Digital sunlight


411: Ground Zero of the biggest disappointment of the year, the Red Sox’s home, Boston MA.

Listening to: The quiet whirr of a brushless 80mm computer fan.

Ok, listen up. This is why I love Sarah.

I’ve been meaning to build Sarah an art PC for a while now. A few weeks ago in a rainy fit of depression, I went and bought one of those perfectly clear acrylic computer cases, where you can see everything inside.

Then, in an incredible act of trust, Sarah let me completely disassemble her computer. This is the computer that all of her work at Citigroup for the last three years is on. This is the computer which contains all of her hard-collected and cataloged obscure jazz piano MP3’s (legally purchased) are kept. This is the computer with the nascent beginnings of her dissertation.

She sat patiently in the room, doing the econometrics homework assigned to her by a Nobel Prize nominee (which means yes, it’s bloody hard), while I took a hammer and a screwdriver to her machine.

I’d say things like, “Crap, this doesn’t fit!” “Did they solder this piece together!”, and “It’ll never fucking work!” and she wouldn’t even flinch. She just hummed along, petting the dogs and transforming her matrices, as if she hadn’t just seen me take a hammer to the end of a screwdriver trying to remove the CPU mount from HP’s insanely over-engineered computer case.

Once I’d put it all back together, I prepared her carefully. “Baby, this isn’t going to work. I’m gonna power it on, but nothing useful will happen. If you see any large spark or a small flame, that’s normal.”

Defying all reason and Murphy’s Law, I powered it up and it worked on the first try.

But that’s not the best part.

After it was running, we re-arranged Sarah’s desktop so she could sit and watch the inside of the computer while she worked. Pretty blinky lights and all that.

Instantly, she started tracing the various components of the machine. Despite not knowing much about computer hardware, she got it. She understood why processing happens in the PCI expansion slots, but not in the disk drives. She realized which pieces were memory cards, and why you can’t just buy more to stick in there with the old ones since there aren’t any more slots. I have no doubt she’s into the arcane Windows control panels right now, checking to see how much memory she has, and how much more she can get.

And, she understood in a blink why the world of aftermarket parts means that Apple will always have a 5% market share.

I love Sarah for this. And of course, her butt. But that’s another story.