There’s an old joke where someone is trying to selling an antique hatchet by saying, “This is the hatchet used by George Washington to cut down the cherry tree! Of course, the handle has been replaced three times … and the blade has been replaced twice …”
The reason I bring this up is that I bought my HP computer on New Year’s Eve day in 1999 — that’s how geek’s ring a new century! W00t! — and I’ve been using it ever since.
Of course, I felt compelled to max out the RAM (to 384 MB, from 128). And after 6 months I had to get a bigger hard drive (Napster, you know), and after another 3 months I added a second drive (I had started editing video, which also required the installation of a Firewire port). It wasn’t long before I found a great deal on a faster CD burner, and soon thereafter I replaced my original hard drive (17 paltry megs!) with a bigger one, and added a sound card.
This was, after all, the period when I was studying for (and passing!) my A+ certification, and you don’t get all that computer information crammed into your brain without wanting to put some of it to use.
Anyway, a couple of external devices, USB ports, USB hubs, and case fans later, I started having complete hard drive crashes while trying to install The Sims and its expansion packs. A couple of people on the tech message boards suggested that maybe my 185 watt power supply was overloaded, amd I figured that it was probably time to upgrade that as well, even if it turned out not to be causing the problem.
I soon found, though, that it was really hard to find another 4″ x 4″ x 6″ power supply — even new ones of the same wattage were bigger — and only the same size would fit into my cramped little HP case, where the IDE ribbon cables were already scrunched in like wadded up sheets of paper.
That was when I decided that a certified computer repair technician like myself deserved one of those huge, roomy 21″ Antec cases like I had at work. Those things were a joy to putter around in, with plenty of room for extra drives and fans, while still leaving space for the drive cables to stretch their legs, so to speak, and letting air circulate better, making for a cooler drive environment.
So, in early 2003, I got a new case with a 500 watt power supply, and, since I was starting with a newly-wiped hard drive, decided it was time to upgrade to Windows XP — which caused my HP-installed DVD-ROM drive to stop functioning, at least the DVD part, because changing the OS meant having to flash the drive’s firmware, and this drive was refusing to be flashed.
No matter, since I was ready for a writable DVD drive by this point, and I found one on sale.
Soon after this, I figured it was time for a new processor and even more RAM, which means also a new motherboard, one of the biggest rackets of the technology industry, since mobos are only designed to work with a narrow range of processors and memory, and unless your processor craps out on you a short time after you get it, chances are your older board won’t support much newer chips.
And at some point in all this, I also got a video card, for running Everquest 2, I think, and over the years have snapped up keyboards that CompUSA would offer for nothing or next to it after rebates.
And just over a year ago I treated myself to a birthday present of a new flat panel monitor.
That leaves just the mouse, which is the only remaining part of the old HP.
Or to go back to the axe analogy, I still had the HP computer I bought in 1999, except with a few parts swapped out.
Or I did, until tonight.
The HP mouse has been losing responsiveness lately, even though the ball and its rollbars seem clean, and the mousepad doesn’t seem to be the problem, so tonight I finally broke down and hooked up one of the spare mice I keep on hand (since we’ve got 3 other computers).
So now, after six and a half years, I can finally say: I have a new computer!