Saturday, August 22, 2009

A tip of the hat to Microsoft's Vista

I've heard the usual anecdotes about Vista but really didn't have a choice when we recently purchased a new computer. It came with Vista only. Didn't even have an office suite. We had to get that separately. I'm still trying to figure out Vista's file explorer. But just this week I had two positive run-ins with Vista that I'd like to share.

Situation 1:
I have been using an HP iPac PDA for nigh onto 8 years. From time to time I manage to let it's battery go so low that it loses it's memory. But because I've always backed up the data to my PC I've always been able to restore all the data and most of the programs. I placed this item among the important programs to switch to the new computer.

I actually found the CD that came with the iPac and proceeded to run it. Right away it warned me that I'd have to use Outlook 2002 which I didn't have. Then it pointed out that this was on the CD and began loading it. When that was complete, it started installing the syncronizing program. Suddenly there was a "ker-thunk" noise indicating an installation error. The syncronizing program was incompatible and wouldn't run with Vista. Then the error message gave a URL of Microsoft Windows' Mobile Device Center software download site.

I downloaded this free software, installed and ran it. I was instructed to connect my PDA to the computer. It identified it and began communicating with it. I had to configure Outlook 2002 to sync to it but otherwise there were no further problems.

Situation 2:
This one was even more amazing. Our old HP Laserjet 6p has been a workhorse for at least the past 15 years. But I was worried that it couldn't move to the new computer which has no parallel port. Then I came across a software disc for a parallel to USB cable. I don't remember ever buying such a cable but it didn't matter since I couldn't find the cable. A couple of weeks later I found the cable but by then had lost the software.

Frustrated, I thought it couldn't hurt to see what happens if I plugged in the cable. I expected not a thing would happen. I plugged the cable into the 6p Printer and into a USB port in the laptop. Without any more effort on my part, Vista detected the new connection, detected the type of printer on the line and loaded the necessary drivers. A 15 year-old printer connected with no additional software to the latest version of Windows.

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