Last week, I said goodbye to my desktop computer. Gone now are the tower, the ergonomic keyboard, the additional four speakers (bought when I toyed with the idea of making videos in 2000) and the 22” monitor, all replaced by my three-year-old 17” laptop. As a concesssion, I kept the better speaker system. The new setup takes up much less space. But its ultimate retirement was not really optional although actual death had not yet occurred.
I purchased my first computer in 1987, a Leading Edge with a 64K harddrive (as I recall) and port for those large floppy disks that were truly floppy. It saw me through most of my graduate school work, including my dissertation. After that, in approximately five-year intervals (to avoid sudden death), I went through three Dell desktops, each successively more powerful, each one custom-built to my specifications, but costing no more than the previous one (nor than the Leading Edge). They were all a small fortune in today’s dollars, and they were all huge. My final desktop was a more compact Lenova (no floppy disc or zipdrive, and just one CD/DVD drive) bought seven years ago, tower only, from a computer store for a fraction of the price I’d paid for the earlier models.
Recenlty, I’d brought the Lenova up from my home office, occupied since 2000, as we configured our first floor for future rental. After a couple of black screens of death, the poor thing was declared in decline, and I sent it off to its resting place in recycle heaven. It had the good graces to wait until I was officially retired from my paid work and no longer needed some of its irreplacable software (in particular, an expensive statistical program that I was no longer licensed to use.)
I briefly considered buying another compact desktop but had to ask myself what I would gain, other than a larger internal harddrive. But compact external drives with more capacity than I will ever need can be had on sale for minimal money. I decided I needed to take advantage of my new loss and see if I could live with less. The good news was I didn’t have to replace anything.
So, now I am prompted to consider how else I could compact my life without giving up the things I think I need. And therein lies the crux of the matter. How do you know what you will miss until those things are no longer in your life?