On Loving Your Computer


I dropped my laptop the other day, and that was the end of the hard drive. And almost my foot: the laptop is thin enough to take off a toe. Everything is stored in the cloud, so I lost little work – but the machine went to the shop, leaving me without my favorite little machine. Reminded me how much we get used to certain tools. Maybe it’s an individual matter, but I can’t write on other people’s machines; it’s like using their toothbrush. I’ve rarely been able to write in offices, because the company computers are always boring, locked-down things with an omniscient, unseen Administrator hovering in the firmament like the cartoon God in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” ready to say NO.

My wife is completely unsentimental and agnostic about computers; my daughter is like me, tweaking and customizing all the time. (I’m writing on hers, now, because she’s at camp.) So it’s not a guy thing. I do know that computers are almost like dogs – it’s horrible when you have to say goodbye to one that’s been faithful, but the pain is softened by the immediate joy of getting a new one.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t posted. (Also, the Ricochet platform doesn’t like iPads: can’t enter text in the comment field.) Anyone else have the same attachment to their machines, or recall certain computers they loved more than others? I still have a soft spot for the Leading Edge Model D on which I wrote my first novel. Amber text on a black screen, baby. You wanted a picture on the screen, you cut it out and taped it to the monitor.

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor

    “Everything is stored in the cloud”?

    Wow. I have no idea what that means, but I think my computer must be seriously low-tech compared to yours.

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  2. Profile Photo Inactive

    You guys are way over the top sentimental about what is only a tool, albeit, a sophisticated one. Would you get this verklempt over a ball-peen hammer? Wait, I suppose that would depend on how close you came to launching one in the general direction of your biker ex-wife as she rode off into the sunset [allusion to expletive deleted by eds. owing to the presence of ladies] seat behind her latest full-patch flame. Every computer I ever owned, I cannibalized when the time came to dispatch the sucker, sometimes there was a ball-peen hammer involved. It was pure appliance autopsy: no emotion, sang-froid. On the positive side there were never any fluids involved, outside maybe a beer to help the work go smoothly. As a matter of fact my entire CD collection is on my old laptop SATA drive. And Yes Brownie McGhee, who I am listening to at this very moment, sounds great. So suck it up guys, and remember Bill Gates sees even the smallest notebook fall.

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  3. Profile Photo Editor

    Cas! What is with the allusion to an uncouth word? This is Ricochet! There are ladies present! You are a gentleman! Mind your manners! I must now purge that allusion before I faint.

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  4. Profile Photo Inactive

    Oh you could program graphics on that computer.

    I programmed graphics on an Apple IIe.

    I miss my old motorcycles. Shoulda never sold that one…or that one…

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Contributor

    I live life on the edge: I don’t go to the doctor, I don’t get my oil or tires changed when I’m supposed to, and I don’t back up my hard drive. This last point got me into trouble when my the hard drive of my very first computer (a big clunky Dell laptop) crashed three months into my senior thesis at college, costing me hours of work and much sadness. I have since switched to a Mac, with which I spend most of my waking hours on. And Macs make backing up one’s hard drive more simple, so I might try that some day.

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  6. Profile Photo Inactive

    Claire, that word is practically a trade name in the business and, it has been argued by eminent grammarians, should have been capitalized as a proper noun. You must note that in deference to the ladies, I used asterisks and did not capitalize the ‘ B ‘ on the same principle that you do not capitalize the ‘ I ‘ in itch when the word does not lead a sentence or even when it comes immediately after a capital ‘ B ‘. Communication is a tricky business, as I’m sure you well know, Claire, and often letters that are interspersed by clauses and words take on an entirely different meaning when strung together or, for that matter, when interspersed by asterisks.

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  7. Profile Photo Member

    I can’t part with my bondi blue iMac–even though I haven’t turned it on in, what, five years? Heck, I was even sad when my LG Shine cell phone stopped working, and I was forced to enter the world of rectangular cell phones–devasted mourning that lasted, what, four days? But during those four days, no phone could console me.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    Cas Balicki: Claire, that word is practically a trade name in the business and, it has been argued by eminent grammarians, should have been capitalized as a proper noun. You must note that in deference to the ladies, I used asterisks and did not capitalize the ‘ B ‘ on the same principle that you do not capitalize the ‘ I ‘ in itch when the word does not lead a sentence…

    Aha! Curiosity appeased. And, interesting tactic, Cas. Confuse the heck out of us with your defense. I’m not sure I follow the logic of your capitalization theory, but I got your story and you don’t need to label your ex-wife for us to understand she was heartless. Hopefully, you found a wonderful woman to replace her with.

