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[personal profile] eirias
Two prongs of computer advice needed.

  1. My computer has gotten incredibly unstable -- it freezes constantly, the pointer freaks out and moves with random velocity, and tonight it developed the charming behavior of taking >60sec to respond to any button press. I am typing this now from safe mode, and am having no difficulties, which tells me that a large chunk of my problem is software. What should I do? It is a just-past-warranty Dell (how many of you are surprised?) running XP Service Pack 3. It has antivirus software (Norton?) with automatic updates, IIRC.

  2. Obviously, it will soon be time for a new machine -- probably a laptop given all the travel I'm still doing. I will probably not get another Dell -- their service is (mostly) exemplary but their hardware just isn't. At the moment my main needs are word processing, spreadsheet, Internet, and some random proprietary programs. I am somewhat committed to Windows because of some software I used in grad school, but as that world fades my need for the software may fade, too. However, it would be nice to publish the dissertation first. I am very open to a suggestion that includes Windows XP as a second system, if such a thing exists.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynic51.livejournal.com
With regards to [1], Norton is pretty crap at blocking spyware/adware/malware. I suggest that you download a good free one like Lavasoft Ad-Aware and run it. You should be able to do that in safe mode. In any event, that will hopefully clear out whatever crap is causing this issue.

For prevention purposes, I use Comodo Firewall Pro. It's free, updated often, and provides paranoid level system defense. It can be annoying 'training' it, but once that's done it's great.

And of course I'm sure that I don't have to tell you not to use Internet Explorer - I don't actually think it's a bad product, but it's got the biggest target on its back.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exilejedi.livejournal.com
Recommendation: If the price point is acceptable, get a Macbook or Macbook Pro (I'm absolutely loving the 13" aluminum one I bought late last fall), and either dual-boot with XP, or virtualize and run it under VMWare or Parallels. It's been a champ for various events and presentations, travel domestic and abroad, and I love how *solid* the unibody Mac laptops are.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] razberriswirl.livejournal.com
I second this advice.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eldan.livejournal.com
1. you'll probably want to try everyone else's suggestions first, but in extremis I have had good results by totally reinstalling the OS and all software from scratch on an old, cranky machine. The trouble is that it's a major PITA, especially because XP's been out long enough that the "install updates -> reboot -> install updates to the updates" cycle goes on for a long time.

2. I am very pro-Apple, and exilejedi is right that with Intel CPUs and Parallels you can run whatever software you would want. However, be warned that they only come with one year of free service, so the upgrade to three years should be considered part of the purchase price, which does make Apple hardware seriously expensive. I ignored my own advice on this, and I now have a dud "M" key that will cost me over $100 to replace (because the only user-serviceable way to do it is to replace a whole set of connected parts)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exilejedi.livejournal.com
Yeah, the extended AppleCare warranty is a bit steep, but when I've needed it, it's made sure that my maintenance experience has been smooth and painless.

Apple Store folks will occasionally do some heroic out-of-warranty maintenance as if it were still covered, though this is clearly on a case-by-case basis and shouldn't be counted on. (I suspect this is done to help foster a grass-roots "omg I got the best service" word-of-mouth advertising campaign, but I'm not going to knock it if it means that real people are getting benefit from it.)

The nice thing is that you don't have to buy the AppleCare right away--it can be purchased any time within that first year to guarantee warranty coverage, so you don't have to swallow it all right away.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-13 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] razberriswirl.livejournal.com
You could also dual boot, which can be a pain, but much more stable (and less costly) that running Parallels or VMware Fusion.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-13 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ovariance.livejournal.com
I concur about reloading the OS. But, when backing up your data, be careful about bringing icky things (virus, malware) with it to the fresh install.

My co-worker says that Windows 7 will have an XP window, like an MS-DOS window, so that you can run dual OS on the same machine without being an expert.

I've never been an advocate for Apple because of my industry. . .and because I don't enjoy paying double the price for hardware ;-p

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drspiff.livejournal.com
Three words: Buy an Apple.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sam16.livejournal.com
I highly recommend Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/). There's a free version that is quick and works well. I have used it to clean up several computers and have had good results with it every time. Even if you are relatively careful about using your computer, it's fairly easy to get nasty stuff on it, so give that a try.

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