Today I ordered a new computer. The last time I bought a new computer was almost exactly five years ago. At the time, it seemed quite fast, but maybe this was an illusion, as it seems to have gradually got slower and slower over the years. I did get it upgraded last year, but after an initial burst of speed, it’s slowed down again.

With me doing increasing amounts of computer work at home, I (or rather, my company that I do contracting through) decided to splash out. This time round I decided to get a brand name, and hopefully avoid all the hassles I had last time with the monitor continually playing up and the hard disk dying. Okay, so I fully realise that this is no guarantee at all against that happening, but at the very least you can hope that <huge corporation> won’t go bust just before the warranty period expires.

In the past few weeks, I kept an eye on the pre-end-of-financial-year specials promoted by the big names: primarily Gateway
and Dell, since they are the ones who advertise in the newspapers I read. I’d heard good things about both companies’ desktop PCs (though I also heard rotten stories about Gateway notebook computers…) The specials seemed good, and I surfed over to both companies web sites for a look.

On both sites you can look at the available models, and try out various modifications to the configuration and let it tell you what the final price will be. On Gateway’s site, you get to the specials by clicking the button marked – wait for this – "Specials", which shows you basically what they’ve advertised in the papers that week.

Dell try to be clever: in their ads include codes called "E-Value" codes. You enter them into a box on their web site and in theory they show you the special from the ad that included the code. I say in theory because in practice, none of them worked. I sent feedback to Dell for help on this. They sent back one of those e-mails saying they’d get back to me.

I’m still waiting for them to get back to me, but it’s all academic now, since I gave up and ordered from Gateway. Which shows how potentially valuable answering your e-mail quickly can be.

The new computer, which arrives sometime next week, will be about ten times as fast, have thirty-two times as much RAM, and have eighteen times as much hard disk space, as the one I bought five years ago, but will cost only about ten percent more.

Of course, no matter how blisteringly fast it seems when I get it, I fully expect it to crawl like a snail in five years’ time. I was about to say it would run like a dog, but that expression doesn’t really make sense, since some dogs tend to run quite fast…

Speaking of big corporations, an update from my whinging a couple of weeks ago: After badgering Telstra on the phone say they may be able to connect up cable Internet
next week. But no promises. Meanwhile, no news from Comsec.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.