Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Saying goodbye to a laptop

According to my financial records, on Aug. 9, 2007, I paid $908.41 for a laptop from Best Buy.

The HP laptop I bought replaced a Gateway laptop I bought in early 2002, and for a time it seemed like a good deal. I got a new laptop with internal wireless access, a built-in camera, and Microsoft’s latest operating system, the dreaded Windows Vista. Like others, I was used to Windows XP, but the downgrade was an extra-cost option, and I figured I could live with Vista.

Well, I no longer have to deal with Vista or, as I like to call it, Windows “Abortion.” My laptop has finally died. It still tries to start up, but nothing shows up on the screen or on the external monitor I connected to the laptop. It shuts down, then tries to start again.

Part of the original problem with the laptop was that it was an HP. The original battery’s juice sank visibly, even when new, and I had to spend most of my time with the laptop plugged in. A new 12-cell battery was fantastic for a while but gradually lost its mojo, too, and when it sank to about 60 percent power remaining, it would quickly discharge itself down to 5 percent and then shut down the computer until it could get recharged.

Windows Vista was a consistent pain in the butt to use. I remember the first time I tried to work with the laptop, and nearly everything you did would come to a halt while the computer asked you if you were sure you wanted to do it, including opening files and programs, closing files and programs, and just about anything else. It was infuriating, and I joked one time that if I ever got to talk to Bill Gates, I would say to him, “Yes, I’m bloody sure!”

Fortunately, a Best Buy salesman explained how to make the interruptions go away, but they came back one day in April 2009 when I was trying to live blog a County Commission meeting for the first time. The wireless system went into “Are you sure?” mode because I was trying to connect to an insecure public network, and repeatedly stopped to question me on whether I wanted to move forward. I was muttering curses and watching as the system announced that it was taking longer than expected to connect.

And when it did connect, it didn’t work right. Finally, a county IT person showed me the setting I needed to make my computer work with the system. I just had to set it back every time I left the building so it would work elsewhere.

Soon, I found that the internal wireless had quit working, too, and that it was a problem with HP laptops. Not wanting to go back to the alleged “Geek” Squad at Best Buy – due to a past bad experience — I just used a wireless USB thingie to access wireless networks. It always worked fine.

I nearly bought a new 12-cell battery for the laptop and was even considering Windows 7, but now in retrospect I’m glad I did not. The sad thing is that despite everything, I really want this laptop to recover because it’s symbolic of our throwaway society, but paying to fix it might cost more than buying a new one.

To that end, on Wednesday night I bought a new Toshiba laptop at HHGregg. It’s an adjustment to Windows 7, but so far it’s going fine.

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December 8, 2011 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , , , ,

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