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A few months ago I volunteered 2 hours of my time as a computer geek to a charity auction, and lovely L.G. won the auction. So Saturday morning found me helping her with her IBM Thinkpad A20m (P3 @700MHz, 256MB, 40GB, XGA, Win2000 Pro). I found myself impressed with the hardware, that this laptop made in 2000 was still running strong and quite useable after 5 years of use and abuse. That is remarkable for a Wintel box. While I am still using my 9 year old SGI O2, and 7 year old Macs, typically a Wintel clone is useless after 3 years. So this old A20m is remarkable, for it’s hardware.

thinkpad picture

Windows 2000 Professional is another story. As usual with Windows(tm), there is no security at all, so L.G.’s browser (MS Internet Explorer) had been completely hijacked by some weather toolbar that kept over-writing her registry. McAfee, Ad-Aware, and Spybot S&D were all finding this annoying application and deleting it, but it kept re-appearing through IE every time we rebooted. I suspect we’ll have to back up her data, re-install Windows, then restore only certain files. It is incomprehensible that people are not taking legal action against the companies that make this software that effectively steals their computer.

We had to settle for installing Firefox and Opera, and showing L.G. how to use them instead of MSIE, then installing ZoneAlarm, Ad-Aware, Spybot S&D, and updating her commercial copy of McAfee VirusScan (thanks AOL – best thing you’ve ever done for your members); and showing her how to boot safe mode and use McAfee, Ad-Aware, and Spybot from safe-mode. We also installed VideoLan because WMP and RealPlayer are both spyware of a sort too. I’ll be investigating how to cheaply upgrade to more memory and an external backup drive for her. I am so glad I no longer waste my time with Microsoft’s miserable excuse for an operating system, how frustrating. Updated (12/20) research is that she can get up to 512MB (two sticks of 256MB PC100 SODIMM 144pin) for about $96 and an external backup drive (40GB EZ Backit Pro) for $89.

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