I bought a lower-middle Dell laptop in 2003 that has never done anything but run perfectly. I’ve replaced the battery once, and one of the USB ports is wallered out (still works; just won’t grip). That’s it. It’s been off maybe 200 days total in the past 11 years and has never so much as whimpered. It’s been perhaps the single most impressively reliable piece of technology I’ve ever purchased.
It’s been a dedicated SETI@home machine for some months now. Its entire mission is to sit over my left shoulder and produce an entertaining visual sculpture.
Of course, it runs Windows XP. You may have heard that’s getting steadily more dangerous. Here’s how it greeted me just now:
I don’t have any sensitive data on it, and whatever personal files that remain are backed up in multiple places. So it’ll be a simple matter to take it to some installation or another of Linux, install the Linux SETI@home client, and keep trucking. I’ll do that sometime in the next week or so, and just live on the edge until then.
I also have an XP desktop that I’m keeping. It has a serial port, as well as programming software for multiple radio receivers, my universal remote, my scrolling LED sign, and such. I’ll power it up sometime soon and get all the latest security updates, but after that it’ll lose its connection to the outside world. I think I can figure out how to fetch database updates with a Windows 8.1 box and trick the XP box into thinking they’re coming from the net.
So as of right now, I have two operational XP boxes. What can I say? I’m a madman.