A commenter to my post about drive transplantation asked what I think is a good question:

Every time I read stories like this one I wonder: do you value your time at all? How many hours have you burned using obsolete equipment?

Hmm… The same question could be asked about forcing my aging body to do what often seem like pointless and grotesque daily exercises.

Actually, I don’t have as much time as I would like, but I found the drive transplant process challenging, educational and even fun. I can honestly state that I had more fun making my old hard drive (which is essentially my old computer) work in a new modern board than I would playing video games.

Plus, it provides a nice distraction from the grim realities which are inherent in a perfectly working computer. Having the system down beats reading irritating news items, and feeling obligated to comment on them at length. Or getting dragged into endless political debates. Or feeling obligated to respond to annoying emails. It’s like, if my time is going to be wasted, who’s time is it? Putting aside the issue of what constitutes waste, if my time is being wasted by other people, I don’t have as much control over it as if it is my time, and my waste.

I like the feeling of being in control of my own waste. Perhaps that is juvenile, though. It may well be that what society calls “adulthood” consists of granting people a right to your time. I do live in the real world, so there is no way to avoid some of that. But sometimes, just doing my own stuff is more emotionally rewarding. If immaturity consists of doing your own stuff, then I’m immature. And so what? Who has the right to tell me to “man up“? Who else but an immature nut would write a daily blog for over nine years without pay? Seriously, what could be a bigger waste of time than that? When I have discussed this with strangers I have met, a number of them have found the very idea of daily blogging annoying, and they say they could not possibly do that.

Like people who say they don’t have time for exercise. Interestingly, the argument is that they spend too much time commuting.  Why a long commute would be more important than physical fitness is another good question. What other people do is not my business as long as they don’t try to drag me into it by waging war against cars.

I see blogging as a form of exercise, and fighting to keep my hard drive was definitely exercise. And it’s not as if I don’t have anything to show for it. I have a much newer computer running a Core 2 Quad, and it’s exactly the same computer as the old one, only it’s a new one.

I even saved before and after screen shots:

Old (showing the previous chip and the seriously outdated drive controllers):

And now (showing the new chip and AHCI controllers, which were a challenge and had to be slipped in before the new board would finally boot the old system properly):

Plus, a variety of online geeks maintain that this sort of thing either can’t or shouldn’t be done. Better to start from scratch with a new OS, they say. Except then, all of the software that I have configured, and all of the keyboard shortcuts that make my life easier and enable me to avoid the mouse — these and more would be gone. All of my data and photos and music would have to be dumped back in, and my software would have to all be reinstalled, reactivated (assuming I could even find the original CDs and product keys, and further assuming it would all still work with a new OS). This would also waste time, would it not? Reconfiguring everything to work with a new OS could easily take just as much time — even assuming the now-ancient but working installations of obsolete software like my precious PaintShopPro could be made to work (which I doubt). Only the latter would feel more like a degrading waste of time than a liberating waste of time posed by hard drive transplantation, if that makes any sense.

Back to the issue of who gets to waste your time, it may touch on the nature of what is work, and what is play. We commonly think that work is supposed to be something unpleasant, something that we have to do or are supposed to do. I find welding  to be more fun than practicing law. Melting metal is more appealing than litigation, and there is a sense of fulfillment. Maybe it is not as economically rewarding, but considering the glut of hungry lawyers, the law school bubble, and the shortage of welders, even that may be debatable….) And when you weld, you are in control of what you are doing; when you litigate, what you do is often dictated by the behavior and responses of others. Factor in emotional rewards, and we may be talking about fun. Again, the consensus has been that work is not fun. The “man up” people would probably say that practicing law is the mature thing for me to do, and welding is immature. But then Twain famously said that a man’s work is that which is not work, but play!

The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it.

While I am not versed enough in Heinlein as I should be, I think he had something to say on the related subject of who owns your time…

Yes he did, and it didn’t take long to find it:

…there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is to deal with a leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please – this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing with to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time – and squawk for more!

How well I know. I should just tell them that I can’t help because I’m busy having fun with my stuff.