Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Product Rendering Available
Photo by Adnan Mistry / Unsplash

A few months ago my Chrome browser said - "Chrome couldn't update to the latest version, so you're missing out on new features and security fixes."

There isn't actually any compatible updates remaining on the free Ubuntu plan I'm on. If I was willing to shell out some money I could keep some extended support on Ubuntu 16.04 for another few years. This post isn't about Ubuntu though or extended support - its about a personal problem of retiring technology.

I'm typing this blog on an NP8130 Sager notebook that was purchased way back in July of 2011. Back then it was built to last with a few components that were a bit extra than the base. It rocks spec wise:

  • GPU: GTX 560M
  • CPU: i7-2630QM
  • Memory: 12GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz
  • Display: 15.6" 1920x1080

It hasn't survived a decade plus without a few replacements though. I've replaced at some point the power cable and hard drive. It also will die instantly if unplugged from power despite having a battery.

Only recently has using this old machine really started being noticeable. With YouTube videos just refusing to play and anything involving OpenGL just crashing - the web experience is collapsing.

However, on the positive side. I've built and launched many projects built on this old machine. I find perfecting a project on a weaker set of hardware results in quite a lightning fast experience when deployed to more powerful hardware. I think it helps force my hand to make an experience great for a low end device as it has to work great on my own slow machine.

It's not my only laptop though - I've got a Samsung Chromebook Series 5-550, which was a Chromebook released in May of 2012. I remember a family member getting the first Chromebook (CR-48) and talking about how good it was in quick booting and straight to web browsing.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5: 550

Turns out the Chromebook still boots well, but I don't really use it anymore. This laptop was amazing as a companion machine for Xbox gaming. Some games had 3rd party tools you could use and this was a perfect laptop to use when playing Xbox. Once I entered the world of PC gaming - this laptop lost its purpose.

So one day when I was working on Apktool - I realized that waiting a few minutes for a full build to complete was insane. I drove over to Best Buy in a moment of built up aggression against a slow machine and purchased an Acer Nitro 5. Basically a $700~ laptop to get me moving again on things.

I did some research on my phone while standing in the store and made sure the laptop could run Linux and set up Kali once I was home with it. I hadn't set up a new Linux computer in a few solid years and a few new options between LUKS and file systems threw me into some research to be sure I was doing the right thing.

However, as mentioned in the beginning why am I blogging on an older laptop when I have a semi-brand new one?

The Acer sits away

The other laptop is in arm's reach, but sits near the Xbox/Raspberry Pi corner. I struggle to intentionally retire hardware until it is catastrophically broken. In this situation I've attempted many times to swap hardware and swap the positions of these laptops and just reversed it a few days later.

I forget some file or configuration or some software was licensed to only the old laptop and I struggle to figure out how to re-license it on a new machine. So I'm constantly just using the old machine and only bring out the new laptop when working on a project I've migrated.

Some projects are so old they work fine on Ubuntu 16, but given Kali Linux 2023.2 and it struggles to work. I either spend the time to fix the project to work on new hardware or just take the shortcut and use the old machine. Sadly, I continue to just use this old laptop and let the newer one sit in the corner.

This isn't even isolated to laptops. My old desktop that was previously used for gaming is now a Plex server that sits beneath me. It has a large collection of old Halo/Xbox modding files on it as well, so I struggle to figure out how to properly retire that hardware.

It even broke one day where the graphics went all pink so I just ordered a replacement ATI Radeon HD 5770, which was the exact model of older GPU it had. So I'm willing to buy very old equipment to fix old machines, but rarely do I upgrade a machine in place.

Current Desktop

My current desktop is far from its expiration day, but it can't go to Windows 11 and who knows how it'll handle with the next generation of video games. It's already telling that my once great GTX 1080 can't handle the frames when it comes to Halo Infinite.

Though, I have to remember I'm no streamer and it doesn't matter if my equipment lags behind. I like to leverage a calculation that refers to the entertainment value of any purchase. For this situation if we estimate 8 hours of a gaming a week times 52 weeks a year times 6 years we get roughly 2,500 hours of gaming.

So if you take the cost of the machine (~$2,220) and divide by the hours spent on it you can tell we have broken sub dollar range. For context if you spend $40 at a bar for 5 hours you got $8 an hour of socializing. I'm currently working at ~90 cents/hour of entertainment value on my computer which seems like I got my money's worth.

Though if we talk about network equipment or phones - that all goes out the window. I revamp those way before they reach the end of their life. So maybe there is no chance of understanding how I retire technology and replace it.

EDIT: It wouldn't be believable, but the Monday after this post went live - the 10+ year old laptop wouldn't boot. Its not getting power and it appears the power brick has died.

You’ve successfully subscribed to Connor Tumbleson
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Success! Your email is updated.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.