Thursday, November 13, 2008

The End of an Era

Yesterday, I decided that the era of the Dell Latitude D800 that I've run into the ground since June of 2004 was over. I am a mechanical engineer, and relatively critical of the computer-savvy in general, so for me to define an era by my laptop says something, I think. Maybe it's a symbolic gesture and a sign that I'm eager to come to terms with other changes, with a new role as a graduate student, with the fact that I honestly forgot my brother's age this week. In any case, I thought I should say a few words...

Not that the D800 is dead; in fact, I'm writing this post with it. My new laptop (a Latitude E6400, since this one outlasted the entire D generation) won't be here for some weeks and I'm sure this one will survive way past then. Once, I was riding a train with this laptop out and tried to pour myself a drink, only to have a bumpy northeast corridor rail cause me to spill it into the keyboard. Once, I left my window wide open to cool down my room while I went to take a shower and a freak thunderstorm soaked everything on my desk, including this laptop. Once, I tripped on the power cord and pulled this laptop off a table, causing it to fall on its corner on the concrete floor of a machine shop. The plastic is cracked, the hinges are shot, and the latch has been replaced with a piece of duct tape; but it still starts up quickly, all 1920x1200 pixels still work, and it still eats SolidWorks files for breakfast. If I had a dollar for every time this laptop has gotten either me or somebody else out of a jam by virtue of its uncompromising functionality, I'd be able to afford a much fancier successor.

More importantly, though, it is a digital archive of the last 54 months of "me," my entire undergraduate career and more. It's spanned so many of my endeavors, including the birth of some new traditions: the "crazy summer project," the "long-weekend-coding-project," and the "media machine." The experiences and people it's seen have changed my life and the media it's captured and stored are priceless to me. Even if I am (poorly) disguising my acceptance of change on many fronts with this new "flagship tool," I'm going to use the resilience of my old machine as a symbol for the many things I want to carry over in the process.


  1. I just bought some much needed RAM, and switched OS, and I have a new computer too!

    Oh, and Congratulations Ken!

  2. Congrats!! :D

    and happy birthday Ken!

  3. I remember when the laptop was first un-boxed, so shiny and innocent. They grow up so fast. *sniff*

    Thanks everyone for the birthday shouts :)