Thursday, October 7, 2010

I am geek, hear me roar; also, I am old.

Last week, all of the sudden, the backlight on my laptop’s monitor failed. At first I didn’t know it was the backlight – I thought it was the screen itself. We have an extra desktop and spare monitor in the guest bedroom, so I got the laptop hooked up to that monitor and went online, and found a lovely schematic diagram that helped me diagnose the problem. GOD, I love the internet. I’m sure if a teenager were nearby to listen to me, there would be eyes rolling. Whatever.

Anyway, the suggested course of action was to check all the connections, to see if maybe a wire had come loose inside. Having seen my Brave Big Sister nearly COMPLETELY disassemble her laptop to install a new touchpad – she is a brutal typist, she just destroys touchpads and keyboards – I figured, “how hard could it be?”

But knowing that I risked accidentally destroying my laptop, I first went online and scouted out replacement laptops. And then…I went in.

Here’s my baby, with its screen popped out and lying flat, facedown, on the keyboard.


I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong – no frayed or severed wires, no gray smudges of ash, no blood – so then I popped the keyboard out and poked around there as well. Have I mentioned that I love the internet? I found a whole tutorial with pictures on how to do this, for this specific laptop model. Where I found things that could be pulled apart and plugged back in, I did that.

When I reassembled the whole thing, I saw I had managed to lose two screws. Gosh, that felt good. And, all that tinkering made no difference.

I knew I’d never be happy using the laptop hooked up to an external monitor like that – it violates my overall sense of decency, for one thing. Plus, the monitor’s perhaps a little old, because the text on it is light and fuzzy and kinda headache inducing. And besides, this is a five year old laptop running Windows XP. True, I’d had the RAM goosed up last year when my hard drive failed, but still…I figured this was the universe’s way of saying “time to upgrade”.

I was all set to order a replacement online from Dell, but I thought I’d swing by Staples first, “just to see what they had”. Turns out they had an even nicer Dell setup than I’d picked out – same processor, same RAM, same size hard drive – but with a bigger monitor – for $150 less than the online price. HAH! And, the best deal on MS Office I’d seen as well. So I took the plunge.

Because I’d already done the research, it took me approximately three seconds to go from “ah, here are the laptops” to “excuse me, sir? I’d like to buy this one right here.”

It was while chatting with the sales/tech guy, who by the way looked exactly like Elijah Wood, that I realized it was the backlight that had failed. (When it fires up, you can just barely make out the splash screen.) To fix it requires soldering, which…that’s just not a hobby I’m going to take up at this juncture.

Yep, I’ve finally gotten into this decade, with Windows 7…a webcam…etc.


Here it is. The old laptop and monitor set up is on the right.

webcam test

Here I am, figuring out how to get a snapshot of myself using the built-in webcam. Windows 7 “snipping tool” completely rocks the house. I used to use TechSmith’s SnagIt utility, but now it’s built in and freeeeeee, hooray.

As my oldest friend Elena, with whom I just now had my first-ever Skype call pointed out, “welcome to the 20th century, Sarah”.

Right now, as I type this, all my iTunes files are being copied over from the old laptop to this baby, over the wireless network that I (ahem, boast, boast) set up last night. Because it’s important that I have all my ABBA songs immediately accessible.

Yeah, so in other news, um, I just got back a couple of days ago from my high school 25th reunion. I had assumed that I would blog about it – just the getting-there-and-back, with the delayed and cancelled flights, the freakish turbulence – I could have done several posts about the whole thing. But you know, by now, I have already uploaded all my pictures to Facebook and Shutterfly, so them that needs the full details, is already hooked up.

I’ll say this, though.

I love being older.

I love not being an awkward 14 year old. I love how grounded I feel these days. Yeah, it’s sometimes rough not working – not having that clear and obvious sense of social identity that comes from being engaged in a career. That’s still a Big Something I’m figuring out. But the gift of the past 14 months has been realizing that I do know who I am, and what I care about, even with no structure to my days, as a pretty-much-complete-recluse. It took me a good, solid two years to work up the balls to quit that job – I was terrified I’d just drop into some kind of existential abyss. And while I’ve certainly had plenty of days where I find myself in the Whirlpool of Doom, I’m happy to report that I’m generally OK.

But back to the reunion: I love the fact that pretty much without discernible exception, we were all thrilled to see each other – even folks I hadn’t known particularly well when we were growing up together. In fact, especially those folks. Everyone there – and there were a lot of us there, maybe a third of our graduating class of ~75 people – was just so damn NICE! And so interesting! Yeah, even that one annoying person, I no longer found annoying. Whether he’d changed or I’d changed, who knows, it doesn’t matter.

I had a total blast and stayed out waaaaaayyyyy past my normal bedtime a couple of nights in a row. And then to top it all off, on Sunday morning (well, OK, it was noon, actually) I went for a five mile run with the guy I sat next to for the class photo of nursery school. How cool is that? (Hi, Tom, if you’re reading this!)

Alright, I’ve got way more playing around to do with my new toy – creating backup disks, f’rinstance, and presumably you yourself are about ready to stop listening to me right around now.

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