Monday, September 3, 2007

My New Laptop, Computer Woes, Advice, and More

With the demise of the screen on my shul laptop, it was time to spring for something smaller for personal use. So, I went out and got an HP Pavilion tx 1210. I actually bought it at Officemax, and after rebate (which I don't really like, because I have to remember to mail in the rebate) it was $999 - a really great deal. To be honest with you, thus far I'm really happy with the notebook. It's got a great screen, seems somewhat fast, although with Windows Vista there's really no way to know, and it's worked well in a bunch of different places. The only real problem is that I'm having some trouble getting used to the touchpad (my IBM Thinkpad -- yes, it was that old -- has an eraser/pointer that I loved), and the right shift button is way too small, so I often accidentally find myself one line above in the text because instead of shifting, I ended up hitting the UP arrow instead. Other than that, the notebook is really great -- about 4 pounds, has a DVD player for trips and the like, and feels pretty good. The big problem thus far is, you guessed it, Windows Vista. What are the problems? Let me count the ways:
1. First of all, I really liked the old folder system in the start menu. Now, all my programs show up in an annoying list. Is there any way to go back to the old system?
2. Next, was the Hebrew, which is the source of major frustration for me. I added the Hebrew in the Microsoft Office Tools, checked that Hebrew was enabled in the Control Panel, but when I went into Word, nothing. I did the regular Alt-Left-Shift that works in WinXP, and nothing. I didn't know what to do. Tried a number of different ways, with no sucess. Then I searched the Help for Hebrew support, and learned (or so it seemed) that if I wanted Hebrew support -- which is actually essential for my work -- I would have to purchase an upgrade to Vista Ultimate, which has the Hebrew language module. Very annoying -- but what are you going to do? I shopped around, and found the best deal for the software at Provantage, and they sent me the upgrade the very next day. Great.
After I installed the software, which, unbeknowst to me did a full install - and took hours (which I'll come back to later), I tried the Hebrew again, and still no luck. Now I'm frustrated. Wasn't this supposed to work now? After playing around for a while, I discovered that all I really had to do in the first place was use the mouse to click on the small Hebrew menu in the language menu at the bottom of the screen, and switch from English to Hebrew with the mouse. But it wasn't clearly documented, so I wasted $150 to upgrade to Vista Ultimate, which I have no use for whatsoever.
3. The upgrade: When I got the Upgrade disk and entered the code, it just didn't work. So I took out the disk, put it back in again, and this time it seems to work. Only now when I go to activate the software, Windows tells me that the code isn't valid, because after all, I only bought the right to upgrade from Vista Home (preloaded on the computer) to Vista Ultimate, and I for some reason loaded a fresh, new copy of Vista Ultimate. I have a few questions:
a. If I bought a disk that was supposed to be an upgrade, why would it even have a full install version of the software on it?
b. what's the difference between an upgrade and a full install, if I end up with the same thing?
I'm planning on calling Microsoft to see if they'll help me out of this. Otherwise, I'm not sure what to do.