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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: Yampa Bob on April 30, 2008, 11:43:24 PM

Title: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on April 30, 2008, 11:43:24 PM
This might be considered train related as some modelers are controlling their locos by computer. 

I get tired of paying over a thousand dollars for a new laptop, then a year later it's junk.  The new cheap laptops are junk to start with. This time I'm going refurbished.

This company has been in business over 10 years, all units fully guaranteed.  I checked out several outlets but this one impressed me.  I got a great deal on a Dell, free shipping, and with my preferred operating system. They were very patient, and helped me find exactly what I wanted.

They also have factory new discontinued models.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Woody Elmore on May 01, 2008, 07:48:14 AM
Interesting website. They don't have my favorite computer, made by Fujitsu. If someone would like a reconditioned Fujitsu (and these are really superior products) they can go to Ebay and find the Fujitsu store which sells refurbished machines.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 01, 2008, 05:06:43 PM
Give the "outlet" a call, it's toll free.  They might be able to come up with one. I was told they have hundreds of models that aren't listed on the site.

If someone wants to only spend $100 for a laptop, they will find one.  Their note says they sell to users from students up to Fortune 500 companies.  It would have cost well over $1,000 to get all the features in a new one, and be stuck with Vista.  I paid less then $300.  Three for the price of one.!!

Talk about caring, they sent me 3 emails, one to acknowledge and thank me for the order, one to confirm billing and expected shipment date, and a followup with tracking information.  One had a note saying that if I had any problems or concerns at anytime, to please contact them. 

Some specialized accounting and database programs I wrote many years ago require a parallel port, and the USB/parallel "spoof" programs aren't bilateral. So much for progress.  I use 98SE exclusively and never have a glitch.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Jim Banner on May 01, 2008, 06:27:31 PM
One thing often forgotten is that an older computer running an older operating system can still do everything it could do the day it was brand spanking new.  It may not run some of the latest programs, or it may run them so slow as to be useless.  But then again, our new computer may not run our old programs, the ones we have already paid for and spent the time to learn.  Don't get me wrong - I love my newest computer and its ability to process video files.  But sitting beside it is a ten year old relic running Windows 98 so that I can use my favorite photo massaging program, a program that lost out to Photoshop only because it lacked the catchy name.  Another relic, this one running Windows 98 SE, is part of my H0 railway.  Mostly I use it for DCC programming with Decoder Pro and keeping the railway inventory up to date.  A forth computer, a refurbished Toshiba laptop running Widows 98 SE, I bought specifically to use with our group's large scale portable.  It runs Decoder Pro for programming locomotives on that layout and can also be used for showing slide shows of our other large scale layouts.  It is the only one of the three relics that was not free - I paid all of $100 for it.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 01, 2008, 07:10:52 PM
I may know the name of the image program you mentioned, though can't recall it at the moment.  What was it?

It certainly tells my age when I once worked in DOS 1.1, actually before that with a Vic Commodore 20.  Only ROM, had to write my own programs in BASIC.  I became quite familiar with "Syntax Error".

I took a semester of programming in order to write programs to help me pass my calculus class. When the teacher asked how I improved in the class, I admitted to cheating by using the computer.  He gave me an A anyway for original thinking.

I thought I had really arrived when I discovered XTREE gold, which allowed me to read the code of any file.  The first image viewers I had were VGIF.exe and VPIC.exe. Somewhere in a box I have every PC operating system written.  Anyone remember the first "Windows" system?  My all time favorite was Windows 95, still use it on an old 386.  The slower speed is better for card games such as Solitaire and Hearts. 


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: SteamGene on May 01, 2008, 07:27:48 PM
How much do you know about Decoder Pro?  I have it installed on a Mac laptop and cannot make it work.  They can't help me apparently, because it's a Mac, though a Mac developed the program. 

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Atlantic Central on May 01, 2008, 07:30:55 PM
I agree with Jim.

My first computer, 1984, was a KAYPRO 4X that used m-basic - it did everything I needed it for then.

I still have no use for laptops, I can't get comfortable with the keyboards or the "mouse pad" on the darn things. And I have become spoiled by the speed of my HP Pavilion 1330 with mega everything.

When I do buy a computer, I always buy way more than my needs require, as a result, I have only owned 4 since that KAYPRO.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 01, 2008, 10:59:41 PM
It took me a long time to get used to the laptop keboard but now I like it. My wife uses an external keyboard and cordless mouse.  Mainly I like the small footprint, finally moved out the desktop this winter when the monitor went bad.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: prebres on May 01, 2008, 11:06:00 PM

I remember the original windows. I even had a "windowing" program before that. My first was the Timex Sinclair ZX81 with 16k of memory. I spent many evening typing in the machine code from the back of programming books. My first bought program was a flight simulator that too 30 minutes to load off of a cassette player. That computer cost $300. My next machine was an Apple IIc that cost about $2000 and had a floppy disk drive. In my office I have a Kaypro and that Timex.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Woody Elmore on May 02, 2008, 01:11:44 PM
I started teaching computer science with both Apple IIe and TRS-80 computers. The Apples were superior machines but were prone to breaking down - the monitors blew fuses and it was a bearcat to repair them. My school also had Commodore 64s. I detested those clunkers and stuck to my Apple IIe.

