Computer Problems

Since July my main computer, a Toshiba laptop running Windows XP, has become more and more unreliable. It now doesn’t want to charge the battery when the computer is running, and is difficult to persuade to do so when the computer is off. Fortunately, I have backups.

So the time came to buy a new laptop – the problem is what to buy. I looked at Apple but was unwilling to pay 3 or 4 times what I’d have to pay for a Windows machine. Linux machines are not competitively priced either. Microsoft seems to have a monopoly. Windows 8 doesn’t have a good reputation amongst my contacts, so reluctantly I went with it and bought another Toshiba. I am unimpressed.

The new Toshiba keyboard seems flimsy and the spacings and key positions have changed again. I am getting numerous spelling errors and key omissions – thank goodness for spell checkers! The touchpad does not behave as I would like – I haven’t yet worked out whether this is my settings, the hardware or the operating system.

In my opinion, Windows 8 deserves its poor reputation. The start screen is suited to a mobile phone, not serious computing, It took several days before I had a working system after the lengthy installation process, Windows Updates wouldn’t. One Control Panel screen told me I had automatic updates set, the next said I didn’t. When eventually it did update, it was 669MB, about 1/16th of my monthly allowance. My brother-in-law bought a Sony a few months ago. On that, the OS was pre-installed and the computer was ready-to-run out of the box – why can’t Toshiba do that?

Finally, there’s the issue of all my Windows XP programmes that no longer work on Windows 8. I have found a solution. VirtualBox from Oracle allows you to run a guest operating system under a different host environment. So I have XP running in a virtual machine within Windows 8. So I can still run my old XP programmes. Eventually, I would like to migrate them to Windows 8. That’s a long term aim for when I’m fully back to a working system, which may take many weeks yet as I have to re-install all my old XP stuff. I did try Disk2vhd, but I don’t have the skills or energy to get it to work. VirtualBox also runs on Linux and Apple hosts, so that might be an option if you don’t follow my route.

So at some stage I hope to return to family history research. Watch this space.


Update (18th Oct) – I read today that the update for Windows 8.1 will be a non-trivial 3+ GB (yes, GB not MB). That’s 1/3 my monthly allowance. I get less and less impressed by the day.

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