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Doug vs. Japanese Snack Foods: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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diaryland: entry for 2004-06-12 (14:46)
In which our plucky young hero still pines for those disks sometimes.

I spend my days feeding obsolete machines.

On the floor beside my desk is the Old Box. (It technically has a name, and that name is fnord, but it is really just the Old Box.) It runs Windows 95 because I could never be bothered to upgrade it; inside it is also an obsolete hard drive, improperly partitioned, that contains a monument to my Linux install. Time has finally reached the point where the Old Box is less than useless for running modern software; Windows 95's practical end-of-life has been achieved. Most everything I would otherwise install requires Windows 98 or later. I maintain the Old Box as an emergency backup. And I feed it; it has the uptime bug, so every forty-odd days it must be rebooted. Someday it will not boot, and it will stay not booted, and I will mourn it a little. But only a little.

On the desk is a Palm IIIxe. It is a palmtop computer that contains one of the most powerful computers I have ever owned. (In descending order, there's the current desktop system, the Old Box, the Playstation 2, and the Palm.) But it, too, is obsolete. Its screen is scratched, its cradle is broken, and I cannot sync it up with the desktop anymore. All I do is change its batteries every few weeks, t in case I cannot live without whatever is in its RAM. I never use it to store addresses, or read ebooks, or play games anymore. It is less than useless to me right now; it is an active drain on my resources, even if by that I merely mean that I must occasionally buy some more AAA batteries.

Also on the desk is an inkjet printer with an empty cartridge, and let us say no more about that.

The new desktop machine, the one that no longer runs Windows XP and I've been too lazy to get that fixed, is still useful. It still does everything I need. But time will catch up with it. Someday I will look at it and I will recognize in it what I see in the palmtop and the Old Box. Someday I will say you are old and I will look over at the replacement machine and I will say you are young. And I will think of just transferring everything from the then-old box to the then-new box.

But I won't.

Because I know that I won't. I know that I'll keep the old box running, and I will feed it, too. Because I don't know how to do anything else.

These aren't the only machines I've fed in my life, you know? The old Atari 2600 -- the two old Atari 2600s, because the first one died and we got a new one to replace it -- I kept playing those even long past their sell-by dates. The old PS/1, the almost-useless PC clone my parents got because I made the mistake of not spitting on the one that had been donated to my Junior Achievement company, I kept plugged in for years after I got the-new-machine-that-became-the-Old-Box because I couldn't bring myself to empty out its 20-megabyte hard drive. And before that, when the PS/1 was the hot new thing, I still shuffled myself back and forth between it and the CoCo 3, because the CoCo 3 had all the games I was still playing, and all the stories I'd written or co-written back in junior high were on those 5.25" disks.

But none of those were really my doing. The Atari faded out of sight until the day I knew it only as the thing that was somehow no longer around. The CoCo 3 I left in Nova Scotia because I couldn't take it with me out west. And the PS/1 I left in Saskatchewan because I couldn't take it with me out east. Had there been room, or time, or whatever I'd've needed, they would still be with me.

When the time comes, I need someone to force my hand. I need someone to say "What are you still keeping that thing around for?" and grab it and throw it in a dumpster. I need someone else to hold my arms behind me, so I can't go running after to fish everything out of the dumpster. I don't need to be able to let go of these old toys; I need to be forced to do so.

I can feed things just fine. It's starving them that I never could learn.

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