Two of my big gifts this Christmas have been laptops. I gave one to my parents to accompany their main gift of a wireless router. I ended up getting two older used computers, one of which was to go to them. Unfortunately, both had mild problems. Then I won a free laptop, but it too developed problems. Somewhere along the line, Clancy’s computer developed problems.

Now, when I say “problems” I am using the term pretty loosely. They all work. One has a disc drive that works unless you’re trying to install an OS. One has a sticky keyboard. One has a hardware fault that won’t let Windows run on it but does work with Linux. Clancy’s old computer started overheating, though I think I got that under control. I can get all of these computers working, but the margin of error for my parents is much smaller than for me because they don’t immediately know how to work around them and don’t have the redundancy.

In the process of trying to figure out which computer they should get and attacking the various problems developing with my fleet of older computers, I discovered that Clancy needed a better computer than she has because of her tendency to tax computer resources with scores of open Firefox tabs. So I found a great deal on eBay for a replacement for her for a computer that could at least be upgraded into what she needed.

Of course, this meant taking two computers down from Cascadia to Delosa, one for her and one for my parents. And because she was a recipient, I couldn’t tell Clancy what I was doing. So I hid one in my Falstaff duffle bag. I told her that I was concerned about spending too much time on the laptop while visiting family, so I would only take the one going to the folks. Meanwhile, I hid the second in my duffel bag. I also had to hope she didn’t realize that I was giving away her superior laptop and relegating her to an inferior one (were I not getting her a newer one, I mean).

When we passed through security at the airport, I made sure to separate myself from her so that I could lay out the two laptops without her noticing. On the plane, I used her laptop, telling her that it was the folks’. When we arrived in Colosse, I hid the folks’ and used hers. She thought I was using theirs. They thought I was using my own. The day before Christmas, I packed theirs up in an Amazon box that arrived with books.

Meanwhile, I found out that the underlying reason for my parents’ new laptop was moot. Dad went and bought himself a wireless router. He said that he would buy a computer to go with it at some point, but for now he got a really good deal on the router. I suggested that maybe I would want to buy the router off him. Mainly, I didn’t want him to go buy a netbook or something while I was around to help him set it up.

The parents were suitably surprised and Dad still wanted to give me the wireless router, which I have no idea what I’m going to do with. While nobody was looking, I took the box I had wrapped my parents’ computer in and placed Clancy’s new computer in there. She, too, was suitably surprised.

So now I have an excess of mostly-working laptops and one too many wireless routers. The former is the cost of thriftiness. Having mostly-working laptops suits me just fine because I can work around whatever the problem is. Besideswhich, ThinkPads stopped coming out with S-Video Out ports, which I need for my TV hookup. With the exception of the Linux machine (which doesn’t output due to driver limitations), I have good redundancy if one of them kicks the bucket. Also, if the overheating problem occurs with Clancy’s old computer, I have a replacement.

Poor Clancy knew that I was a computer guy when I met her, but never imagined having this many around. I attribute a lot of it to a need to use what I have. It’s how I have kept so many desktops operative and now it’s occuring with laptops. One has a busted monitor but otherwise works. One requires Linux but otherwise works. One has a sticky keyboard but otherwise works. One has a slightly faulty disc drive but otherwise works. She also has an old laptop that is almost entirely dysfunctional, but I’m pretty sure I can get some old version of Linux running on it.

I have no idea what I will do with it… but then again, that’s not really the point.

Category: Server Room

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4 Responses to Christmas Gifting (Computers That Otherwise Work)

  1. Kirk says:

    A question for a computer guy: my tower computer has three fans in it–one for the power supply, one for the hard drive, and a final one in the front that just blows air around the inside of the case. Is it possible to just unhook that one? It’s a bit loud. It’s not as if it’s blowing on anything; there’s a good six inches of empty space behind it.

    As for overheating problems: how do you know if a computer is overheating?

  2. trumwill says:

    You should be able to unplug it. You might run into overheating issues, though with two fans you shouldn’t. It can depend on the temperature of the room.

    When a computer overheats, it shuts down, slips into standby or reboots seemingly randomly. Sometimes it reboots repeatedly if the temperature stays high. ThinkPads tend to go into standby. My desktops did the other things.

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