Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sparking anxiety, not joy

The weather outside was frightful, so I took a day off from my usual retirement activities and focused on some longstanding tidying up, specifically all the computer crap I have accumulated over the past 20+ years. Once upon a time, in a previous lifetime, I ran my own software development business, and that is when things really got out of hand. Most of this hardware sat in a closet for over ten years, when I decided to apply some Marie Kondo magic. I managed to pry all the outdated equipment from the closet, but then it sat (and sat and sat) in the den. Now I want it gone.

The first batch - a laptop, a notebook (with 8 meg of memory!) and its external floppy drive, a handheld scanner, a serial printer, a PKZip drive, etc. - has been trucked off to Staples for recycling. But instead of feeling lighter, I grieve. Leaving it all sitting in a grocery cart near checkout counter #1 felt so UNCEREMONIOUS. I guess I didn't take enough time to THANK it for all its hard work, for helping me try to realize a dream, for never failing me at critical moments. It has been a couple of weeks since I made that trip across town, and I still feel bad.

Then I tackled one of the desktops, a Gateway that served as my utility computer. It had FOUR serial ports, TWO parallel ports, a special circuit board for translating words from cassette tape to digital files, a 5.25 floppy drive, a 3.5 disk drive, and a BOURNOUILLI drive. I used it for debugging serial communications, for editing sound files, for testing software. Now it won't even boot up. Since I couldn't format the hard drive, I removed it for destruction. Dog knows what is on it. Last Thursday I made another trip to Staples with this PC, its keyboard and CRT monitor, plus various circuit boards and detritus. Late at night, I feel panicky about this loss.

I'm a little shocked at the amount of RJ12 wire, cables, "gender benders", serial converters, modems, mice, software installation disks, user manuals, etc. there is, in boxes and paper grocery sacks. And I am also a little amazed that I used to actually know something useful about computers and software development. For a while, software engineering was my world and it seemed SO important and I loved it. Now it is ancient history. I am guessing that 99% of the code I wrote is not in use today.

There are still two more desktops to tackle. I am going to try to transfer some of the files from them to an old laptop, but if it doesn't work. oh, well. Meanwhile, it feels like a huge part of my past has been erased.