My first blog post of this year is going to be a tribute to one of my best friends that I recently had to say goodbye to… the computer I started with here at SlickEdit.   As a programmer, your computer is something that you spend 8-9 hours a day interacting with.  My work computer gets more face-to-face time than any other person I know, so it’s only natural to develop a friendship with it.

After three years of use it had developed its own unique personality.  It had the perfect background with cool sounds to match.  The fonts were just right.  All of the desktop icons were where I wanted them and I knew exactly where everything was off the Start menu.  I had scripts, shortcuts and bindings to do all the common stuff I need to quickly.  I’d gotten to know all of its quirks, traits, flaws and mannerisms over those few years.

However, like many computers, after installing several versions of many large apps, it wasn’t the playful, energetic puppy that it was back when I started using it.  It was in no rush when rebooting, and I could hear it let out a sigh whenever started Outlook or Visual Studio.  What were once speedy builds turned into mandatory coffee breaks.  Still, I loved that computer… we knew each other and wrote software together every day.

Then, early one morning, our sys admin came over to my office.  “It seems like your computer’s been trying to send out emails directly on port 25 during the middle of the night, any idea what that could be?”  I didn’t know.  We looked up the address where they were being sent, somewhere I’d never heard of before.  “Alright, I’ll bring over the Vista DVD,” he said.

And that’s when it sunk in.  An infection… a virus… the Vista DVD… I was going to have to reformat my machine.  I was going to have to shoot Old Yeller.

[From the movie… Old Yeller’s gone rabid and Mama’s holding a shotgun]
Travis: No mama!
Mama: There’s no hope for him now. He’s sufferin’. You know we gotta do it.
Travis: I know Mama… But he was my dog… I’ll do it.

I sat quietly for a while after he left, realizing that this was the end.  I spent the next few hours backing up all of my important files and exporting all of my preferences.  “There are automatic updates ready to install, reboot now?” it prompted innocently.  The poor thing had no clue.  I missed him already, and I wondered if a better place awaited him after fdisk.  A place without disk fragmentation, bloated installations, useless polling auto-update tray apps and frozen taskbars.  I said goodbye and shut down one last time before booting from the Vista DVD.

I’m still sitting at the same desk, but everything feels new and a little unknown now.  It’s like working again with that energetic puppy I began with.  He’s eager to start up and get to work, builds are a snap and the desktop is clutter-free.  I’m still getting to know it, and soon he’ll develop his own personality.  I still miss Old Yeller, though.