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A Laptop Love Affair

Earlier today, my shiny nearly-still-new gaming laptop died unexpectedly. Only four months old, it croaked in the middle of a pretty vanilla web browsing session, waiting to play a game with my brother-in-law. After trying my small bag of tricks to fix common laptop crashes, I had to admit defeat and file an RMA with the company I bought it from. No fans, no boot, no post; something died on the motherboard.

Fortunately, I still have my battle-tested Alienware M11X stashed away in my dad-cave, so I trudged home and dropped off the dead laptop and picked up the old warrior. Underpowered since the day I bought it, my little M11X has logged some insane travel miles, and played games on the worst wifi in crappy hotels around the northwest. It's lived through multiple hard drives, a RAM upgrade (which was uncharacteristically tricky), two screen surgeries and then a replacement, and all manner of operating systems.

Not many people have the luxury of multiple gaming laptops from which to draw, but I've been a laptop guy since I got my first one, an already ancient & outdated Compaq Presario Pentium II. My youth group leader took me to his work to show me around after church one day, and he noticed my fascination with the array of different computers in the office. He worked at a software testing place as their IT guy, so he happened to have a spare old laptop laying around that he used for network testing and verification. On our way out the door, he brought it along and handed it to me. That was 2005, and I was hooked.

My first "real" laptop was a highschool graduation present from my dad. He knew nothing about computers, but he wanted me to have a really nice one, and got me a baller Gateway laptop with the new AMD64 processor, 2gb of ram, and a dedicated video card. It was somewhat of a unicorn at the time, and it lasted at least 7 years before I ended up gifting it to a friend for use as a Netflix machine. Since then, I've had a string of laptops, some purchased, some gifted to me, some traded for. Some were almost as old as me (a Powerbook 1400c), some the best of the best in their time (a Dell XPS M170 with the Nvidia7800 upgrade that I rebuilt myself from spare parts off eBay), some terrible piles of crap held together with tape. Everex, Asus, Acer, HP, Dell, Fujitsu, Compaq, Sager, Apple, Gateway, Toshiba, Sony, I've had at least one from each (usually several).

While anyone can tell you that a desktop is a better investment and can perform at a higher level for much less cost, I have always had a love of a self-contained computer, even if it meant some sacrifices in performance. Over the years I had quite a collection, but I slimmed it down as I got married and bought a house and had kids. I still have a few more than I really need kicking around the dark corners of my house, waiting to be called upon for duty as a server or a linux playground.

Today, though, I am thankful for my old standby, the Alienware M11X. Too little, too under-powered, too Alienware for people, but it's still going strong. I haven't bought another since, as I have a limited dad-budget, but I also haven't needed to. I dream of a fancy new laptop, but in the meantime I live in reality, enjoying my old standby, waiting on my new-ish budget upgrade to get repaired or replaced. Sometimes it seems dependable longevity has become an undervalued asset in the fast-moving world of tech, where "newer, shinier, faster, better" just replaces things as the wear out and die.

Whomever was on the team that designed and built the Alienware M11X: this broke dad salutes your dedication to quality from the very machine you created.


Unknown said…
This is my second attempt at posting a response so if it's redundant, I apologize.

This was a very quick, clear, and funny read man. You said on Facebook that you wrote this because you were in a weird mood? Whatever man. It's a good read.

If that "mood" hits you again, you should consider writing a piece for Goldmans blog. He's hard up for material and your writing is pretty good!

Write about anything that is remotely Lego focused. Personal experiences in the hobby, opinion about the product, experimenting with Mega Block while in prison... any dam thing that is even a tiny bit almost Lego.

He wants more voices on the blog, and your writing voice is pretty solid.

Just send him a draft of ANYTHING. He will be shocked that anybody actually sent him material... he is going crazy trying to get folks to contribute. He may edit a little bit but not much (most of my stuff gets rubber stamped).

Like I said man, if the mood hits you.

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