02-25-10 - Laptop Death

My ancient lappy is trying to die. Much like my car that committed sepuku by being in the intersection when the Old Lady of Vengeance ran through, my laptop is trying to kill itself to force me to hurry and buy a new one like a normal person.

Roughly one year ago I looked at laptops before and concluded that they weren't enough of an upgrade over my belove AOpen 1557G from 2004 which has a lovely matte screen, the perfect laptop resolution at 15" of 1400 x 1050 , a good keyboard layout, and a Radeon 9600.

Now my laptop's VGA out is flaking out. It keeps dropping signal and I have to fiddle with the connector a bit. I think the problem is the solder points holding the VGA out to the board are loose. I could crack it open and try to fix them, but I feel like I have a 50% chance of completely breaking it if I do that (at the moment it still works perfectly if I use its screen as the display, but I almost never actually use the laptop as a laptop since laptops = body death. I use it as a portable desktop that I plug into one of my various workstations, and as an occasional emergency use on actual lap).

I'm terrified of going to a new machine. I have so many settings tweaked out on this thing that I could never hope to transfer. (god damn you Registry, god damn you).

I'm getting old, and computer revs are slowly killing me. Each time I move to a new OS or hardware platform, I spend less time getting to know it. I become more of a casual user. I can't be bothered to dig too much under the hood. Some aspect bugs me and I decide to just live with it rather than fix it. New CPUs come out and I don't learn all the nitty gritty details of how the pipeline works and how to write the fastest code for them. My expertise peaked about 5 years ago and is steadily going down hill, and I don't really see an end to it because honestly I just can't be bothered.

As an aside, I also used to be really hopeful and utopian about computers. I thought yeah the world out there is shit, but on computers it's a meritocracy and an amazing democracy, and researchers share information with hobbyists, and the internet is free for all, and it's only getting better and better. I think that trend peaked long ago and is now headed downhill fast. Yes, there is still a great community of people who are fighting hard to carve a utopian niche out of the electronic landscape, but they are more and more the minority, and things like Apple's draconian control of their platform, or the DMCA and HDMI content lock-downs, or putting advertising on your web site, or software you can't own but have to subscribe to - these are all things that would have gotten computer users outraged in 1995 and are just part of normal life now.


Aaron said...

Laptop designs are getting kinda nice though. It's taken 10 years, but they're slowly learning. I'm sure most of the commit some sort of atrocity still (non-matte screens, or really smudge-prone surfaces), but there's some nice looking stuff out there. The new HP ProBook. Most of the Mac stuff. Asus has some beasts coming out. I don't know if any of them are any good, but they're at least starting to sorta look nice.

Or you could just buy this laptop snowboard instead.

cbloom said...

Fucking Google Blogger's "erase your comment if your connection is too slow" bug is really fucking annoying.

cbloom said...

Okay, so NV Optimus is kind of exciting. But they don't support the top GPUs yet.

And the fucking ProBook looks okay until I saw the 15" anti-glare display is 1300x766 !? WTF resolution

Tom Forsyth said...

Try to find a docking station off Ebay or something. The docking stations usually interface through a single unified connector that is mounted much better to the mobo (so it should work for longer). Then plug the misc connectors into the dock station and you're good.

cbloom said...

" Try to find a docking station off Ebay or something. The docking stations usually interface through a single unified connector ... "

sometimes I think you live in an alternate reality where things like this are actually possible. ;)

Lord how I wish there was actually a standardized laptop docking port, and that > 10% of laptops had them.

Gilles said...

Bloom man, the problem reached my waters too, so I hope you'll post some updates on this.

nothings said...

However, the GPU didn't activate when we fired up the demo version of Batman: Arkham Asylum -- instead we got some choppy gameplay courtesy of the IGP. Turns out the Optimus system relies on software profiles to turn on the afterburners or rest on its IGP laurels

Software profiles!

Optimus = worthless, especially for developers?

cbloom said...

"Software profiles!

Optimus = worthless, especially for developers?"

Yeah but it says right there that you can just manually flag an app to which GPU it should use. Sounds just fine for developers. The software profiles just gives them a decent initial set of choices.

Aaron said...

I totally want software profiles to control my laptop perf in detail. I'd love to be able to limit chrome to x% of my cpu and y% bytes/sec of access to my hd, etc etc. In fact, I'd like that on my work PC too, so I can keep all these horrendous 'first party' applications we're forced to use in a nice little box, instead of having them make my quad-core run so slow I can't even run taskmgr or play an mp3.

cbloom said...

"I totally want software profiles to control my laptop perf in detail."

I've always wanted to be able to manually control speedstep, like sometimes I just want my laptop to stay in low speed mode even though CPU usage jumped up; some apps can just run slower, that's fine.

old rants