Great 365 Day Purge - Day Five


January 5, 2014

Day Five of "The Great 2014 Purge."

A break from the trunk this day. Today, I'm getting rid of the Dell laptop I crashed a year ago, spilling a hot mug of tea over the keyboard, destroying the motherboard in a quick sizzle.

I pull the hard drive out of the laptop and set it aside.

Another computer: Desktop. A slow behemoth of a machine that nobody uses anymore. Full of photographs. Music. School papers. Taxes.

I want to delete everything on the hard drive, format it a couple of times and reinstall Windows before pulling it, to make sure the data is wiped clean. In the DOS days of old, this would have been a snap: Get yourself to the c prompt and type del *.* before telling the computer to format.

I find my way to the c prompt, get to the root directory and issue the delete command. The cursor blinks once and I am returned to the impassive, uncooperative prompt. I run a dir command to check my success: All the files remain.

When I issue the format command, I'm told that I'm "not authorized" to perform this task. I wonder, briefly, who does have the authorization and how I can reach him or her.


I would reinstall Windows, but today's computers don't ship with installation disks. Instead, users are instructed to make "recovery disks" for that purpose, which, of course, I neglected to do when I bought this computer.

I yank the hard drive and set it with the laptop's.

I bundle up a bunch of cables. These and the computers will go to our local recycling facility, e-scrap division. I wonder what will happen to these computers. Will they be loaded onto a boat, shipped across the ocean to be dismantled by a poorly paid worker in unsafe conditions? Will they be taken apart locally, responsibly? Will they be tossed into a landfill?

So many steps to build and break down a machine, whose life spans are unacceptably short.

I send off an email to the facility, asking them these questions before returning to the hard drives. My husband will be given the task of sending a nail through several spots in each before hitting them, for good measure, with a sledgehammer, thereby making the data inaccessible.

So much work to erase these traces from my life.

I wonder if it's worth it, all these resources to manufacture these computers; all this work to remove my tracks, to protect my personal data while at the same time someone at a retail store may be stealing my credit card numbers.

I wonder if it's time to return to paper and pen.

Paper will decompose over time.

And I am authorized to shred it.





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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Great 365 Day Purge - Day Five

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Great 365 Day Purge - Day Five


January 5, 2014

Day Five of "The Great 2014 Purge."

A break from the trunk this day. Today, I'm getting rid of the Dell laptop I crashed a year ago, spilling a hot mug of tea over the keyboard, destroying the motherboard in a quick sizzle.

I pull the hard drive out of the laptop and set it aside.

Another computer: Desktop. A slow behemoth of a machine that nobody uses anymore. Full of photographs. Music. School papers. Taxes.

I want to delete everything on the hard drive, format it a couple of times and reinstall Windows before pulling it, to make sure the data is wiped clean. In the DOS days of old, this would have been a snap: Get yourself to the c prompt and type del *.* before telling the computer to format.

I find my way to the c prompt, get to the root directory and issue the delete command. The cursor blinks once and I am returned to the impassive, uncooperative prompt. I run a dir command to check my success: All the files remain.

When I issue the format command, I'm told that I'm "not authorized" to perform this task. I wonder, briefly, who does have the authorization and how I can reach him or her.


I would reinstall Windows, but today's computers don't ship with installation disks. Instead, users are instructed to make "recovery disks" for that purpose, which, of course, I neglected to do when I bought this computer.

I yank the hard drive and set it with the laptop's.

I bundle up a bunch of cables. These and the computers will go to our local recycling facility, e-scrap division. I wonder what will happen to these computers. Will they be loaded onto a boat, shipped across the ocean to be dismantled by a poorly paid worker in unsafe conditions? Will they be taken apart locally, responsibly? Will they be tossed into a landfill?

So many steps to build and break down a machine, whose life spans are unacceptably short.

I send off an email to the facility, asking them these questions before returning to the hard drives. My husband will be given the task of sending a nail through several spots in each before hitting them, for good measure, with a sledgehammer, thereby making the data inaccessible.

So much work to erase these traces from my life.

I wonder if it's worth it, all these resources to manufacture these computers; all this work to remove my tracks, to protect my personal data while at the same time someone at a retail store may be stealing my credit card numbers.

I wonder if it's time to return to paper and pen.

Paper will decompose over time.

And I am authorized to shred it.





Labels: , , ,

2 Comments:

At January 5, 2014 at 7:55 AM , Blogger Michelle Stanley said...

I like your article. When my computer crashed in the summer, I wanted to hit it with a hammer too. It delayed my work in progress and I was angry. I lost the new story I was working on, and did not have time to back it up. Luckily, my other work was saved on other systems I use.

 
At January 6, 2014 at 6:04 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks for reading, Michelle! I was actually able to save the contents of that laptop's hard drive with drive cloning software. I wasn't happy to have lost the computer, but at least I had all my old work.

 

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