The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

November 29, 2010

Good-Bye Toshiba Laptop. Hello Secondhand Sony Vaio.

Toshiba satellite laptop computerDear Toshiba Satellite S105 Laptop Computer:

I’m sorry I never gave you a better name in the 9 years that we were together. I was so sad last week when I traded you in at CeX in Berkeley for a bigger, faster, more powerful computer. For a second, I thought I might jump across the counter and grab you back from that sales dude who was checking all your buttons and parts to make sure you worked okay. I don’t think anyone else has had their hands on you except for Michael maybe and that computer doctor I brought you to a few times when you crashed. See? I loved you. I didn’t toss you away like most people would after two years.

With you, I learned to blog and create web sites and little Flash videos. Remember that stupid animation we made back in 2003 where we knocked off the Governator’s head with a baseball bat? Good times. And better — you were there when Michael and I got married. You helped me make the DVDs we inflicted on our friends and relatives afterwards. But even then, the work was slow-going.

Toshiba, I need more from a computer now. Programs are bigger. File sizes are massive. Remember what a hard time we had at the BlogHer conference this past summer? It took an hour to upload pictures from my camera. Your memory isn’t what it used to be, even with the upgrades I gave you, and neither are your processing skills. But don’t worry. This is not the end of the road for you, my friend. Because instead of tossing you away as just more e-waste, I have sold you back to CeX to be refurbished and resold to someone who will appreciate what you have to offer. You’re still great for email and web browsing and other basic tasks.

Goodbye little friend.



P.S. I can’t believe I’m crying over a stupid computer. I must be hormonal. Or materialistic in a good way?

Sony Vaio laptop computerDear secondhand Sony Vaio Laptop:

If I didn’t give the Toshiba a better name, I’m certainly not going to give you one.

It took a long time to find you. Why? Because I refuse to buy a brand new computer and add to the toxic waste stream resulting from our thoughtless over-consumption of electronics. Over the years, I upgraded my Toshiba and got the most use out of it I could.  Nine years is ancient in techno time. Then, I waited until I found the right secondhand computer. I searched Craigslist for months and never found what I wanted. Then, last week, walking past CeX, I saw you in the window. I couldn’t believe it. Your price was right. Your features were awesome. CeX paid me cash for the Toshiba so that you cost even less. And best of all: no plastic packaging waste. I took you home in my backpack. No padding necessary.

But you’ll have to prove yourself to me. Yes, we’re having fun now. But this is just the honeymoon stage. Are you going to hold up? One thing I notice is that you don’t get as hot as the Toshiba. That’s a good sign. Also? You don’t crash as much. Is that because of Windows 7?

Well, for better or for worse, you and I are a team. Are you ready to blog about plastic? Get ready to do a lot of that.  We’re writing a book on the subject, too!  (Oh, don’t feel bad. I know you are made from plastic. But you’re not brand new plastic, and secondhand is okay, according to the rules of my No New Plastic game.)  You will be my only computer from here on out.  I’m giving my desktop computer to Michael.  His beat up Compaq is even older and slower than my Toshiba, and sadly, I don’t think he’ll get money for that one.  We’ll have to find an e-Steward recycler.

Technology is a beautiful and scary thing.  I’m trying to be responsible with it.  Sony Vaio, I hope you’ll hold up your end of the bargain.


Beth Terry (That’s Mistress Beth to you.)

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12 years ago

I have to say, I used to go through computers like they were candy. Usually not because I wanted to, but because I had to – they broke, slowed down to a crawl and would never recover no matter how carefully I rebuilt them or they just plain stunk. That was when I was on Windows.

I made the switch to Mac a few years ago and am so pleased I have. My computers rarely need help, they work, work work and don’t break. And I’ve had my laptop for a record 3 years (for me). And I see no reason to even consider getting a new one. My husband has had his for 4 – and he was also on the same path as me.

Should the need arise, I would highly recommend a refurbed Mac because they truly do last much longer than most PCs I’ve seen…


flory laurent (France)
12 years ago

Without a home computer what could we do today ?…we have to admit it…and we have to realize that if we want “green” one..don’t wait that compagnies produced it by “pleasure” but only if consumer’s pressure for it arrive to their ears…

By the way, thanks to use your new one to write me back…:)


Flaneuse in DC
12 years ago

Great letters. I rather like the idea of writing letters to inanimate objects, to the important Stuff in our lives. Better to be In Relationship with it, rather than unconscious!

Love your blog and I’m looking forward to the book!

12 years ago


“Dear second Second Hand G4. Our memory isn’t what it used to be either. I hadn’t considered – unbelievable, I know – the ethics of the new chip you need, but thanks to Mistress Bath, we’re going to have to scope out the options. You’ll feel better as soon as Mistress Tracey gets it together…”

12 years ago

Beth, why don’t you start a “oldest” contest – see who has kept a major item running for the longest time – you already had the post on the washing machine, now this one on the laptop.

The laptop is a great test case because of all the appeal of new technology. It’s the greatest challenge to anyone who really wants to fight the consumption urge.

