. elsewhere . . letters from the inaccessible .


25 september 2002

mercury and xenon

Last week, I ordered a refurbished laptop computer... Pentium III, 500MHz, 320MB RAM IBM Thinkpad 600X. Monday afternoon, it arrived. I don't, technicaly, need a laptop, nor could I convince Paul that it was a reasonable and/or wise purchase, but spending most weekends in Barstow, I often wish I could bring along a computer with my own software and my own settings. Of course, my hunny's laptop is far superior, wonderful large screen and fast, fast, fast, but it's a bit like wearing borrowed clothes for me: I never get completely comfortable using it. It doesn't fit quite right in the shoulders, or across the back because it had shaped itself to fit its owner.

All of this is not to mention that her computer-geekines quotient is much higher than mine, so she would brook no tinkering on my part. Of course, Windows XP Home edition (which she uses) has very good user-profile management, but it still feels like borrowed clothes.

The other reason I made the laptop purchase was that my recent business trip to Chicago (perhaps an entry on that once I get through the San Francisco Fever Trip) put in stark relief the advantages of owning such a device. And so I bought one, selected the configuration which appeared to cover the minimum requirements of all my games (more on that later), and had it shipped to the office.

Since work is a non-negligible obstacle in my schedule, I have only spent 2 nights working on setting up the LAN at home (Raven was very helpful in helping get the laptop and the desktop talking to each other), testing the DVD drive (interActual is an abominable, pathetic excuse for DVD software), and installing games. On this point, I have yet to get Empire Earth to work on this machine, but Civilization III, Age of Empires, and even Diablo II (luckily after some fits and starts during which I grew quite frustrated that the configuration I selected for the "minimum requirements" still for some reason wasn't up to the task) are all there.

I spent more than a few minutes trying to think of names for the computers. Should I continue with the naming convention I helped start at Commjerks, chemical elements? No, there will never be enough computers on my LAN to require the full list of 110-plus elements. Perhaps use characters or names of processes from my stories (Jane, Lincoln, x-dis, x-nihilo)? No. Planets? No. Eventually I agreed on a subset of chemical elements: only those gases used in lightbulbs. Without going into the full explanation, the Toad the Wet Sprocket lines from "All Things In Time" works here, and, thus satisfied, I named the laptop Mercury (quicksilver, a liquid at STP, standard temperature and pressure), and the desktop PC Xenon. Now to get Mercury to run Empire Earth without it crapping out on me. "low-level engine.dll" error it says. Bah.

The Great American Fever Trip will continue in the next update.

musings of señor prod.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.


©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-