And now the hero may rest

This is my Asus Zenbook UX 303. I bought it in 2015 when I desperately needed a new laptop. Prior to that I was using a Dell Inspiron 700m running Windows XP (which still works!) but it was getting harder to do web development work on it.

I look fondly upon my Zenbook because we went through our own trials at about the same time. I purchased it during a difficult patch in my life when my energies were directed elsewhere and I didn’t want to deal with buying a new laptop. I’d been aware of the Zenbook line’s release which elicited a deep desire to buy one but I put that thought out of mind once I saw the price tag.

So when I saw a good cash-only deal at a local shop I jumped at the chance to replace my aging Dell. It was the first big purchase I’d made in a while and I allowed myself to satisfy the fleeting need for an emotional high.

I will admit to buyers remorse, not immediately after but some time later. At the time, I thought had I sat myself down and done a bit more research I could have possibly gotten another laptop (probably a Dell) with similar specs at a cheaper price. The heart wants what the heart wants but once satisfied it may start wanting other things.

My Zenbook’s sleek exterior and sexy colour reproduction received envious compliments from friends but inside it was struggling to run Windows 8 on what I’d thought was an SSD but was actually a normal hard drive. I could get my work done, and it was leagues better than my faithful Dell Inspiron, but apps would lag nipping at my dwindling patience. I gave up on Firefox and put up with Chrome despite it being slow-as-molasses. Forget IDEs, it was text-editor all the way.

And then the hinge started giving me problems. I had just collected my Zenbook from the service center after getting a new hard drive (SSDs were still too expensive for me) when I noticed the right hinge sticking out. I promptly brought it back where they kept it for a few more days to patch it up. They couldn’t replace it, I can’t remember why, and the patch job left my Zenbook scarred — the Delete button was cracked beyond repair, the Backspace button had a deep gash and the monitor bezels had smudges I could not erase.

Despite the scars, my Zenbook still worked and kept going. And that’s also how I feel about myself when I think back to this period. Life doesn’t just stop to allow us time to heal, we have to somehow muster enough wherewithal to keep going while we lick our wounds.

In 2019, circumstances were improving for me and I had the luxury to think about how to better things in my life. My Zenbook came to mind almost immediately. SSD prices were falling and this would be a great opportunity to extend its life. I was also able to upgrade to 12GB of RAM and experienced the closest thing to computing bliss.

A year later the battery gave out. This was during the start of the global COVID restrictions which mangled supply lines the world over. I somehow managed to get an after-market battery but it was after months of literally bringing an extension cord everywhere my laptop went. The new battery doesn’t have the same capacity as the old but I was glad it worked.

Maybe it was my own paranoia or maybe Life was giving me a nudge but in the first quarter of 2021 I began to be more concerned about the hinge. It was still working fine but the way the monitor would swing and flex at the slightest provocation made me uneasy. I’d already been keeping an eye out for a new laptop for over a year since replacing the battery but global chip shortages meant the laptops that made it to our market did not meet my specifications. What’s more, and in my opinion, they were grossly over-priced.

That all changed this week. A local seller had brought in a new batch of laptops that had what I was looking for. It was slightly more expensive than I would have liked but I consider it “COVID tax”. I quickly reserved a unit and within 24 hours they’d all been booked.

So here I am, typing this out on my Lenovo Ideapad Slim 5 Pro. I spent the past couple of days setting it up and transferring files so now this baby is ready to rock and roll.

A few years ago I adopted some tenants of minimalism. It wasn’t a complete overhaul of my life but rather some minor changes, things as small as taking better care of my shoes so they last longer and wearing t-shirts until they are worn out. It has given me a better respect for the things I own and also a deep sense of gratitude for how they have improved my life.

It is no different with my Zenbook. It has paid for itself at least 10 times over and despite setbacks managed to keep up with me every step of the way. In every way, it has been a hero and now comes the time for it to rest, or rather “retire”. It now sits on my bedroom table where it will effectively function as a desktop hooked up to an external monitor. Hopefully this will put less stress on the hinge and allow it to continue to function for many more years. Thanks to the SSD and additional RAM, it is still very responsive.

Thank you, friend, for all your service. You did good.