So, I bought my snappy new computer, and immediately ran into 2.5 biggo problems:
#1) iTunes version 8 won't read my songs on the Nano
I stood to lose over 400 songs I have amassed over the years. I called iTunes tech support - no help whatsoever. They basically told me, "Tough cookies." Then I checked in with the ol' Google, and found this article, which shows you how to pull all those songs off the iPod (including those purchased in other places than on stupid iTunes) - and for free. The whole thing's just a matter of plugging your iPod in, getting Windows to recognize it as a removable drive, and showing the hidden files. (A touch more complicated than that, but don't fret - there's a complete walkthrough even for us poor souls using Vista). So yay, my writing music is back on my computer, syncable to the iPod, and I can write. Which brings me to my next problem ....
#2) Vista won't recognize my Alphasmart Dana
Screech! This is how I write when I am not at my computer, and their patches at the Alphasmart website don't seem to be doing the trick. This is the older, 8 MB Dana. I am still working on a fix for this. If nothing else works, I might have to get rid of Vista and go back to XP, since Vista so far is sucking mightily.
#2.5) Why Microsoft sucks and Open Source doesn't
The third, less troublesome problem is that the Microsoft Works app (the newer version of the Office suite, including Word, Excel, etc.) that they bundled with this spiffy computer is a limited license. Once it expires, you're on your own, bucko, or you get to shell out the whatever-it-is-now that MS is charging these days to buy it - or hope your older MS Office suite disk is forward-compatible with your new computer. For the price I paid for this computer, you'd think MS could spring for a full license.
No problem. Open Office is a free, open source, never-have-to-pay-for-it suite of programs compatible with all MS suite documents. I highly recommend it for haters of Microsoft, or people who need an Office suite for any reason. Nice thing is, Open Office's Writer program can convert .DOC files to .PDF files, if you need that sort of thing. Open Office, I love you.