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Alfador

Computer of Theseus

I've just upgraded my computer to Windows 7 Pro after a long stubborn stint with XP. In the process, I gave it a new solid snake drive... I mean, solid state drive, to cleanly install it on, a new video card because the old one was having issues with The Secret World... 's installer. (Specifically, it would freeze for a second, then blank all output to the monitor... except that the non-video processing still took place, and I would hear the sound over my headphones when the patch or verification was finished. Curiously, I was able to restore video by blindly hitting the key combos to bring up the task manager and hibernate--during which the video briefly comes back to say it's hibernating!--and then hit the power button again. I then had to start the main game quickly lest the installer freeze the display again!)... and a new DVD-ROM drive to install Windows 7 with. Because we didn't have a single working DVD-ROM drive in the house that wasn't permanently fastened to a game console!!

Philosophically, this is truly a "Ship of Theseus" computer. The motherboard, case, half the RAM, power source, CPU, wireless card, and a 3.5" floppy drive I haven't used in years, are all from the computer I had yesterday. I have two non-solid-state hard drives, one of which is the system drive from my old Windows XP installation, and the other the oldest hard drive from my Windows 2000 installation... but that's not quite true, because that hard drive failed, and the files on it are actually recovered from the failing drive. (I was able to get 99.999% of them, because the number of files that failed to transfer could be counted on one hand.) The information is the same, but the physical medium is different. Then, too, some of those files date back to an earlier Win 98 machine. The very eldest of files (and I'm not even sure which ones those are) come from the very first computer I owned by myself, a Compaq... whose hard drive failed and most of the files had to be restored from CD-R backups.

It is possible that this machine contains files whose information was first generated around thirteen years ago, when I got the computer from Costco as a graduation present. I can still hear Mom's suggestion: "Oh, you don't need a 750MHz processor, this 550MHz one should be fine and it's a hundred dollars less!" It was in the course of upgrading and rebuilding my machine over and over again that I learned from friends how to do so--though since I do not keep up on the latest hardware, I still ask for help most of the time when figuring out what parts to buy.

It may or may not be laughable to claim that this is in any way "the same" computer as the one I had 13 years ago. But it has retained a continuous identity of "My computer", at least. :3 And when I next upgrade it, I imagine I'll once again keep this new video card, the RAM sticks, and the DVD drive at the very least--and, of course, the drives, the information legacy.
Viewed: 39 times
Added: 5 years, 6 months ago
 
Tycloud
5 years, 6 months ago
Zzzzzzzz
ZephonTsol
5 years, 6 months ago
Any reason for this comment?
JunkBox
5 years, 6 months ago
Warning: contains late night ramble

> Ship Computer of Theseus

The Japanese may be on to something with the transience and impermanence in wabi-sabi. The Ise Grand Shrine is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years, although the same design is used each time. That might be why they adapted so well to the technology race of the late 20th century, and the constant roll of upgrades - that world view is one of impermanence and transience.

That sounds like almost all my computers. About the only things that have survived, in some form, are some of the files that I've downloaded/created/accumulated over the years. Expansion boards have come and gone, ISA 8-bit and 16-bit, VESA/VL bus, PCI, PCI-Express; storage media, processors, RAM, motherboards, and cases have gone through like cards through a Vegas dealer's hands. Pretty rare for me to fold 'em and get a fresh hand.

My collection of computers, past and present, would give Theseus' shipwrights a good laugh. I tend to hang on to things long past their normal service lives, and find ways to keep them in usable (if quirky) shape... though sometimes I have trouble finding purposes for them.

Rather extreme example: my web server. The case is a 19" rack mount chassis for AT form factor motherboards; currently has a Pentium-MMX 233Mhz, with 72M RAM; software RAID of three 4G hard drives. It's been running (as in continually powered on) for the last five years... maybe closer to nine or ten in service. I've replaced fans more times than I can recall. Its version of Slackware Linux is way out of date by now... I think the last time I seriously updated/rebuilt the software brought it up to v. 9 or 10, and Slack has gotten to somewhere around v. 14 by now.

Ramble ramble RAM-bull ramble
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
Continuously powered for five years? ...I WISH I had that kind of stability of housing. Then again, I was at the same apartment building for seven years, but moved to a different floor in the middle there.

Also, thank you for the links--a short wiki walk later and I finally realize what that one guy in Okami was doing with a basket on his head... and also why it makes so much sense for him to travel all over the place!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakuhachi#History
JunkBox
5 years, 6 months ago
I'm going on wetware memory here. I had to take it down a few times for repairs (I can swap out some of the fans without turning the computer off), shut it down when a hurricane brushed the coast and messed with the utilities, and had to unhook and move it after an incident in the building that left a huge puddle of water in my apartment. The soaked apartment incident was the longest downtime, though still only a few days.

Pretty impressive uptime for a pile of spare parts, but it still pales in comparison to the Novell server that got closed up in a wall.
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
Wow... that server sealed behind a wall... I am truly impressed. O_o
Relee
5 years, 6 months ago
This hammer has been in my family for over two hundred years! Sure, the handle has been replaced a dozen times, and the head has been replaced twice, but it's still the same hammer!
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
I forget, Discworld or Monty Python? Or something else... I seem to remember both of those having a version of the same.
Relee
5 years, 6 months ago
I don't know where it came from originally. It may be lost to antiquitiy.
JunkBox
5 years, 6 months ago
There are quite a bunch of anecdotes like that, citing numerous examples. Even Abraham Lincoln's axe has been given as an example.
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
Speaking of axes, the film adaptation of "John Dies At The End" opens with a version posed as a question: If someone is killed with an axe, then the head and handle are replaced, then the person comes back as a zombie and roars "That's the same axe that killed me!" ...is he right? >:3
JunkBox
5 years, 6 months ago
"You just had to axe that question..." ;-)
PeachClover
5 years, 6 months ago
>.>
Why in all of this time have you not bought a new computer?
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
On a few occasions I've bought 99% of a new computer, just keeping a hard drive or the data thereon. I just don't want to lose things, start with a completely clean slate. My computer feels like an extension of me, a spare storage brain sort of. :3
PeachClover
5 years, 6 months ago
Of course the files are kept; that was not even a question.  However, other than HDDs I prefer to buy new "shells" to house my data when they are no longer preforming to standard.
Alfador
5 years, 6 months ago
Then in that sense yes, I have done that, but in all cases I kept at least one piece of the original hardware.
JunkBox
5 years, 6 months ago
" PeachClover wrote:
...I prefer to buy new "shells" to house my data when they are no longer performing to standard.

That's part of why I hang on to things for so long... my standards are low! ;-)
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