I remember doing Fortran on punch cards in college. Besides Fortran I've taught Basic and pascal. I taught AP pascal for a number of years. I used LOGO for the basis of my doctoral dissertation.

The first Mac was great - it had a screen similar to that used by windows. I believe that Apple sued Micro Soft when they introduced Windows but lost the case.

A friend has a great little Fujitsu tablet with a GPS program installed. It is as good or better than Garmin or Tom Tom but no, it doesn't talk.

After teaching computer science for several years I lost interest and now I couldn't tell Java script from html (or is that the same thing - don't tell me, I don't need to know, I'm retired.)

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: prebres on May 02, 2008, 02:56:49 PM
I though I was the only person left who had even heard of LOGO. I learned Pascal as a freshman @ Ohio State. BASIC, C, C+, and C++ I taught myself. Like you Woody, now I could care the least bit about Visual This and Stuio That!

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Woody Elmore on May 02, 2008, 05:41:45 PM
LOGO was created by Jerome Papert at MIT to control a robotic turtle. He designed simple commands that his children could use to move the big "turtle" that was connected to the computer by a tether (thus the name Terrapin or Turtle Graphics). It was the first programming language to have a rather complete text editor.

The latest incarnation is still available in different forms. There are teachers who use the turtle graphics to work with pre-schoolers and kids with learning disabilities. Using a computer helps autistic kids develop fine motor skills and is especially useful with autistic children who cannot write.

Having not attempted any kind of programming since I taught a class in Q Basic many moons ago, I leave programming to those more talented and more patient than myself.

Back in the days of the early Apples, Commodores and the like, who could ever have imagined laptop computers and DCC for trains!(Or really great BBs like this one.)

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 02, 2008, 09:00:48 PM
Those are some of the best laptops I've seen in years. And at amazing prices too. But I suggest get the Windows XP, much better then the Windows Vista. The Vista, which is what I use, occossially has trouble and is unrealible-sometimes...

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 03, 2008, 12:33:23 AM
I have XP running on a Pentium M, it is actually slower than this Pentium III with 98SE, and I'm still trying to get all the junk software removed.

"Vista" - Spanish (f): sight or vision. You look at it and wonder where all your stuff went.

Last night I dug out an old DOS program called "Hoyle" by Sierra.  All kinds of card games, played against animated opponents.  Crazy eights, hearts, old maid and rummy.  Man, they play a rough game, never play cards with a Cajun named Shelley LeBlanc. 

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 03, 2008, 11:18:32 PM
Well, at least you have a CPU, I just glad to have a computer, you can do just about anything with it.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 08, 2008, 04:51:50 AM
I received my laptop from the outlet, it's apparently a factory new discontinued, not a scratch on it.   It has 98SE, but with the patches and internet upgrades.

It normally comes with a 24X CD, but I had them upgrade to a CD-RW.  I installed Nero, my favorite burner software.

I'm through buying new computers, this one is great. In fact, I may order another one for a backup. 

Remember when flash drives first came out, how expensive they were?  Check out the prices from this company.

I picked up some 1GB Attache' for $10 each at K-Mart. The driver for 98 is available from their site.  Their line of media cards for cameras is also very reasonably priced. 

I'm putting all my train information and pictures on one for travel purposes.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: pdlethbridge on May 08, 2008, 07:44:54 AM
I built the computer I'm running. 80 gig hd, 2.6 gig p4, 2 gig memory, 256 mg video card. It was fun and very easy to build. I even installled XP but I since have switched to Ubuntu linux. It runs great on my machine and best of all it's free. No more money going to microsoft. Because its linux I don't need a firewall or virus protection. Firewall is built in as default and no one writes virus's for linux. If it was as popular as windoze, then they would start doing that. There is very good support for Ubuntu on line and they have a new version come out every 6 months.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Mike on May 08, 2008, 08:48:45 AM
Pd- Sounds interesting. I'd love to be "Microsoft free". But does the linux world have programs similar to MS Office which offer compatibility for files exchanged with MS Office. I am at the point where I just need to be educated before I make a decision.- Mike

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: pdlethbridge on May 08, 2008, 11:32:46 AM
Yes, its called open office. A lot of windoze apps can be run using a linux program called wine, here (

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 08, 2008, 10:27:26 PM
I've used Windows since version 3, and have never had any problems with it.  I don't understand why so many criticize Microsoft/Bill Gates. 