    We stayed at a motel last weekend, because it was the only place that allowed a dog. There was a bunch of bikers that came through that evening and took over all the rooms next to us and above us. I couldn’t sleep, so at 2:00 in the morning I sat outside chatting with a group of them. Very nice and interesting bunch and night owls like me.

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  9. Profile Photo Editor

    Cas, alas, the Logo is a prude. We are enjoined even from the use of asterisks. The law has been handed down to us like the tablets on Mount Sinai; we must not disobey.

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  10. Profile Photo Inactive

    My hard-drive-less Mac Plus. Which is still in my basement.

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  11. Profile Photo Inactive

    Unfortunately, my computer is about 60% of my memory now. Without it, I forget names, places, book authors, movie titles, spelling…as if I ever could spell, events, renewal deadlines, etc, etc, etc.

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  12. Profile Photo Editor

    I’m sentimental about a lot of things — I was heartbroken when my gorgeous 1988 Grand Wagoneer was stolen off the street in front of my house. And I’ve been known to freak out when I lose a favorite pen, especially one of my Fisher Space pens in matte black.

    But I’m a thoughtless dilettante when it comes to computers. Happy to see them go. Because, I think, of the joy of getting a new one, the way it smells, the sleekness of the display, the bounce in the keys. A new computer is like a second chance — on this one, I tell myself, I’ll really be productive. It never works out that way, of course.

    Not picky about whose I use, either. I once wrote a 1500 word article on an old desktop in an internet cafe in Algiers — had to save the document in several files; had to get used to the French keyboard layout. The keyboard was yellow with nicotine stains, the keys barely attached. But it was fun to use. Although that might have had more to do with the bottle of cheap Algerian wine you got with every hour you purchased.

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  13. Profile Photo Inactive

    Those or us who create software tend to see the machine as just a media, like the paper and glue of a book is just the delivery mechanism for the author’s thoughts. Generally, when your computer is making things wonderful, or, to be honest, when it is driving you nuts, you’re responding to ideas and decisions, good or bad, from some nerdy fellows in cubicles somewhere. When it works, raise a toast to the guys who put in the long days to make the application great. When it’s bad, well, we always blame the “suits” (not that any of them actually wear suits.)

    When the thing won’t start at all, blame the hardware guys, they can handle it.

    (Now I really ought to get back to fixing these bugs….)

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member

    I’m with Rob on the attachment to cars and pens. That’s funny. I didn’t know that about me until he introduced the thought. But, I do love my pens and grieve when they eventually run out of ink.

    My laptop, on the other hand, is loved when it’s state of the art, new and fast and does what I want when I want it to. The moment it stops doing that it becomes a piece of crap and it gets no retirement fanfare when the new one comes home all shiny and new. I have no loyalty when it comes to technology.

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  15. Profile Photo Inactive

    What can I say, Andrea? I still miss my ex, but my aim is improving.

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  16. Profile Photo Member

    As a System Administrator, I didn’t really think I had an attachment to any particular machine, but it seems I do. Typically I end up with 1 of 2 old Compaq Evo N800v – Linux on both. I have several fatser, more powerful, & more elegant machines to choose from, but the Evos are like old shoes. All the tools I need are there. Really, I prefer my 26 inch desktop monitors, but I still find myself with the old Evos more often than not.

    That is not to say I don’t have a problem. There’s a 42U network rack in my garage (I’m still campaigning to get it into the house…. maybe the laundry room – I’d have to do some more power and network wiring. I purged the homestead of ‘unnecessary’ hardware in January, so now I’m down to 24 machines stored in the shed out back (the 12 in the garage don’t count!). But Virtual Machines make my habit easier. Me & my VM Server – we should make a buddy movie like Hope & Crosby, The Road to San Jose?).

    Honorable mention: My woefully underpowered G1.

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  17. Profile Photo Inactive

    Cas, you got my attention. Before I finished reading the thread I really wanted to know what you wrote that got edited. I think I figured it out…

    I love, love, LOVE my HTC Diamond (Windows Mobile phone) purchased off of Ebay – used. It’s compact, I can write on it with my nifty stylus (holder has a magnet that just grabs that thang). I’ve had it over a year and don’t want to change to anything else. It fits my needs perfectly!

    Oh, and I love, absolutely ADORE, my (NON-IPOD) mp3 player purchased on line, used, for only $23.00. It works like a dream! I can listen to / watch just about any format audio file / video file, download any and all available audio books from the library (for FREE), listen to it wirelessly through A2DP bluetooth, add as much memory as micro SD cards are made, and the battery lasts about 18 hours. It’s also pleasingly compact. So far, I’ve got about 10 audio books just sitting there waiting for me to indulge. Technology makes my life sweeter.

    • #17

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