Touchy-Feely Technology : Redux

Posted 2008.05.18 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Recently I wrote about anthropomorphising electronics, and the sadness I felt when erasing and boxing a laptop that I no longer needed. Little did I know that I’d be facing another little dilemma so soon, along the same line.

For over 3 years now, my HP 200LX PDA has been a near-constant companion. Although an antique, it does exactly what I need, everything I need, as far as organizing my schedule, reminding me of projects and appartments, keeping all my contacts’ phone and address info, and having a handy database application which I used to create several custom files for all manner of things, even wine-tasting notes.

The thing with antique technology — as I have written before — is that you have to be prepared to act as your own parts-depot and repair shop. HP is not likely to have a stock of parts handy for something they sold 12 years ago, nor are they likely to have any staff in the service dept. who know what it is, let alone how to fix it. To that end, I have a small supply of spare parts, even a couple spare units. A year or two ago, I sold one of my spare units. (Actually my best, almost-mint spare.) No problem, at the time there were a number of good-quality replacements still on ebay. However, as more time passes, there are fewer and fewer good quality replacements. Those who use and love the LX are undoubtedly doing like me – stockpiling parts and spares.

About six months ago, I realized that my beloved LX was starting to succumb to the infamous “Hinge Crack” problem — the right-hand screen hinge has the resistance that holds the screen up, and therefore all the stress of opening and closing against that resistance goes on the plastic surrounding the right-hand hinge. Eventually the stress is too great and the plastic starts to give. And ultimately, it breaks completely. It’s not like this is the first thing to go wrong with my LX, by the way. The lid clip broke, it’s not springy any more. I stuffed some rubber band bits into it to try and make it springy. And the plastic overlay that surrounds the screen, fell off years ago. I tried putting a new one on, but it feels ‘wrong’ now.

Anyhow, when I saw the hinge crack, I got on ebay and eventually found a replacement that had the same upgrades as my main unit — overclocked to 2x speed, and 8MB memory. It cost a pretty penny, but you do what you gotta do. Soon enough, I had the replacement. I ran a backup of my HPLX and then restored to the new one. But…

I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. The new one was not ‘new’ or pristine, it was used. Yeah it’s in better shape than mine. But mine is mine. It has the melted bits in the lid where I lasered it. It has the teeth marks on the case where I chewed on it. (Don’t ask.) I’ve gotten so used to the ‘face’ without the plastic overlay. The ‘new’ one was just too…unfamiliar.

So I kept the new one in a drawer and went right on using my old, beat up, well worn LX. I knew that every day the hinge crack got worse, every day it cracked a bit more. I kept telling myself that I could maybe fix it, maybe epoxy, metal, nuts and bolts, something would save it. I just needed to take it out of service for a week or so, while I worked on it. And still I couldn’t do it.

Finally, recently, the crack made it all the way around, back to front. It stopped being cracked and started being broken. Its time had come.

I got out the replacement, did the backup/restore again. And still! I can’t use it. I just can’t use the replacement. I went to my spare parts box and pulled out all my LX parts. I went through them all to find one that had a good screen and case. Then I opened up my old one and the spare one, and swapped motherboards. Now I’m using the same old motherboard in a relatively good case. For all intents and purposes, it *is* the old one, just in a fixed shell.

But damnit, it doesn’t feel right. I’ll put up with it for a little while — long enough to try and fix the crack on the ‘old’ case. Then I can put the motherboard back where it belongs, and hopefully I’ll be happy. And hopefully my LX will be happy too!

HPLX - Broke
My beloved HPLX with the dreaded Hinge Crack highlighted.

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