First clue: the Zenbook that fit my desires was last year's model, so I had to order it from a reseller of open-box and refurbished computers. Thank goodness for the Amazon safety net: the first reseller sent me a completely different brand and model of laptop, in a crushed box with no padding. It was DOA and it smelled like dirty laundry on a hot day.
objects in image are smellier than they look
Back it went. My refund took two weeks.
Second clue: I tried again (from a different reseller, needless to say) and got exactly what I wanted, except for two minor details: Windows 8.0, and a dead S key.
I thought I could learn to live with Windows again, but, I mean...S key! I took it to the shop to see if they could fix the keyboard, because this machine truly was Macbook-Air levels of sexy and pretty, and worked perfectly except for that S key, and I really wanted it to be right.
It really was that pretty.
Third clue: Happy Hamsters couldn't fix it, so once more unto the UPS shipping store, and back it went.
I was in a pinch. "HARD DRIVE FAILURE IMMINENT" messages were popping up every 30 minutes on Old Dell. Its hinges were held together with strapping tape. It was overheating so seriously that I couldn't use it for five minutes without a thick pillow between it and my lap.
But (fourth clue), you know, everything else was working fine. Its specs were top-of-the-line when I bought it, and still not obsolete. Ubuntu had extended its life. It was in many ways my best friend. I was used to its quirks. So it's a little battered...so what?
I ordered a new hard drive (a whole terabyte--woo!) and a cooling mat on the quick-ship plan, and when they arrived I performed a little surgery on Dear Old Dell:
Playing doctor with Old Dell
Installing the hard drive was a snap. Installing Ubuntu 14.04 was...well, not quite a snap, but not really difficult. The broken hinges are merely an annoyance. I can overlook the strapping tape. The cooling mat is fantastic.
And bingo, I'm back in business. Total cost: $100 and an afternoon. I feel like I've saved a failing marriage or something.
Moral of the story? You tell me.
Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments.