Yesterday I deposited a freelance check that was pretty small by normal standards, but large in rewards. Around the Lockardugan studios, we have an assortment of old and new equipment, bought as time, money, and projects allow, and our PC is one of the oldest relics in the shop. (Number one would be our circa 1994 LaserWriter 630.) It’s a no-name clone box with a Celeron 433—I think—built for me by my former business partner Dan when this blazing speed might have impressed somebody. It’s beige, and it contains remnants of my first-ever PC (the floppy drive) as well as cast-off components donated to me by friends who took pity on my spendthrift ways. It’s been a reliable, dependable workhorse of a computer, and it’s allowed me to make money and stay viable for longer than I would have imagined.
However, its time is due. Switching between Photoshop, web browsers, and HomeSite (the main reason I own a PC) is painfully slow. The hard drive, which dates back to the Clinton Administration, has begun to sound wonky. I’m sure it draws gigawatts of electrical power, between the ancient power supply and the hand-me-down Voodoo 5 video card, which features two cooling fans and sounds like a hovering Russian helicopter. And frankly, it’s very big and bulky. Recent events and upcoming plans have illustrated the need for something faster, smaller, and more portable to work on.
I found an outfit in a hole-in-the-wall shopping center in Glen Burnie that sells off-lease computer equipment for relatively cheap prices [Name withheld.] I dragged Jen there yesterday after a lunchtime client meeting to look over the selection, and found a basic IBM R30 Thinkpad for what I thought was a reasonable price. After standing around and waiting for one employee to get off the phone with what I assumed was his lawyer (a discussion about divorce papers and who would retain possession of the house had my mind spinning all sorts of stories about this kid) I was waited on by another, younger, walleyed kid who turned out to be the store manager. He broke out a power supply and I waited patiently for him to test out the unit while concentrating on not passing out from A. the heat and B. the overwhelming stench of mothballs, geeksweat, tapioca, and baby powder. After enduring the checkout and an anti-AOL diatribe by a distraught, shrieking female customer, I was given a matching IBM notebook bag and a swappable floppy drive, paid my money, and escaped back into the fresh air.
Because the company is not Microsoft certified, they are not allowed to install anything but the original system, so I am stuck with Windows 98, which is a little like riding a tricycle again. After installing a firewall, I spent a good part of last night looking up basic functions like file sharing, installing fonts, and DHCP setup, but it’s gone smoothly and easily. It feels lighter, faster, and more responsive already, and I’m almost finished getting it set up for heavy usage. At some point I’ll have to upgrade it (or, alternatively, buy a MacBook and set up a dual-boot environment, but I don’t see that kind of scratch headed my way for some time now) and actually learn how to maintain a PC without hosing everything.
So, does anybody have a copy of Windows 2000 laying around? Heh heh, just kidding, Mr. Gates.