Learning From an Experiment

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I have officially ended my experiment of using a Windows Phone as my computer.  Yes, I can now write my blog posts on a real keyboard. I have learned a lot in the last couple of months and have formed new habits that will change the way I use my computer time.  Was it worth it? Yes, without hesitation I am glad I stuck to my timetable and did not purchase a computer when the last one died.

At first being without a computer was frustrating, very frustrating.  The only option I had at the time was a very old android phone or the use of the library’s computers.  Without wireless internet I had zero reception at home and the weather was rainy making getting to the library a very wet prospect.  Another problem with the library computers was that they are timed, you are able to have one hour per day, county-wide.  That is if you could find a computer not being used.

Shortly after the loss of my computer my son passed on to me a Windows phone he had been given at work.  I upgraded my modem to a wireless and proceeded to uses the phone for all my computer use.  It worked, mostly.  Things took a lot longer, but were eventually finished. I learned more about blogging when I had to use the phone as my tool.  Adding pictures and links had to be done manually and very carefully or they would either not work or end up in the wrong places.

Keys are bigger than the touch screen.

Keys are bigger than the touch screen on my phone.

If you have read my blog for a while you will know that my son built my last computer out of parts he acquired for free.  Ultimate reuse in my book. While the computer hadn’t given me any problem, until it suddenly died, I didn’t like having a large desktop computer in such a tiny apartment,  I also felt guilt for the amount of wasted precious resources it used.  My  wish was to have my apartment look comfortable without the technology on display, my version of a vacation home.  With no TV, or other electronics on display the larger older monitor was an eye sore.  I set a date of July 1st to purchase, new or used, a laptop.  Then suddenly the computer quit working.

Had I jumped to purchase a laptop out of desperation I  would have ended up with something completely different from what I have now.  I took the time, using only a phone, to learn exactly what I needed and wanted out of a  computer.  I asked around to learn which brands were reliable, and which ones had the least environmental impact.

While the Apple computers have the smallest footprint, they are too expensive for me to consider. In the end, I purchased an Acer Aspire One, a notebook rather than a laptop it is much smaller and lighter than a laptop.  Being smaller it required fewer materials to produce.  The battery life was another consideration, this one has about 7 hours of use before needing a charge, many laptops barely had 4 hours of use.  This will reduce the amount of electricity I will use.

The computer did have a couple of  pieces of plastic wrapping on the power cord and the plug for the cord as well as a thin piece of plastic between the keyboard and the screen and a shrink-wrap  over the manuals.  The rest was all cardboard.  The box has a plastic handle on it, but rather than tossing it out I will continue to use the box as my carrying and storage case. It also makes a great table to hold the computer on my lap.

The only plastic found to package and ship it.

The only plastic found to package and ship it.

With the desktop, it was on most of the day.  I listened to music on it and would have constant access to my email as a result.  While relying on a phone as a computer I found myself spending less time online.  I like the convenience of the phone for somethings and will use it for playing music, doing a quick search, and checking email.  I see the computer being turned on once a day, taking care of what I need and turning it off.

My footprint  has been reduced drastically from when I had the desktop running.  To have a couple of fans running all the time in the tower, speakers plugged in, a mouse that needed both electricity and batteries, to the large monitor, and now to occasionally need to plug-in a phone or a notebook for charging makes a big difference

Did I mention it is red?  Color didn't matter although I did reject the option of a pink computer.

Did I mention it is red? Color didn’t matter although I did reject the  pink option.

 

When you chose your computer what were you looking for?  Did you consider the amount of power it  would use or the materials it was built with?

30 thoughts on “Learning From an Experiment

  1. I grew up from the days of tape-deck loading with a massive RAM of 16kb. I have seen many changes and mods. I use a desktop, its my fifth pc in eight years, one was stolen when my house was burgled. I still have the others, I rob parts from them, cables and such. I also have a laptop; a recent acquisition, it stays at work. I wouldn’t give you thank you to blog on it. How people manage to use phone type devices is utterly beyond me. I am a pc man, anything smaller for me is bollocks. The versatility of the pc over less cumbersome options cannot, in my opinon, be surpassed. I also do graphic design and work a lot with Excel, the laptop not having a numeric keypad is a definite step backwards.

