Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bye Bye Buy Buy

This is what my computer likes to tell me these days when it gets blue. It'll be merrily chugging on its way, running the screensaver more often than not, when all of a sudden it will get sad and decide it needs a break. Since my computer's desire for a break rarely coincides with mine, this is a problem. Not a terrible problem, since I have not yet lost any work because of its intransigence, but an annoying problem. Do you know how long it takes to restart my system after an unexpected shutdown!?

So, while I continue to do useless things to the video drivers and the BIOS, and will eventually reinstall Windows, in an attempt to fix this problem, I have little hope of success. I believe that all the problems with my computer stem from the graphics processor, which is unfortunately not a separate card, but a unit that, as far as I can tell, is built into the motherboard, which costs almost 300 dollars to replace. Might as well buy a new computer for that much. And, if perchance, the graphics processor alone is replaceable, the part is impossible to find for sale, and will require removing every other part of the computer to replace it.

So, I believe it is time to shop for a new system. It feels like only yesterday that I purchased this lovely green Dell laptop, but actually, it was 2 and a half years ago, and with planned obsolescence being what it is, that's about as long as anyone can expect a lovely green Dell laptop to work well. My Toshiba was 3 and a half years old and still kicking—minus 2 USB ports and the DVD drive—when I finally let it go. I would try to keep this one around a little longer—after all, the occasional Blue Screen of Death is nothing compared to spending your whole month's income on a computer—except that I'm afraid of the future. I need a backup system, so that I can continue to do my job in the inevitable event of catastrophic failure.

Thus, I shop. And I've discovered some interesting things about my computer-shopping habits. For instance, I've become obsessed with graphics cards. I feel it is absolutely necessary that my next computer should have a replaceable graphics card AND that its graphics card should not be some rinky-dink Intel Mobile Express Chipset, but should instead be a high-powered workhorse that will never fail me. Never.

This is silly because (1) the only reason to have a high-powered workhorse for a graphics card is if you play 3-D video games. Which I don't. Well, I might. But I'm afraid to try because I'm afraid to try. And (2) no matter how high-powered the graphics card is, it will still fail me if it is so inclined. But, if it's one of those big fancy schmancy ones, it is more likely that I'll be able to buy a new one online should it be the uncooperative sort.

My next matter of excessive preference is the hard drive. I don't really care about capacity. My current hard drive holds 140 GB and still has room, and all the new drives out there are significantly bigger. But ever since I was shopping for my last computer and was advised to get a computer with a fast hard drive, I've been unwilling to settle for anything less. 5400 RPM? Pshaw. Not good enough for me! Unfortunately, the computers with 7200 RPM hard disks are few and far between. I'm still not sure if a faster hard drive makes for significantly better performance, but I'm afraid to step down now.

And of course, to top it all off, I want the power without the weight and without the cost. My current system weighs something over 4 pounds. All the ones that I find online that meet my exacting specifications weigh 6 to 8 pounds! Unbelievable! AND, most of them cost over a thousand dollars! I refuse to spend over a thousand dollars for a computer, since I spent that much on this hunk of junk, thinking it would be my Old Faithful, and here I am replacing it before 3 years are up! What's the point of spending for quality if it's all going to fall apart anyway?

I'm making this very hard for myself. Now I'm wondering if I can get a desktop for home use. Desktops don't get battered around as much, so they last longer, and replacement parts are cheaper and easier to install. Then I'd have to keep all my files on an external hard drive, and bring it along with my demoted laptop any time I needed to work away from home. I'd also need to make sure all the software I use is installed on both systems. Naah. Too complicated. And besides, how would I fulfill my frequent need to do my work while lying on the floor? I think that, as a professional who works from home, I should just resign myself to the necessity of periodic replacement of the equipment. I can probably write it off on my taxes.


Anonymous said...

I still remember when you asked one of our AU profs (I think it was Dr. Brauner??) if you really needed to bring your graphing calculator to class because you were sure it weighed a WHOLE POUND. That was freakin awesome. I think he said something about letting us know before we needed to use it. And we never used it. Oh i miss those Ashland days.


Valerie said...

I miss YOU! And the Ashland days!