Letter to my laptop

Where’d you go?


If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you’ll know that 2018 has been less than nice to me. I was sick for the first week, I bought an external monitor that was shattered (not my fault, it came that way), accidentally dyed my hair purple, and a few other things.

[Image of Shattered Screen]
The external monitor that was shattered upon arrival. January 2018


The worst thing that has happened so far was my laptop being stolen.

My personal laptop was stolen from my room - right from my desk. I wasn’t using my personal laptop that much due to spending so much time on the computer at work. But I know that my personal laptop was on my desk, as I never took it anywhere or moved it out of my room. The day prior to my laptop being stolen, I was trying to stream on Twitch (following through on my goals for the year!) and had placed it on my desk. That was the last place I had seen it.

On the day it was stolen the house lock was acting up and a roommate was moving in. Between these factors, and my room being the first room in the house, it easy to imagine what happened: Someone sees an opened door to something that looks like a house, sneaks in, looks for the first room, grabs the first thing of value they see, and then bolts. Or at least, that is what I think happened. Before you come back with anything - yes, I checked everywhere. Yes, I tried Find My Laptop (it wasn’t set up, my fault). Yes, I asked my roommates. I ended up filing a police report that same day.

I have a backup of my laptop from August. It’s better than nothing. Between August and now, I wasn’t on my laptop much due to surgery, traveling, and work, so having a backup from August pretty much covers everything.

It’s been a few weeks since my laptop was stolen - I’ve made peace with the fact that I won’t be getting it back. So I present this letter to my stolen laptop.


Dear Laptop -

At one point you had a name. What I named you, I cannot remember - knowing me it was probably some generic name. I remember the day I received you - my father and I custom ordered you online from Apple. Getting an Apple computer was a very big deal to me. I was previously using a Dell computer in high school, but I really wanted an Apple laptop because the “cool kids” were using Macs. Looking back though, I wish I just used Linux and been that really legit kid at school, hahaha.

Coming into MIT, I knew I was going to study electrical engineer and computer science. At first, I wasn’t very fond of you. I thought you not powerful enough in comparison to the MacBook Pros my peers were using. That was in fact true. I remember when I was taking 6.034 - artificial intelligence - fall of 2014 (junior year). I was working on this one pset that involved writing an AI to beat the TA’s AI under a specific amount of time and for some reason no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get my AI to win fast enough. I tried everything. I spent hours working on the pset, reviewed my logic with my classmates, started over multiple times, and nothing worked. I went to office hours during a time my friend was the TA, and asked him to look over my code. After a quick skim, he looked at me, said bluntly, “oh yeah, your computer’s not fast enough,” and moved on to the next student. I almost threw you off the top of East Campus after hearing that. But I didn’t because you were mine. Or that time I was working on my multicore homework last spring, and I couldn’t figure out why my code wasn’t running in the expected time - turns out you weren’t able to run the required number of threads in parallel to check my pset.

Remember that time I got locked out from you my rising junior summer? It was the weekend of the Meteor hackathon, I just arrived in SF for the second time in my life, and I couldn’t access my account. I tried everything. Something had locked me out of my original account. My friend sat working on you for hours and couldn’t figure out why I was locked out of my account. I was able to access some of the files but not all. I brought you to the Apple store and they couldn’t figure out what happened either. I eventually gave up on accessing that section and created a new account. Those files are now lost forever.

[Image of Laptop at Hackathon]
“How did I even manage to swing this at a hackathon.” July 2014


Remember that time my friend spilled water on you. You almost costed me a lot of money (~$2000!) to recover you, but luckily I found a place that was able to bring you back for significantly less ($75!). Everything was a mess without you - it was my worst semester at MIT. To be honest, I’m not sure how I survived without you!

I talk about all these negative times with you but you were there for everything. They say that you only remember the negative, but I remember the positives, too. Receiving my first internship offer, my first job offer, being accepted to the MEng program, using you for the first two weeks at my first real person job, traveling around the world with you in tow. There were so many countless hours I wasted getting lost via you and the internet. The amazing relationships you enabled me to foster with my friends on the internet.

You were an outlet for me to let out my creativity and create cool things.

Now you’re out there, somewhere. I hope whoever has you now is treating you well. Maybe they’re asking themselves, why is the lower left hand corner of the screen bent, or why are there only two screws holding the bottom plate on?

I hope it’s cool out there!

Thanks for the amazing memories and not dying on me in times of need.

Ali

[Image of Ali + Laptop]
“HackMIT” October 2014