It was a landmark weekend for me. I bought my first new laptop in 10 years. I even pulled it out of the box the day I bought it and navigated my way through the setup tutorial, which featured a woman’s voice telling me which buttons to click. I installed the Microsoft Office suite on it, which mainly involved keying in some info about my monthly subscription.
I plugged in the wi-fi info.
I bookmarked exactly one website – Yahoo mail.
Then I put it to the side and went back to the laptop I’ve been using for the last month or so, which is my wife Susan’s old laptop.
I did about 5% of the work I need to do to get my new laptop fully operational and ready to conquer the world. I call that a victory.
My old laptop – the one I bought about a decade ago – is a Toshiba that probably seems ancient by 2022 standards (it has a CD/DVD drive that opens up, which I have come to find out is a dead giveaway about its age).
I hadn’t planned to buy a new laptop. I had planned to keep that old Toshiba humming into the next millennium. I’m not what you call an active consumer of anything but books, music and food. I buy a nice set of clothes and wear them until they go out of style and then back into style a decade or so later. Case in point: I bought non-skinny jeans years ago and kept wearing and wearing them, even as I noticed that every Londoner in London was wearing skinny jeans, as if the jeans and the people wearing them both came off the same assembly line at the same time. But guess what? Skinny jeans are out! So how you like me now?
I forego trends and buy out of necessity. I use and wear things until they finally break down, and only then do I buy new ones.
But alas, the old Toshiba went and had a nervous breakdown. I knew it hadn’t been feeling well. It had turned slow, moody, testy, uncooperative. Every now and then it would just freeze up altogether and force me to do a hard reboot.
Sometime around mid-December – when I had a shit-ton of work pouring in – the Toshiba decided to stop connecting to the internet.
I had never seen this kind of thing before. Everything else still works fine on the Toshiba (relatively speaking). The MS Word and Excel programs work fine, and so does Adobe Acrobat, the photos, the media player – all fine. But it won’t connect to the internet. The Toshiba even has the nerve to tell me it’s connected to the wi-fi, and that the internet is mine to enjoy. Except that it doesn’t actually connect to the internet.
Do you know how hard it is to earn a living as a writer without internet access? Of course you do – this very blog appears over the internet (albeit not delivered there by my new laptop). Without the internet, you wouldn’t be reading it. Think of how empty your life would be without this blog!
Well, anyway. It was a bad time for the Toshiba to crap out on me – right during the holidays, and right when I had just gotten an assignment to rewrite and update 35 very long and involved bank reviews for a financial website, and have it done by the end of the month, and do it on top of the normal workload, which has been real f******g heavy of late.
I felt wronged and wounded, to be honest. I treated that Toshiba like my own son, with care and love and affection. I mean, sure, dust and grime began to build up on the keyboard. And I crammed hundreds of memory-sapping files into it. And I left it running and humming for hours and hours at a time, sapping it of the will to live. And sure, every now and then I would curse it out loud when it didn’t work the way it was supposed to, the lazy, ungrateful, no-good piece of….
Luckily, we had a spare laptop in the house. Motivated by sheer panic, I was able to transfer my work files, websites, VPNs, etc., from one laptop to the other. This was a minor miracle, folks, considering that I am nobody’s idea of a tech head. I didn’t even own a computer until the late 1990s, and that was a cream-colored, blocky old 80s-era Apple Macintosh that couldn’t even connect to a server.
I didn’t own a CD player until 1998. My friends bought me one for my birthday because they knew I’d never do it myself. A few years later CDs were all but obsolete with the arrival of iPods and MP3 players. But I still buy CDs.
I didn’t own a mobile phone until I was past 40. I’m not sure I even owned a cordless landline phone until I was nearly 40.
As I said, I tend to buy out of necessity.
I did get home use of a desktop computer supplied by my former employer. But I didn’t buy my own laptop until a decade ago. I have what you might call average expertise with computer technology. This essentially means I know how to navigate my way around, but have no idea how anything really works, and couldn’t tell you the difference between a megabyte and gigabyte if you offered me a lifetime supply of free tacos.
The new laptop is a Levano (CORRECTION-Lenovo). That’s all I can tell you. My wife went over the specs with the sales guy at the computer shop. I stood there nodding my head like a trained beagle while they talked about storage, memory, processors, that kind of thing. About the only question I remember asking was whether I could plug my headphones into it. Maybe I asked about Microsoft Word, I don’t know.
The whole transaction took about 30 minutes. It would have been quicker, but the sales guy couldn’t find a boxed-up, factory-fresh, non-display Levano (CORRECTION-Lenovo) model in any of the stock cabinets. He kept looking and looking, and enlisted some of his work mates to help look. Around and around the store they went, looking in cabinets and not finding my model.
I told him, “No worries, I can go somewhere else. You probably sold out over the holidays.”
“No no no, it’s here, it’s here!” he assured me.
This exchange happened probably three or four times before he finally found the right computer up on a high shelf. The final 10 minutes were spent with him trying to sell me maintenance packages, anti-virus software, and various other add-ons while I told him no thanks, I just want the laptop. It cost about 400 British pounds, or the equivalent of about 550 U.S. dollars. I wasn’t going to fork over another $200 for a two-year maintenance warranty.
So, I am now tech fresh, wired up 2022 style. I’m guessing I’ll have the new laptop 100 percent ready to go within the next month, with all my files transferred over, all the work stuff loaded in, all my music and photos, all my bookmarked websites.
I’d love this laptop to carry me through the next 25-30 years, until my own personal hard drive finally shuts down for good.
But I’ll probably be shopping for another one in a decade or so. That’s the nature of computers. The manufacturers figure out a way to have computers self-destruct after a few years, ensuring that the gravy train keeps rolling along.
Maybe this shiny new Levano (CORRECTION-Lenovo) laptop holds something special. A timeless novel. A brilliant collection of short stories. A special email from some foreign dignitary informing me I am entitled to a multimillion-dollar fortune, and all I have to do is share my bank account information to ensure my money is deposited in the right place.
The future awaits!