Windows Machines

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Fri, 30 Oct 1998 09:07:01 -0800

I finally broke down and bought a Windows machine.
It's very sleek, Dell Inspiron 7000. Some of the
best features are the super-huge 15" Liquid Crystal
display. The screen oversits the regular bottom
part of the laptop. This makes me wonder if they
can't eventually have some sort of butterfly
screen like IBM used to do with their fullsize
keyboards on their thinkpads when you opened them.
It has an 8Meg ATI 3D Pro graphics card to boot.

The other nice thing is the keyboard. It's almost
as pleasant as typing on a Sun Type-5. Also, it'
has a combo DVD 2X/ Floppy and a built in 56k modem
so that you don't have to use up one of your extra
PCMCIA slots. 4500 mA batteries, When I first got
the machine, I forgot to plug it in and the single
battery ran over 2h20m before getting a warning.

Disadvantages? It's 10 lbs, but I was looking for either
an ultralight or a ultra-workhorse, so I settled for
a mobile desktop. Also, a PII-300mhz isn't as fast
as I thought it'd be. The 8G hard disk is nice,
but still not luxoriously nice to set up multi-boot.
Windows 98 is a very cute operating system, but the
software packages that people usually install are
majorly bloated. Right now I am thinking splitting
it 70%/30% for Win98 and Solaris. NT 5.0 beta 2
looks interesting, but having a toy/gaming OS and a real
work OS leaves little reason to put it on other to
just take up space.

Some look and feel and setting issues that I am not sure are
completely related to Windows, 98, or just my inexperience
of never using Windows before.

o I don't understand the virtual memory settings, under
specifying your own settings, it suggests 5.9 Meg. Is
that supposed to be like a swap space? How do you get
the best performance out of a machine, by letting windows?
manage it or fixing it to some amount of space? What
are the performance advantages and disadvantages for
setting your machine to be a portable, server, or desktop?
o Why when you grab a scrollbar on any of the windows and need
to go back to the top or bottom, you have to be extremely careful
not to drag it too far as it just pops back down to the
place you started? Who's in charge of HCI up there? I'll
send them a copy of my Ben Shneiderman book. Simple
tasks require simple actions and all that.
o How do you get the Windows Explorer when you right click
on the Start button to come up anywhere else besides
the Windows Start Menu directory?
o Why is Windows so stupid and what's with the blue screen?
Can I customize that color without rebooting my machine?