Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Boxing Day Expedition

Lisa made one last try to see if she could get ActiveWorlds to work the way she wanted on the Sony laptop last night, and we found yet another reason this machine and the OS thereon is unsuitable.

The first problem, as I wrote earlier, was that the hotkeys throw up on-screen displays and you can disable them. (On other machines we have, like her IBM T30s and my Dell laptops, you can disable the OSDs, but Sony informed us that "this is normal operation" and can't be disabled. Why it isn't user-configurable, I don't know, but I told them that they'd lost a sale. This function is part of a Sony-specific driver. Lisa thought she might possibly be able to get used to it, but then another problem surfaced.

In Windows XP (and apparently also Vista, and all earlier Windows versions as well), if you bring up the Taskbar properties, there is a check-box marked "Keep the taskbar on top of other windows." This option is no longer available in Windows 7. A bit of Googling shows that removing this has been called out as a bug since the Vista betas were distributing, and Microsoft doesn't seem interested in putting it back. The net result for Lisa is that important areas of the windows of the applications she uses end us sitting behind the Win7 taskbar. Yes, there are workaround, but they're tedious and highly annoying. Instead of trying to live with it, she said, "Never mind; we'll return this computer and shop for something with XP on it that still has the performance improvements I want.

I'd rather not have to get out in day-after-Christmas traffic. I'd much rather have spent the day sleeping. However, there's a 15-day return policy on these computers, Wilsonville is about 50 miles from Mehama, and it is after all a weekend and I'm not shirking my Day Jobbe. So we headed out just before Noon. The weather was better than I thought it would be, although there were some very wet spots as we approached Salem.

I expected the return process at Fry's to be much more painful than it was. Instead of massive queues, we had almost no wait at all. We were quickly shuffled over to Service (they'll have to re-image the drive, of course), and then back to the Returns desk. They asked if we wanted to buy something comparable, in which case they might have been able to waive the 15% restocking fee, but Lisa declined. A few minutes later, we had our 85% refund receipt and were done.

Lisa had a look at the other computers there, but nothing grabbed her. Until they fix that "feature" in Windows, she just isn't interested. We'll make do with older, used machines for now. Heck, I might even be able to get one of my own older machines running again, and some of them are still going to give Lisa the added performance she's looking for, as they have faster video. (The video card seems to be the actual bottleneck on performance with ActiveWorlds, she says.)

Since we were already that far north, we went up to Bridgeport Village in Tualatin, where we'd been shopping for books just before Christmas but had balked at the hour-long queue to check out. Traffic was terrible. Parking was nearly impossible. We went through their parking garage and found no spaces. We ended up parking a km or two away in what probably was an area we weren't supposed to park for that center, but with all the other cars there, I decided it wouldn't be a problem. We got the books we wanted and then stopped for lunch. There's a restaurant there that makes a nice macaroni and cheese, which is always good on a cold day like today.

We started back to the van just as a very wet, very cold rain started dumping on us. We were not very happy by the time we'd made it back to the van. After our next stop at Cost Plus World Market to buy more scone mix and diet cream soda, Lisa announced that further shopping was canceled for today and we should just go home, which I was happy to do.
Tags: computers, lisa, shopping
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