I had planned to start blogging more frequently earlier this month, beginning with the Valentine’s Day post. Little did I know my tribute to my loving wife of almost three years now would be the last to be written on my venerable Dell laptop. The next day, I went to boot the machine up…

Well, I didn’t boot the thing up. I couldn’t even get a cursor. Was it the hard drive? The video? The display?

The motherboard. I’d boot it, get a quick flash of the screen hinting that it would post (That splash screen you see when you start your computer.) I’d have guessed hard drive or video, but in the days leading up to the laptop’s demise, I’d be working in the morning on battery only to have something inside crack and take the machine down. No “Your battery is dead” warning. No “Windows is shutting down” message. It would just go black.  Never mind that the battery had a full charge.

It was sad. I’d bought the laptop with money from my dad’s estate, which makes this a six-year-old laptop. The only problems I’ve had were a need to reimage after four and a half years and memory. I’d run it with only half a gig of RAM.

But the new term at school would begin in two days. Two of my classes would require me to use a laptop. I scrambled. Thankfully, I just started a new permanent job and could afford a little debt to get a new laptop. I ordered a Dell Inspiron 1545 with the bare bones on it. I already had most of the software I needed and got a Windows 7 Pro license from school.

So how is it? I need more RAM, but the screen is bigger, the laptop is lighter, and Windows 7 is a vast improvement over XP (which ironically was a vast improvement over Vista, which replaced it. Go figure.)

Now I know there are some Mac heads out there wondering why I didn’t take the opportunity to switch platforms. Well, when your career is in the Microsoft realm, owning a Mac is counterproductive. Besides, having had to use a few Macs in recent months, I’ve not seen a compelling reason to pay extra money for what is essentially an Intel box running BSD Unix under a pretty interface.

And let’s be honest, I really don’t like the Mac interface. I used to, back in the Windows 95/98 days. Someday, I want a MacBook, but that’s going to be my reward for some accomplishment, not a machine I have no real use for right away.

One thing I don’t like about the new Dell is the touchpad. While typing, the pad causes the cursor to move to the center of the page. Part of the problem may be the driver. I loaded Windows 7 and had to install no drivers whatsoever, but that may mean I’m using something generic.

Personally, I think every laptop should have both a touchpad and a trackstick, as well as a the option to turn one or both off, requiring a mouse if you do both. Many people like touchpads, but I find them next to useless. Those who like touchpads don’t like the tracksticks.  And everyone I know uses a mouse when they can get away with it.  It’s a problem almost all laptops have, even Macs.

But I do love my new big screen and my four-hour battery life. I also like the faster boot time, which I know will go away after a couple of years.

It’s good to have a laptop again. I’m probably more dependent on one than I’ve ever been.