The Toshiba Satellite is almost but not quite usable again. She now boots and runs Ubuntu 12.something off a 4GB USB key. USB 2.0 speed is rather slow, when compared to her former 5400rpm SATA drive, but it's faster and makes fewer alarming whirring sounds than running her off the optical drive.

She's not quite actually useful yet. In theory, I should be able to figure out what the hell 'persistence' means and how this will allow me to update the godforsaken browser with Flash so the web actually works, but in practice I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing wrong. I'm used to unhelpful Windows messages like "there is not enough disk space" and "this volume is read-only", rather than unhelpful Linux gibberish about filesystems. This means that I can't access Google Play, anything on YouTube, most of the things on Google Drive, or anything related to work. The movie player also refuses to update its own codec, but as-is it will play Doctor Who off of my archive DVDs, which is what it's doing now.

The computer needs literally any un-broken 2.5" SATA drive to become useful again. Since I can't buy one anyway, I'm looking at the ones I might actually want, i.e., things by Western Digital. They're not the absolute rock-bottom cheapest, but they're close, and I was a convert the moment I realized I was discarding a WD drive that had worked flawlessly for thirteen years, most of those as a boot drive, because it was smaller than a CD-R and just wasting space inside a micro ATX case.

I also broke into a ThinkPad last night. It's a good thing the drive had already been salvaged from it and it never needed to work as a laptop again. I had half a mind to gut the case and use the framework for something else, but it turns out that the backplane of the motherboard is an important structural part of the outsides, and there's no way to get one of those things completely apart without just destroying it. NO ONE NEEDS THAT MANY SCREWS. I'm convinced that Lenovo was bolting things down purely out of spite. It's only pointlessly difficult to get the drives out -- there's an "easy out" tab on the optical drive; it lies -- but it's completely impossible to get the brackets out of the case without shredding your hands, stripping the screws, or both.

Oh well. The detached screen makes a reasonably smooth and sturdy writing surface, at least. I've also got what I think is a working optical drive (no way to check), a ThinkPad battery (heavy enough to use as a bludgeon) and a lonely DIMM (capacity unknown) hanging around, if anyone wants them.