Greetings, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Sunday, May 2, 2021. It’s hot and muggy outside; the current temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 65% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 8 MPH (13 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 89˚F (32˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 90˚F (32˚C) Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy and the low will be 71˚F (21˚C).
Remember when I wrote yesterday that my Compaq laptop – a computer that I bought in 2009 and became my go-to machine when I had to work from my former home’s dining room so I could write while I was taking care of my mother – was on its last legs and that I was going to have to buy a replacement soon?
Well, not long after I published yesterday’s blog post, my prediction came true; the Compaq laptop finally stopped working even on “safe mode with networking,” taking with it all of my reviews and Writer’s Corner material that I wrote for Epinions between December 2013 and February 2014, as well as other stuff – scripts that I wrote in my first copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 and drafts of letters, stories, and other scribblings – on an old version of Microsoft Word.
I still have this computer (a Lenovo all-in-one desktop model that I bought late in 2014) and a small Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, but I want a larger laptop (14-inch screen) and a more desktop-size keyboard; the Thinkpad is nice and portable, true, but it’s smaller, and I dread the prospect of working for endless hours on it. The Thinkpad (which was the last computer I bought while I was still living in South Florida) is so small that even gaming on it for a short time is more of a hassle than I imagined. I will not get rid of it, but I already ordered a replacement for the Compaq.
At first I looked in Amazon for a laptop in the $300-$400 range, but even though I saw some that looked enticing, they were all refurbished, i.e. computers that were either used or returned to Amazon – or a third-party seller – and repaired/restored. I am not, by nature, a trusting soul (or, better said, not as trusting as I once was), so when it comes to electronics of any sort, I will always prefer to get a brand-new one than a refurbished one.
I saw many new brand-name (Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and Lenovo) laptops on Amazon, but they were either pricey ($900 and up, especially the Apple ones) or they were available only through “stores” owned by third-party sellers. The ones sold by Amazon.com tended to be the priciest, especially one that had many of the features that I wanted: a Lenovo IdeaPad S340 15″ Touch-Screen Laptop.
I almost bought that computer on Amazon. After all, I was on the product page, and I am an Amazon Prime member, so for $719.99 (plus Florida state sales taxes) I could have ordered it right there and then. But I don’t like making hasty decisions without consulting with others, and because I was chatting online with a trusted friend from my days on Epinions, I asked her what she thought.
“You should go to Best Buy first – they might have a good laptop for a lower price.”
“Okay,” I typed back, and with a few keystrokes and a couple of mouse clicks, I saw that Best Buy had the same laptop but for $120 less (not including state sales taxes).
Because I don’t need it right away – remember, I have a Thinkpad that I can use till the IdeaPad gets here – I wasn’t bothered by the fact that Best Buy says it will arrive by May 10, a week from tomorrow. Apparently, the nearest Best Buy store that has a Lenovo IdeaPad S340 in stock is an hour’s drive from the house, and since I doubt that the Caregiver would deign to drive me there, I opted for the free shipping option. Hence, the wireless mouse I ordered for the laptop will arrive on Thursday, several days before the IdeaPad gets here.
Per the product page for the Lenovo IdeaPad S340 on BestBuy.com:
Windows 10 operating system
Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu from Windows 7 and introduces new features, like the Edge Web browser that lets you markup Web pages on your screen.
15.6″ Full HD touch screen for hands-on control
Natural finger-touch navigation makes the most of Windows 8. The 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity. IPS technology for wide viewing angles. Energy-efficient LED backlight.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700U
Imagine, design, and create without boundaries. The powerful AMD Ryzen™ 7 processor features machine intelligence that anticipates your needs. Discover true responsiveness with four cores and eight threads for ultimate performance.
12GB system memory for full-power multitasking
Plenty of high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo- and video-editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once.
512GB solid state drive (SSD)
While offering less storage space than a hard drive, a flash-based SSD has no moving parts, resulting in faster start-up times and data access, no noise, and reduced heat production and power draw on the battery.
AMD Radeon Vega 10 graphics
Integrated graphics chipset with shared video memory provides solid image quality for Internet use, movies, basic photo editing and casual gaming.
Weighs 3.96 lbs. and measures 0.7″ thin
Ultrathin and ultralight for maximum portability, featuring a smaller screen size and omitting the DVD/CD drive to achieve the compact form factor. 3-cell lithium-ion battery.
HDMI output expands your viewing options
Connect to an HDTV or high-def monitor to set up two screens side by side or just see more of the big picture.
Built-in media reader for simple photo transfer
Supports SD, SDHC, SDXC, and MMC memory card formats.
Wireless/Wired connectivity (WiFi 5 – 802.11 ac)
Connect to a Wireless-AC router for nearly 3x the speed, more capacity and wider coverage than Wireless-N. Backward-compatible with all other Wi-Fi networks and hotspots.
Built-in HD webcam with stereo microphone
Makes it easy to video chat with family and friends or teleconference with colleagues over Skype or other popular applications.
Basic software package included:
1-month trial of Microsoft Office 365.
This laptop does not include a built-in DVD/CD drive.
I have a Norton 360 subscription/license that I can add the new laptop – Norton says I can install it on five devices, and thus far it’s only been installed on my Lenovo desktop PC – and I can also use my Office 360 license on the Lenovo IdeaPad S340, since I can use that on five devices, too. That’s why I did not bother adding the free 90-day trial of Webroot anti-virus to my purchase, and that’s why the first thing I’ll do once I get my laptop up and running is install Norton and add the IdeaPad to my annual Office 360 subscription.
This week I should also be receiving my Blu-ray set of Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick. I tried watching it on my TV’s PBS app – everything comes in apps these days! – but I am hard of hearing and the documentary does not have closed captions in its over the air version. Hemingway is due for a Tuesday release, so I expect to get it either that day or on Wednesday.
I also received the Star Wars novel Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good, the second book in Timothy Zahn’s new trilogy about his most popular character, the Chiss strategist genius known as Thrawn. I hope I don’t end up with two copies; the Post Office ended up sending the copy I preordered last December from Opa Locka to Odessa (Florida) rather than to New Hometown. Last time I tracked the original shipment, it was heading away from here and on its way to Jacksonville. Weird.
I think I’ll spend some time reading today; I don’t want to spend the rest of the day chained to my desk. I’ll be writing tomorrow and during the rest of the work week, and I do need to change up my routine a bit.
After all, you wouldn’t want me to end up like Jack Torrance, right?