The Flying Netbook Squad!

I’ve written before about my current computer, an Acer D260 netbook, upgraded to 2 GB of RAM and a 64 GB SSD:



Well, it proved itself again this morning.

I was packing up to head to work when my spouse came into the room.  I had disconnected power but not USB from the little machine, and she startled me by coming in, so I whirled around with the D260 in my hand and–had it yanked out by the cable.  It went flying, first into the wooden side of my roll-top and then it bounced onto the floor, hitting on one corner.

My first reaction was to be happy that I’d installed an SSD for software and stored most of my documents on the cloud.  The second was to realize that, if the machine was damaged, I didn’t have a ready backup.

So, I picked it up and turned it on.  The bezel had sprung away from the top of the case in the corner where it hit, but it looks like I can glue it back together.  The disk was, of course, fine.  The screen and keyboard and case are all–fine.  It didn’t connect to my USB devices on first try, but after a reboot, it seemed to connect OK.  Then I grabbed it, stuffed it into my briefcase, and headed out the door.

It’s only just now that I’m thinking about why it wasn’t hurt worse.  And the answer is…


It’s light.

I remember an article by the late Stephen J. Gould in which the writer talked about the advantage children have when falling down.  It had to do with surface area and volume and concluded, IIRC, that children are less likely to get hurt when they fall because their weight-to-surface area ratio is lower than that of adults:  they’re light.

Now, the little Acer is cheaply made, all plastic, and the computer weighs little more than its 6-cell battery, once the two are disconnected.  It’s well-packed, but the parts all tend to be on the light side.  This makes it, well, feel cheap.  A more solid notebook has a feel of density, of heft.  But that is also its Achilles’ Heel in two respects.

First, it makes it harder to haul around a powerful computer.

Second, it makes it more vulnerable in a fall.

Now, discussing just why a particular machine survived a particular fall is about as pointless as entering into bicycling’s helmet wars.  I would remind you that this machine has been dropped before, and survived (including the hard drive).  But I’m happy with small and light, and I’m happy with the SSD I installed.  And I’m happy that the little beastie is still working.

Lessons to take away?  I’d like to say netbooks and SSDs.  But the real lesson?

Unplug the USB cable, stupid!

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