Death of an Inspiron

This might be strange. Maybe you should leave now.

My laptop died sometime last week. I wanted to write about it. Some pictures of me attemping to fix it can be found here.

I bought the Inspiron 5150 somewhere between four and five years ago, depending on who you ask. It was shortly before Dennis and I moved out and our folks moved to Saskatoon, and I’d decided I wanted a computer of my own. And, somehow, decided I wanted a laptop.

(On a side note, that’s one of my few shopping weaknesses… if it’s small and technological, I’ll probably like it. ESPECIALLY laptops. I don’t usually care for Macs, but that Macbook Air where they put the thing in an envelope? Lord, help me, that thing is AWESOME)

So I found this “Dell” website, customized a bunch of different rigs (I LOVED being able to customize it), and settled on the trusty Inspiron 5150- right in the middle between “budget minded” and “liquid nitrogen cooled high end monster”. This was probably the first major purchase of my own (IE one that ran four digits), and I was excited, even after a couple of false starts trying to buy it with my low limit credit card.

The Inspiron was a faithful companion the last few years… I probably typed millions of words into it, between chats, blogs, schoolwork, and the other writing I did in my spare time. I don’t know what it says about me that I want to anthropomorphize it, but it’s hard not to, in this case. As someone who probably spends more time on a computer than is healthy, it saw all the sides of me, in writing and expression… I did feel connected to it, in a way.

It wasn’t perfect. You can google “Inspiron 5150 lawsuit” for an idea of just how flawed that particular model was… the flaw that may have eventually led to the downfall of mine, four-plus years after I purchased it. The heatsink was bad… as I discovered after playing World of Warcraft for a while, and started cleaning the fans with compressed air once a week. The CD drive eventually busted, forcing me to get an external drive. The wireless adapter was occasionally spotty. And it strained the definition of “portable”, at just over eight pounds.

None of that bothered me, most days, when I sat down to write or chat or work on it. It was always there.

That stopped about two weeks ago, when the display when black and the computer crashed, seemingly without any impetus. Perturbed, I restarted, only to see it happen again a few minutes later. I initially believed it to be a display issue, and shared that with my folks, as I resigned myself to the possibility that yes, my laptop was dying.

I knew it was coming, as I’d had it for a few years now, and rode it like a rented mule. But I’d hoped to keep it until the end of the school year, with graduation and job and reality finally beckoning to me. So the weekend before last came, and I researched like a madman, hoping against hope that it was something I could solve. The crashes were happening more frequently, and it was becoming almost unusable. I found the problem, instructions on how to fix it, and set about taking apart my laptop, piece by piece, to solve the problem.

It struck me as I was pulling off the keyboard on the dining room table for about the fourth time, wondering why I’d commited so much effort to it in the last few days. I hadn’t slept more than four hours per since the day it had first gone down. Schoolwork was starting to get backlogged. Other responsibilities were being ignored, until this could be fixed. Why was I doing this? Why not give up, and move on, get on with things that needed to be done? Was it Dave the student, trying to save a few bucks? Or something else?

I have a hard time letting go of things, and I expect this was such an example. I’d probably spent more time with this computer than most of my friends the last few years, and I had grown attached to it. It was busted, broken, occasionally slow, but I knew what to expect from it, and it served me well. I’d made friends with it, friends I couldn’t have met any other way, from all over the world. It helped me keep in touch with people, in ways I was comfortable with.

I ended up getting a new laptop last week (at a great deal), and am writing this entry on that now. I’m getting used to the keyboard, and the spiffy widescreen display, and Windows Vista, and the odd light-up buttons above the keyboard that amuse and delight me in new and exciting ways.

It’s a hunk of plastic and metal to anyone else, but in some ways, it was more to me. If that makes me odd, well, that boat should have sailed for the lot of you on how you perceive me already. So there.

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