My machine shit the bed hard yesterday. It was a faithful machine and served well until its dying day.

Cracked shell patched with epoxy and scraps of Kydex; replacement feet improvised from pieces of tennis ball hull and held in with rubber cement; a keyboard lovingly cobbled together from three other keyboards; battery latches fabricated from scrap aluminum; hinges reinforced with stainless hex bolts and lock nuts.

It was a good machine, and almost 5 years of hard use on four continents is no joke. I'm not particularly mad, or even surprised - just a little bummed - that a replacement mainboard costs half what the whole machine cost when it was new. Heck, the battery still has a decent capacity.

But it doesn't make any sense to patch it up at this point. It will join a few other old machines that lurk in the bottom of a drawer because, like a teddy bear or a blanket, I attach too much significance to them as objects to simply toss them out.

But that still leaves then necessity of having a working machine. I need to scrape the cash together to get a replacement that will do what I need to be able to do, horsepower wise, come the start of Autumn semester. I could go snag a $400 junktop but unfortunately it would not do what I need, and it would almost certainly not stand up to being slung around on daily bicycle commutes and the occasional transcontinental slog.

As much as it absolutely kills me to admit it, Apple's build quality is the best in the ~$1000 price/performance range for the time being, since Lenovo has continued with an inexorable if slow decline in Thinkpads since buying out the rights. They were borderline several years ago, and the newest models other than the very high end are slowly converging with Dell and HP in terms of solidity and component quality.

In fact, if I set this year's x240 from Lenovo to be as close as possible, specs-wise, to the 13" Retina from Apple, the Mac comes out significantly cheaper, and with a better warranty.

Color me shocked and maybe even a little queasy.

In any case, if you need to get hold of me for whatever reason, the most reliable thing for the near future is likely to be email.

I don't suppose anyone here has a hookup with Apple, do they? Even with the educational discount, those numbers sting.