    Each to his own.

    AV

    • AV, I hated my last laptop which didn’t have a separate number pad, it is the one thing I will miss on this notebook. My eldest son showed me his laptop when he first bought it because he bought one that did have the number pad. I considered it this time, but I do know how to use a keyboard without just prefer to have it, although I don’t work with graphic design or accounting to require it. I didn’t touch my first computer until 1982, when I was introduced to a Commodore 64 so you have way more computer experience than I do. I never saw the need for one in my personal life until the mid 90s when I began home schooling my boys. Now I hate to be without one, I like having so much available at my fingertips.

  2. That should be alot easier for you :) I don’t know how people can use their phones so well as to blog on them, I can barely manage texting lol. And yay for sons who look after their mum’s…my laptop is my son’s old work one. My son gave me my first computer and first cell phone from his cast-offs and both I looked at him blankly and said “But I’ll never use this”….I wouldn’t be without either now, he called me the Queen of Texts those first few months lol, doesn’t take long to get hooked.

    • How funny!! We are so fortunate to have wonderful sons. My son has always been way ahead of me when it comes to technology. I used to have a basic phone with camera on it. That was fine by me. When my son was able to add a couple more lines to his plan at work and he offered me one. I jumped at the opportunity as it was much cheaper than the plan I had. The two company’s phones were compatible which meant I had to give up the old phone ( I use them until they die). I told him to just give me one a customer traded in so it wouldn’t be new. He did, but brought me a smart phone. I told him I would never need all these things on the phone. He left me with Angry birds on it, and I soon became addicted to it. From there I added Sudoku puzzles, gave up a paper calender and the resident alarm clock. If one little thing can do all that to reduce my reliance on several items I’m all for it. When he told me I could blog from a phone I thought he was crazy. I will still respond to comments and such from the phone, but am glad I have an option again.

      Our very first computer I bought when I began homeschooling my boys, if it hadn’t been for wanting to expand their educational experience I probably never would have bought one.

  3. I’m delighted you got what you wanted, and being an environmentalist, I guess I don’t need to tell you to unplug your battery once it’s charged to save power! Only in the last few years have I learned about computers and my biggest downfall was not unplugging my laptop when it was charged. Unfortunately the damage to the battery was done by the time I learned, and my poor laptop is dying a slow death currently :( I’m moving on to college in September, so I thought a tablet would be a good choice for me – portable and if I buy the keyboard covers, it will convert into a laptop so easily. It also means I can sell my Kindle and start making smarter choices in the future about what technology I consume :)

    Sorry for the essay! I get excited when computers are discussed. Acer is a great brand though, if it’s anything like mine you’ll have no problems until the very end :)

    • Eimear, I bought my first brand new computer, this is only the second new one, in 2002. I made the decision to purchase a laptop at the time and against advice I bought a brand based solely on the price, bad move. I knew nothing about laptops at the time and, like you, thought they should be plugged in all the time unless an outlet wasn’t available. Needless to say I destroyed that battery. The computer was never the same after that. I do unplug everything around here, removing all cords from the outlets as well, but thank you for the advice I could have used it 11 years ago! ;-)

      I had looked into the Kindle when I had the desktop, the monitor screen bothered my eyes so I couldn’t enjoy reading on it. But when I tried the Kindle app for my phone realized it worked just fine for my needs. I don’t need the bigger screen and have decided against buying the Kindle now.

      Don’t apologize, I enjoyed your thoughts on computers. Good luck with college, I hope the tablet works well for you there.

  4. I had a netbook until it met with an unfortunate accident but I loved it. After that, a friend gave me his old macbook (circa 2006) which I used for college from 2009-2011. My aunts bought me an iPad which essentially replaced my macbook and I passed it on to another friend in need of a computer. 7 years and 3 owners and that little macbook is still working great! I turned my iPad into a productivity tool, downloading a word processor app and purchasing a bluetooth keyboard so I can use it for grad school and I have access to my fiance’s laptop if I need to print, so now I have no computer.
    I had a friend who has gone through 4 laptops in 6 years. She buys the biggest screen (usually a whopping 17″!) and after around 2 years they burn out. Hard drives crashing, electrical problems, one nearly caught fire and another the screen spontaneously cracked when she plugged it into the charger. In light of that it’s great that you did your research to find what would work for you, be a quality product, and minimize your footprint (imagine the waste from four 17″ laptops!).