The original developers of what would become DOS sold the rights to Gates for about $15,000, they had their chance and blew it. 

Whenever someone complains about Windows, my suggestion is to just delete it.  Anyway, I'm too old to change now, especially with over 50 Windows programs. 


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 08, 2008, 10:43:26 PM
I have a Vista desktop with intel Pentium D, from Compaq.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: grumpy on May 08, 2008, 11:33:56 PM
I bought my grandson a Compaq with Vista . The vista operating system used up so much of the memory there wasn't enough left to do any thing serious with.
Don :(

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Guilford Guy on May 08, 2008, 11:40:50 PM
My aunt works for apple, I have the G4 laptop, we have a G5 family computer, and my mom has the MacBook. No Vista, and often times more memory space, but most Train Simulators won't run on Mac's, although Railroad Tycoon does.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 09, 2008, 12:42:02 AM
I have an older laptop with Windows 95 on it.  After I took out all the garbage, it only takes up about 20 meg. 

Microsoft has discontinued support for 98x, Me, and 2000.  To use flash drives on 98 requires downloading drivers for each manufacturer.  The driver package for Iomega was 4 meg.  The driver for PNY flash drives was only 20kb. Other companies making flash drives don't offer drivers for 98.

There is a warning on PNY site that their drivers may not work on 98se but they did. If you run 98 and are considering flash drives, better get some and get the driver package before they drop it.  I have the driver for the standard Attache' if anyone needs it.  All the other models require separate software, so I d/l them also just in case. 

We have 5 computers and don't want to network them, so the flash drives are perfect for transferring files.  I hate to part with our desktop, but it's taking up too much room in my wife's office

The only thing  I like about XP is plug and play for hardware.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 11, 2008, 01:16:38 AM
I have several DOS programs that will only print through a parallel port, and all the new printers only have USB.  Finally there is a solution:

It's expensive, probably due to limited demand.  They say it will work with most ink jet printers, but there is no assurance your DOS program will send the print commands required by the USB printer.  Check the guarantee.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 11, 2008, 11:57:27 AM
Speaking of Railroad Tycoon, how do I get DDL on this computer, I tried to put it on a 98, then a Vista- Error, need something with DDL or what ever that means, any help?

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 11, 2008, 12:11:32 PM
DLL stands for Dynamic Link Library, a file that provides instructions to associate the executable with Windows.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 11, 2008, 03:50:53 PM
Thanks Bob,
I'll talk it over with my uncle, he knows more about computers then I do. I guess that stock CPUs aren't equiped with all the DLL they need.

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 06, 2008, 02:54:35 AM
The old DOS programs that many of us still use do not recognize USB ports, only Parallel.  Very few computers and/or printers have the parallel port.  There are many adapter cords on the market, but they work the wrong way, by going from USB on the computer to an older printer with parallel.

If you are having this problem, I found one inexpensive printer that has both USB and parallel input. It works with 98SE through XP.

Older parallel printers had the DB25 input, newer ones as above, now have the Centronics 36 pin on the printer.

The new line of Epson all-in-one printers is superb, with more features and lower prices.

Now I can start scanning the train magazine articles and pictures I've accumulated and get it all on CDs.


Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: dwc13 on June 11, 2008, 01:32:04 AM
Speaking of parallel port printers, I have an HP Laserjet 2100MP printer that I have added to a mixed (XP/98, Mac, Linux) network using an H-260U internal print server from Silex Technology.  Silex makes some pretty nice print & device (for multifunction units) servers.  The H-260U (@$99 several years ago) is fantastic -- and was 1/3 the price of the HP EIO network card.  My Linksys & Netgear print servers wouldn't support Macs -- a necessary evil, as my wife loves her old G4 iBook -- so I had to find another solution.  I had tried a parallel port-USB converter similar to what Bob had found, but performance was too inconsistent. 

Title: Re: Cheap Laptops
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 11, 2008, 02:05:24 AM
Our reliable old standby is an HP Laserjet IIP Plus, been through 5 cartridges and still works perfect.  I wrote a special database program to keep our ranch records, based on the old dos QA4 database, but it only recognizes a parallel port.

The new database programs won't do crosstab and category reports, only individual forms and QSL queries.  Before I wrote the program, we had to maintain journals and expense records, a real pain.  Anyway, I needed a backup in case this old printer gives up.

I just hooked up the C88 and my program accepted it just fine. I printed a picture on regular paper, and the color is superb.  I've heard they eat ink like crazy, but no worries.  My digital cameras gobble batteries, but I don't waste film either.

I also got Epson's new NX400 all-in-one, no computer needed. It has a slot for all the digital cards with a viewer, no more trips to the photo store.  I have hundreds of 35mm slides from overseas, at last I can scan them into prints.