Personal Computer (PC)

So, … I fairly recently got a new personal computer, more specifically, a laptop. My old one finally “died” – well, pretty much so – started experiencing a major hardware problem rendering it generally unusable, and not particularly economically feasible/worthwhile to repair – we’re talking about a laptop that’s over 8 years old.

So, … Personal Computer. Originally called that, as I seem to recall, as they were “personal”, as their cost was finally low enough that they generally wouldn’t be shared – or simultaneously shared – among multiple people at once, but that typically there would be one user – at least at a time – and very often just one user, using such a given computer, hence “personal”.

But, “personal” computer seems to have evolved a bit – and I’m not talking so much about the hardware, or even the operating systems and software in general. The “personal” bit. Seems to me, that now, much more often, has to do with how one customizes and configures the computer. Everything from specific hardware bits – which might not vary all that much – particularly in certain environments, to the more variable bits of exactly what operating system, software, and how things are configured on the personal computer. Most notably, what does one do and/or have done, to be able to get things set up and arranged, so one can use one’s personal computer rather to quite efficiently? Typically, that starts with things like particular choices in hardware – what’s too small, underpowered, doesn’t have what’s “needed” – or needed for suitable or optimal efficiency, … and also, what’s too big/heavy/clunky – overpowered, noisy, wasteful, maybe even takes too much desk space or whatever. But I think much more often, most of the personal customization is in operating system – any particular choices there – as applicable/available – and then more notably down into software and its configuration, and also configuration of how one accesses the software, utilities, data, etc. one needs and wants to use.

Personal – so … it takes a while to set that up. Getting going on a new computer – that part is rather to quite fast – but getting up to – or back to – optimal speed, … that takes longer. There may be the getting used to the newer/different hardware (who the heck reshuffled some of the keys I commonly use when I had to go from a PS/2 keyboard to a USB keyboard – ugh! … well, at least that was work, and I get paid to suffer that) … differences in keyboard, mouse, screen, peripherals, even things like – oh, sound, … this one had a mute button, you push it, it mutes the sound – always, … that one, it has a mute toggle button – it toggles the state from whatever it is – want to be sure to have it muted – now one has to look at the lit or not lit state of the button first … “dozens” of “little” things like that, but they do quite add up. Then the operating system. Different, or different or newer version? Exactly how one gets to whatever’s “standard” in that operating system / version – a bit different with changes, even for quite the same tasks, or their equivalents … more stuff to get used to and adapt to. But personal – that comes in too. There’s doing things like tweaking menus or “hot keys” or the equivalents or whatever – so one can quickly and easily launch or get to the applications one most frequently uses. There are the tweaks, like adjusting what starts “automatically”, when one powers up the computer, or logs in. And there’s all the installing and configuration of software – again, too, “personal”, as one adjusts it to one’s liking (Yes, I hate automangle – as I and many others call it. Much software has such (mis)”feature”s enabled by default – I tend to go through and ruthlessly disable such (mis)”feature”s to the extent possible. When I first learned how to type, it was on a manual typewriter (okay, sure, they had electric typewriters at school … maybe even in the library too – but I was taking “serious” academic subjects for electives, so didn’t have extra slot to put in some school typing class – so, I bought a manual typewriter at a garage sale, got some relevant materials on how to type (my mom gave me an issue of Woman’s Day containing an article on learning to type – I think it was “Teach yourself to type in two weeks” – or something approximately like that.) … and taught myself how to type. I know how to use the shift key much better than any automangle algorithms. I much better know how to use proper capitalization on many technical terms, abbreviations, acronyms, proper names, etc., than any automangle algorithm ever would. Oh, and CapsLk … that really should be a CapsLk – lock, not toggle – if CapsLk is active, I want all the alpha characters in upper case, I don’t want silly system toggling, so that if I type some letter with the shift key – such as in a long bunch of otherwise naturally capitalized typed out text, I don’t want it to give me those in lowercase – ugh. If I want lowercase, I know how to release the CapsLk – geez, … heck, it even has an LED to indicate it’s active. And yes, on systems where I feasibly can tweak that behavior, I do so, … and some other keyboard behavior customizations too.)

So, yes, “personal” – takes some tweaking/adjusting/customizations/personalizations. On new system – may depend on usage, but I’d think it typically takes me about 2 weeks – much of it done a bit at a time (but typically heavy the first few days or so) – of customizations – personalizations – to quite optimize a computer and its setup and configuration, to my uses. I’d guestimate that from a basic “stock”/generic install – or even a typical “standard” image in some work environment (that theoretically has the tools they think I’ll need – but in reality is the vision of someone in IT of what they think will be most efficient and appropriate for the entire company – or some large chunk thereof), … from that, to what I typically end up with within about 2 weeks of customization/personalization, is a resultant configuration that probably gains me about 20 to 25% more in general efficiency and productivity. “Right tools for the job” (and “right” configurations/tweaks/customization/personalization) – it makes a quite significant difference – and certainly not just for “work” computers. Certainly too, for computer(s) that are mine, and that aren’t (or mostly aren’t) used for “work” or the like – at least in the conventional sense (generally nobody pays me to do stuff on my own personal computer(s)).

Personal Computers. So, … I think nowadays, the “personal” bit isn’t nearly so much that each person has their own – that’s so expected now, no one really much thinks of that as part of it being “personal” (here’s your “personal” computer too – just like billions of others – doesn’t feel/sound very “personal”, eh?) … I think most of the personal is in how they’re individually personalized for us (by ourselves and/or others) – we – at least to a large extent – generally get to “shape” them to fit our will (well, at least as feasible) to be the right personal fit for us, each individually. I think that, today, is where the personal in Personal Computer has morphed and migrated to. In the early days of “Personal Computer”s – they weren’t nearly as easy to tweak and customize. Sure, maybe a skilled programmer could – to a fair extent – but for most users, they weren’t nearly as flexible and configurable as today.

Anyway, … so, … me, new computer, … going through that personalization bit with the computer … will take me a bit to get it fully set for myself (and me adjusted to it – new, and somewhat different hardware … and keyboard – yeah, “of course”, somebody had to slightly rejigger exactly which keys are where again (<sigh>). And the pointing device (a.k.a. “mouse”) is also a bit different too – that’ll take a bit of getting used to. So, … probably about another two weeks or so – likely a bit longer, being quite busy with all the holiday Xmas stuff and all, … and then I should be about back to my optimal efficiency on the new laptop, … probably even surpass where I was before in some week(s) or so past that – as new laptop has some useful capabilities the old one didn’t … and “of course” it’s also fair bit faster, more storage, etc., etc.


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