    • I am still amazed by how durable the Apple/Mac lines are and how hard it is to infect with a virus. I didn’t look for the cheapest model, I had my son do the research and give me the top 3 brands in my price range, he told me to stick with Acer, Toshiba, or HP and listed which models of those brands were best. Surprisingly it was the Acer he had the most faith in so that was where I started. I think it’s great that you manage without a computer, but if you are able to hook a keyboard to your iPad why invest in another machine, it would be redundant.

      So that’s why the laptops have a shorter battery time! I was wondering why some laptops had such short usage per charge, glad I went with the smaller screen! I hope your friend does her research and finds a brand that will last, 4 laptops in 6 years is such a waste, she could have bought a really good machine with what she’s spent so far.

  5. Yay for the new computer. You DEFINITELY have more patience than I do….so maybe that is why I’ve nominated you to be part of my “WordPress Family Award”….I always get something out of every single one of your posts and admire your generosity and support as well. Here’s a link to the award and regardless if you want to participate I’m very happy to consider you part of my blogging family: http://smartliving365.com/yay-ive-been-nominated-for-the-i-am-part-of-the-wordpress-family-award/

    • Thank you, Kathy I am so far behind on awards but I will be over to check it out later today. I don’t know that I would have held out until July 1st, my original date to upgrade the old computer had it not been for my reaction at being without a computer. I acted like the addict looking for his/her next fix. Everything I did would remind me that I could use a computer for that task. I found myself angry at not having a computer of my own and being shocked at how entitled I felt. My anger was turned around into justification to buy a new one right that moment. I would argue with myself that I do without out many things, stove and fridge for an example which don’t bother me, so I shouldn’t have to be without a computer. Where deciding to go with out the kitchen appliances has been almost a fun experiment, the computer was another story. I decided I needed to break the habit and stuck to my original date. Once I ordered the notebook I was like a giddy child waiting for it to arrive. But I learned a valuable lesson, which is not to let technology control my life.

  6. It was a smart move to wait for your purchase to see what you really wanted. A smart move for whatever one is buying. For me, I want a good keyboard. When I’m at home, I hook one up to my laptop. When I travel, I just have to get buy with the smaller keys.

    • Live and Learn, I tend to procrastinate on any big purchase in this situation I saved money as I would have bought a laptop with more bells and whistles had I made my purchase right away. Some times it works to procrastinate, others it doesn’t. Years ago a local antique business had this gorgeous piece of art. I drooled over it for a year and a half. Every time I decided I wanted it I would talk myself out of it. It was only $40, but being a single mother I could come up with plenty of other uses, including saving it, than spending it on art I didn’t need. One day, having come unexpectedly into some money I decided I wanted to spend a bit of it on myself and went to buy that piece of art. The owners were friends and knew how much I wanted it. The moment I walked in the door she informed me that my picture had sold that day. It’s been 12 years and I can still describe every detail of that piece and wish I had bought it.

  7. THIS IS AMAZING!!! We used a netbook for the longest time until a download i tried (yes i broke it) killed it! But the hole family shared it at one point: (ex)Hubby took it to work, it had enough memory to hold ALL His countless files –i used it for ALL our photos, thousssands (which i have since lost in the separation; but no matter) –the teen got use out of it as well, MUCH use for School at that point; the only one that didnt was LO cuz too young. It honestly was thee same name brand, but not nearly as ‘hott’ as yours being red and all.

