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Got me the technology blues

February 24, 2010

Interrupting our regularly scheduled Wordless Wednesday to bring you this:

Oh Friends, my computer is on hospice. Three and a half years seems such a brief life and I such a terribly inadequate nurse. Even at the end, I’m pushing it, risking all for an afternoon of Bob Dylan Radio on Pandora.

It troubles me that I rely on this machine increasingly and yet my understanding for the whirring metal beast has not improved appreciably since my dad unveiled a thick-bodied, micro-screened Apple II Plus in 1982. That first computer held magic and boredom in equal measures for me: the black and white computer games I was allowed to play (via keyboard!) in my father’s home office were fun for awhile, but nothing beckoned like my own backyard with its thicket of olallieberries, tire swing and real live offerings of leafy adventure.

But today there’s a forest of e-mail to wade through, online banking, freelance writing work, archives of digital photos, and rollicking through the blogosphere.

Luckily, I have this fabulous computer guy. He’s young and charming in a 1940’s educated farmhand sort of way; he says things like “in my humble opinion, Dell is a very decent brand.” Or I’ll be rambling along in my remedial computer-speak, and he’ll listen attentively and then graciously reply: “precisely,” allowing me to believe I have an iota of understanding about gigabytes and RAM. Today, over the phone he said “If I do say so myselfeven with the older Core 2 Duo processor—I have a very fast computer.” And of course I shrieked “Oh, go on you braggart!” Really, I have no idea what he’s talking about but I love his quaint phrasing and that while making house calls he manages to smile encouragingly at my children who can think of nothing better to do when he’s here than strip naked and run laps around our tiny living room.

The problem is my computer just shuts down randomly, spontaneously. Sometimes it’s utterly frightening, like last Sunday when I had just finished writing a short tribute to read at Grandpa Herb’s memorial and hadn’t printed it yet and my laptop shut down half an hour before we needed to skedaddle off to the memorial. All the technological CPR of booting it back up while begging in a shameless prayer to no one in particular didn’t work. Then at the eleventh hour, the beast roared back to life just long enough to print that baby. Other times it’s merely annoying, like when I get lost following internet links like breadcrumbs and want to return to where I started and poof! Blackness. At best, it’s inconvenient.

After spending the night with my laptop, my computer guy pronounced the problem to be the video card (ten points to Ryan who suspected as much after my flustered voicemail), which is cost-prohibitive to fix. The temporary antidote was for computer guy to “tell it to not shut down anymore,” and for me to not leave it on standby, which weakens the video card or something like that. “So, this could work for a couple days or even a year?” I asked. “Precisely.” He answered.

At first, I appreciated not relying on the “standby” feature. This meant my computer time had to be clearly delineated. When the kids were up from naps, the computer got turned off. No more sneaky rendezvous’ to do a quick little something on the laptop while it lounged around on standby.

But as warned, that fix lasted less than a week. And now my computer is headed for the recycling station, to “ooze toxic chemicals” as one friend speculated.

So, I’m wondering:

1)      What sort of computer do you use? Do you like it?

2)      Tips, warnings, ideas?

27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2010 12:29 pm

    I have no computer advice, but love that your children strip naked around complete strangers, just like mine!

  2. February 24, 2010 3:15 pm

    We are of the same plight, friend!!

    I will be sneaking back over to see what advice you get. My dearly departed computer (may it RIP) took its leave a couple of weeks ago. I’m still mourning.

    Currently, I am shopping around for a new one. I am also about to purchase a new DSLR, so I am really interested in getting the most (memory) bang for my buck!!

    A friend of mine recently purchased a Dell Laptop, and she swears by it. I don’t know though, even with all the convenience, laptops seem so fragile. The one I am on now belongs to a very blessed friend of mine, and it is a HP G60-120US (which might mean something to your computer guru, but does not to me).

    My computer was a Dell Desktop, and it lasted for 6 years. Can you believe that? SIX!! So, I am thinking I should just buy another Dell Tower!! My monitor is still good, we upgraded to a flatscreen last year, though, it isn’t as wide as I am seeing there now.

    *sigh* So many options…

    Best of luck in your search!!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      February 24, 2010 3:46 pm

      Cam, Six years is a geriatric age for a computer – that’s awesome! I can’t imagine not having a laptop, I like to set up at a coffee shop where I actually lose $ on writing due to an occasional fancy coffee drink.

