4 January 2010 (Monday) - A Windfall

I’ve had a revelation. As we come to the end of the financial year, there’s no council tax to be paid for a couple of months. Rather than squandering the money on beer, I’m tempted to waste the money I’ll save on buying something “big”.

My current computer is now three years old. In PC circles, that’s positively antiquated. It is beginning to creak a little. On booting (which takes ages), the thing always finds some new hardware which isn’t there. And one more than one occasions it’s failed to launch the anti-virus software.

I’ve recently done some fiddling about with my computer to try to breathe new life into it. Perhaps most radically was a “reg clean-up”. I’m reliably informed that this will make the thing work better. I hope so, but I remain unconvinced. The only tangible thing I noticed was that the clean-up tried to delete the anti-virus software.

New PCs come with Windows 7. I’m told that Windows 7 has an XP emulation mode in which I can run NeverWinter Nights, and (to be honest) running that game is probably the number one consideration I’ll have for a new PC. Continuing this blog will be in number two position.

It’s been suggested that I leave the PC as it is for gaming, and buy a NetBook for net surfing, blogging, etc. Perhaps I’m being thick, but I can’t see the advantages of this plan. My existing PC isn’t really of a high enough spec for today’s PC gaming, and it wouldn’t cost that much more than a NetBook to replace the whole PC. In fact, having a (admittedly very quick) look round eBay makes me think that a standard base-unit type PC is cheaper than a comparable laptop or NetBook.

OK, so a NetBook is portable, but do I want a computer which is portable? I have cordless phones which are portable, and I spend hours trying to find where I left them. A PC stays where it lives. I can see the advantages of taking a NetBook to the astro club if I was giving a talk, but the NetBooks I’ve seen on eBay don’t have sockets to plug into the projector Perhaps I need to do a bit more research. Or take advice from my loyal readers.

Something else I might waste by money on would be a new digital camera. I got my new phone purely for the camera on it, but seeing how the phone battery only lasts for a day (at most), the thing’s usually dead when I want to take a photo. I have a digital camera, but it is old – I bought the thing in 2001. To be honest, it’s on the way out. There is a tangible delay of a couple of seconds between pressing the button and it taking a photo. And it eats batteries. If I leave the batteries in, they go flat within a couple of hours. So I have taken to leaving the battery compartment open to save the battery power. Perhaps a new camera might be money well spent.

The only trouble is that I don’t know the first thing about cameras. I know less about new cameras than new PCs, and that’s saying something. I can’t tell an F-stop from an exposure. And I’m not going to ask in the shop. Is it just me, or is there really a patronising arrogance and snobbery about camera salesmen?

Another possible waste of saved council tax money would be sat-nav. Specifically one for my bike. Bike scrat-navs aren’t cheap, and it would save stopping to fiddle about with maps every time I came to a junction.

Last year this cash went towards a new front door, and the year before it went on Koi. What shall I spend it on this year?

I’m not alone in having an unexpected council tax bung. I wonder what my loyal readers will spend theirs on….


  1. I'd go for the pangly new PC, if windows 7 does run neverwinter you can downgrade to windows XP. if you just want a camera for snap shots then just go for one with at least 10 megapixels, I bought a Samsung 10mp camera last year, it's perfect for my needs. netbooks are fine but I always think that there'll be something want to do that it cant.

  2. New PC....absolutely. Of course you know it will take it a while to settle in and decide to work properly......they always do in my experience.
    Speak nicely to it. Although, swearing very loudly seems to work for others.

  3. I wouldn't buy a netbook. If you want to use it out and about then you are going to need a mobile data card in which case you get the netbook 'free' from the mobile company. I am in the process of kitting out our field sales people with netbooks, but to overcome their limited processing power I have had to invest a significant amount of money in a powerful local server that runs citrix. The curious thing now is that because the netbooks are running a virtual session the software appears to run faster than on the local desktops.

  4. Consign all microsquidge products back to to the seventh ring of hell from where they emanated - get a Mac, you can run Neverwinter on that.