A Fond Farewell

This post ends with a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Wow. That is not at all indicative of where this entry is going, though. Apologies in advance for the misdirection. I just recently got a new computer. In this case, it is worth noting that ‘got’ actually means ‘built’, which is why this entry is something of note. With some money saved from my Boston excursion, I decided to sink some serious cash (a few hundred dollars) into some new hardware. Included in this purchase was a a new case, video card, motherboard, processor, and memory. Joining the new components were a few hold-overs from my then-current machine: DVD burner, SATA hard drive, and power supply. These, in addition to a new 24″ display, would become my new machine!

For those interested in raw specs:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550, 2.88 GHz
MOBO: Asus P5QPL-VM EPU, 1333 MHz FSB
Memory: 4 GB OCZ DDR2 800
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT w/ 512 MB DDR2 memory onboard
HDD: Maxtor 100 GB SATA

All of which has been crammed into a SilverStone microATX form-factor case which looks like a tiny microwave. Getting this thing to work was a bit of an ordeal, though! Since I’m using my old hard drive, I wanted to keep my data on there if possible, and avoid wiping it clean. Problem is, when it was all connected together, the machine refused to boot Windows XP! This really should have come as no surprise, as I’d changed every single major component of the machine; some confusion on its part is to be expected. The way I got around this was through a really fancy trick I stumbled upon that allows you to rebuild your installation of Windows XP. That article saved me!

So I now have my old install of XP running on an all-new hardware set! It moves noticably faster, especially in loading applications and browsing graphics-heavy websites (I am glaring at your, GMail, WordPress) that would normally cause the old machine to falter and occasionally fail! Now it’s no problem. Except I will probably go blind staring at the tiny letters on this humongous screen.

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium that I picked up with the promise that they would mail me a free copy of Windows 7 when the release date happens on 22 October! So right now, my machine is running XP; in a day or so I’ll switch over to Vista, bitch about it for a few months, and finally settle on Windows 7. This really gets at an important point that maybe only I am getting too bent out of shape over: Saying ‘good-bye’ to Windows XP is not going to be easy.

desktopXP
My XP Desktop In Its Final Days

Sure, XP and I had our sore spots: We didn’t meet until 2006, when XP was well over 5 years old, and already being pushed off the stage by the flashy-but-faulty Windows Vista. Until then, I’d been using a workhouse of a machine that ran Windows 98. That’s right, friends: I ran Windows 98 through 2005, and I liked it. XP was unfamiliar, with its reorganized control panel items and strange-and-slow search feature with that stupid dog that I hated. When I finally made the switch when I built my machine that was supposed to get me through college during my senior year of high school, I was irked with the damn thing. Glitzy menus and weird color schemes that I didn’t trust, and utilities I was unfamiliar with…

Somehow though, in the intervening 3+ years, while I wasn’t paying attention, I came to love the blasted thing. I made it my own, throwing the taskbar up to the top of the screen (an aesthetic decision I still catch flack for) and using the silver theme (suck on that, Apple-ites with your faux-brushed aluminum: it ALL looks fake, even in 32-bits of color). I know the network setup all too intimately, with Truman’s complex secure wireless login procedure. My beloved Firefox (then, version 1.5!) and I first met during my introductory phase to XP, signaling a whirlwind romance that continues to this day. I logged what must have amounted to hundreds of hours on IM clients, built the BrakBlog.com and Schrödinger’s Blog websites using tools in XP, and even typed my college application essays in Office XP.

And to forsake such a history for what?! To submit myself to maneuver about the bloated feature-creep ridden copy of Vista that sits before me? I’m glad that our engagement will be a short one. Vista never really wowed me. The few positive things one can say about it are outweighed by the cost at which they come. I do look forward to 7 in all its 64-bit glory, however. It’s the first time in my memory that they’ve redesigned the OS with the express intention to run faster than its predecessor, while still using the same hardware; even if it doesn’t totally succeed, having its heart in the right place goes a long way in my book.

What I’m getting at is similar to my point about cellphones: I’m continually amazed how casually people are willing to toss away something that has borne witness to many critical decisions and important discoveries. Sure, maybe I am getting a little carried away with it; it is just an OS after all. But I will miss it. Like someone you used to love, I will soon forget how easily we used to get along, recalling only that we were once privy to each other’s most intimate secrets, but not what they were. Resigned now to uncomfortably negotiate one another in public libraries and professional office settings… Our encounters an awkward imitation of what was once an elegant step performed by knowledgeable partners.

Windows XP, it was a good run;

“Goodnight, sweet prince! And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

2 comments

  1. Having just professed my love, I can certainly empathize.
    “I feel you,” as it were.

    Hold out! I’ll tell you if 7 is worth it, and then maybe you can skip Vista altogether.

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