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Making Your System Better Without Starting Over
by Robert L. Seltman

Revised from the original in Kinki Times September 1996

Certainly for just about everyone, if you have a computer it has been out-dated since the day you took it out of the box. This is the way the industry likes it, how else can they keep selling new machines to the same customers? But for most of us, keeping up with the ‘state of the arts’ is just too damn expensive, and frankly, for most of us word-processor types, more luxury than necessity. Here are ten ways to embellish your present computing play land without investing in a whole new system.

1. Buy a bigger and better monitor. A very good monitor, like those used by pro graphic or editorial folk, can cost from $500-$1500 and may need a booster board for your present system, but you will most likely keep it forever, as it can be used with any system you buy in the future.

2. Buy a surge protector with master remote switching so you can put all your accessories (HDs, modem, printer, CD drives, computer, monitor) into one easily accessible control panel, while protecting from current surges and lightening storms.

3. Buy more disc storage space. Presently people are choosing among portable HD storage devices, zip drives, MO, CD and DVD burners, and 10-15 GB hard drives. All are from $200-400 and any will make your life a lot simpler if you are presently short of space (A cheaper variation or addition to this solution would be space saver software, but some pros consider this a bit risky compared to buying additional disc space).

4. Buy a faster modem or go ISDN (Cable access if your neighborhood has it) If you use the Internet regularly a faster modem may pay for itself within a year or less, though Murphy's law suggests you will love the speed so much that you will use the Internet that much more.

5. Buy more RAM than you ever imagined needing. For the latest operating systems and many Internet surfing software, like Netscape, not to mention any art, music, or video stuff, more RAM is always helpful if not necessary. You pay now about $10 or less a RAM as compared to $100 a RAM a few years ago. Try Internet shopping if you don't have time to look downtown for used or discounted RAM.

6. Up-grade the mother board of your computer. Many newer models can be up-graded for a few hundred dollars. Often the added speed will keep you happy enough to forego buying a whole new computer (for awhile).

7. For Christmas, or your birthday, treat yourself to a joystick if you like games, an illustrator pen board for the artistic, a MIDI box for the musical, or a DVD player. There are lots of fine toys that may make computing more fun and/or productive, and many are available second-hand at a bargain price.

8. Buy a professional level program. Have you ever drooled over the software used by professional artists, architects, designers, musicians, business managers, etc. but avoided them because of the price? You may be investing in your future, as many jobs require knowledge of these industry standards, and the skill will always be applicable as long as you keep computing.

9. Take up programming. Underneath the surface lies a wonderland of exploitable territory and why not experiment on your present clinker before buying the sports model (Though most programming does not effect the hardware, only the software which you back-up before experimenting).

10. Enter new frontiers in computing. Art, music, programming, games, education, Internet research / matriculation / shopping, mailing-lists, news groups, user group and social activism, desk-top-publishing, journalism, the limits are yet to be defined, all of which can bring a whole new dimension with minimal investment (at least initially) to your present computing experience. For those considering returning back into the job market many of these would also make excellent resume additions, and enable you to get that dream computer paid for by your next employer.

Copyright©1996 Robert L. Seltman. All rights reserved.

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