Taking pride in the old-school

Both of my computers are old. My desktop computer, Dora, will turn five and a half in November. Yoshi the Laptop will be four in December. They’ve seen me through papers and novels and scripts and discovering the open source and startup communities and the coolness of Internet cultures. When I got them, they were great computers and top-of-the-line machines that zipped through every command I gave them, and I run lots of programs at once. I run music, Pidgin, a web browser, and more often than not something to type on in the background. That’s just the standard combination. If I’m cropping pictures, I’ll have the GIMP open. If I’m Skyping, then Skype will be open.

Now they’re starting to show their age. I bought them with Windows XP on it, the operating system that looked to last nearly as long as Internet Explorer 6. Thankfully it didn’t last that long, but when you consider that Windows 7 is out now, the age of these machines starts to show a little. I know neither computer could handle Windows 7 even if I wanted them to. I look at the requirements for some programs now out of sheer curiosity and see that my computers could be phased out in the near future. Pumping more life into my desktop should be as simple as buying more RAM. The laptop may be a little more difficult as far as taking the thing apart, but I can figure something else out.

I’ve found another easy to put more life into these old machines: Linux. I’ve been using Linux on my desktop since last December, which has also put a lot of life back into this computer. The keyboard is about to go, though; there are visible holes in the S, N, and M keys. I’m still deciding on a distro for the laptop, but I do need to keep a Windows installation around just because there are some things that are only designed to be Windows-friendly. Brassring job boards and Flash, I’m looking at you.

There’s a certain pride in using computers this old. I’ve heard so many stories of computers dying a sad death after just a couple of years. The worst cases are the computer owners who don’t back up their work and who were working on something like NaNoWriMo; this happens to someone every year. When people tell these stories and we start comparing machine stats, my computers and their stats become irrelevant because it’s so old. It has become a mark of pride, even if only part of it is within my control, and their death will mark the loss of that pride.

Whatever happens, I know that one day the inevitable will happen: even my computers will fall one day. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have two computers last this long. Since my luck can’t last forever, I’ve started casually looking at replacements. Even though I can’t afford a new one now, one day I’ll be in a position to need and want one. Suddenly all the talk of which laptop is the best that I’ve been scrolling past for the life of these computers out of lack of need will finally come in handy. Whether that day is next month, next year, or five years from now, I’ll be ready for that day, and I’ll live with the knowledge that Dora and Yoshi will have lived long lives, even if they never did pass a Turing test.

8 replies on “Taking pride in the old-school”

Hey, I’ve been using Windows Vista with my laptop since 2007. Whoo. *snerks* – I’m gonna kill scribbles for getting that word stuck in my online vocabulary. BTW, is you a boy or a girl?

@lastcrazyhorn My laptop is actually Vista compatible, though I have no plans of installing it. My desktop probably isn’t; Vista wasn’t even thought of to us lay folks when this computer came out. I’ll help you get scribbles; that word crept into a chat I was in this evening. And yes, I am a lady.

I retired my mac mini, Toby, this June after almost five years of faithful service. When I bought it Mac OS X.4 had just been released, but I ran Mac OS X.3 for the entire time I had it. It was really showing its age (Apple wasn’t even supporting the operating system anymore, really, and my third party apps were barely functioning), but seriously I can only hope that the new lappy, Taliesin, will last as long.

@twohectobooks Wow, your Mini was definitely showing its age, but it was definitely a loyal one. And your name your machines, too? I’m glad I’m not the only one who does that.

@Sushi @twohectobooks I totally name them! My car also has a name, and my plants. I think it’s way more fun that way.

I hear ya. I had an eMachines 780 (I think) for 8 years. And yes, the 780 represented the processor speed: 780mghz. That baby served me well from middle school well into college. It was hard to part with it. The funny thing about it was that EVERYONE ragged on me for having an eMachines, but my eMachines lasted a lot longer than their (fill in the blanks).

I’ve got an HP I’ve had for almost two years and it’s falling behind. It still performs well, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve put a LOT of wear on this thing with school, travel, and work. I’m looking a new HP (I love HP products) and I’m going to install Linux on my old laptop. I’ve never used to but want to learn about it.

@JMattHicks Wow. That’s pretty crazy, especially when you consider how much hardware advanced during that time. Dora (the older computer mentioned in this entry) happens to be an HP computer, and I’d definitely consider it when the time comes to shop for a new machine.
You should definitely install Linux, though. You don’t know what kind of software freedom you’re missing until you go the Linux route.

@Sushi Will do, I cannot wait. I’ve got my eye on an HP Envy…but supposedly they run EXTREMELY hot. My HP now runs hot and honestly, it’s a hassle to deal with at times. Eh, we’ll see.

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