I’M BACK….Well, that was only moderately painful. I convinced my mother to buy a shiny new 17″ flat panel to go with the computer, and after filling out the voluminous rebate paperwork the whole package is going to run her less than $1000. Not bad. We even got a free bubble jet printer that we didn’t want because buying it lowered the cost of the whole system.

Anyway, between the bigger monitor and a high-speed internet connection, Mom should become an internet junkie in no time. And Calpundit is so much easier to read on a big screen!

We even accidentally ended up with a good deal on Microsoft Office. The store offered to install Small Business Edition for $180, but then it turned out they were out of stock and couldn’t give us the deal after all. Then, after we’d finished the purchase, I wandered back into the software section just to see how much Office costs, and found that they had a whole stack of Office packages for $150 for teachers and students only. Well, Mom is a teacher, not that the clerk seemed to care that much, so we bought it. It’s probably not as cheap as it would be if Microsoft actually had some competition in this market, but hey, we’ll take what we can get. (And now Mom has Excel too! Whole new vistas of software to get annoyed at!)

As I learned when I bought my first flat panel, they work properly only at their native resolution, which is normally their highest resolution. As near as I can tell, no manufacturer ever tells you this, so it’s something that simply gets passed down orally like ancient druidic traditions or something. In this case, though, not only did I have to reset the resolution, but I also had to fiddle endlessly with two controls called “Clock” and “Phase” to get the display sharp. I was just about ready to throw the monitor through a window when I accidentally hit on just the right combination.

Oh, and we decided to go with Road Runner. Thanks for all the advice, it’s much appreciated, and I hope it works out. The good news is that Time Warner claims they will do the installation free, including running a new cable outlet into Mom’s bedroom.

Now, wasn’t that fascinating? Don’t you wish I’d told you all the unabridged version instead?

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