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2 hours ago, Mistr said:

@sarakingdom I'm currently running Ubuntu 18.04. It tells me that there will be no more updates for i386 hardware anymore.

 

I am sure that the audio buzzing problem is not actually the fan. First, it does not happen at the same time when I hear the fan. Second, it happens with two different audio inputs. I have a headset that plugs into the mic and headphone jacks. I also have a headset that uses a wireless connection. Both of them have the problem. I use the wireless one for work all the time, so I know that does not have any hardware issues.

 

I hadn't looked into replacing the battery because those were expensive when they were new. Thank you for suggesting that, it would be much cheaper than buying a new computer and would make it portable again.

 

It says something about my computer use that I don't need anything more than I did 10 years ago. It needs to do spreadsheets, run GnuCash, a browser and talk to my printer. All very basic.

Thinner, lighter and with a number pad would be nice, but totally not necessary.

 

 

i386? Gosh, that's, what, 12-15 years old?

 

Okay. Here's what I'd do. While there are often generic cheap batteries, it's probably going to be hard to find with the age of that machine. I'm not sure I can I good conscience recommend it as a wise purchase for a machine that's losing security updates and may have a failing sound card. (Can't imagine anything more likely, given what you describe.) It's going down soon. You can squeeze some more life out of it, but it's unlikely to make a year if hardware is starting to go, and likely won't pay off the investment. It's had more than a good run.

 

But do try to deal with the overheating, and it will buy you some machine health over the summer.

 

You should be able to get something good around $300, give or take. Just look at slightly older models.

 

If you truly find nothing you like, consider getting on the alert list for Pinebooks.  They're a small company who are mostly in the Raspberry Pi variant market, but they have some basically-at-cost open source hardware, like laptops, that their community helps develop. They usually put in an order with the factory once a year, so these aren't available on demand. I switched to one for one reason: every single part of the case and internal hardware is available from them roughly at cost, so I can replace anything when it needs repairs. (Provided they don't go under, but they seem pretty healthy, and they're open source, so someone can pick it up. Their key electronics pieces have 5 year support guarantees from a certain date.) If the keyboard goes, I can buy that alone and replace it. If the board gets old and slow, I can swap in a newer model. When even HPs got very hard to service, I kind of noped out. Also, these machines come with Linux installed. Not my favorite variant, but it's fine, and does better with Amazon video than Ubuntu. There are some minor software limitations from being in the ARM processor (aka Raspberry Pi) world rather than  the Intel world, but I doubt very much you'll ever hit one. I don't hit them unless I'm doing wildly experimental voice synthesis stuff with outdated abandoned packages that have never been compiled for ARM. For your use, more than fine. Like tablets in the Crome world, it's plenty for the average user. I got their Pro model for $200. They have an earlier, smaller, less beefy model that went for $100. I don't know if it's discontinued with the arrival of the  Pro, or just waiting it's manufacturing turn. The cons of this route is that you may not have access to the precise flavor of Linux you want, because what's been compiled for this board is limited. But several are available, and if you're not a connoisseur, should be fine. This is not quite the seamless, unlimited-option experience of a major brand; I think an HP with Ubuntu on it would feel more polished, and would be a bit more set-and-forget. The sheer number of people working on both mean you'll likely never experience anything but smooth sailing and shinyness, and partly it's that the ARM world (which includes Chromebooks) are generally a little less oomphy than traditional laptops. I don't know how to describe it, since it doesn't affect functionality much, but it's like traditional laptops are desktops ratcheted down to make portable, while ARM is the hardware advances behind mobile phones ratcheted up to be laptops. It's truly just polish and, like, a vague impression of oomphiness; I haven't yet hit anything that's broken or anything. I'm just needing to make setup choices, and there's the rare driver hiccup that's not a problem, but just makes you aware you're deeper in the open source world, where things go from working to fully mature at the speed of community volunteers. Think the laptop equivalent of GnuCash, while an HP with Ubuntu would be Quicken. So it's sort of a question of whether that low price point, high repairability, and being designed for Linux is worth it for your personal laptop. Given that linux is a bit out of the mainstream whatever you do, and that you're used to quite an old machine and expected to need command line for installing and expected lots of hardware incompatibilities, I'd say you're probably still mentally in a world where desktop Linux is a lot harder than it has been lately, and stepping into the small company experience will not throw you. But there's also a good case for going HP and Ubuntu, which I think makes itself.

