The Joys of Upgrading

I upgraded my computer monitor this week and all hell broke loose, of course.

At first glance, it was a simple idea. I wanted to increase the size of the text on my e-mail, so it made sense (to me, anyway) to increase the size of my monitor from 21 inches to 24 inches. Staples had a good deal on a Dell 24 inch monitor, the monitor had excellent reviews, and I thought I was in like Flinn.

In like Flinn until I installed the new monitor, that is.

The installation was a snap – I unplugged the old monitor, plugged in the new monitor, and it came right up and ran perfectly in second. That wasn’t unexpected, since my computer is a reasonably powerful Dell with a fast processor and tons on RAM, two years old.

What wasn’t expected, of course, was the difference between 1600×900 resolution and 1920×1080 resolution, and the ways in which all my applications would use the screen. I spent the better part of the next day going through the system, application by application, adjusting settings to achieve my intended goal, which was to have everything run about the same way, except bigger so that I could work with it early in the morning, when I’m on the computer, drinking my first cup of coffee, still bleary-eyed.

The toughest application to deal with was the browser, and I learned a lot more than I wanted to know about browser settings along the way.

I had been using Firefox as my primary browser for years and years, but discovered that Firefox did not have a setting that simply increases the zoom from 100% to 110% or 125%, which is what I needed. So I fiddled and fiddled with various websites until I was about to go mad, then decided to take a look at the other browsers I had installed, Chrome and Internet Explorer 9. In the end, Internet Explorer 9 was the browser that best achieved the result I wanted, so I cut over to it, pruning and reorganizing all my bookmarks (now, “Favorites”) while I was at it.

Along the way, I took a look at migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 8 to get two features in Windows 8 Pro, which Microsoft is making available to Windows 7 users for $69 (DVD) or $39 (download). I’m something of a security freak (too many years in IT to be otherwise) and Windows 8 Pro supports SecureBoot and Bitlocker. In the end, I decided against upgrading for a simple reason. My computer is just old enough so that it doesn’t, in the words of MicroSoftSpeak, sport “… firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database …” I know because I checked the upgrade compatibility.

In a way, I’m relieved. Michael’s notebook died last month, and he upgraded. His new notebook came with Windows 8, which is based on the Windows 7 platform, but uses a completely different user interface. I’ve had the occasion to work with his computer to work around an upgrade incompatibility, and the new interface drove me insane. Michael claims that when you get used to it, it is actually better, but that sounds like something my doctor says when he can’t fix something, so I can wait.

I will upgrade to Internet Explorer 10, though, when the Release Candidate of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 goes final late this year or early next year. Internet Explorer 10 has good HTML 5 compatibility and has gotten superb reviews. The version for Windows 7 will continue the “desktop” interface, so I won’t have to learn anything, or at least I won’t have to learn anything much. I work in a browser all the time, and I want what works for me.

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