My solution is to hoard. Would you believe I have two laptops and a desktop PC? The laptops are from Judy’s workplace – retired for $100 each. The deal specifies they can’t be re-sold.

Desktop PC: big monitor, the workhorse for blogging, checking email and surfing.

Laptop 1: old Compaq – not fast, low-res screen. Sits at my easy chair for quick searches while reading a book, the perfect desk reference

Laptop 2: new arrival – sweet dual core high res ($100!) – dedicated to Flight Simulator, complete with foot pedals and joystick of course! I’m currently on the ground in Nagoya, Japan.

12 years ago

It lasted nine years? WOW!

Mine died this summer. The mainboard, I was told, too expensive and too much bother to fix it, and I needed a fix fast (and cheap). It lasted five years, and when I said how old it was I met astonished eyes. I don’t think that’s so old considering how much money and how much stuff actually goes into a laptop!
I still have my old one (I miss it so) and when I have a bit of money (just now my bike AND my vacuum broke down) I’ll try to find somebody who can maybe fix it.

Good luck and lots of fun with your new one :-D

Condo Blues
12 years ago

I name my computers because my husband and I have them networked and they have to have a unique name to do that. It’s funny because you can tell what TV and movies we were into at the time because we tend to name our networked items after characters.

Do you have a chapter of Free Geek near you? They are a charity that takes old computers, parts, and peripherals working or not and uses them to build Linux computers for the less fortunate. It felt great to donate a huge tub of computer parts (we build our machines) and some ancient peripherals that still had some life left in them to someone who could use it. I also got a tax deduction, which was a very nice bonus.

12 years ago

sooo admire the fact that you bought secondhand! Wish the price we paid for our electronics included the cost of disposal/reuse, as suggested by “Story of Electronics.” Until that time, you’ve chosen the most environmental friendly option. kudos!

Lori Alper
12 years ago

Such a cute post! Hope the honeymoon phase lasts for a long, long time. Sounds like it was fate. I am in the market for a new laptop too… poor Dell is ready to move on. Not feeling as sentimental as you-just a whole lotta frustration on my end with the lack of speed and constant crashing.

12 years ago

I say that you’re materialistic in a good way. We should all value our things and take care of them!

Also, I hope that you and the Secondhand Sony Vaio enjoy a long and happy life together. :)

12 years ago

Your new laptop seems like it will make an excellent successor!
My old laptop is from 2005Toshiba (named Lenny). The battery life is shot so it always needs to be plugged in, but it does everything I need to do (albeit slowly, at times). When we get rid of it, I bet it could just be wiped and it’d be pretty decent for someone else.

12 years ago


I took the liberty of looking up and evaluating psychiatrists in the Bay area so you don’t have to. Please stay calm and at home until my email with the list of names and phone numbers arrives, then start calling to find the one you think would be best.

I wonder what Office Depot is doing with all the e-waste I give them.

12 years ago

Love these letters… unfortunately my notebook is only less than 3 years old but my screen is already coming off and a part of the *cough* plastic already splintered and is coming apart. I’ll be hopefully finding a refurbished computer. Orrr maybe buy used :)

Anna@Green Talk
12 years ago

I hand my computers down to my kids. I had a Vaio desktop for 6 years. It was so hard to part with and I get insulted when my kids say it is slow. One thing I found with Sony since I had 2 of them (desktops), their hard drives fail. So, back-up your computer often. This may not be the case with a laptop or I just must be the unfortunate person who got 2 sonys whose hard drives failed.

12 years ago

Not to be insensitive but you made my rather stoic husband bust up laughing with your goodbye letter. Very funny indeed.

I too have a 9 year old Toshiba laptop but I did go out and buy a new iMac quad last November when my Toshiba took 20 minutes just to boot up. I upgraded the processor and did what I could but it was time. I have a son in high-school who relies on the Internet, etc. so I made the leap . . . I looked for a year before I made this decision. I still have my Toshiba and my 8 year old HP PC because I just can’t bear tossing it into the landfill. It’s good to know that someone will take my old computers and give them a home : ) Thanks for the information and the referral, but mostly for making my husband laugh so hard.

12 years ago

I didn’t mean to send that twice! :(

12 years ago

Awwww. SO cute. Hope you have luck with your new (old) Sony Viao!

12 years ago

Awwww. SO cute. Hope you have luck with your new Sony Viao!

12 years ago

Congrats! Hope the Sony lasts as long or even longer than the Toshiba! Happy blogging and book writing!

Alyssa Lee
12 years ago

Adorable post :) I love your voice. It is in no way strange that you’d be crying. My laptop and I have gone through so many late nights, essays, movies, and life changes together. It has helped me through becoming plastic-free and a vegetarian, finding my way around Los Angeles, keeping me in touch with my family, everything. I dread the day where it’s too much pain to keep it going. Almost like putting a pet down. Now that I write it down, maybe it is unhealthy to be so attached, but it’s true – we have truly made something great out of technology. Let’s hope to do better. Good luck to you and your new tech beau. You will be very happy together!

12 years ago

Love it! Good on you. My old iBook is still sitting here, waiting for me to try and fix it so I can sell/give it to someone who needs a basic machine.