CompUSA leaving Chicago market

Computer equipment and electronics retailer CompUSA has announced a major restructuring that will result in the closing of half of their retail stores nationwide, including all five in the Chicago area. The CompUSA stores in Chicago, Highland Park, Schaumburg, Skokie, and Geneva will be shut down within the next 90 days.

Details are in this WLS-TV posting.

I’m sorry to see them go. Their prices were almost always higher than what I could get on the Internet, but they were useful if I needed to get something quickly. Thankfully, we still have Fry’s Electronics in Downers Grove, which stocks practically everything computer-related. Here’s a map.

The good news, according to this article, is that there are bargains to be had if you move quickly.

Fare thee well, P.C. Modem. We’ll miss you.

Daylight Savings Time changes: Is your computer ready?

By now you’re probably aware that Daylight Savings Time starts three weeks earlier this year and ends one week later. DST starts March 11, 2007 and ends on November 4.

Windows Vista is already set up to handle this new schedule, but older versions of Windows (and all versions of Microsoft Outlook) need to be patched to handle the new DST schedule.

If you have Windows XP and automatic updates are enabled, you probably already have the DST patch installed. In any case, you should definitely visit Microsoft’s special Daylight Savings Time update page by clicking here. The site will help you identify the necessary patches for both Windows and Outlook, and allow you to download and install them.

When you run the Windows patcher, it will either complete normally or give you an error message stating that the update is already installed.

The Outlook patcher will install a time zone update and optionally shift any appointments or meetings you have scheduled in the new three and one week DST periods. When I ran it, I did not allow it to shift my meetings. If I had a meeting scheduled for 2 PM on March 21, it’s still going to be at 2 PM regardless of DST.

The site has complete step-by-step instructions for installing these patches.

The updates are available for Windows and Outlook versions 2000 and newer. Updates are not available for older versions. Microsoft no longer supports Office 97, Windows 98, and Windows Me.

Two words about Windows Vista: Not yet

Well, it’s happened already. I have received a call from a concerned customer whose family just bought her a new computer running Windows Vista. After spending five hours trying to migrate their data and applications from their old computer, they hit a brick wall. Things were just not working.

It’s always like this right after Microsoft releases a new operating system. We went through the same thing when Windows XP first came out. Microsoft, eager for quick adoption of their new product, crams it down our throats before it’s ready for prime time.

Right now it’s almost impossible to buy a new computer running XP. The only way to get a new desktop system without Vista is to have us (or companies like us) build you a new system from parts. We can still obtain OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) copies of Windows XP for you. The only catch is that we are required to sell it with hardware, so we can’t just get a copy of XP to install over top of Vista on your new name-brand system. On the plus side, buying Windows XP now gets you a free Vista upgrade coupon that you can use when you’re ready.

The Web is overrun with the complaints of early Vista adopters, as they find out the hard way that Vista does not support all their old programs yet, and that it has much higher hardware requirements than XP. You might be able to run Vista on your five-year-old Dell, but it will be a tough slog and you’ll have to forgo the interface enhancements that make Vista worthwhile in the first place.

How long should you wait? Personally, I waited almost a year before I recommended Windows XP to my customers. XP really wasn’t solid until about the time Service Pack 2 came out. I expect the same with Vista.

There’s no rush. Windows XP works perfectly well. Windows Vista offers some compelling new features, but there’s nothing you can’t live without right now.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know. Once I have put Vista through its paces and feel comfortable with it, I will recommend it wholeheartedly.