Whitesburg KY
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Recycling bin awaits Hilda the Computer

Points East


She puts things away and forgets where they are. Sooner or later they always turn up, but she has secret hiding places and often forgets that just yesterday she put something in a particular spot but it’s no longer there.

Once she ran the 40-yard dash in four seconds flat. Now she hobbles along, but given enough time and patience, she will eventually get there.

She dozes off anytime she takes a notion – just stops whatever she may be doing and goes sound to sleep. Waking her up usually requires much shaking and yelling.

And she was quiet, even shy, in her early days and went about her business almost noiselessly. Now you can hear her whining and protesting anytime that she’s awake if you are within a hundred feet.

She’s getting feeble. Dementia has set in.

Once the talk of the town, so sleek and pretty that men would drive many miles just to be around her and engage her in conversation, she has aged into a being that nobody envies. People yell at her and loudly ask why she is behaving so badly.

Her demise is eminent and pitiable as she may be, she gets little understanding and very little sympathy now that her time has come to enter that final resting place.

She won’t even have a gravestone. No flowery epitaph singing praises of her heyday.

All memory of the wonder that she was will be erased and life will simply go on without any attention being called to the fact that she was ever here.

I speak here of old Hilda, the personal computer that has set atop my desk for lo these recent seven years.

Three times she has had to have open heart surgery (hard drive crashes) and three times she has had transplants (bigger and better RAM). She is now on a life support system (external hard drive) else she would not speak at all.

She cost me nearly $1,000 new and had the fastest of everything on the market.

She has had every possible upgrade that can be added to her frame. And in only seven years, she has become essentially obsolete.

Actually seven years is a remarkably long life for anything computer. All the technology that is now available to average consumers such as me, like warp speed processors, Vista operating systems, 300 gigabyte hard drives, huge video and sound cards, etc., were available to the manufacturers when I bought Hilda but the computer industry works in not so mysterious ways.

The trick is to introduce the technology a little bit at a time. About the time consumers get used to the newest thing on the market, the industry pulls out a chip that is at least 10 times faster than the one they came out with a couple years back and people stand in line to purchase more speed.

If Microsoft, for example, had put all its technology on the market way back when, the company would be obsolete by now. They operate on the same principal as addictive drug dealers. They start the junkies out on a small dose, but as time goes by it takes more and more dope to satisfy the user.

And so, as Hilda, without much grace and fanfare, quietly makes ready to join her host of sisters in the recycle bins, (actually I’m thinking about bronzing her and turning her into a huge bookend,) I am in touch with some kids at the University of Missouri who are building me another young and beautiful, state-of-the-art, companion 10 times more powerful than Hilda was in her prime.

I will wait until she’s actually here and pray daily that Hilda will hold out another week or two, but, unless I change my mind, I’m thinking that my new girl will be named Cathy.


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