 

I would get that new machine, transfer all your files, then put something very light on your old one, to that it's no longer a laptop but some sort of server. Something that functions entirely inside your network, so the security patching isn't as big a deal, or an OS designed for extending the lifespan of older machines that comes with some basic security updates for them. If you don't hear the audio issues in playback on your end, a media server for your TV might be nice, or you can attach a Bluetooth speaker and make it a wireless stereo. You can attach a big hard drive and make it networked cloud storage for the home, using Own Cloud or something else. The screen could be used to display a shared calendar run by OwnCloud, and used to coordinate family member schedules and so on.

 

The easiest way to do this is find an OS designed for older hardware. Here are some options. I recommend Bodhi, especially if your machine is 32-bit. They seem to have the strongest 32-bit legacy version. (Lubuntu if you're 64-bit.) At this point, it may be running all speedy and shiny, and you're going to have to remind yourself about portability and failing sound cards and the likelihood of 12 year old laptops lasting much longer once they show signs of failing parts.

 

Give it one big job. Maybe two, if it's an overachiever. Using it as a front end to a hard drive that contains media or some shared files is great. I don't know how old the hard drive inside it is, but if the Linux installed is pretty vanilla, most server applications can back up their own setup to the external drive, and a massive laptop system failure costs you nothing - just pop the external drive onto another generic Linux machine with a fresh copy of your server application, and restore your settings from backup. Look into things like Kodi, OwnCloud, Home Assistant (okay, that's out there... definitely more niche than a little homebrew Google Suite clone or jukebox with a $30 Bluetooth speaker).

 

Of those, I recommend Kodi. Most households enjoy music or video, it's the lowest maintenance type of server out there, it has tons of useful media serving options for your home WiFi network, and Kodi can easily be controlled from anyone's smartphone. The only need is digitised music or movie files. This may not be your thing, but I'd bet someone in your house is ripping their DVDs and CDs, and there are legally downloadable things, too. It can also do streaming Internet radio. If you have a DVR, make a stereo, or a secondary video player for another room. If you're super stumped, pipe rain noises into your bathroom or use the recipe plugin in the kitchen. If you hate the Kodi recipe plugin, Linux has some recipe software. You can have a kitchen radio/cookbook. Or a radio/digital picture frame that slideshows through all your vacation pics in some pleasant location. (With Bluetooth and remote control from smartphones or via Web interface, the radio and the picture frame don't need to be in the same room. They're just sharing a brain, which is coincidentally attached to your smart frame.) Or just have a little Bodhi linux desktop workstation docked somewhere. Just keep an eye on ventilation, fan issues, and how hot it's running. It may be fine with a vacuum and a lighter OS. Or your fan might be dying, but unless you're hearing fan grinding, it's probably it's just running hot due to being overtaxed and maybe dusty, and you just need all the cooling tricks.

 

Anyway, that's what I'd do. Use it as long as you can, but don't count on any more lifetime more than six months out, and don't invest money in making it a better laptop; anything you do buy for its new job should be easily moved to any other computer, like an external drive or Bluetooth device or cable to your TV or something. Old computers can hang in there a long time with smaller and smaller jobs to do, but a lot of times, when they really start to go, it's the end.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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On 4/28/2021 at 11:49 PM, sarakingdom said:

i386? Gosh, that's, what, 12-15 years old?

 

Yeah, that seems about right. I misremembered the previous operating system. It was Windows XP. My computer support guy switched it to Ubuntu and installed a new hard drive when XP support went away. That bought it several more years of good service. It doesn't owe me anything.  I just dug out the file with the original paper work. I bought it in 2008.

