[NOTE: This is going to be an image-heavy post, so 56k-ers, be forewarned (the images total about 470k together, so it shouldn’t be too bad). All the images are in the extended entry. – Nabil]
A little background: I am a computer user by hobby and (so to speak) by trade. I do graphics work (3d and 2d), I write, I program, I design, I research, all on my computer. This is in addition to blogging, MUDding, chatting (IRC and otherwise), and web browsing in general. When all said and done, I AVERAGE 12 hours a day on my computer, daily, with the range going from 4 hour to 20 hours at a time. I make myself available 24 hours a day for the systems I help administer (the MUD, for instance), as well, so my computer is running (albeit idle) pretty much all the time.
Suffice it to say, my computers see a LOT of use. I travel with it regularly to a variety of locations (whether across the country or down the street to the local coffee shop). As such, despite keeping it in padded protected carrying cases, it sees some physical abuse in addition to just processor cycles. All of which… well it takes its toll. I’m documenting the abuse my current computer has received in the past two years as an example of exactly why I’m needing a new computer now: basically, I honestly don’t believe it will last even until I graduate next year.
So, let’s walk through my computer:
This is the screen hinge on the left side of the computer. As you can see, the screen casing has started to separate. This is the most recent damage to the machine.
The left edge of the computer. As you can see, the paint is chipping or already gone, or discolored. You can also see where the screen casing is separating from the frame.
The left-side underside of the computer. There is clear discoloration of the case, as well as a variety of scratches and abrasions, as well as a few minor dings that aren’t as visible in the picture.
The bottom front right corner. More discoloration, you can also see where the paint has started to rub off.
The bottom rear right corner. Largely untouched (different type of metal, as you can see… internally, that is where the processor is: the different casing is for heat dissipation). If you look at the rear edge, however, you can see some discoloration and lost paint.
The first case/frame damage that I know of. This showed up after an airline flight. I still don’t know how it managed to pinch the casing out like that. At first it was a more significant pinch, but I took off the case and tried to flatten it back out a bit.
This is the front of the machine. The paint has almost completely chipped off (the slit in it is actually the cd drive).
This is the right front corner. More paint chipping. Notice a trend?
This is the computer screen. See that darkness in the bottom middle of the screen? That’s burn-in of some sort. I have a SUSPICION that it has something to do with the magnet under the keyboard (which helps keep the keyboard in place), but I don’t know for sure.
This is the top left corner. Please note where the paint has abraided off under where my palm rests when typing. (The rest is obvious: more discoloration and chipped paint.)
This is the front of the computer. The touchpad is still largely in good shape, however the latch mechanism is not so lucky. The paint is chipping around it, but the real issue is that the latch mechanism itself only works after 4 or 5 (or 10 or 15…) tries when closing it.
Top right corner. As you can see, the paint is almost completely gone from this side. I got tired of getting done writing, lifting up my hand/arm and coming away with flakes of paint, and finally scraped the paint off with my fingernail (yes, it was that soft).
This is the left corner of the computer. As you can see, there is paint discoloration (if I tried, the paint would probably also scrape off, but since it’s off to the side and thus isn’t getting rubbed onto my clothes, I haven’t yet). What didn’t photograph well is the inside of the speakers: they’re choked with dust and grime.
Additionally, I’ve taken the computer apart and cleaned connections, fans, and vents, because the computer was starting to run HOT and LOUD (neither are suggestive of a computer in the height of health). This helped a bit, but is still just a stopgap solution. Also worth noting: I’m on my THIRD keyboard. (Well, the technicals: my first keyboard crapped out, the spacebar broke. I bought a replacement keyboard and used that until it started flipping out when used on anything less rigid than a table, and now I’m back to the original keyboard and just have gotten used to having to really SLAM the spacebar. It really should be replaced, but we don’t have the money right now).
Other things to note:
1) I am out of space on my hard drive. Larger, more memory intensive images have begun giving me out-of-scratch-disk errors, and this is AFTER aggressively cleaning my hard drive. I should be able to reduce it a bit more soon, by archiving the last of my photography and removing it from my hard drive.
2) The computer is running “hot” most of the time, now. I’ve done everything I can (reset the pram, reset the charger, cleaned the fans, cleaned the vents), but she’s just not handling things as well as she used to.
3) Could I switch to PC? Technically, yes, however there are a few issues with that: a) all my software is for Mac and would cost as much as a new Mac to switch to PC, and b) Windows is both klunky and a security risk, so why would I switch to it?
At the rate the computer has been exhibiting problems, I honestly don’t believe it will last through my current semester (just started, six month semester), if it continues to function as my primary computer. What I want to do is get a new computer (a desktop), offload all the files I can, and then really overhaul my laptop, get it back functioning happily again. However, I need that other computer FIRST, since (due to school and other commitments), I really can’t go without a computer for an extended period (such as when overhauling the laptop), especially since the overhaul will necessarily be piecemeal, picking up repair and replacement parts as I can afford them (new keyboard, new hard drive, replacement screen case, possibly a replacement screen, new paint). And by afford them, I mean when we’re out of debt and I’m working again.
The problem, of course, is money. While Mickey works full time (PLUS side jobs), and I work part-time and receive a school stipend, we accrued a lot of debt while living in Bellevue (rent was more than DOUBLE what we’re paying now), which we are still trying to pay off. Plus there is car work to be done: Mickey’s car is in for her 60,000 mile service as we speak, and turns out she needs brakework and an oil gasket replaced, meaning several hundred dollars. After that, I need new tires (I’ve been hydroplaning whenever it gets really wet, which is NOT a good way to be when we’re entering our rainy season), so that is also several hundred dollars. We have to finish licensing and innoculating our puppy, plus the day-to-day costs of an extra mouth to feed.
And then there’s my dental work… yes, that’s right, I STILL need that crown done. It was recommended I get the crown within the first year after the root canal, and given a maximum of two years to get it before the filling would have to be re-done before getting the crown. The crown will be $1300 (roughly), of which IN THEORY our health insurance will cover half of. We can’t get it done until December, though. In either case, it MUST be done before May, which will be the 2 year mark for when I got the root canal.
So there is the predicament. A genuine need for a new computer, but no money to do it, and a list of other things that can’t be skipped already in the “queue” (so to speak). So, I’m left with two options: ask for money on here, which historically hasn’t proven all that effective, or approach the school trust about subsidizing a new computer, which means convincing the trustee (my aunt) that I do in fact have a real need for a new computer (she has stated her opposition to getting me a new computer in the past). (Those of you who are in the “know” about the trust may be wondering where I’d work the computer into the already overworked trust budget. Well, I only have one semester next year, which means I don’t have to divide the annual allocation into two parts. This means I have a LITTLE bit more money available next year.)