R. I. P. My First Computer
My first computer was a laptop, a Dell XPS first generation. I got it so I could play PC games, with the added bonus that I would be able to use it at work and college. It was the first computer that I didn’t have to share with my family and I had to take out a loan to get it. But it was worth it; not only could I play the newest and greatest games, but I didn’t have to fight anyone to get time on it. It was mine and I could do anything that I wanted.
It became clear early on that there is some responsibility that comes with owning your own computer. When something goes wrong, it is your job to fix it. You may have a tech savvy family member but chances are they don’t want to fix your computer on their day off. I learned the ins and outs of tech support real quick, along with how important it was to have a warranty. I can’t even count how many times I shipped that thing back to Dell for repairs. If I had to guess I would say maybe seven or eight times over the course of three years. At least five of those were for the exact same problem. Apparently the motherboards for that machine were always defective. That’s not a slam against Dell, because they did always repair it within the warranty window. But it’s not an endorsement either.
I nicknamed my computer “Gaming Sweetness” and played who knows how many hours of World of Warcraft on it. But in addition to that, I was using it constantly for school work and my own personal writing projects. The machine was running all the time and it held its own to the best of its ability.
Everyone told me that the average life span of a computer was anywhere between three and five years. Mine died near the end of its sixth year. And when I say it died, I mean it literally went dead. All lights went out and all fans went quiet after booting it up. In my experience a lot of laptops go this way. I’m not sure why that is, but I foresaw it some time in advance. First the machine couldn’t handle video games anymore. They got choppy and the machine would get hot. So I stopped playing games on it. Then I finished school and didn’t need it for homework anymore. All I would do was write on it and occasionally make something in Photoshop. But I could see that its days were numbered. It couldn’t handle simple things like flash player or music. I was using it only for the simplest of tasks and it was struggling to perform them. So I began backing up my files religiously and learning all the little tips and tricks of keeping your computer clean. I wrote a hub about it as well as one about recovery procedures one can use when reformatting is not an option. I purchased a 4GB flash drive and made sure that every page I wrote for my novel was backed up before I shut the machine off. I knew that the next time I turned it on could be the last time.
It is sad to see it go. Not because I lost any files but because it was my first computer. It got me through endless college papers. It sent the emails to the woman who would be my future wife (and many emails to her after we were married). It designed some of my best art and writing projects and it got me through the majority of my novel.
Now it sits as little more than a hilariously oversized paperweight. I don’t know if I can ever bring myself to throw it away; every dent, scratch and worn piece of plastic is another memory of my time with it. I have a desktop computer now, for home use, and a business computer at work, so I am not disconnected in any way. And I’m sure one day I will get a new laptop for writing purposes. But Gaming Sweetness will always live on as my first, and it will be remembered fondly for helping me through some of the most work-heavy times in my life.
(I encourage everyone who reads this to share the specs of their first computer and how it died.)
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