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Low-cost Laptop March 24, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Geek Stuff, Toys.

I just bought myself a birthday present, a Toshiba C855D-S510 Laptop Computer and made a few modifications to it.  Now, I did not buy this from Amazon but from another large, nation-wide chain famous for being the showroom for Amazon because, this time, they offered a handsome discount on the item and free shipping.  But, enough about how to catch a customer; I want to talk about Windows 8 and other marketing horrors.

Windows 8 is puzzle wrapped in an enigma smothered with hubris and served without regard for customer desires.  It departs drastically from Microsoft’s well-defined workflow in that the Start Menu has been mercilessly (that is, without regard to customer desires) ripped from [stop me before I write again]…

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  I’m actually quite pleased with my purchase.  It was cheap, and has everything I [will] need for future use: a 64-bit operating system.  I don’t game any more, so no need for fancy graphics, but it has a nice enough dual-core processor and a wide enough screen for 16X9 movies, which I do watch.  The really nice thing is that it’s portable and I can work in bed downstairs and/or take it with me camping, which we do a lot of in summer.  The only thing I would change if I could would be to get a larger screen, since I prefer to look at a lot of code at a time and/or web browser or pdf reader windows.  It does have a VGA out in the side, so I could use a spare monitor if I had one, but that does defeat the “portable” thing, doesn’t it?

And the start menu?  Sourceforge project Classic Shell is free, open-source donationware (i.e., free to cheap guys like me) that gives you the option of a classic (Windows 98ish), Windows XP, or Vista/7 Start menu  (I picked Windows 7). It put a Start button back on my taskbar (shaped like a shell with the Windows colors) and has a ton of other features and settings that include allowing me to boot directly to the “normal” desktop.  I never have to see the Metro interface again (whatever it’s called now).

To make a developer’s box, I installed the aforementioned Android Bundle and the 64-bit JDK (the one at the bottom; be careful not to mix up this, as it leads to non-understandable error messages), as well as Visual Studio 2010, for which I have a license but not, alas, Visual Studio 2012.  I also have held off doing much else until I ghost the whole business with a bootable Clonezilla CD and a 64GB thumbdrive.  I can say I recommend all of this highly, starting with the great Toshiba machine itself, especially at a fire sale price.


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