Gone, Just Like That

...or wherever it is that computer recyclers send old computers to.

Over the last six months or so, the Dell Dimension 5150 that's been the family's main "business" computer has been having problems powering back on after being turned off. Described online as "the dreaded blinking orange power light", it required much fiddling to get the computer to restart. Most of the time the voodoo required has been unplugging everything (including the power cable), letting the capacitors drain, then connecting only the power and monitor cables -- and hoping. Then repeating as necessary when it didn't work.

Three weeks ago it took me a half hour under the desk to get it to start again, and Jenn said well if this is the case then it is time to replace it.

Some fiddling around on Dell.com and I came away with an entry level Inspiron 660 of some kind with a decent amount of RAM. I decided to go the cheap way because as you went up in price the main cost sink was a gaming-caliber video card and frankly we don't game on this computer and probably never will. All it has to do is have two people logged into it full time (me and Jenn) and not fall over when Nathan logs into it at the same time. We mostly just use web browsers and text editors on it. So a fancy video card? Not much point. Besides, I still have the nVidia card that I added to the 5150 to get multihead (of course the fact that I never did multihead with it is irrelevant).

I might have liked an i7 processor instead of the i5 I came away with, but I couldn't figure out how to order an i7 without having a monster video card as well.

So I took the implied savings from that and went off to Tiger Direct and ordered myself a 256GB SSD. I have a SSD in my work laptop and I don't think I'll buy a computer which boots off of rotational media ever again. This new Dell boots so fast that the Windows 7 animation doesn't have time to finish before it flips to the login screen.

Getting this all together and transfering the data from one system to another was is an ongoing pain. The Easy Transfer Wizard didn't transfer anyone's IE or Firefox bookmarks and a few other things didn't seem to get transferred either. I've got the old boot drive installed in the new system so that I can get the old data off of it. Once we're happy with that I'll replace it with the 1TB drive from the old computer, and that'll mean I'll have 2 TB of storage -- plus the SSD to boot from.

Crazy. Although it means that for the first time in a long time I have more RAM, CPU, and storage in my home system than I do in the laptop that work issued to me.

So in less than three weeks I've gone from not thinking about a replacement to being replaced. And it happens that one of the vendors we do business with is having an electronics-recycling day today. So along with the old Voyager (which died a year ago September), a Netopia R910 router that's older than God, a busted Compaq laptop, and a big box of IDE disks, I've put out the 5150.

Maybe I'm excessively sentimental, but it seems sad that something I've used so long is getting unceremoniously turfed so quickly.