HOME ARCHIVE 2018

The Bulletin now exists in a newer computing machine, but change is hard

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

All good things must come to an end, and that’s why my old laptop just became another backup. That means that it is sitting on a closet shelf, ready to take over should something happen to my main computer.

I have always considered myself as being in the forefront of technology when it comes to affordable computing, but the last few years have settled into a routine and the comfort of a laptop that is not all that new.

I’m not going to say how old it is, but at the time I bought it, Windows XP was still very popular, and we were trashing the brand-new Vista operating system, so it was a while back.

There was really no reason to change because my Dell machine had all the latest features I needed at the time and plenty of power. It still stands its ground as a pretty good machine that can handle today’s demands. Dell was ahead of its time with that one.

It also had something I could not find anywhere else - a slave hard-drive slot. I bought another drive and separated the programs from the data.

In addition, I backed everything up on an external drive. That’s really why I kept the old Dell this long, because it allowed several ways to keep my data from disappearing if a hard drive failed. Three hard drives.

All good things must come to an end, and that’s why my old laptop just became another backup. That means that it is sitting on a closet shelf, ready to take over should something happen to my main computer.

I have always considered myself as being in the forefront of technology when it comes to affordable computing, but the last few years have settled into a routine and the comfort of a laptop that is not all that new.

I’m not going to say how old it is, but at the time I bought it, Windows XP was still very popular, and we were trashing the brand-new Vista operating system, so it was a while back.

There was really no reason to change because my Dell machine had all the latest features I needed at the time and plenty of power. It still stands its ground as a pretty good machine that can handle today’s demands. Dell was ahead of its time with that one.

It also had something I could not find anywhere else - a slave hard-drive slot. I bought another drive and separated the programs from the data.

In addition, I backed everything up on an external drive. That’s really why I kept the old Dell this long, because it allowed several ways to keep my data from disappearing if a hard drive failed. Three hard drives would not fail at the same time. That would be very unlucky.

I learned to backup the backup early in the game when computers were big and bulky, and memory was expensive.

I used to store all my Bulletin articles to a subsequent issue on a floppy disk (not the big bendable ones, but the later version) so that if something happened to the hard drive, I would still have all my data for the next issue.

Well, my daughter, Stephanie, who was four at the time, decided to “fix” my floppy drive with a No. 2 pencil right before deadline, and that plan flew right out the window. I had to run to the nearest geek store and buy a new floppy drive, install it and finish the paper.

That’s the last time she was allowed close to the floppy drive until she was old enough to realize that you can’t destroy daddy’s computer on deadline.

(I hope you are reading this, Stephanie? I worked it into another column.)

As we became more computer-savvy, I learned how to do a lot of my own tech work, which saved time and money. But once I bought that super-duper (for its time) Dell laptop, I put on the brakes because that’s all I really needed.

Publishing programs are not that memory-demanding, and the Dell could handle them just fine.

Newspaper publishing used to be all about the machines. Production was expensive because the early-day computers had a high price tag. Before that, it was even more expensive because typesetting machines took up a lot of room and broke down frequently. Then you needed space for paste-up tables. It was cumbersome.

Now it all takes place inside computers that have become very inexpensive compared to the good old days. Upgrading computers is no longer a question of money. Anyone can buy one and load in some software.

But not everyone can go past that in the world of publishing. It’s a tough business still, more now than ever.

But we’re still here, turning out issue after issue, except now it’s done with a brand new machine, a fancy one with more memory and speed than I’ll ever need.

What can I say? It was a good buy. I couldn’t resist. And, as much as I hate switching machines (there is always something that is missing), it was about due time.

I’m thinking about opening up a Bulletin computer museum one day. I still have the first laptop I ever used and all others. I don’t know what happened to the early-day mainframe computers. I blew one up, I remember that, but the rest are somewhere around here.

Enjoy this issue, dear reader. I enjoyed putting it together for you on my new computing machine.