If you’ll allow me a quick public acknowledgement of “an old friend …”
At the end of April I bought a new computer. Whippy-doo speed, Windows 7 with a Win-10 upgrade available, M-S Office 2016 … I admit, it’s a much faster, more productive environment in which to work.
But since the sword always cuts two ways, the advent of the new computer means I am now ready to part ways with the old computer, which has given me over ten years of faithful service. When I bought it in 2006 it was something of a powerhouse — a Windows XP operating system, Office 2003, loaded with all the memory I would ever need — well, that’s what we figured, based on the then-current state of technology, anyway.
It did indeed zip right along, fulfilling just about my every business or personal requirement for many years of its useful life. A lot of writing happened on this machine — my portion of The Library of American Comics’s launch came from this computer. From Terry and the Pirates, Volume 1 through the entire Alex Toth: Genius trilogy and on to last year’s Beyond Mars and King of the Comics — for every one of our award-winning or -nominated books to which I contributed text, those features were primarily composed on Ol’ Yeller, here. Add in some non-LOAC work, done here and there, plus what has to be hundreds of thousands of words of business and personal correspondence, and this Intel chip has processed a whole lotta my words. So like any craftsman who moves on once a favorite tool has given all it can give, I think it’s not inappropriate to take a moment to reflect on this passing of the torch.
That passing is made easier by the realization that the time to make this move had indeed come. Many applications had stopped or will soon stop supporting Windows XP, producing “.doc” work in a “.docx” world was becoming increasingly difficult, and all that once-robust memory was now being tested by some websites and the larger of our many honkin-big files.
As you can see, in 2006 we had separate read-only and read-write drives. It was possible to get the computer loaded with a floppy disk drive and yes, I did that, too, since most of my work up to that point had been stored on three-inch discs. The need to preserve the material on those discs was part of what took me about five weeks of off-and-on laboring to get all my files migrated to my new machine — I not only had to port over the current working files (thank goodness for Dropbox, which helped expedite that process!), I spent one evening loading one three-inch disc after another into the old computer’s drive, saving its contents down to the hard drive, then copying all those files over to CD. That’s allowed me to preserve a whole batch of my late-20th-Century writing — including all my Batman: The Gauntlet files, my Nick Fury and Deathlok the Demolisher work for a pair of long-departed Marvel editors, my book reviews for Algis Budrys’s TomorrowSF magazine, and every installment of a bi-weekly column I once wrote for an on-line comics publication. The one devoted to how, in the early ’80s, Eclipse and the original McGregor/Gulacy Sabre graphic novel revived my sagging interest in comics is what caught Dean’s attention and put us in communication, leading to LOAC. With those precious memories now saved to a more durable format, I wiped the floppies, then did the same to all my files off the old computer.
Sometime within the next week, I intend to call a business in my town of residence that advertises that it takes and recycles older equipment. If they’re interested, I’ll place my old computer in their hands; I’m reluctant to simply take it to the city recycling center and consign it to the scrap heap. Perhaps, having been a workhorse for me for so long, the old machine might prove useful to a new owner and enjoy a final few, less demanding years of productivity. Is that too much to hope for …?
Meanwhile, I know what you’re hoping for — so join me in this space in just a few days for something more concretely-comics-related!