Update on Technical Difficulties

Last Friday night our home computer died. From what I’ve learned from web forums this is a fairly common problem with emachines. Often when the power supply dies it takes the motherboard out with it as well.
It really bothers me not to have a working home computer. My kids use it often for games and to watch videos, I use it for research and blogging and my wife enjoys using Orkut and reading up on her favorite Brazilian soap operas. School will start next week here in New Jersey and the kids won’t have a computer to use for homework unless we figure something out. In the meantime I’m paying Comcast for a service (broadband Internet) we can’t even use.
One option is to get a kit to replace the case and motherboard (I already replaced the power supply). That would run us $170. Another option that now seems far more likely is that we’ll buy a laptop. Specifically, we’re interested in the Acer Aspire 5315-2326. Wal-Mart charges $448.00 for this online, but a friend told me he saw the same laptop at a Wal-Mart store for under $400. I’d be able make payments on this laptop, so that lightens the financial burden (in the short run) a little and would get us up and running again.
This experience has shown me some things about myself. One is that I understand far more about the inner workings of a PC than I thought I did. Another is that I still have a lot to learn.
Our immediate concern is with getting back online at home. Once that issue is resolved I plan to start tinkering with PCs more. I intend to keep the parts I have and attempt to find more working computers and usable parts to start refurbishing computers.
For example, with an older computer running Windows 3.1 or higher I could verify that the hardware is still good, format the hard drive and load the Damn Small Linux (DSL) operating system. Once everything was working properly I could give the computer away to someone who doesn’t have the means to buy one and just needs it for light use. From what I’ve read DSL functions fairly efficiently and even has web browsers built in.
Another option is that I could build higher-quality PCs as my knowledge of them deepens, and I could load them with another distribution of Linux, like Ubunto. These I could conceivably sell for whatever it cost to build them. The intention here isn’t necessarily profit. It’s actually something that could be a decent hobby and would permit me to gain some more tech experience.
Previous post on this topic:Computer Issues
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