Laptop Resurrection

Those of you that know me well know how tied I am to my laptop. Even though it’s a bit unwieldy, I manage to lug it around most everywhere I go. Back when I purchased it (read: when I purchased it with my parent’s money), it was almost top of the line. A Dell Inspiron 9300, 17 inch screen, blazing 512mb of ram, and a HUGE 100gig hard drive. It was awesome, especially considering that the model it was replacing could no longer stand upright. This laptop was a replacement for the one I’d had since Freshman year of college and had survived two trips overseas – it was time to retire it and get something a little nicer.

Unfortunately, this laptop, too, has started to show wear. Only a short five and a half years later, no matter what I do to it, the signs of age are starting to show. At first, while I was still under warranty, I was doing my best to break everything as quickly as possible so that I could get new parts. New screens, keyboards, touch pads, mother board – everything I could think of got replaced within the span of a few months. The local Dell technician knew me well at that point – every other week, he’d be over with a new part. I’d just shrug my shoulders and let him get to work. I’d made some additions as well, expanding the memory and seeing what I could do to get a little more life out of my baby.

Once my warranty ran out, though, things started getting hairy. At some point within the last few years, I’ve started getting into the habit of wiping my hard drive every few months – this turned out to be a good thing, because it meant I was completely backed up when my internal hard drive decided to fail last summer. And fail it did, rather spectacularly over the same three-day period when my Wii, car, and laptop all decided to take a nose dive.

Finding a hard drive with the correct specs to fit my old laptop was only half of the problem. Fry’s had one on the bottom shelf, covered in dust, looking like the Island of Forgotten Computer Hardware. When I went to Best Buy before Fry’s, I was almost laughed out of the store. The second half of the issue, though, was that because of the older BIOS, my laptop had a built in max space per drive of 130gigs or so. That meant that even though the smallest hard drive I could purchase was 250gigs, I’d have to partition it just to make it work in my laptop.

2nd hard drive. I’ve burned through more 3rd party power chargers than I care to mention. I keep a bunch strewn across the apartment, and they tend to go out once every 6 months or so. My screen is getting droopy again. Even after just doing a fresh install a month or so ago, it’s already getting painfully slow. The dreaded Blue Screen of Death is popping about every week or so. The connection with the charger is getting loose, so that the adapter doesn’t always charge the battery, or even keep it from running on the battery.

It’s about to die.

Have you ever driven a car that’s about to die? That feeling that it’s just sick, and that something’s really wrong? That’s the feeling my laptop has been giving me for the past month or so. I keep giving it transfusions – wiping the hard drive, cleaning things off, trying not to overload it with crap… but it’s just buying time. Like all technology, at some point, you have to let go. With every new version of Firefox, every new version of iTunes, every update, things get worse.

I love this laptop – I know it’s too big. I know that it’s less of a laptop and more of a brick. I’m used to it, though. One of my students saw it last week and asked about two white marks in the grey paint near the keyboard. Those are spots where my constant typing has actually worn the paint off.  She’s done everything I could have asked of her and survived longer than any other laptop I’ve ever owned. Putting her down is the right thing to do, but something I’ve dreaded doing for a long time.

It’s not that I wouldn’t relish something new, something fast, something that didn’t feel like it was crash the next time I opened a window. I just have everything like I like it, and I know what I want out of it. The keys are comfortable, the size is right, and while I know there are many out there like it, this is mine.

Lovely Wife said that I should get a new one before this one completely dies, and maybe she’s right. Finding a laptop that will run the few games I want, do the work I need it to do, and watch a few movies won’t be that hard; it just feels like I’m cheating. I’m the spouse that searching the dating website before my divorce is final. She’ll know that I’m looking for someone else.

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