Computer Drama: Part 1

My Asus EeePC Netbook (named Inara–all my computers get a name) had a pesky power problem.  For over a year, she has had to be plugged in to operate.  You unplug her and just like unplugging a desktop PC from the wall–she dies.  Even a new battery didn’t help.  This would have been a much bigger deal if I’d been traveling with her more, but those days are over.  She could stay plugged into the wall and still be useful for paying bills while I watched TV in the living room.

But, the problem grew.  Probably owing in part to the multiple uncontrolled shutdowns from accidentally disconnecting the power, her hard drive finally bit the dust.  After 4 years, it was time to let her go.  I’d gotten more than the couple of hundred dollars I spent on her (she was like $250), and she’d literally traveled the world with me, plus I still had the desktop, Rosilyn (yes, I name all my computers–though not always for sci fi characters….)

Rosilyn is even older.  She cost me $400 in 2005 when I had an emergency situation in law school.  Much like President Laura Rosilyn in Battlestar Galactica, she wasn’t really what I ever would have chosen, but she was what I got in a pinch and she’s done a damn fine job.  Unfortunately, Ros has been making funny noises, her DVD burner was acting up and the SD card reader wouldn’t detect cards anymore.  All small enough fixes.  While I’ve wanted to build a PC since college, constraints on time and money have always gotten in the way.  Right now isn’t much different.  So, I picked up $37 in parts (a new CPU fan, a DVD drive and a card reader that plugs into the USB port) to keep her going.

Before I could replace anything, I was going to back up a few documents to a thumb drive.  No big deal.  The thumb drive was a relatively new SanDisk I’d used at least half a dozen times before.  This time, Rosilyn didn’t acknowledge anything had been plugged into her USB.  I reached down after a moment of clicking and trying to get her to make the sound associated with detection of a USB device (because I am a nerd, she plays a .wav from Top Gun “I feel the need, the need for speed!”) and….OUCH!

The thumb drive burned my fingers and I left imprints in the plastic.  Yes.  My computer had, literally, melted my drive. Great.

With XP support going the way of Atlantis, I had planned to change Rosilyn over to Linux (Yay! Ubuntu!) rather than shell out for Windows 8 on old-ass hardware (also new company restrictions mean I can’t use my home machine to log in anymore anyhow so my reason for keeping Windows is gone).  Luckily I got Ubuntu booted from an old CD before Ros totally stopped acknowledging she even has an optical drive (even after I replaced the old drive with the new one, she still denies it–won’t show up in the BIOS or anything).  Once she is booted into Ubutunu, other than the lack of a DVD drive, she runs well enough–but getting her to boot is painful.  I have to trick her into a recovery mode first and then on into the operating system or she’ll just sit there and eventually error out of booting at all (found this out after I shut her down to replace the DVD drive…and then again after I shut her down to replace the CPU fan).  And I’m not risking any more USB plug ins, so I’m leaving my SD card reader aside for now.  I think if I have to shut her down again I’ll never get her re-started.

The Kindle and my cell phone can help to a degree, but, I need a keyboard.  And a browser that doesn’t flake out on forms.

I made the decision to look for another Inara.  It wasn’t ideal.  I really wanted my next machine to be that dream PC I built, but now is not the time.  Surely for under $300, I could get something even better than Inara.  After all, at 4 years old, she was ancient by notebook computer standards, right?

Only I couldn’t.  The netbook form factor was apparently only popular with my family.  There were far fewer choices, and those were higher than what I’d planned to pay.

Except for….

To Be Continued.

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