 

I talked this over extensively with Dumbledore last night. He is firmly behind me buying a new computer.

 

On 4/28/2021 at 11:49 PM, sarakingdom said:

Anyway, that's what I'd do. Use it as long as you can, but don't count on any more lifetime more than six months out, and don't invest money in making it a better laptop; anything you do buy for its new job should be easily moved to any other computer, like an external drive or Bluetooth device or cable to your TV or something. Old computers can hang in there a long time with smaller and smaller jobs to do, but a lot of times, when they really start to go, it's the end.

 

Thank you for the recommendations. I never thought about giving it a last life in another role.

 

I installed Back In Time a couple years ago (following your advice :) ) and I have two external hard drives. I've been running backup snapshots more often since it started getting creaky.

 

The Pinebook looks neat. If I was on a really tight budget, that would be my choice. The computer that caught my eye is the Acer Aspire. It is thinner and lighter than my Thinkpad, and it has a bigger screen and a number pad. A lot of what I use the computer for involves numbers, so being able to use a 10-key pad is a huge plus for me. I have most of the recent stimulus check earmarked for this computer, so I have some flexibility in getting more features.

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On the challenge side, work has been taking over my life. I'm not quite as stressed as I was, but I'm not getting to do much else either. I've been taking spinning breaks instead of eating sweets - those help a lot. Mostly I am struggling with making decisions about what I need to do. I am the only person with a paying job in the household right now, so I'm not willing to risk my job.  The earliest I can expect things to get better is several months from now, so I need to figure out healthy coping strategies.

 

On Wednesday I took a bike ride in the evening before going back to work. I did 4.6 miles, which is about double my previous distance. That is working up to the 3 miles each way to aikido. Last night I did some gardening for a break. Other exercise and zen are hit and miss.

 

Thankfully Elf did a bunch of batch cooking this week. Yesterday they said "I want to make pizza for dinner, does that sound okay to you?". Of course, duh. I am supporting this interest by buying a pizza stone and peel.

 

You remember a year ago when everyone got into home baking and yeast was impossible to find? Dumbledore bought a 2 lb (1 kg) bag of yeast from a produce wholesaler. We divided it up into several glass jars and stored most of it in the freezer. Yesterday Elf brought up the last jar for making pizza dough. We really did use 2 lb of yeast in a year. Dumbledore is baking bread and Elf is baking stromboli and pizza. Go team!

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37 minutes ago, Mistr said:

My computer support guy switched it to Ubuntu and installed a new hard drive when XP support went away. That bought it several more years of good service. It doesn't owe me anything. 

 

Yeah, I'd definitely buy new. I'm not saying this one can't give you more, but it'd be wise not to count on it as your main thing. That's a really good run for a laptop, and it'll go sometime soonish.

 

If you decide to get rid of it rather than have a reuse project, keep the drive, if it's fairly new. It's easy to make a small external drive out of it with a very cheap case. (In general, keep drives. They're very reusable. My favorite desktop replacement are the tiny 4"x4" boxes that come without drives or memory, and you pop in a laptop drive.) They're easy to remove, you just need a screwdriver to open up the laptop case, and putting it in the external drive case is even simpler.

 

51 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Thank you for the recommendations. I never thought about giving it a last life in another role.

 

You may not want the project or to store a laptop past its replacement, but I hate throwing away things that work well enough. There's enough electronic waste as it is. And it may not be the most compact way to get, say, a WiFi smart speaker or Internet streaming radio or digital picture frame or TV media center or utility room radio or whatever, but you already own it.

 

56 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Acer Aspire

 

I have a good impression of Acers. I think one of my older netbooks is an Acer, it was a really good one. Worked just fine with Ubuntu. It probably still does; I swapped it to Xubuntu a few years back, and it's very sturdy. I'd just search Amazon reviews for your model to see who has put Linux on it, and if someone has, should be fine. You can also Google your model and Linux or Ubuntu, and should get some info. But I wouldn't anticipate a problem if it's basically a normal laptop. Especially if you go back a model or two from their latest to get the not-the-new-hotness discount.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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35 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Mostly I am struggling with making decisions about what I need to do.

