Breathing life into a laptop

I’ve put off buying a new laptop for years. While it’d be nice to have a PC that didn’t weigh me down to the same extent as my ancient Dell, this Inspiron 8200 has been the best computer I’ve ever owned: it’s taken a lot of knocks, but has always come through, as reliable in the desert as in the City. Not a single dead pixel, and the only disability is one of the PC Card slots dying a year back.

But it’s old, and a 40GB hard disk doesn’t cut it when my total digital life exceeds 32GB of data. In addition, both battery packs died a few months back and it’s only been usable on mains power. So instead of trashing it, I decided to add a second hard disk and new battery. A quick BIOS upgrade, caddy snapped into the Media Bay, and charge-up of a Li-Ion was all it took, but I did a complete XP reinstall for good measure.

And it’s like a new machine!

All the bits that ‘decay’ when you haven’t done a clean install for years are suddenly back in action. It’s faster, simpler, without the accumulated sludge of used-once shareware and obsolete software licenses. Once again I can start using it as my main computer. All for under £150 – what a bargain.

Junk mileage

Junk mileage is a triathlon term, used to describe the way many hobbyist multisporters just plough up and down the pool or head out spinning the cranks, believing performance stems from doing more rather than doing better. It’s why athletes have coaches: power, without direction, is of little use.

I think May pinned down the problem in my life: too much junk mileage.

My 1500m time hasn’t dipped below 25mins, because my pool training amounts to 60 lengths and no other pool-based conditioning. Yesterday’s GMAT score was identical to my score from cold on the first practice test. My 200th ad campaign wasn’t much better than my 100th. My income’s been static for years. What this means is – life’s come to a dead halt. And that’s probably what’s let the Black Dog out in such crushing ubiquity this year.

Maybe it’s a problem I’ll solve in the next year, if I decide to go ahead with an MBA: as a school dropout I’ve never had teachers or mentors, so I’ve always done everything myself and learned in the saddle. (It’s a great way to get things done, not necessarily a great way to learn the best way to do them.) Perhaps it’s time to start making use of experts, and give my life a theoretical underpinning on which I could build something bigger and stronger.