Home > Uncategorized > Goodbye, computer

Goodbye, computer

Well, my small-form-factor Foxconn desktop computer has finally given up the ghost, or is about to.  For a couple of months now I’ve been having trouble getting it to turn on, which I figured was probably just due to a dirty contact on the power switch or something, since it worked fine once it finally came on, and I could leave it powered up or on standby for days at a time with no trouble.  But a couple of days ago, it froze up at the startup screen a couple of times.  So I took it in to the repair shop for them to take a look at (and had to wait a while since there was a “Back in 10 minutes” sign on the door, although it was 15 minutes before anyone showed up).  At the end of the day, they told me that it was a complete loss.  Something like half a dozen capacitors on the motherboard had exploded — yes, exploded — and there was no way to replace them without risking further damage to the motherboard, and there was no replacement for the motherboard available.  The tech advised me to get it to turn on if I could, then not turn it off again, period.  He said to back up everything I could and let it die a natural death.

So now I’m back on my laptop, which has always been sluggish when required to handle the load of running a browser (due to having very little RAM, I guess), and which seems even more sluggish than usual now.  So I need to think about buying a new computer.  I feel it’s important to have two so I can have a backup for emergencies like this one.  But the question is, what kind of computer do I buy — a desktop or another laptop?  My current laptop is flawed in the way I described, and I’ve been tempted to replace it anyway.   Plus it’s six years old, two years older than the Foxconn, so I’m not sure how reliable it is.  And it seems a lot of people use laptops/notebooks as their sole or primary computers these days.  So maybe I should get a new laptop and just keep the current one around as a backup.

But on the other hand, I’ve got this whole workspace set up for a desktop computer.  I’ve got a monitor and a keyboard, I’ve got a desk with a rollout keyboard tray, and I’ve got this nice couple of wire racks under the desk that hold the small-form-factor computer (about the size of a thick laptop, in fact) and my power strips and things.  I’d like to get a new desktop computer so this whole setup wouldn’t go to waste.  Besides, I like doing my writing on my laptop and my other computing on the desktop, because it helps me avoid getting distracted when I’m writing, and it lets me treat my laptop as a business expense.  What’s more, it’s less than two months since I paid for a new antivirus program for my laptop (which is for business so I couldn’t use a free one).  I assume I could transfer the subscription to a new computer, but still.

What I’d like to do eventually is replace both computers — get a new desktop and a new laptop, maybe a few months or a year apart, depending on need.  The question is, which one would it make more sense to get first?  My preference would be to get a new desktop for now and replace the laptop later when it finally gives out, but is that really the most practical decision, or is it just resistance to novelty?  One way or another, I need a laptop so I can work (and connect to the Web/email/etc.) when I travel, so maybe it’s better to have two laptops than one desktop and one 6-year-old laptop whose lifespan is uncertain.  But if I do that, get another laptop, do I donate the monitor and keyboard I have, or do I hold onto them in case I decide to get a new desktop a while later?

*sigh* I hate making decisions.  Why can’t they all be easy?

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  1. Bob Slade
    June 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Christopher, you could do as I did when it came time to upgrade. I got a macbook and a 32″ LCD tv with the appropriate adapters so that when I want to fight my way into my office, I just plug in the AV cables to my macbook and “viola” instant desktop. When it comes time to upgrade I only have to get memory for 1 machine, if I want additional storage space I can get a huge USB drive very inexpensively, I have one for backing up and two others for storage. Good luck. Bob

  2. LarryB
    June 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    You can connect an external monitor, keyboard and mouse to your laptop and have it both ways. Some laptops will even let you use both its own display as well as an external one as part of an extended desktop, giving you lots of screen real estate to have your word processor open on the external display and email or a browser open on the laptop’s display.

    As I see it, the pros to getting a new laptop are better performance while on the road and having everything in one place. Getting a new desktop would be cheaper.

    Either way, I hope you’re backing up regularly.

    • June 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      Do you have to leave the laptop open for it to stay on, or can you set it not to go on standby when you close the lid?

      And it seems like having a laptop hooked up to all that stuff would be inconvenient if I just wanted to pick it up and carry it somewhere to get some writing done.

      • Larry Brennan
        June 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        You can definitely set it not to sleep when you close it, so you don’t have to worry about leaving the thing open when working at your desk.

        Over the years, I’ve tried a number of docking stations for different brands of computers (IBM/Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony) and none have been satisfactory. Often, the computer becomes unstable when docked or undocked. I think it would be easier (and cheaper) to just plug and unplug your peripherals as needed. That’s what I eventually would up doing with all of my laptops, despite having the false convenience of a docking station.

      • June 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        The problem is, if I got a laptop, I’d probably use it for writing. And it makes sense for tax and insurance reasons to have separate “home” and “work” computers.

        In the best of all possible worlds, I’d replace both computers. If I really wanted to, I could afford to, but that’s more profligate than I want to be even in my current comfortable financial situation (since who knows how long that comfort will last?).

  3. June 5, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    If you get a docking station for your laptop everything plugs in to that. When you want to go someplace you pick up the laptop and go, there’s no unplugging anything. I’m almost positive you can shut the lid and it stays on if you have a docking station or items plugged into it but I can’t say for sure, I don’t have an external monitor or keyboard for my laptop. Don’t need to travel with it. I own a netbook for when I’m on call and my android phone covers most of my other needs when I’m away from home.

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