It's a Toshiba Satellite A200 laptop, and it's getting sluggish, poor thing. Whenever you ask too much of the processor it just throws its metaphorical hands in the air and says "This job's too hard!", and switches off. To be honest it's always had cooling problems - and for the last six months I've been using a cake cooling tray under it, to ensure it doesn't just shut down when I least expect it.
For example, I just tried to Google the model number for this laptop, to find out how old it really is, and the thing shut down. (And yes, why would I dig out the documentation when I can Google the result?)
Enough is enough.
The Google result (when I restarted the computer and restored the browser) reports that this laptop is at least five years old. Sounds about right, I know I had it two houses ago. It came loaded with Windows Vista and, according to online documentation, 1GB of RAM (in two wodges of 512MB). It also came with two hard drives, and until the day overheating completely cooked one of them, I didn't realise that the other was completely unused. Oops.
(In the same way that it's not a good idea to put several heirs to the throne on the same flight, the threat of catastrophic failure should motivate one to separate the storage of software and documents, if circumstances allow. They did allow, I just didn't take advantage, and thus lost everything in one hit. Lesson learnt.)
There followed several months of hand-wringing, because the thing was less than two years old at the time. Then I took it for diagnosis by Dr Carl, and he advised that the only thing really wrong with it was the cooked hard drive (and the aforementioned cooling shortcomings). So we tossed out the crispy drive, loaded an open source operating system (Ubuntu) onto the functioning drive, and we've been relatively happy together ever since.
The open source OS was necessary because we didn't really have the dollars to fork out for a new copy of Windows. Ubuntu is a very user-friendly version of Linux, but any version of Linux is a double-edged sword. You can get it for nothing, and you don't have to be a super-genius to install and run it, but there are bunches of programs that nobody bothers to adapt for Linux. Sure, you can get Windows emulators for Linux, but the emulator lag in a machine with a single gig of RAM is wall-smashingly, eye-rollingly, shoulder-twitchingly irritating. Don't get me wrong - I love the fact that Ubuntu and similar things are out there, and I would certainly recommend it as an alternative operating system. I'm just completely over having to do things the exotic way all the time.
So, the question is - what's next? Here I need a little crowd-sourcing, if you please.
I would so love to put a Macbook Pro on the desk. (It has to be the Pro, because I like laptops but the Macbook Air doesn't come with an optical drive, and I'm not ready to forego that.) I note Mrs G's four year old iMac is going strong, so that's a good indicator. However, in addition to replacing this aged laptop we're going need to kit the elder minions out with computing hardware in the near future. So it would seem to be a choice between one Rolls Royce and several Mini Minors. Am I wrong?
For the price of a Macbook Pro we could buy up to two reasonably powerful little laptops, or three fairly average ones. I just wonder whether I would regret that decision really quickly. I mean, I already have a respected manufacturer's product in front of me, and it's been limping for 60% of its life. With a drive missing, a CPU that runs too hot and a completely different operating system to the one it started with, it more closely resembles a war veteran missing one or two important limbs than a productivity device. How much worse would it be going downmarket and lower spec?
Is it really fair to pit an Apple against a lemon? Does such a battle only result in fruit that oxidises more slowly?
Tips and advice gratefully received, not necessarily heeded.