This one starts all computery, and then drifts into philosophy. You have been warned.
Today seems to have gone mainly on waiting for stuff.
Our new PC was supposed to arrive this morning, but it wasn't delivered until after 4. I think everyone got a bit tetchy waiting for the doorbell to go. But it did arrive in the end, and now it's all set up and ready to go.
It's got Windows 7, making it the first computer in the family to move beyond the Windows XP paradigm. Not that I have anything against XP - it still holds up remarkably well for a 9-year-old operating system. But there is something rather shiny about 7.
I've also been waiting for an email or two which really ought to have been here a long time ago, but neither of them has arrived yet.
*Gets distracted* I've just become aware that the several-decades-old clock in the lounge is bonging obsessively - nay, almost psychotically - I'm talking several dozen chimes in a row, which is (of course) far beyond the call of duty for any clock. *Investigates* Turns out someone wound up the chimes mechanism, and now Mum's winding the hands round and round in an effort to wind the chime spring down again. But if you didn't know that and you just heard the noise, you could be forgiven for thinking that the clock had gone mad. It's been known to happen, you know - we've got a cuckoo clock in the dining room that went mad, and once it starts cuckooing it won't stop. It's been counted doing well over fifty cuckoos in one go. It does stop eventually, but only when the weight on the cuckooing gizmo hits the floor, a good six feet down from the clock.
Anyway, back to the point. The new PC - dubbed 'Bolt' for its speed - isn't a new addition to the Colclough computer fleet, it's a replacement. Its arrival means the decommissioning of an older machine - one running Windows 98 SE - and now that the old thing is sitting on my floor with no controls or monitor attached, one side panel missing, and looking a bit sorry for itself, it's really feeling like the end of an era. We acquired the machine in question in 2001 or early 2002, and shortly afterwards upgraded it with a video card, which was in many ways responsible for the beginning of my career as a filmmaker and animator. Years' worth of my life history have passed through the processor of that PC, and it's put up with so much that I'm almost amazed it's still running at all. In its later years it's been affectionately nicknamed 'Crunchy', because of the horrible noises the fan motor and hard disk make whenever it's switched on. I've moved on - in addition to a 4-year-old laptop and my own 2-year-old 64-bit quad-core, 'Beastie', the new arrival makes three computers in the house which all easily outclass old Crunchy, and it really doesn't have any useful function any more.
I've still got an original Windows 95 installer disc (which I suppose must have arrived with one of Crunchy's two predecessors), and I'm rather tempted to format Crunchy's C drive and install Win95 on it, just for the nostalgia trip of seeing the 15-year-old OS in action one last time. And when that's done, I'd also like to format the disk again and then see if the decrepit box will run Ubuntu.
And when I've finished playing with the corpse, there are two other things I'd like to do. One of them, in fulfillment of a long-standing ambition, would be to take the machine to the top of a tallish building and throw it off the roof, just to watch it smash at the bottom. I've been wanting to do that to a computer for a very long time.
But the other thing is very different: part of me wants to give it a hug before it finally meets its end. Yeah, it's weird. I know. But as one of those people whose IT skills far outstrip their people skills, I don't just look at a family computer as another piece of hardware, like a washing machine or something. It's a friend, of sorts - or at least it used to be, before it went senile and started arbitrarily destroying important files. That's what the hug is for: not because the metal and plastic is anything special in and of itself, or because the old box is still valuable (let's face it, it isn't), but for auld lang syne. For the dozens of films and videos which I edited there, for the hundreds of comic strips I wrote there, for all the emails written and received there - my best friends live 120 miles away, and a lot of our conversation is conducted via email - and for everything else that the machine and I did together over the last eight or nine years.
Having said what I said about people skills... I'd still hug a human friend goodbye too if I knew there was an ending in the offing. Unless they didn't want it, of course, in which case I wouldn't. But you don't go through the same process with humans, of deciding that their end has come, formatting C, saying a ceremonialised farewell and then throwing them off a rooftop. Well, I don't anyhow. I hope you don't either. (Do you?)
Still, the point remains: it'll be sad to see the last of Crunchy.
Now, if its successor matches its longevity record, then we won't be saying goodbye to Bolt until at least 2018...
See, I told you I could blog on other days of the week besides Thursdays!
- The Colclough