August so far has been a month of electronic upgrades and purchases. About 2 weeks ago, the hard drive in my 700m unexpectedly bit the dust, resorting to loud clicking when I tried to boot up. A quick trip to Microcenter resulted in a shiny new 80 gig hard drive which is a lot quieter than the one I had before, and it might have even improved my laptop's battery life if my battery wasn't so old.
The next minor upgrade was adding another 512 megs of ram for the desktop. I recently discovered that being an ECE student at OSU gives you access to an MSDN account, which allowed me to download a copy of Vista Business edition for free, so I figured hey, might as well give it a try and see how it works. So my desktop is dual booting XP and Vista at the moment. So far, Vista has worked pretty well given how old my desktop is (about 3 years), but it ate up roughly half of my gig of ram after bootup, so I figured investing in some extra memory would help in the long run since I'll eventually migrate fully to Vista. I'm still running games in XP, but David's been fully converting his desktop to Vista, and he hasn't had too much trouble running his games (note that his system is running 2 gigs of ram at the moment). As much as people might complaint about the visual changes, Vista looks a lot cleaner and modern, and the better visuals aren't at the cost of user interface speed. Vista does a lot of prefetching into memory in anticipating what programs you use, and I've found that after bootup, starting programs I use like MSN Messenger and Matlab are pretty quick and don't peg the hard drive that much. Another noticeable thing is that internet download speeds are BLAZING compared to XP as you can see here.
The two things that were sort of bothersome are UAC and general file management speed. UAC is sort of the operating system's way of asking "Are you sure you want to do this..." when you're interacting with your computer. So if any rogue program decides to install itself on your computer, UAC will raise a flag beforehand so you'll be able to stop it. Although I don't mind it too much for installing programs, it seems to come up a lot when I'm moving files from place to place. As for the general file management speed, it's been pretty well documented that Vista for some reason stalls a bit when it comes to file manipulation. There've been 2 hot fixes posted recently that are said to fix some performance and reliability issues, but I've found that they keep my PC from shutting down properly, so I'll be waiting for Service Pack 1.
The last and most recent purchase (as of 2 hours ago) was a new Canon S3 digital camera. You might be wondering "wait...didn't Kung find a Sony camera a while ago?", and yes a Sony camera did fall into my hands, but I think it fell out of my pocket as I was riding this on the way down. Hopefully I'll be taking care of this camera more than the last two I lost this year.