The mysteries of life

Few things in life truly vex me — where socks go when you put them in the dryer, why my Pentium machines won’t boot with 120Gb hard drives in them, and why everyone just naturally assumes I either use a Mac or a Windows PC. But as of late I’ve been rather confounded by another situation that I can’t explain.

Remember this machine? The otherwise functional VAIO machine, that only needed a small, US$40 part to become a productive member of society again? Don’t feel bad if you don’t remember it; I had pretty much forgotten about it too. But I met the owner of that machine again the other day, and asked how the repair went. (Because in some circles, that is an acceptable topic of conversation: “How is your old computer doing?” 🙄 )

And to my surprise, it was still in the same, semi-functional state. It’s been almost two years without a repair — without use even, apparently — stacked in a corner behind a door, gathering dust.

I’m mystified.

I’m not mystified that the repair hadn’t been done; that will happen. People get busy, things like that are a low priority, life gets in the way. But still, why not put a working, powerful, otherwise-in-good-shape Pentium 4 to work doing something rather than stack it in a corner and hold up some dust?

I made a brief offer to buy it from the owner (after all, I am sort of on the lookout for a high(er)-end Pentium machine to do some compiling with), but apparently there is some sentimental value attached, and the owner wouldn’t consider parting with it for much, much more than it’s worth in resale.

Which is too bad. For all the thousands of things that machine could be doing, even in it’s somewhat inconvenient state, it does absolutely nothing, and all in the name of “sentimental value.” It’s true, I do claim sentimental value as a reason for keeping a machine instead of buying a new one, but I can’t imagine what sentimental value it has if it’s propped up behind a door somewhere.

Anyway, it’s not my machine, and not my place to judge. It makes me feel a little better about keeping a 120Mhz Pentium in the closet while I figure out why it won’t boot with a 120Gb hard drive in it, since it’s still getting more use than that VAIO. And it may be that someday, someone asks me which Linux distro I use before they assume I use one of the lesser operating systems. But for now, I can probably only wonder why someone keeps an old computer, but doesn’t use it. 😐


7 thoughts on “The mysteries of life

  1. x33a

    He’s probably waiting for it to turn old enough, and then sell it as an antique for a high price 😛

  2. Pipe

    I was wondering why older computers don’t like bigger hard drives. It takes several minutes for my Celeron 850Mhz to post with a 80Gb hard drive.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I know occasionally there is a cylinder limit in the BIOS; it was one of the tricks used a decade ago to convince people to buy a new computer. You couldn’t just change out the hard drive because it couldn’t read the size on a larger drive.

      In most cases though, so long as the first partition is small enough to duck in under that size limit, it will be okay. After Linux takes over from Grub (for example), it usually doesn’t care about the size of the drive.

      I think in my case a 120Gb hard drive is reporting numbers that are beyond what the machine can read. A smaller drive, for example 40Gb, is still too big for the BIOS, but it can still accept the number … it just wouldn’t boot it if it weren’t for that smaller partition.

      But it might be the number is so big that it considers it an error of some kind, and comes to a halt. That’s my only explanation and I have no technical grounds for it, but it helps me sleep at night … 🙄

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