The downside of convenience

You know, I said the “downside” of convenience, but I’m not sure it’s a downside at all.

See, I have this Celeron. A 550Mhz one, early Pentium III, 5400rpm hard drive, 192Mb of PC100. Sixteen seconds after I press the button and the IBM logo drops, I have an Openbox desktop and I’m online and surfing. It’s the same one that astounded the semiconductor software engineer a couple of weeks ago.

Well, that “downside” is, since it’s practically off or on in the blink of an eye, that I actually find myself turning it off and on, like a light switch. If I want to check something online, and all the other machines in the house are busy doing something (all four?!), I press the button to turn it on, look away, and look back and it’s on. Right-click shutdown from the Openbox menu, and it’s off in another eight seconds.

I haven’t been that casual about turning a computer off and on like that since I had a C128.

I suppose that’s bad for the hardware, since it is, technically, an over-the-hill laptop. I probably shouldn’t be so blasé about flipping it on and off. I mean, there’s the power subsystem to think about. And the spinup times on the hard drive and the optical drive, and the strain on the screen, snapping between video modes.

Or does it really matter? Thinkpads are supposedly bulletproof. And that hard drive is cheap, common and replaceable, all at the same time. I leave the CDROM open a teeny bit, which effectively keeps the spindle from turning at power-up. And the screen is amazingly beautiful for an 8-year-old computer, so maybe it doesn’t mind snapping between modes. I might as well keep turning it off and turning it on at whim, since “wear and tear” doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue.

Probably the only real consideration is that the AC adapter is continually plugged in, which means that even when it’s off, the adapter is cycling power. (Note to enraged greenies: I cut off all my power systems if I leave the house or when I go to bed. No, I do not keep five laptops plugged in 24/7. I am not ignorant, thank you.) I might as well use that, if I’m going to power the adapter.

But other than that, I kind of like that on-off ability. It’s almost like having an oversized cellphone, or maybe one of those Blackberry things (which I’ve never owned). Press a button, and it’s online and ready. Browse, play music, play Starfighter, whatever. Right-click, and it’s off. Press again, and it’s on. … Heh, heh. 😀

1 thought on “The downside of convenience

  1. An_Dynas

    This sounds like the best of all worlds to me, K. Things age and deteriorate, we all understand that, and I expected that you were going to describe some signs of danger or failure. But without those indicators why worry? Any machine can go out at any time. If you’re not keeping vital information on this box just enjoy the convenience, right?


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