Thursday, April 7, 2011

I've Been Living like an Animal! Or Help! My Laptop Has Fallen and Now I Can't Get the Internet Up!

It was my intention when I set up this blog to limit my discussions to movies, games, novels, perhaps some TV shows. However, recent events have superseded my original goals for this blog and I now find myself writing about an experience which I will not soon forget.

Recently, my still young (aged 2.5 years) laptop gave up the ghost. During the time between when I realized my DELL XPS M1530 was no more and when I received its replacement (an ASUS U30Jc-b1, in case you're interested), I found myself with only my old DELL Inspiron 3500, on which I wrote my dissertation, to fall back on as my entertainment center and my lifeline to the internet.

I quickly discovered that my DELL Inspiron 3500 wasn't quite up to snuff. To give you an idea of how old it is, permit me to regale you, dear reader, with certain details of its specifications such as its hard drive capacity (a whopping 6 GB), its memory (an even more diminutive 64 MB of RAM) or its processing speed (anywhere between 300 MHz to 400 MHz, depending on the specific model). It was running Windows 98 (second edition) and the last web browser I had installed on it was Internet Explorer 6, which meant that I wasn't able to access many web sites due to the not inconsiderable age of that browser. Attempts to install the latest browsers resulted in the rather arch response that my old Inspiron didn't meet the minimum requirements to run them!

Fortunately, I was still able to access my Yahoo! Mail account but for a harrowing couple of weeks, I was hurled back to a simpler, more quaint time during which I had to come to terms with the profound feeling of loss that I was feeling, something which I imagined being akin to how it must feel to lose a limb.

Time after work that I would have spent mindlessly surfing the internet or streaming my favorite television shows (just before my M1530 had expired, I had terminated my cable TV service) I spent catching up on my reading and for a few days, I was transported back to my childhood when the hours could be whiled away simply by sitting down with a good book.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the urge to game began to gnaw at me. In desperation, I feverishly installed The Zork Anthology, the CD-ROMs of which I had recently acquired on eBay, on my Inspiron 3500 and it occurred to me, not for the first time, that we're becoming addicts of our technology, so dependent on our sundry geegaws that when they are denied to us, we are at a loss as to what to do. To avoid having to depend on my woefully obsolescent 3500 in the event of a future laptop breakdown, after I got my replacement laptop, I immediately picked up an ASUS 1005HA netbook on eBay with the intention of using it as my backup computer in case my new laptop should up and die like my M1530. To forestall the onset of obsolescence which had effectively mooted my Inspiron 3500, I installed Linux on my 1005HA, spending hours configuring my netbook and, ironically, given its intended role as a backup, spending more time on it, as opposed to my new laptop, during the days immediately after my having received it.

A common theme in science-fiction movies when I was growing up was how man is in danger of being destroyed by his technology and it has occurred to me more than once that this may be happening right now, although on a more subtle (and possibly more dangerous) level than that popularly depicted in TV and film. Instead of being pursued and exterminated by killer robots, we're willingly embracing the technology that may destroy us, in some cases following its edicts to the point of becoming cybernetic lemmings.

Although it had not been my original intent when starting this blog to rail at the danger of becoming slaves of our technology, I suppose it is fitting and not so surprising, given the title of my blog (Stranger in a Strange Land), that I should do so while living and working in the heart of Silicon Valley.

And on that note, I end the inaugural post of this blog.

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