Homeless in Vancouver: Old Presario is "good enough" for Colin

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      Another binner friend of mine who’s been trying unsuccessfully to get himself a laptop for over a year finally succeeded last night.

      It’s a hand-me-down from a friend who got himself something better.

      We fired it up at McDonald’s this morning. After the coal smoke cleared I could read the brand and model: a Compaq Presario A900—a 2008 “tank-top” produced seven years after Compaq “merged” with Hewlett-Packard.

      A 2008 review of the A900 by PCWorld Australia described the 17-inch budget laptop as “good enough” and seven years later Colin agrees.

      Would you prefer a Vista or a Windows 8 laptop?

      Not a half hour earlier an elderly couple could not get their iPad to connect to the McWi-Fi—par for the course at the Broadway and Granville McDonald’s. Windows was a bit fiddly about it but I was able to connect Colin’s elderly Compaq in only two tries!

      Microsoft’s Internet Explorer wouldn’t work with the McDonald’s Bell Wi-Fi sign-up procedure but the Windows version of Apple’s Safari web browser—shortcut right on the desktop—did the trick.

      And did I mention the A900 was running Windows Vista Home Premium—the Windows 8 of its day?

      Vista really is a terrible resource hog; worse than Windows XP, or Windows 7 or 8, but experience has shown me that if you feed it sufficient processor speed and RAM it can perform well. Hopefully the A900′s 2GB of DDR2 RAM and 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor are enough satisfy Vista’s hunger.

      Vista does have better security features than Windows XP—at least stricter user permissions—and Microsoft will be supporting Vista with operating-system updates until 2017.

      Colin had the AC adapter so we could plug the old laptop in, else this would have almost certainly been a much shorter post with the word “brick” featured prominently.

      The mere fact that the battery still showed zero charge after 20 minutes on AC power strongly suggested the seven-year-old battery was now just dead weight.

      Otherwise, everything worked.

      By “everything” I meaning the Presario turned on, connected to the Internet, and allowed Colin to login to his Facebook page and play Flash-based games.

      As far as Colin is concerned computers are only good for checking Facebook and playing online poker. We confirmed the Presario could adequately do both of those things and that was good enough for Colin.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.


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      Jul 22, 2014 at 12:21am

      <blockquote>Would you prefer a Vista or a Windows 8 laptop?</blockquote>
      Trick question!

      Personally, having not used Windows 8 but having had Vista full time (until I finally switched to Linux), I might choose Vista unless Win 8 is significantly less resource intensive than Vista.

      Win 8 may have better driver support - not sure.

      Either way, they'd be dual-booted (at best) with Kubuntu or Xubuntu. I had to tweak the GF's Windows 7 work laptop the other day, and my gawd it's dreadful.