Monday, August 17, 2009

White Lightning

In August 1999 I purchased my first computer. Actually, my dad bought it for me before entering my sophomore year in college, but it's the only computer I've ever owned. I'm ashamed to say that it cost about $3,200. Here are some of the original specs for my Dell Dimension XPS T550:

Operating System: Windows 98 Second Edition
Hard Drive: 19.6 GB (I almost chose the 10-gig one at the time)
Processor: Pentium III 550 MHz
Memory: 64 MB
Video Card: 16 MB NVidia Diamond Viper TNT

Obviously, all of these features are laughably Stone Age in the computing world. Up until 2007, I was actually running the relatively unstable and no-longer-supported Windows 98, much to my disadvantage. My 550 MHz processor has long been surpassed by dual-gigahertz technology, and almost any video playback has been fairly choppy thanks to my awesome Diamond Viper video card, what with its 16 megabytes of unbridled power.

Can you believe this bad boy cost over $3,000 at the time? Not something I like to think about. But what's funny is that it only took a few years for the system to become outdated, as faster processors, bigger hard drives, and better operating systems took over. By the time I graduated from college, I was subject to constant teasing and ridicule for still running Windows 98 on a 550 MHz processor. But in a display of resiliency, I embraced the suck, and dubbed my computer "White Lightning" for all its blazing speed and glory.

This isn't to say that my computer hasn't seen its share of changes over the years. There have been many. The most significant was the long-overdue upgrade to a new operating system (though Windows XP was hardly new in 2007). Yes, White Lighting has also had DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives replaced, a big boost in RAM (now carrying the maximum 768 MB), partitioned hard drives, and the replacement of peripherals (monitor, keyboard, and mouse). It's battled through a few viruses and malware infections here and there. It even survived Y2K.

Yep, White Lighting has been through a lot. But throughout it all, I've stuck by it, and it's stuck by me. It's never run faster, and I'm proud of how I've streamlined it in optimal fashion (nightly shutdowns and a general level of TLC go a long way). And with over 5 gigs left on the hard drive, I do believe it's still got some years left in it. But when you spend over 3 grand on something, this is the kind of lifespan I expect. Most others aren't so patient.

The funny thing is, there's been a newer computer sitting in my closet since April, an extra Dell from work that they didn't have any use for. It's ready to go whenever I choose to hook it up. All I have to do is transfer my files and shut White Lightning down for the last time, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it. Because, really, what's the rush? White's been with me this long, and I can't give up on him now.