Writing on a computer that’s not your own is like using your non-dominant hand. Or, in the case of blogging, it’s like masturbating with your non-dominant hand. But here I type on Dr. Jon’s laptop, heretofore only used for academic text and research papers, and two sentences in I make a self-abuse joke. Should a well-meaning historian researching the work of Dr. Jon come upon this hard drive in the vast wasteland of what was once Earth some twenty years hence after we’ve all been obliterated (it’s a bleak future, folks), know that some other kid was writing this and don’t taint his legacy with my filth.
I was unable to write to you last week both because I was heading out of town for a fantastic weekend back home with the folks and old friends, and because my dear laptop has finally died for good. Thankfully, I was smart and backed up all of my stuff, so this loss isn’t traumatic, just inconvenient. So now I’m the ass-hat who will be standing in the middle of Best Buy going, “WHICH IS MY BEST BUY?” Before I do that, I think I’d better first determine the criteria the new Old Compy must meet.
Dream: Find the perfect computer for me.
Goal: Achievable. It’s like my computer watched me do online banking as it was dying and thought, “Hold on. I can’t leave now.” But recently, I got paid all at once for a bunch of different projects and am actually in a position to make a big ticket purchase and so, secure in the knowledge that he was replaceable, my laptop finally keeled over. So budget is still a concern, but it’s not the biggest one. Also, and I’m aware how precious this sounds, but I actually need a computer to work. Scoff if you must, but if the marketing company I freelance for doesn’t get that scintillating copy about water heaters, their profits could be down 0.00 percent, and I’d be out nearly forty dollars.
Plan: Figure out what features would be perfect in my new machine. Here’s what I want in my new computer:
- It has to be a laptop. I rarely, if ever, take my computer anywhere like those Starbucks dink-donks who alternately work on their screenplay and letters to their relatives asking for money. But do you ever even see a personal computer anymore? Like with the monitor and the tower and stuff? Whenever I encounter one I’m always like, “What is this, the forties?!” and then nobody laughs except a very old man who nods sagely and says, “We didn’t know better back then.”
- Microsoft Word. I hate shelling out for stuff like that, but it really is superior to the free stuff you can get. I did without it on my last computer, the one that just died, and Open Office was a bit of a joke. Inserting page numbers takes a day and a half, for instance, and Track Changes only works when it feels like it, which is never.
- Virus protection. I don’t download anything illegally, ever. I pay iTunes whatever they request to get a song from an artist who definitely doesn’t need my money (but that new Katy Perry 90’s house jam is worth ten times what I paid I am sorry I am no longer sorry), I don’t do torrents or leeches or biopsies or whatever-the-fuck. But I’m the idiot who got an email from someone I haven’t spoken to in years who lives in the UK that said, “hey looks like ur famous!” with a link attached and of course I clicked the link (because hey, maybe I’m famous in the UK, you guys) and naturally my email became screwy evermore. Or I get those, “james make ur penis bigger!” emails and think, “Ha ha! Surely a hoax! Nonsense!... how much bigger, though?” So I need a program that beeps and blorps and says, “Don’t click on that, idiot.”
- Skype. I’m really waiting for the shoe to drop as far as Skype is concerned. I sometimes get to interview people in the US and the call function on Skype lets me do it for just pennies, and additional software records the calls so I can transcribe everything after the fact. The only thing I don’t care for is the video function. No one needs to see what I look like in front of the computer. If ever I’m forced to Skype with someone, I spend more time looking at myself and how my face looks when I talk than I do looking at their dumb faces.
- Sound quality. This needs to be good, but not necessarily perfect. Have you ever accessed material of an… adult nature on the internet? I haven’t, but my friend did and he relayed this experience. Sometimes when you click on a video, a pop-up pops up in another window that you don’t notice and it’s somebody on a live cam show and you hear them say something like, “How’s it going, stud?” I know it’s impossible, but for a few seconds, I always think they can see me. It’s TERRIFYING! So yeah, if the sound is tinny, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
Look, I’m aware how reliant we are on technology. It’s sad that a failed internet connection has me pacing the floors going, “What do I do now? How will I live through this?!” But I think about how far behind I would be in the world if I didn’t use a computer. I love the immediacy of typing something faster than I could ever write it longhand, then sending it into the ether instantly. And surely there are times when unplugging is critical. I don’t need my phone to look at a tree, for instance, and a recently-walked dog doesn’t care for even your funniest tweet. But all the same I’m excited to put Dr. Jon’s laptop back on his desk where it belongs, and soon fill mine with a new technological marvel. It’s a lot to buy, but it’s just the best.