    We also do the exact same. Laptop is only used after 5-7pm when hydro is cheapest for now, until i purchase its new battery. Which gives the whole day for other healthier activities for teen. I actually do use the laptop now for blogging as well, 2 hours maybe every 2-3 days. I too, have an iphone which is my main blogging device, until i need to do some serious thinking or link researching. I still use the iphone wordpress for these comments, reading, notifications, photo uploads (all personal pics stored here). We have 4 Apple devices jn total, however, again all are charge at night and our main use. I always enjoy your posts and appreciate your diligence and shares. It inspires me to keep going and teaches me new ideas for our own ‘smaller footprint’ living. (Wether its due to budget or not;)

    • JayNine, I am behind on the technology as I only have the notebook and a Windows phone compared to your family. This little thing has quite bit of memory, I don’t believe I could fill it up, especially since I don’t do games on it, not a gamer. I will be careful what I download, thanks for the warning. It has been years since I bought a computer and had no idea the trend was to have such vivid colors now. Like I said I didn’t care what color as I thought they all came in black still (oh how stupid of me) that once I had chosen the Acer I rejected the first color, pink, just couldn’t do it. When the next option was red I bought it. I probably should have looked to see what other colors were available but I didn’t that just wasn’t the deciding factor.

      I so respect the limits you put on computer time, I know from experience how hard it is to tell children and teens no when all their peers have more freedom and fewer rules.

  8. I bought an Acer Notebook two years ago and love it. It has Windows 7 starter on it but with Open Office I can do everything I want with it, even for work. It is light and portable. Easy to tuck in bags and pursed when on the go.
    It was also under $200. Bonus and prerequisite!!!!
    Good luck with your new computer!

    • Deb, I’m so jealous my Acer cost more than $200. Last night I wanted to see how it worked to stream a movie, I was surprised to see that my phone has better sound (and louder) but I don’t watch much so that won’t be an issue. I think I would have preferred Windows 7 to 8, but once I switch to desktop mode I am happy with it. I was initially a little concerned about the size of the notebook when it came to the keyboard, but it fits my hands perfectly, I wouldn’t need a larger one. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Acer I hope I have the same luck with mine you’ve had with yours.

  9. Red!!! I totally love that it is red! :-)

    I would never go back to a desk top computer. I love the mobility of the lap top – and anything smaller would not fit my hands comfortably.

    I love my laptop and use it several times a day. I also know next to nothing about how it works or how to fix problems that are created by mean stupid people in the form of online bugs or because of aging technology. We have an Apple lap top because of that. My husband is a computer geek and was the one who kept our other computers running well – through virus checks and system updates and general maintenance – week after week after week, but that effort was good for about 3 or 4 years of use, then computer would become so slow – with problems and chronic frustrations – sometimes due to operating systems updates and sometime due to other stuff beyond our control. It became a frustration for him. So we turned to Apple – the King of the “black box” technology. You don’t need to know anything about computers to have great long lasting service from them. Yes, they are expensive, but we are going on 7 years with our current lap top. It has been problem free without ANY effort on our part – and worth every penny. If fact I dropped this computer on my ceramic tile floor a few months ago (sure that I killed it – because dropping is “death” to any computer) and we are still running. I was very lucky. By this time with another model we would have been on to another new computer because we aren’t knowledgeable enough to create one from used parts (that son of yours is a gem) … I think the Apple product is a frugal purchase for us because it is like a Timex – it just keeps on ticking!! We will buy fewer computers over our life time. LOL

    But oh, how I love that red color. Such a “pretty face.” And I have heard good things about the brand.

    You are a stronger woman than I, I would have been out the door within 48 hours to get a replacement computer. Everything else I can wait on, but this little bit of technology on my lap is … well … in a fire I would grab …. :-) !!

    Enjoy your new pretty face! You deserve it.
    Cheers.

    • Elaine, I so wanted to have an Apple, I looked all over for a used model as a new one would cost me almost as much as my last car, okay make that just more than half the cost of my last car. I am such a tightwad with money that I couldn’t bring myself to put that much into a computer. I can’t believe your computer still works after dropping it on the floor. While I heard a lot of great things about the Acers, I am sure if I ever dropped it on the floor it would be in pieces.