 

Boy, do I hear this. Let me know how this one goes.

 

36 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Thankfully Elf did a bunch of batch cooking this week. Yesterday they said "I want to make pizza for dinner, does that sound okay to you?". Of course, duh. I am supporting this interest by buying a pizza stone and peel.

 

You remember a year ago when everyone got into home baking and yeast was impossible to find? Dumbledore bought a 2 lb (1 kg) bag of yeast from a produce wholesaler. We divided it up into several glass jars and stored most of it in the freezer. Yesterday Elf brought up the last jar for making pizza dough. We really did use 2 lb of yeast in a year. Dumbledore is baking bread and Elf is baking stromboli and pizza. Go team!

 

Grumble grumble gluten grumble macros grumble. I really wish fresh bread and pizza dough were an option. Especially since I have a breadmaking. It's that perfect combination of easy, cheap, delicious, and super lazy.

 

I should develop a macro-compliant bread mix, especially since I have more flax meal than I thought. Then I can just dump it in and have bread.

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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4 hours ago, Mistr said:

I installed Back In Time a couple years ago (following your advice :) ) and I have two external hard drives. I've been running backup snapshots more often since it started getting creaky.

 

I forgot this, but excellent advice following. ;) Everything is fine as long as there's a reliable backup. That's always the biggest worry when laptops start to give off warning signs.

 

How is Back in Time working for you? I'm still using a script I wrote years ago, and since it basically does the job, I haven't made the big switch yet, despite liking the testing I did. (It's on the list, just never the top of the list.) After two years, you're probably the expert in it, not me. :D

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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13 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

How is Back in Time working for you? I'm still using a script I wrote years ago, and since it basically does the job, I haven't made the big switch yet, despite liking the testing I did. (It's on the list, just never the top of the list.) After two years, you're probably the expert in it, not me. :D

 

I haven't had to restore from it, so I can't really say. It runs backups when I ask it to. They take quite a long time to run. It is the kind of thing I start when I'm done using the computer and let run overnight.

 

In gardening news, I just got Elf to pound in the stakes to hold my raised beds in place.

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tK6fBMI.jpg?1

 

The total size is 4 x 12 feet. It seemed much smaller before I finished putting it together. My project for this weekend is to fill it with compost.

 

I think my big compost piles are going to look like little lumps when I put them in the garden bed. That is okay, I can have more compost delivered. I calculated it takes 0.9 cubic yard to fill this bed 6 inches deep. That would not be too expensive.

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32 minutes ago, Mistr said:

I haven't had to restore from it, so I can't really say. It runs backups when I ask it to. They take quite a long time to run. It is the kind of thing I start when I'm done using the computer and let run overnight.

 

I'm a little surprised it takes that long. But I guess scanning large drives for changes can take some time. That may actually be the one place you're seeing the age of the machine. I suspect you'll see that improve quite a bit on a computer that isn't 12 years old.

 

36 minutes ago, Mistr said:

The total size is 4 x 12 feet. It seemed much smaller before I finished putting it together. My project for this weekend is to fill it with compost.

 

That is gorgeous. I want one. I love the modular design, so you could decide you want 4x24 feet next year, or a U-shaped bed. And yay, no dig! So exciting.

 

You can also rake the yard and put all that stuff in the bottom. Leaves, twigs, random brush, whatever. It'll all become dirt soon enough. (I'm not calling out your yard at all, just trying to save you some compost money for seeds.) :D

 

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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56 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

I'm a little surprised it takes that long. But I guess scanning large drives for changes can take some time. 

 

Especially if they're on SATA I....

Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29

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5 minutes ago, Scaly Freak said:

Especially if they're on SATA I....

 

Yeah. And if the drive was replaced recently, it's probably at least ten times bigger than drives when it was made, possibly a lot more. On a slow interface, with limited memory and an old CPU... even the standard rsync scan (which I'll bet is part of what's under the hood) could be very slow. The actual data writing should be ultra quick.

