Comfort Zones, and how to get out of them

Following Mr Scalzi’s lead – and finding one at a price I just couldn’t resist – I did my bit for the economy and bought an EEE PC.

The plan was simple – my school laptop spends a lot of time driving the SMART board, so in the meantime, I can’t get at registers, planning, mark books, my diary etc. I’ve become so dependant on my PC that this is a problem.

I also wanted something small, that I could carry around easily both in and out of school, preferably without needing to visit St Brendan the Chiropractor as a result. I envisaged myself taking a toy computer when we go away, or using it next time my Mum says “I’d love you to bring all your photos over.” (Most of my photos have no physical existence.)

We’ve got a few of these dinky PCs at school; I played around with one and fell in love with its irresistible gadgetiness. So I bought one.

The new toy arrived yesterday.

Day 1 was lovely – no problems at all. It downloaded a gazillion updates. It popped up a nice comprehensible dialogue box. I installed the updates. This Linux thing turned out to be easier than I thought.

I connected the new toy to the Internet. I surfed around, left comments, tweeted and was most contented. Web-based apps are clearly no problem.

I discovered why people rave about Firefox and was totally seduced by its user-friendly quirks and general splendidness.

Then day 2 arrived. Enough larking around I thought, let’s set this thing up to do some work. Until yesterday, I’d never used Linux before, but I told myself to get out of my comfort zone and learn. After all everyone raves about it. I only want to install one application. How hard can it be?

Just in case I had over-estimated my ability to use that about which I know precisely bugger all, I had taken the precaution of buying a nice easy to follow book that would guide me through the basics.

I quickly discovered that I had over estimated both my own ability and the usefulness of my handy guide.

I am mystified as to why people rave about Linux and am enraged by my apparent inability to get the simplest thing to bloody work.

On the other hand, I do have a shiny new spare copy of Windows XP. There is a USB drive at school that I could borrow on Monday if I ask nicely.

I’m not giving up (yet), but the lure of the Dark Side is strong…

7 comments to Comfort Zones, and how to get out of them

  • There’s a good guide to installing software here. You’ll probably want to switch to the full desktop rather than the ‘easy’ interface.

    On linux the synaptic package manager is a much better way of adding and removing software than the windows equivalent.

  • Thank you so much Neil – that’s exactly what I needed. You’re a star!

    I’m quite prepared to believe it’s better than windows, it’s just that I’m not managing to get to work!

  • I also have one of those eee things.

    I normally use a Mac, but perversely the eee that I bought in ToysrUs to sling in a backpack whilst I was in Canada had Windows on it.

    Other than the similar zillion updates it worked brilliantly on tour – wifi, skype, browsing, email, photo editing and so on. I added a small USB connected drive to it which is a quick way to shunt things between it and a Mac.

  • I used Linux in my last job for a few years and I have a love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, once everything’s up and running it is just as easy to use as windows and the range of free software is staggering.

    On the other hand I’ve yet to see it work properly without the help of a geek to get it up and running.

  • I bought an EEE last year. Used Linux on it for a bit but was frustrated that you couldn’t emulate larger screen resolutions on it that easily. Installed XP and to be honest I much prefer it with XP on, Linux just wasn’t worth the hassle, especially if you don’t have time to learn how to use it properly.

  • I bought a Medion netbook (with 3 year guarantee, £249) in Aldi in August.

    I adore it, not least because it has XP as an OS and 4 USB ports. It has an Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM which is as fast as my desktop which has 3 (no idea how).

    As I only want a computer to do work, surf the net, and play with photos, it is absolutely perfect, and is a huge energy saving over and above running the desktop.

    I bought an external CD/DVD drive for installing software (most of which I knew wouldn’t run under Linux and I wasn’t spending several thousand pounds on rebuying what I already had) in Maplin for £39 – and it weighs 4 times as much as the netbook!!!

  • Er sorry. Should have said, good luck setting yours up 😉