Last week Thursday my laptop decided to break on me. I've had it for about 4 years, and it has worked amazingly well all this time. I bought a fairly high end machine at the time, and what's amazing is that I've never felt a strong urge to replace it in all this time. I figured I'd need to probably buy a new Vista machine in the next 6 months, but really... laptop specs haven't improved terribly since I bought the last one. Memory is a bit cheaper, and video card options have improved. You can get a dual core machine which is nice, but really, clock speeds aren't being pushed up because the clock is one of the main power draws on a laptop processor. The faster you push the clock, the more power you burn. And when it comes to a mobile computer, battery is life.
For whatever reason, the hinge on my Dell decided to lock up on me. When I opened it up, I heard this cracking, creaking noise, and the top facing above the keyboard started to pull away from the case. I've messed around with it quite a bit, but can't seem to get it to work properly again. It is still usable. It boots, and I can open and close the case, but the facing is cracking and the screen is unstable staying up. So I went back to Dell and bought a new laptop. This one had been very, very good to me, so I decided to go back to it. Once again, I paid for a very nice machine, and full expect it to last at least another 4 years.
It's actually quite strange that I'm not the type to constantly turn over computer hardware. Hell, my Uncle (who really only uses his computer for buying and selling stuff on eBay) goes through computers faster than I do. My problem is that I'm very picky about my computer setup. And once I have my machine setup just the way I want, with everything installed on it that I want, I just can't imagine going through all that again on a new machine. I figure it will take me at least a week before I'm able to stop using my old laptop at least partially, and probably at least another full week before I feel really comfortable on my new machine.
I will definitely give it up for Dell though. When I ordered my new machine last Friday, they said the ship date would be the 22nd. I figured I could make my old machine last for that long. Then Sunday I got notification that it shipped. That's right... more than a full week ahead of schedule. They said it would be at my door step between Wednesday and Friday. I got it Tuesday. However, I do have a few complaints which I will air here.
First, like any boxed computer, they put tons of useless crap on it that I don't want. There were so many trials from so many different companies, it took me a full hour to remove them all. Secondly, they set up the screen resolution terribly. It's a wide screen laptop, and they had it setup as 120 dpi, so all the fonts were horribly distorted. Had I not been an expert in my field and immediately recognized what was causing it, I would have probably had to call their technical support line for help. Not smart on their part.
Now I have to decide what I want to do with the old machine. Normally with my old computers, I reformat them, refurbish them, and give them away to a needy friend who has a really old machine (or in one case none at all) and could use an upgrade. Several of my old computers have had long, healthy, second (and in one case, third) lives... and it just feels good to do. But with this one physically failing this way, I don't feel good about giving it away. So now I have a dilema. One possibility is that I tear out the guts, and see if I can turn it into a cool digital picture frame, ala Picture Picture. The other is that I take it out to a field somewhere and recreate a classic scene from Office Space: