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Laptop is in the shop almost certainly overnight at least. I can’t find the power cable for my old 2010 one. I probably can’t set up my Raspberry Pi, I know I don’t have the right adapter for it because I broke it. I might be able to use someone’s old AlphaSmart?



Laptop still in shop. I should get info tomorrow at least, emails say I’ll be called after 48 hours. I forgot to ask about the AlphaSmart.

Honestly I think the amount of stuff I’ve done and the fact that I have had chunks of happiness over the past several days and not injured myself at all is really suggestive of a lot of mental health improvement. Maybe it’s experiences, maybe it’s having more produce and sardines, but something’s working.

This is still really difficult for me, though.



Update: Apple called this morning to say that I have a hard drive problem (that affects booting from USBs and persists when the drive is wiped, yet doesn’t present any issues when copying files off the drive? seems unlikely) or a motherboard problem. Apple wanted to charge $475 to fix it, which I declined.

I was able to install Xubuntu on it from USB, and it is “working”, in that it still can’t talk to the battery at all and that it seems to freeze sometimes. I’ll probably try to transfer files later today. I am still overall dissatisfied with this state of affairs, though.

I am happy that I have a computer right now, but this does create a bit of a dilemma. I’m not sure I can justify replacing this computer just because I want to play some video games without Linux support and be able to see how charged my battery is. I guess this might get worse in the future, which might also justify replacing it. I sure don’t know how to replace a motherboard myself, and it sounds like a huge pain.



Laptop status update:

  • It gets completely nonresponsive and requires a forced shutdown sometimes more than once daily
  • Still doesn’t show the battery level (acpi won’t work)
  • Sleep/wake issues, does not travel well (overheats in bag)
  • Cannot shut down properly

I also still haven’t put my files on this thing. “Mount a 200GB disk image, on an HFS-formatted drive, of an Ext4 partition with logical volume management, and then figure out how to decrypt an encrypted user folder, with the password but without being able to log into it” is something which sounds like it should be technically feasible but also kind of sounds like a nightmare, and I have a feeling that my current computer setup is really not my long-term setup. I can get files from SpiderOak but that will take a while and they won’t be as recent.

What’s going on with the disk image was that booting up my computer in Target Disk Mode and getting the data off of it, using a connected Mac, was such that I couldn’t mount or even really properly interpret a partition with logical volume management, so I just frickin’ copied the whole thing. Yadda yadda I should make more frequent cloud backups or actually figure out how to do regular nice usable backups to a drive or both. At least I have the files. Probably.

I will apparently have some support in repairing or replacing this machine, which biases me towards doing so. Also, I’ll want to use it for taking lecture notes and other time-sensitive outside-the-home uses, so freezing and being a pain to store while asleep are problematic. If I repair it, I’m pretty sure it needs a logic board replacement which I would really rather not do myself. (I don’t have the right screwdrivers, a good workspace, etc.) If I replace it, I should probably replace it with a Windows machine, because the only times I’ve used OSX recently have been gaming and taking the easy route in dealing with printers/scanners.

I don’t know much about shopping for non-Macs or using whatever the latest version of Windows is. Every time I interact with recent proprietary operating systems I do get the vague feeling that they are tending in a direction my computer is not, such that my experience with Windows XP and 2016-and-previous versions of OSX won’t necessarily generalize.

If anyone has advice on any of the above, let me know.



For replacement laptops, eBay is great, especially for people located in the United States. The laptop I am typing this on, which I recently bought from one of the refurbished-laptop stores that sell through eBay, was USD$300 *after* international shipping and import taxes. For an American, it would have been around USD$250.

My usual strategy for laptop buying is “get the best PC USD$300 can buy”. I generally find laptops at that price point strike a good balance between “cheap” and “will keep pace with my needs for the approximately three years it takes for a used laptop to die of old age anyway” ; if you need more from a laptop than I do, you may need a higher budget.

You might not need me to tell you this, but make sure you know what kind of specs you need in a computer (RAM quantity, storage space, number of CPUs, dedicated vs basic graphics, etc), and add a little to leave room to grow. When searching, keep an eye out for laptops that have been discounted because they have problems in areas you don’t care about or are willing to live with: my previous laptop was unusually cheap because it was incapable of standby and took several minutes to come out of hibernation, which was pretty easy to adapt to for someone with my usage pattern.

Since I only just got a Windows 10 machine yesterday, I can’t say much about it. I *can* say that I’m pretty much just keeping that partition around for gaming, and intend to continue using Ubuntu for my primary OS.

Rather than a dedicated backup drive, I just keep a full copy of my files on my smartphone [link], where they are readily accessible and can in fact–in most cases–be accessed directly from the drive itself. I gather that a lot of people have too much data to pull that method off easily, but even if you can’t do it *yet*, maybe keep it in mind for if/when the progression of smartphones’ increasing storage space catches up to your needs.



Yah. Used laptops are a lot cheaper than new laptops for entry-level performance. 

The one huge downside is battery life. Batteries have improved quite a bit recently, and there are a lot more low-power CPUs on the market. So, even the low-end Chromebooks and such can trounce any used laptop in terms of battery life. 



Yeah my $150 2015 chromebook, after 4 years of fairly regular use, only gets 5ish hours of battery life, down from almost 10, so if battery life is of interest you can get pretty good. On the other hand, it is not a powerful machine. This is mostly okay for my personal laptop.



[my tags on my previous reblog, for context:

#(since I’ve pretty much only ever had used laptops I’m whatever-the-opposite-of-spoiled-is on battery life) #(1.5 – 2 hours is simply how long a laptop battery lasts and so I don’t find it a cause for concern)]

holy shit

(ftr, I tested this laptop’s battery shortly after receiving it, got a result of 2 hours, and was pleased to have a battery life near the high end of normal)

What do you *use* a 5-hour laptop battery for, anyway? I mean, more battery life is always better all else equal, but when I need to computer for significant lengths of time off-grid that is what smartphones are for.

(Admittedly, my smartphone’s battery also sucks, at least by smartphone standards–sometimes it dies because I didn’t check it for 4 days and it only has a 3-day standby time, and that’s in airplane mode–but it’s much easier and cheaper to get a backup power pack for a phone than a laptop.)

(yes I *did* end up getting that solar-powered phone charger I wanted [link], and so far it’s been working pretty well)



For me the initial use case that caused me to buy an ultrabook type laptop with long battery life (in my case one of the 12in MacBooks), was college classes. Namely, situations where there would be multiple hours of straight through classes or something like a long evening class that would be four hours long. 

It’s a bit less relevant now for me to have that type of battery life now that I’m out of college. 

But the other benefit of the increase in laptop battery life is that even the high performance desktop replacement laptops are starting to get to the 2hr+ level of performance. Making desktops as a whole a lot less relevant as a platform because desktop replacement/”gaming” laptops have started to become actually usable as laptops and not just in effect really shitty small form factor desktops.

(previously on; other branch 1; other branch 2)

Good point, and I’m a little embarrassed not to have thought of that. The few times I have had some form of meatspace class I used a paper notebook, but I can see how that would be suboptimal or outright unsuitable in many cases, especially for a routine event.

(It’s interesting that we’ve now *both* made remarks that make no sense to someone with the other’s experience of college [link]. I guess we’re even?)

Also, even though the battery-monitor section of my phone settings did not *display* anything on its list of battery-draining apps, force-stopping TunnelBear improved my phone’s standby time tremendously. I will have to remember to shut that app down completely when I am not using it (and I’m usually not), not just setting it to off.


#Brin owns *two* 2010’s computers now #reply via reblog #adventures in University Land #long post #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers

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