Once upon a time, I had a laptop. As time went on, its hard drive filled up with pdfs, music files and an enormous (well, relatively enormous) operating system. This pattern of exponential expansion continued for a few years until, the imbalance between data and storage capacity, just like the overpopulation of the Norwegian hills by lemmings with prolific breading capabilities, could no longer be sustainable. A change was needed before the impending threat of mass suicide. And so on January 7th, having realized that my data needed more fertile ground to colonize, I bought a new hard drive.
Great, now all I have to do is install it and transfer all my old files. The next morning I conveyed these wishes to the IT guys at work. Could I have a hard drive transplant and in addition can I change my operating system? No problem.
For a couple of days, I was laptop-less, condemned to roam the lab in my spare time like some nomad, looking for an abandoned "shared" computer to meet my daily email and computational needs. The problem is that when you are a nomad, you try to stick to the bare essentials. In any case my super duper results needed further investigation and the lack of a laptop to distract me was in someway a pleasant situation. Blogging? Uhm, not now. Facebook? Whatever. Twitter? Who cares. Except when that lab computer is free. Having spotted an abandoned terminal, I would eagerly sit down and try to get in a good 5mins of emails. But the time points from my experiments would inevitably drag me away from my newly gained spot, and after my return ... the shared computer would be inevitably unavailable. Why does everyone insist on scanning their gels just now? And why is baymate on the lab desktop? Although her explanation that her collaborator used some funky program that she can't install on her own personal laptop seems reasonable, should we believe her???
Then on the appointed day, my laptop was returned to me. Great. This nomad has finally found himself a home! The first item on the agenda was to fix up my new shelter. After all, you only feel settled when your abode is fully furnished. And so during that first day I installed a few "key" programs. By that evening I felt the warm glow of the civilized world, and that early light oozed out of my laptop screen. But what this? My computer's sound system no longer worked, and my email was missing some functions, and my wireless internet card was inoperative. So much for the promises of the modern world! But should I have been surprised, my laptop wasn't a home, it may harbor my data, but it was also a living being, one that just came out of major surgery. There was bound to be some small problems. The very next day I returned the beast to IT for some physiotherapy (at least it wasn't shock therapy!) After having briefly tasted the settled life, I returned to being a technological vagabond.
And so a few days passed, then the week was over, and now at the beginning of this week I am still computer-less. This laptop-less life is rough, in fact this post is being typed on my wife's computer (she's busy and I managed to sneak onto the computer while she was in the other room.) Am I doomed to be a computer squatter for the rest of my life?
But my time is limited, soon I will have to go. So just like some message in a bottle, I 'll send this SOS to the world, I hope that some reads my ...
Kudos for continuing to use an old laptop instead of just tossing it aside. But I hope you use an external backup drive to make an extra copy of all your files. If the worst happens you will be able to smile and pat yourself on the back, instead of weeping and gnashing of teeth in utter data darkness.
From my very own experience: a laptop-less life is survivable but it sucks especially if it is completely unexpected. Knowing to get it back at some point with all your stuff is much better than "trading" it for blue T-shirts and a screw driver... (yay for backups on the external hard drive). There is only one positive side which in deed is productivity in the lab :) Hope you'll get yours back soon!
With Acronis TrueImage drive-imaging software and a huge-ass external USB disk drive, you could have swapped in your new bigger hard-drive, reimaged the entire old system onto it, and been bakc up and running in a total of less than one-half hour.
(Yes, I just found a free computer!)
That would be fine except that I wanted to change operating system. Having said that I'm off to the Moazed lab to crash their Obama Inauguration party.
Back in the days of the Commodore 64, you used to be able to buy a cartridge for a game or an application, plug it in, turn on the computer, and you were immediately in it. even the operating system was built in there to kick in if there was no cartridge.
When the PC came along, we started with a disk to load the operating system, which soon became "disks", which turned into a CD, which soon became "CDs". And that was just for the operating system. All applications, even basic ones, come extra.
Now we have USB memory sticks with huge capacity.
Why is it we cannot get a computer on a stick, so you carry your stick (as opposed to your laptop) around with you and simply plug it into publicly available computers (for free or modest rental), and as soon as you're plugged in, your own desktop is right there with everything you need.
If the computer dies, you take out your stick and plug into the next one and you're immediately up and running. There's no such thing as downtime.
In my opinion the largest threat for California are cataclysms and ecological catastrophes. Not important is how many money we have because one tragedy can us take all.