I suffer from a rare disorder that affects a significant number of computer geeks worldwide. And while I normally do not discuss my disorder, I think it is important to make others aware of my condition, so that they might better understand my behavior and realize that sometimes my actions are determined more by my disorder than any rational thinking.

The disorder I suffer from has the acronym CHAOSS, which stands for “Compulsive Hardware And Operating System Switching.” This disorder is typically marked by an unusually tendency to switch or modify the hardware and/or operating system of the computer(s) I use.

Sometimes the disorder goes into remission and I will maintain a stable hardware setup and operating system installation for up to several months on end. But both ends of these periods of relative stability are marked by unpredictable and disruptive times where the outcome of a system reinstall or hardware reconfiguration is anyone’s guess.

In trying to understand CHAOSS and learn how to lessen the severity of the periods of upheaval, I have hypothesized that one of the major contributing factors towards my outbursts is the availability of extra computer components or the release of a new operating system.

When a new part arrives, I can’t just replace a single other component in one computer. I have to re-evaluate the entire ecosystem of computers I own and analyze the most optimal hardware solution that maximizes the potential of all computers.

And when a new operating system is released, or I decide to give some new flavor of Linux a short-lived go, I find myself searching (sometimes fruitlessly) for analogous solutions to the set of programs and features that I have previously become accustomed to on the incumbent operating system.

My latest attempt to curb the hardware/software binges caused by my CHAOSS disorder is to restrict myself to using only the laptop that I have recently been given to use for work. The laptop itself is a Dell Latitude E4300. It sports a lower voltage Core2Duo running at a respectable 2.4GHz and hosting an adequate 4GB of RAM.

The 250GB hard drive provides a not-so-excessive amount of storage space, and the 13 LED-backlit display provides a decent viewing experience. The integrated Intel G45 graphics solution is pretty much useless for gaming, but runs Aero without struggling. Weighing in at only 3 pounds, it certainly lends itself to transporting to and from work much more than the 17″ PowerBook G4 that I used for about 6 months.

In conforming with the standard at work (although I would likely have chosen similarly on my own) this laptop is running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. And it runs quite well so far, I might add. That came as quite a surprise too, as I had previously had some pretty awful experiences with Vista running on laptops – even well-equipped ones.

But will this voluntarily-enforced adherence to an office standard hardware configuration and office standard operating system last for long? Will this capable-yet-unimpressive laptop be enough to curb my desire to build and reconfigure much more powerful desktop hardware? Or will the impending release of the new Core i5 Intel processors and P55 chipsets cause me It’s probably too soon to tell.

And will Windows 7 64-bit keep me satisfied? The Release Candidate has so far blown past my expectations that were based on Vista. But will that be enough? Apple’s upcoming Snow Leopard operating system is supposed to bring with it the same kinds of performance and stability improvements that Windows 7 made over Vista. So while Windows 7 is fine for me now, it might not be easy to keep me as a longtime user.

The CHAOSS disorder is something that I am dealing with, and will probably continue to struggle┬á with for the foreseeable future. Among my ever-increasing involvement with technology, Moore’s Law’s ability to provide ever more powerful technology at lower cost, and my addiction to reading Anandtech articles, the situation is made even more susceptible to the CHAOSS disorder. I will try, as always, to soldier on . . .

(In case my satire is too convincing, the preceding “CHAOSS” disorder is completely fictional . . . so don’t be alarmed!)

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