This is a hard one to write. In fact, I have been putting off penning this down for weeks with the hopes that I will get back what I lost but so far, there is no sign of that happening. All requests and inquiries I send are greeted with deafening silence, like I am talking to a wall. So much so that I begin wondering if it ever happened, if it’s all made up in my head, that I didn’t lose anything.
This was the beginning of the end.
It must have end of May when I was called by Martin (our editor) to meet two people, Dan Kuria and an associate. They handed me a card-sized GPS tracker (it was just a mini motherboard, electrical stuff is not my strong suit really). We sat there, and they introduced me to the wonders of what they have created. More so, they sold me on the future things this little thing could do. At that moment, they introduced me to the Matrix Blackbox and my oh my I was impressed. Here was a way to track my electronics using SMS and many other cool things that I wrote about here.
Then came the ‘how are you going to review it’ part. I figured, to get the real sense of how a consumer can use it, it should be installed on my laptop right? They assured me that they have done it countless of times, more so in a lot of machines at Moi University and their own laptops. I even got a small demo. What followed was a handshake in agreement. Dan told me that his guys will be there the following Monday to install it on my laptop. With that, I went back to work.
Monday rolled in but there was some disruption happening in Nairobi, I can’t remember what it was, so definitely they couldn’t come in. Tuesday also came and went. So did Wednesday. It was on Thursday afternoon that I got a message from one of the guys who said there was someone coming to install the tracker for me. “Finally!” I thought. He arrived an hour later and promised to be done in a few minutes. 30 minutes max to be exact. I was editing a video, so I just saved that, stepped back from my desk and gave him full control over my laptop.
That was the beginning of the end.
My laptop was my pride and joy. It was the second laptop I ever owned. Coming from a high school where Computer Studies were a myth, I didn’t know much about computers but since I was joining university for an IT course, it was about time I got acquainted with a computer.
I remember the conversation I had with my father when I asked him what computer I should get. Well, he didn’t me help much (or so I thought). In fact he just gave me a rough budget and the advice that I should really think about what I want it to be able to support me with. He didn’t want to be responsible for a bad choice. To say the least, I was frustrated. Why was he making it that hard for me? He could simply point me to one.
So I went around town having done very little research on what I needed or what all those specs even mean and picked out a computer that in my mind looked very good. It was a HP 620. Well, after a year in school and doing some demanding projects, I realized I had made a mistake. Let’s say I figured out that I picked up the lowest configuration possible that literally froze up anytime I had more than 2 Chrome tabs open. Regardless, I pulled through that year and the next but I knew I needed a new one. Something more powerful. Literally anything else would have been better.
I approached my father for the second time and told him I’d pay for half of it so long as I got a pricier and more powerful machine. I had my eyes set on the HP Envy 15 Touch Smart. That was it. The ultimate upgrade. One that would last me at least 4 years. I got a good deal for a certified refurbished one from Best Buy. The story of how I got it here is one for another day because it was touch and go for a while there, but after 3 months (ordered in August, got it on October) it arrived just in time for my birthday. To say I was pleased is a huge understatement. I was ecstatic. I took some pics of it immediately and sent them to my father who was in Uganda at the time. He was proud of my choice.
“That’s a solid machine,” he said.
“Easy, nothing to worry about” he said. Well I didn’t have a choice but to trust the guy
After no less than 10 minutes, my beloved laptop spewed its guts all over the desk. “You see there are various steps to installing the tracker,” Kevin said. They put a battery to power the tracker when the computer is off, a switch to divert power to the power source from laptop to battery and the tracker itself goes behind the display.
“Easy, nothing to worry about,” he said. Well, I didn’t have a choice but to trust the guy
We made some small talk as I watched him. He complemented it saying he hadn’t seen a laptop that well maintained. I talked about how I got it, how my life literally revolves around it and how proud I was to have got it with a good deal as I purchased a certified refurbished unit.
Don’t get me wrong, I have seen laptops opened up before, heck I have even opened up some myself as well, but when I saw mine being taken apart, I felt like I was watching open heart surgery and the surgeon was not gentle.
I was literally standing by picking up screws that were rolling off while he didn’t seem bothered. I was obsessed with those screws. My hands were full of them. Things were just being snapped off and those sounds made me cringe. Then he whipped out a tool that melts metal (again not my strong suit) and went melting away.
I won’t get deeper into specifics but there was a lot of burning, pulling, snapping and banging and yet, he looked frustrated, something wasn’t right. I hoped he would just stop there and call it quits. By this time, 2 hours had passed and nothing. Something was failing. Instead, he called in a friend, a colleague to help him out.
In my anxiety, I continued to talk to him, trying to gauge his experience and judge whether I’d made a mistake. I asked but never really listened to his answers. All I could do was watch as the mess continued to build. I was panicking. A large scratch appeared at the top of the machine. He rolled it over a rogue screw. It looked nasty and he tried brushing it off like he could erase it. “It doesn’t work like that!” I almost shouted. One USB port was completely destroyed on the inside and I doubted it would ever work again.
I was panicking. He just laughed assuring me that this was completely normal.
Hmm… Sure it was.
His friend came. It must have been 6 or 7PM by then. I should have been home. I made them coffee. Maybe they needed some energy to figure out what they were doing. By this time, I couldn’t recognize my beloved laptop. Now it had long screw scratches at the top. They struggled opening up the body so there were marks all around (knife marks) as they tried to pry the body apart.
I was panicking.
I’m sure by now you have noticed that I am in the freeze category in terms of the three flight/fight/freeze human physiological responses to impending harm. I just didn’t know what to do.
They kept assuring me that everything will be fine and go back to normal. I knew this wasn’t true.
Some guys stayed in the office with me to keep me company as the hours ticked by. I was hungry, but I couldn’t notice. I went to check in on them. At this particular moment, my computer wasn’t coming on.
I pretended not to notice. I went back to the room where my colleagues were. They were getting angry on my behalf. Bless them.
It was now approaching midnight. I was tired. I was ready for the bad news now. Nothing good ever happened at midnight.
When I got to my desk for the very last time that night, I saw it fully assembled and on the table, turned on and waiting for my password.
“Maybe I judged them too harshly,” I thought. I smiled.
That smile went away as fast as it had appeared. That wasn’t my computer!
One of the guys told me they weren’t able to figure out exactly what was wrong with my computer and so he swapped out my hard disk into his similar computer to allow me to carry on with my work as they went away with mine to bring it fixed the next day.
I was mad. I couldn’t understand what had just happened. My computer was gone. He went on to tell me that his was more powerful, a core i7 compared to my i5 and a NVIDIA graphics card. I’d care less about that, to be honest. I never complained about mine, so why was he speaking like he just did me a favour?
I looked at what I got here, well it’s not as well kept as mine, that’s for sure. One of the hinges looks like it melted off, with its wires and connectors exposed. Closing and opening it is touch and go every single time. Out of the four USB ports, only two work, the rest are disfigured.
All of a sudden, sitting there and looking at it, I caught a glimpse of what my machine would probably look like at the end of this. One that I held so dear to my heart, an extension of myself, one of the last bonding moments I had with my father before he unexpectedly passed away.
Just like that it was gone.
Continue reading part 2 here.