      My son began building and repairing computers at age 9, it was his hobby and he loved providing me with free computers. I rarely ever had a problem with them unless it was a result of a virus. He was great about fixing any problems I ran into, but living just over 100 miles from me I had to be the grown-up and decide to learn a bit for myself. I just don’t get what is fun about creating a virus. I get that hearing your creation crashed a corporate system would give you a thrill, for the most part they don’t get the satisfaction of knowing the damage they have done, so why do it?

      Trust me there were plenty of times I wanted to just run to the store and buy whatever was available, I missed my computer so. But holding out showed me just how reliant I had become on it. Those first weeks I was absolutely lost not being able to access information from my computer or the internet. I was angry and downright ready to scream when I wanted to turn to the computer and couldn’t. It shocked me to respond as I did. Once I had the newer phone, another thing my son gives me used, I did better but I have to tell you, the Friday Fave posts could be a lesson in patience writing and checking the links from a phone. Can’t wait to write this weeks post from the notebook where I will be able to see what I am doing!

  10. You made a thoughtful choice! My laptop is 5 years old and has developed some problems but I will be keeping it running as long as possible. I’ve recently had to dock it in one place and add a full-size keyboard and mouse to it because of ergonomic problems. I’m not sure what I’ll buy next time, but I hope it’s a long way off. You must have Windows 8 now; are you learning to use it, or ignoring it by going back to the desktop mode?

    • Dar, I thought about adding a mouse but figured I’d give it a try without first. I don’t always like the touch pads on laptops, but this one works well. So far I don’t think I need it. Yes, this runs on Windows 8, at this point I have ignored everything by going to the desktop mode, maybe one day I’ll play around with the app screen.

  11. I also recently purchased an Acer Aspire notebook. :) I was also thinking of buying a Mac but, like you, I found it too expensive for the work that I would use it for (and Mac is more expensive here in our country, too, because of taxes, etc.). Prior to this Acer notebook I’m using, I had a desktop, which was given free by my company, but it was too bulky, had too many wires, and got too hot, especially when I don’t have air conditioning system in my apartment. When the desktop got too slow to perform the tasks I do for work, I had it cleaned, reformatted, and I donated it to my elementary school.

    • When a computer gives off so much heat you need air conditioning that’s really wasteful. What a great way to pass it on by giving it to a school. Do you like your notebook? I’ve only had mine a day and I could live without the apps hut it seems to work great for what I need. I was surprised it didn’t come with Microsoft office but I can download Open Office so its not a big deal.

  12. The last computer I purchased was in ’07. It’s a big desktop, but at the time I was working at least 8 hours per day on it, so I wanted a full sized ergonomic keyboard and a nice big screen. I chose the model I did because it had a nice case that would allow me to easily make upgrades. I’ve had to replace about half a dozen parts since I bought it plus I upgraded the operating system, but it’s still goin’ strong.

    I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do once this system bites the dust. I have a tablet which is nice for internet browsing and other light tasks, but I wouldn’t want to try to do any meaningful work on it. Of course, these days I work much less than I used to. But I’m still not sure I’d want to go the laptop/notebook route. I do, however, like the ease of turning the tablet off and on – you can just put it into sleep mode and skip the whole arduous rebooting process which makes it much easier to just turn it on when you need it and not leave it running.

    I guess I’ll have to wait and see what the future holds, and what my computer needs are when it’s time to replace this one. But I’m hoping to keep this guy running for at least another 3-4 years. 10 years is a good lifespan for a computer, isn’t it?

    • Cat, for someone who needs an ergonomic keyboard to work on a desktop makes sense. It’s great that you have been able to make repairs to your current model to keep it running as well. With having a tablet I would say you then cut down on your electrical usage by using that instead of having the desktop on as much.

      I have finally begun to enjoy reading ebooks, but decided against an actual reader, I find the phone works just fine for me to read on (the desktop monitor caused eye strain) and will save by not having another gadget. Of course most of my reading material comes from the library. It’s all about where we place the limits to save in other areas.

  13. Um, sorry to say I did not think of those things when I bough my new computer last year. I wanted what I wanted and that’s whay I got. Needless to say as far as my computers are concerned I’m shamlessly spoiled. :-)

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