 

I can't say from experience how long it'd take on a new computer, but I'd be surprised if it took more than an hour, and not surprised if it took in the area of 20 minutes.

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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6 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

Yeah. And if the drive was replaced recently, it's probably at least ten times bigger than drives when it was made, possibly a lot more. On a slow interface, with limited memory and an old CPU... even the standard rsync scan (which I'll bet is part of what's under the hood) could be very slow. The actual data writing should be ultra quick.

 

It's also likely that the BIOS defaulted to IDE mode, which would also make it slower because ancient and not optimized for SATA protocol.

 

But now I'm nitpicking mainly because hardware is what I really know. My software skills are about making hardware work, or making games run better. :D 

 

 

Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29

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1 minute ago, Scaly Freak said:

It's also likely that the BIOS defaulted to IDE mode, which would also make it slower because ancient and not optimized for SATA protocol.

 

But now I'm nitpicking mainly because hardware is what I really know. My software skills are about making hardware work, or making games run better. :D

 

Okay, but while we're nitpicking, an older 32-bit operating system versus 64-bit? ;)

 

No, no, no, 2008 wasn't the computing dawn of time. I think I have a working early netbook from then. It just seems like the computing dawn of time. But running a 2018 operating system on a 2008 machine is a heavy load, and I'm sure it's running some stuff kinda slow.

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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10 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

Okay, but while we're nitpicking, an older 32-bit operating system versus 64-bit? ;)

 

The only response that comes to mind is... "eh". I have painful, painful memories of Windows ME. 🤢

Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29

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2 hours ago, sarakingdom said:

No, no, no, 2008 wasn't the computing dawn of time. I think I have a working early netbook from then. It just seems like the computing dawn of time. But running a 2018 operating system on a 2008 machine is a heavy load, and I'm sure it's running some stuff kinda slow.

 

Getting rid of Windows XP speeded it up a LOT. I have only noticed it slowing down again recently, which I took as a sign of bad things to come.

 

You understand now why my bar is so low for a new computer. ;)

Level 55  Viking paladin

My current challenge    Battle log 

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Today I did exercise, went to aikido in the park, then spent the afternoon hauling compost and shoveling it into the raised bed.

 

I put in three wheelbarrows of dried leaves first at @sarakingdom's suggestion. I got rid of the big compost pile from the last two years. It was not all actually composted, I had to pull out a lot of sticks and chunks of sod that were still big lumps. That got it to about halfway full and cleared space for me to set up a new compost pile. The new pile started with the sticks and leaves from the old pile, plus the contents of my rotating compost bin. It seems to get things halfway composted. Everything is brown, but not fully broken down. It is in big oval lumps. I figure a couple months in the compost pile will finish the job.

 

The next step was taking apart the compost bin I set up the first summer we lived here. I put a frame of stakes and chicken wire in the back corner of the garden where it would be inconspicuous. It did not occur to me at the time that it would also be impossible to turn. I filled it up with weeds I pulled and left it alone. Six years later, those weeds have turned into dirt. After taking off the top layer of last year's leaves, there is about a foot of nice soil. With egg shells in it. They say that you can compost egg shells. I'm sure the calcium is good for the garden. In my experience, the shells just get broken as you turn the compost. They do not change state at all.

 

I did not feel like hard work when I was doing it, other than not letting the full wheelbarrow pull me down the slope to the new garden. But four hours of working in warm windy weather and I am beat.

 

I want to finish getting the old compost into the raised bed tomorrow so I can tell how much more compost I need. It is supposed to rain tomorrow night. That will help the compost in the beds settle so I can get a good estimate. Dumbledore says I should get compost delivered, and I think he's right.

 

With that I'm putting this challenge to bed. I got a better process for working on weekends and am less stressed about not being able to do all the things. I'm counting that as a win.

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Level 55  Viking paladin

My current challenge    Battle log 

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Lowering stress is always a win!

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Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29

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2 hours ago, Mistr said:

I got a better process for working on weekends and am less stressed about not being able to do all the things. I'm counting that as a win.


Sounds good!

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Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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