Ye Old Brick

June 24, 2020
Spring 2007
a side by side picture of a laptop keyboard and a typewriter by Glenn Carstens-Peters, courtesy Unsplash Nowadays, when I'm confronted by older technology, I have the patience to understand why it functions the way it does. I try my hardest to cope with the limitations so I can appreciate the experience more, and I say to myself that the computer has more character than most. The computer I'm using to draft this very story is eight years old. I have a cell phone that's five years old and running Android 10. I have an atomic clock from my sixteenth birthday. I have an affinity for bringing new life to old stuff. It wasn't always this way, and the following experience helped me better understand how to love old things (and people) a bit more.
Earlier in the year, [#a3l58e] came up with the idea for me to have a computer. At this point, personal computers weren't allowed on campus, and she came up with a workaround that would allow her to give me one. The computer she proposed was very old, and lacked WiFi and other connectivity protocols that would allow me to connect to the internet. After her petition was successful, she set out to have a volunteer install Windows 3.1 on an old laptop. She then gifted the laptop to me.
Given how I was previously treated with regards to computer access, I considered the gesture an insult, and was largely apprehensive to the gift. I was needlessly skeptical about the PC and didn't give enough thought as to how the computer worked. I also didn't realize that Windows 3 had file name limitations, and I was never able to get over that throughout the time I used it. In addition, my use of the computer was tied to displays of good behavior, and despite the otherwise great experiences I had with staff for better or worse, [#a2j79k] was an exception to that rule. He looked for every reason to write me up, and this interfered with my ability to better understand the computer. Every staff had the discretion to set the bar for incident reports. His bar was the lowest.
After about a month, I gave up on the computer, and it was handed to one of my fellow dormmates, [#p2b92n], who not only found a better use for the machine, he was even able to get DOS games to play on it. I was extremely envious, but looking back, I realized that I failed to be patient when it came to handling difficult technology (and people). It was a mistake I vowed to myself I'd never repeat. Surrounded by elder-tech, I believe I've done good on that front, and I have no regrets avoiding the expensive tech some of my peers take out loans and ruin their credit for.
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