Of course, this time is no exception. We were blithely planning to get a slide scanner and an external hard drive so that my mother could embark on digitizing and properly labeling our trove of slides (most of them are in pretty good shape but the Ektachromes have faded and are prime candidates for adventures in Photoshop).
It was right about when I was in the process of trying to decide just which slide scanner to order that my mother exclaimed that an alarming message had flashed onto her screen.
And lo, the machine wanted to install Internet Explorer 7 but had discovered that the hard drive was almost full!
I was not happy. I told it to cancel installation, but apparently the update had already downloaded itself, as I suppose we had set Windows to do automatic updates to spare My Sibling and I from having to spend hours updating Windows every time we visit. Apparently there remained only 383MB free on the 10GB drive (which I had tried to exchange for a 30GB drive awhile back only to be stymied by HP's having made a nearly impenetrable body for the thing).
My parents do not keep very much on this computer. They are your classic low-tech users who basically write some documents, send and receive a few emails, look at a limited number of web sites, and do taxes. They offered to delete documents and emails, and I said no. I got rid of a few unnecessary programs we had somehow missed in the past, but hesitated to uninstall the dictionary. I ran the antivirus software and looked for spyware. I halved the size of System Restore. And so on. I got the free space up to 6%, which strikes me as dreadfully low on a hard drive this size.
We are rather reluctant to replace a machine that does function, considering that their needs are so modest. On the other hand, it would be really nice if we could go ahead and get the slide scanner (its software would have to go somewhere), and it would be nice to stop messing with irritating things like whether the hard drive is large enough for Windows XP or the maxed-out memory is enough to make it run at a reasonable speed. Perhaps, now that flat-screen monitors are affordable, a low-end desktop computer would be a reasonable solution. (The laptop and printer live on an old typing table and my parents are loath to allot any more space to them.)
I invite comments from the technically aware, and of course if anyone has a recommendation on a dedicated slide/film scanner (Nikon or Plustek???) I would be deeply interested.