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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Technology and Entertainment Woes

 First my macbook pro melts down, now the playstation I bought as an emotional salve for its loss does the same. Granted they were both like eight years old (I bought the latter used), but its got to be some kind of poetic justice/punishment that the playstation would break down in exactly the same way.

Which is to say: the solder on one of the three chips in my little gaming-supercomputer has apparently ceased to fulfill its function of connecting the metal bits to the semi-conducting bits. Same thing happened on the graphics processor of the macbook. The symptoms of which are a checkerboard pattern on the shiny silver machine, and a yellow light that blinks for half a second on the heavy black one.

The fix for this incredibly retarded problem is to completely disassemble the machine and point a heat gun at the graphics chips for five minutes. This, so says the Internet, "re-flows the solder." How it re-flows back to where it's supposed to go rather than where its currently found itself is anyone's guess. The irony that the fix for the problem that was caused by heat stress is to deliberately overheat it seems like some sort of cosmic joke perpetrated a paternal super-intelligence that has my best interests in mind and wants me to spend less time playing video games and more time doing things like learning programming languages that can be done perfectly well on a low-end machine.

I described these issues to my friend Tuhin today, and he chastised me for not buying things new; "you must spend more money fixing your old shit than you would have just buying a new one" says he. This from a guy who went out and leased a new Infinity as soon as he got his first job, and who's therefore never put wrench to nut. But oh, what invaluable experience I get from taking things apart and re-assembling them! Actually, a question mark would work just as well at the end of that sentence.

The eight year old Thinkpad I'm on now (which I bought as a functional salve for the loss of the macbook) is a great example (and one in which I did actually save a lot of money). Yes, I did have to immediately replace the cooling fan when I unboxed it, but it was a hundred bucks and the operation took about a half hour, so I think I came out ahead. On the other hand, a half hour was straining the extent of my patience with the project, so I was only able to figure out where about a third of the screws I took out of it are supposed to go. As a result of which the keyboard sortof pops out, but thats a very minor annoyance. The much larger annoyance was having to take it apart again to cover the keyboard data-cable in duct tape because some bit of it got rubbed raw and the short was causing double letters to be typed randomly. But hey: working now. That problem was actually pretty hard to diagnose. I thought it was a software issue and fruitlessly trolled the Ubuntu forums for a fix, turns out its a common problem with Thinkpad x60's, and I owe it to Rachael for somehow discovering this fact when it eluded me.

Which reminds me of further evidence of this semi-benevolent super intelligence's douchy sense of humor: the PS3 died right in the middle of me finally getting Rachael to play the opening scenes of Far Cry 3 (see last post). This had been the subject of some intense relationship-negotiations; I ultimately agreed to modulate my socially unacceptable behavior when she points it out to me, in perpetuity, if she'd play at least ten minutes of whatever fucking video game I'm into at the moment when I get all excited about it, in perpetuity. The socially unacceptable behavior in question, by the way, was laughing too hard on crowded trains at books I'm reading on my phone. Why care so much about that? I dunno, but I figured it was a fair trade for getting to share stuff I like with her. So the fact that the fucking video game system self-destructs right as the opening cutscenes were concluding and the player gets to effectually twiddle the sticks for the first time strikes me as beyond coincidence. Its not, of course, buy such is the power of human patter-recognition/imagining. There's a fancy word for that, I know, but I can't think of it at the moment.

Bereft of computerized entertainment, and apparently not wanting to do productive things, I've begun a reading novel thats about computerized entertainment. Even more specifically, its about blogging about computerized entertainment. How perfect is that? The novel is called "Constellation Games," and its fantastic. Funniest writing I've read in a while, and its very thoughtful amidst its snark. Cory Doctorow's already done a good review of the book, so there's no need for me to bang on about it too much until I actually finish reading it .

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