The end is coming! Are you ready???

A certified John’s Geek Closet® post…

Okay, not for life as we know it but for those of you using Windows XP, Microsoft will completely drop support (like security updates) for Windows XP effective April 8, 2014.  Here’s a road map for end of life for their other operating systems (which may change in the future like it did for XP.)  I think I remember official support for XP was supposed to be dropped a few years ago but MS (Microsoft) discovered that it was still in widespread use both in businesses and for personal use (and still is.)  Time to move on.

Jane has an older small form factor PC in her office running XP and she just used it for email and some light web browsing and it worked fine for those tasks.  The hardware wasn’t very fast and it didn’t have much memory but it ran XP okay and it was good enough.  It was time to move Jane’s PC to something else and I was originally going to install the free Linux operating system Ubuntu on it but she has a few hidden object games that only run on Window machines and there was a couple of other considerations at play. The hardware was too old and slow for Windows 7 or 8 (and an OEM copy of Windows 7 is about $100!) So what to do…

I started looking around on the Internet for inexpensive PCs and focused on refurbished models.  After a bit of surfing I came across – they had quite the selection of not-that-old PCs running mainly Windows 7.  For $200-250 you can pick out quite a nice

Jane's new refurb HP

Jane’s “new” refurb HP 6000 Pro

PC with 4 Gb of memory with hard drive sizes of 250 Gb and up.  I chose this HP model with Windows 7 professional 64-bit, 1 Tb drive, 3 Gb CPU and 4 Gb of RAM and it was about $250.  Shipping was free but took about a week.  The unit was in very nice cosmetic condition and very clean on the inside.  The only issue with the purchase I discovered was that there was only a VGA output for the monitor which meant it was going to be very low resolution graphics and text.  Since I installed a higher resolution graphics card in Jane’s old desktop, I simply moved it over to the “new” PC. (Higher resolution means either a DVI or HDMI connector is required.)

So if you buy a refurb PC from, be certain what kind of graphics capability the machine has before you click on the buy button.  A small form factor PC usually requires a low profile graphics card and if you need to add one, they aren’t that easy to find.

Anyway, Jane’s “new” PC is fast and should serve her for years to come.

Need/want a $200 netbook?

We’ve been home for about a month from summer travels and haven’t made the time for our last Summer Update of 2010.  We’ll get busy with that soon.

And now for something completely different…

This will be my first post in an occasional series for “John’s Geek Closet” – hopefully it will be news that’s interesting and useful.  I have been messing with personal computers since the 1970s and have been building my own systems for years.  I enjoy the challenge of bringing a pile of parts to “life” and by building my own, I spec it out to exactly fit my requirements.  But I digress..

Thanks to a friend, I started watching an on-line business called PC Parts Unlimited for deals.  They sell inexpensive new and used desktops, laptops, netbooks and parts.  Their service is okay, not A+,  more like a B- at times, but some of  the deals are really good.

The current PC Parts Unlimited promotion is for an Acer Aspire One 531h, 10.1″ screen, Win 7 Home Premium, 1 Gb memory and it comes with a 3G card (for cell phone broadband.)  I bought one for Jane a couple of months ago but added another Gb of memory when I ordered it for an extra 30 bucks or so.  Here’s one review of the Acer netbook.

Jane’s did not have the original Acer packaging, no documentation and the lid had some scratches, but the price was right.  Her Acer has performed extremely well and I continue to envy her 10.1″ screen (my netbook is eight or nine inches!)  In fact I’m tempted to buy another one and ditch my old netbook – don’t tell Jane!

It is easy to find netbooks in the stores in the 250+ dollar price range, but they all come with Windows 7 Starter (reduced features), not Windows 7 Home Premium.  Plus you get a 3G card (if that’s important.)   So for about $230 plus shipping, you will have a nice brand new good performing netbook with 2 Gb of memory, Win 7 Home Premium, and a 160 Gb hard drive.  If you have never owned a netbook before, you don’t know what you’re missing 🙂 .

One caveat – the included battery (three cell) is a lower capacity version, so battery life is an hour or two.  You can buy a six cell battery which would greatly increase time away from the AC outlet.

Get going and stimulate the economy!

We’ve changed blogging software!

Hello WordPress!

It was a long and painful migration from Serendipity to WordPress blog software, but the deed is done 🙂  I had to copy/paste/hand edit some 70-odd posts and later I discovered I made a bunch of extra work for myself.  Oh well…

Another change

With the old blog software I had to use Google Groups for email notifications of new posts, now email notifications are integral to WordPress via a ‘plugin.’  Like before, it is your choice to unsubscribe at any time or you can even select which category you would like to receive notifications.


We are on our summer trip (part I) and enjoying beautiful weather in Virginia near the Shenandoah National Park.  More later.