OT-Need Wireless Laptop?

Subject: OT-Need Wireless Laptop?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Jacque Foreman <foremangraphics -at- juno -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2007 18:05:10 -0400

Jacque Foreman wondered: <<A friend and former member of this list is
in dire need of a wireless laptop. Can pay $200 In Torrence - prefers
purchasing from someone in that area Her phone: 818-448-1193 (yes,
the number is correct) Her email: She is in the process of
reestablishing a name for herself & needs a working computer>>

Technically, this is off-topic, but I can bring it back on-topic with
the observation that your friend is not the only person on techwr-l
who's a freelancer and needs to occasionally upgrade their hardware
at a bargain price. That being the case, a few really good tips I've
picked up over the years:

First, late August/early September is a great time to start checking
the regional classified ads (both in print and online) for students
who are taking advantage of the back-to-school sales to upgrade their
old computer (often last year's model). You can find some real
bargains. If you're not in a hurry, you'll also see some great
bargains in early December or January, right before or after the
Christmas sales -- for much the same reason.

Second, try Craigslist (which redirects to http://
washingtondc.craigslist.org/ on my computer). They have a ton of
sister sites (see the list over at the right side of the screen), one
of which is bound to be nearby. Again, a great many bargains to be
had. There will also be other local Web sites that sell used stuff,
and you should check them out too. Computer clubs are often a good
source of used equipment; they usually advertise at local computer
shops (the small local ones, not BestBuy), high schools, and in local
freebie computer papers.

Third, try scanning the local college and university Web sites to see
if they run classified ads. (Here in Montreal, at least two local
universities do.) Here, you'll find many students who have just
completed their final academic term (summer here in the Northern
hemisphere) and who are heading home and don't have baggage space to
bring their computers with them. So again, you can get some real
bargains. I've bought a bunch of computers for myself and the kids
over the years for bargain-basement prices. I try not to haggle over
prices, since these are students, and I remember being impoverished.

Needless to say, eBay is also possible, but I have no experience with
them and can't provide details. Personally, I prefer to actually hold
a computer in my hands to ensure I like the feel (and to run Norton
on the hard drive).

A few other tips: For a laptop, always ask about the battery life (a
replacement can run you nearly as much as the cost of the computer if
it's an older computer). If you can, ask the seller to run a complete
Norton disk analysis or a utility that will read out the logs
produced by the hard disk's SMART disk monitoring tool and leave the
software running so the results will be ready when you arrive to take
a look. (I use SMARTReporter on my Mac. No idea what works best on
the PC, but you can probably find out from techwr-l and download a
copy to bring with you.) This will tell you if the hard drive is
starting to fail or developing any other non-trivial problems. Last
but not least, always make sure the seller gives you all the system
disks so you can reformat the drive yourself when you get it home.
Why start out with someone else's personal collection of spyware?

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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OT-Need Wireless Laptop: From: Jacque Foreman

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