Ode to an R32

My old Thinkpad R32 laptop, purchased in 2002, finally bit the dust. It had a long and winding life. Dropped repeatedly, a five-foot drop onto a hard surface at a coffee place spelled the beginning of the end. That was in 2006. It was a long end. Some pixels started blinkering out. The TSA mishandled it (despite my specifically telling them that it was fragile) and a bunch more did. Nonetheless, 70% of the screen was still visible. It was no longer a primary laptop by that point, but it still served its uses in various capacities when it served a couple years as the TV computer and then its final years manning the printer(s).

I don’t have the heart to throw it away. A part of me really wants to buy another used R32 and be able to take the upgrade parts and put them to use. It would cost less than $100, but, for the life of me, I cannot think of what I would do with another decade-old laptop. Upon its death, I already had a newer machine (T43, made in 2005) I could immediately put on printer duty. I have a newer-machine still (made in 2008) that is primarily on backup-emergency duty. Another 2008 that is packed and ready to go when I want to take a laptop somewhere without packing my primary one. Two other laptops, a 2008 and a 2009, that share TV duty (one waiting in the wings so that if I need to do something with one, I have another manning the television).

Not long ago, I threw out a motherboard that I bought in 2007. The motherboard was never right from the moment I got it. I celebrated a little when it died and made absolutely no effort to figure out what was wrong with it. I feared that if I discovered what was wrong with it, I would try to fix it and be stuck with the motherboard that never worked right to begin with. I still haven’t thrown it out, though. I look at it and think to myself, “You don’t work, and I never proved otherwise”… not that I tried. I have a couple older machines that I have kept in good working order, but have not turned on in more than twice since 2008.

The progress of technology is an absolutely amazing thing. As a computer geek, I love it. I have loved each smartphone more than the previous (though I am stuck on a 2009 model, they don’t make the kind I want anymore). The cell phone I adored when I got it now sits there completely unused, despite technically doing just about everything my current phone does. I could go on eBay and sell it, but nobody wants it. It’s several times faster than my first Windows PC with the same screen resolution and a lot more memory, but it’s probably never going to be used again.

The triumph of technology never ceases to amaze me, yet the obsolescence never stops saddening me.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. For a moment I thought you were talking about a Skyline GT-R R32…thank god that wasn’t the case!
    But yeah, I know what you mean about old hardware…I have a shelf full of the stuff…including a 90s vintage powerbook.

  2. I’m still grieving over my old Razr. Bought two sets of armor for it, the first wore out. I may get the new Razr though I’m happy enough with my current Android, which linked up marvelous easy to my development environment: actually quicker to test code on the phone.

    • I’m still clinging desperately to my WinMo (6.5) phone. I am waiting, waiting, waiting for Android, WinPho, or (ha!) iPhone to give me a pathway to allowing me to do what I can do with my HTC Touch Pro 2 (and what I did with the Touch Pro 1 and TyTn II).

      So what are you using until you decide what you want to do?

  3. I sympathize; I’m still hanging onto the laptop that got me through law school (graduated 2007). I left it in its case in the trunk of my car for a year and that killed the HD. Had the HD replaced, but it’s never been quite…right. It acts like it’s been buried in the Pet Sematary. Frankly, I’m a little frightened of it now.

    • Somewhere in our multitude of stuff is the thoroughly unacceptable laptop my wife had when we met. I hope it turns up at some point, though heaven knows what I will do with it. In addition to it being old, it also falls into the category of “never quite right.” I’m 0/2 on the Toshibas I’ve dealt with. It’s one of the reasons I stick with Thinkpads (I’m 11/12, or so).

      • Throw a lightweight Linux on it. Install Lubuntu/Oneiric Ocelot with a network cable connected and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well it runs on older boxen. I’ve successfully installed it vanilla to a box with 128 megabytes of RAM.

  4. This beast. Actually doing more programming on my g/f’s Kindle Fire. USB connect it — off and running. Not to be construed as an endorsement.

    Some people say (weasel words) phones are getting too big. As long as it fits into a man’s shirt dress pocket, it’s not too big.

    Fat Boy and the Razr
    An Elegy to a Device.

    Fat Boy had one before I did.
    His died and was replaced.
    Fat Boy is tough on phones.
    He drives a truck. He’s big.
    When I got mine, I put it my Razr in an impact case.

    May in Kitzingen, vines curling up
    in harsh sunlight. Federweisser full
    Fat Boy and I laid out upon our elbows
    at the top of the vineyard and promised
    each other’s Best Man.

    I do remote tech support for him.
    I ask him simple questions.
    “What’s on the title of the dialog, Fat Boy?”
    Stunned silence turned exasperated
    “Hieroglyphics” he replies.
    We talk a lot.

    My Razr died. High desert New Mexico, an unflushed toilet…
    A gruesome fate. The Hobson’s Choice
    Of a single remaining Backflip in some tiny town.
    Unloved, Flip hung around and was in time dismissed.

    Fat Boy and the Razr. We never contemplate
    the truths we know too well, the shapes of our keys.
    A living friend, a phone that died
    and was not replaced. Friends die
    and aren’t replaced.

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