Sunday, June 24, 2018
Publication Date: 10/1/2011
Archive >  October 2011 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

U.S. Tech's California Office
Walter Salm, Editor
I am now officially in residence on the Left Coast. The big Alfa Diesel coach is gone and we are now living in a very old double-wide that needed a lot of renovating, which we managed to work on even while getting out the last two issues of U.S. Tech. And somewhere in there, I managed to get to three trade shows (AATE, IPCMW and IMAPS).

Setting up a new editorial office for U.S. Tech became an important issue last month when we finally moved out of the coach and into our new, non-movable home in Chico. My first choice was to simply set up the folding Lifetime table that I had used in Florida when I worked from a wheelchair while nursing my broken kneecap. It worked — sort of — but my Associate Editor (my wife) objected strenuously to the rat's nest of wires on top of the table, and its rather unkempt appearance. Why is it that women always try to neaten up a man's work place?

With some reluctance, I agreed to start looking for a real desk. I haven't gone desk shopping in many, many years, and it was quite an education for me. There were several that looked pretty good but simply wouldn't fit in the available space, others that were way beyond our budget, and we finally kept coming back to a nice-looking jet-black desk at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware). The neat thing about OSH is that you pay for the large items and then drive your vehicle through the back warehouse/loading area where store employees put the ungainly stuff in your car for you. Last week, we bought several very heavy sacks of concrete that way. The desk was in a rather small (but very heavy) box. Some assembly required — actually a lot of assembly was required. It's today's way of buying furniture, unless you buy an antique, or get something from the thrift store, or go to a frightfully expensive decorator's emporium.

This desk fulfilled a lot of needs for me. It has a shelf that's just the right distance and height for the computer monitor, I was able to hide a lot of the wiring behind the desk to keep the wife happy, and what I couldn't hide virtually disappears against the black surface. Even more important, it has two good-sized junk drawers as well as a file drawer. There's lots of room underneath for my legs, and the whole thing pleases my associate editor. What more could I ask?

But there have been some technical problems along the way. My almost-new H-P printer stopped printing somewhere between Florida and California. It made photocopies okay, and it kept trying to send a fax, but print from the computer? Forget about it. I removed and re-installed the printer software twice on two different computers. Same result each time. I finally asked at Chico's CostCo about it, since I had made the purchase at CostCo in Ft. Myers, Florida. They gave me a phone number to call, and said if all else failed, they would replace it. All else did fail, and they did replace it with no hassle. Problem solved.

My remaining problem is my old and not-working H-P desktop computer tower. I have upgraded it twice, and now it's totally inoperative. It needs a new motherboard, a new HDD (which I already have) and some fancy maneuvering with the software. I still need Windows XP because of my unbending insistence on continuing to use venerable WordStar for my word processing. I'll probably go for a dual boot — Windows 7 and Windows XP in a partitioned hard drive. After we close this issue, I plan to go shopping — I believe that Fry's Electronics in Sacramento has what I need. It's a store that I love, and my wife shudders whenever I go there. During such excursions, she usually waits in the car with a good book, exactly the same thing that I do when she goes shopping for crafts at Michael's. Hopefully, by the next issue, the tower will be more than just a doorstop.  

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