January 5, 2014
Day Five of "The Great 2014
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
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
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
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.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
Labels: 2014, Consumption, great, resolutions