  3. February 24, 2010 3:31 pm

    I have a Mac Book and LOVE IT! And if you have access to an Apple Store with a genius lab you will be set when you run into problems! I am not computer savvy but I find that my mac (which was new to me a year and a half ago) is pretty easy to figure out. Good luck!

  4. Steph permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:41 pm

    I have a macbook, and I love it. I have not taken the time to learn to navigate it’s extensive features, but I have had it for almost 2 years and I LOVE it. So quick and easy. I had one little problem of it shutting down on me, but had it repaired under warranty (here in Dgo) and have not hit a glitch since. I love, love, love having a mac. However, the cost is astonishing compared to buying a PC…. I am still paying mine off.

    Funny, I just read the previous post…. I guess i am saying a lot of the same things Sarah said!

    Anyhow, if you’re willing to dish out the dollars, you can’t go wrong with a mac.


  5. February 24, 2010 4:05 pm

    So glad you asked because when I read your post I eagerly wanted to say, “Please get a Mac and never ever buy a PC again”, but knew that would be too forward (and probably be pushy). ;)

    Having at one point had some odd prejudice against Macs (can’t imagine why, but it was as foolish and unfounded as prejudices always turn out to be), I can happily say that I am now officially a Mac nerd and lovingly use both the low-end Macbook and a 7 year old Mac that works as beautifully as the day we bought it (after 2 small quick fixes at our local Mac store in the last 4 years because I stubbornly kept it less than 8 feet from our cozy wood stove).

    Macs do cost more but last so much longer and usually seem to have less problems with spyware, etc.. No, I’m not paid for my glowing endorsements but yes, I do shamelessly try to influence friends and family when they are in the market for a computer. ;)

    On the eco-front, a Mac Mini starts at $599 (a tiny cube that acts as the main tower/processor and is the actual computer) and can hook up to the existing monitor/keyboard and mouse to save money and allow recycling of those components. (Not sure if you can take those old PC parts or only Mac-compatible ones but that appeals when thinking of needing future upgrades in the name of progress or cravings for new technology).

    Anyway, good luck and hope you find a wonderful solution for your computer needs. Will definitely be happy if it supports your blogging, as I enjoy your blog very much!

  6. Barb permalink
    February 24, 2010 4:14 pm

    on the practical side, get a screen big enough that 2 kids can watch a dvd on a trip, but not so big that when the person in front of you on the airplane leans back you don’t have enough room to open the laptop.

    What with pics, music, video etc. buy as much memory this, gigs that, rams whatever, as you can afford. Buy more than you think you will ever need.

  7. janie permalink
    February 24, 2010 4:50 pm

    We got our computer 3 years ago as a refurbished piece to get us through the rebuild…it’s been dying a slow death ever since. It shuts off many times throughout the day, making a crazy beautiful pattern with cobolt blues. Joey does little fixes every so often, nursing it back to semi conciousness. I’m afraid of losing all the photos so I back them up often. As with many parts of our life we’re waiting until things are “normal” to make the purchase. So I’ll be reading these comments for any advice.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      February 24, 2010 10:14 pm

      Janie, I wonder if our computers have the same ailment. I’m so used to hanging onto my possessions until the bitter end (Dan has had to sneak my hanging-by-a-thread underwear into the garbage) so I could almost see getting used to the random shutting down, though no nifty blue patterns here…

  8. abozza permalink
    February 24, 2010 5:04 pm

    My old laptop died in the fall, and it sounds like it suffered the same malady as yours. :(

    My hubby is a computer guy (for his job) and he did tons of research and we finally decided on a Lenovo. It’s a PC, not a Mac, and I love it. It is fast, does everything I need it to do, both for work and for writing and blogging and play and fun. It is truly an excellent machine and we found it for a great price, as well.

  9. abozza permalink
    February 24, 2010 5:05 pm

    And, I just realized that when I reply I come up as abozza, since that’s how I’m logged in for my wordpress blog! Now I understand your comment on my blog! :) Amy :)

  10. February 24, 2010 5:53 pm

    I am firmly with the Mac people. I just retired my Powerbook after 8 years. It had two missing keys, the DVD was glitchy and the hinge on one side of the screen was broken but it still worked fine, though slowly. Now I’m using a newer Mac laptop that was a hard-me-down and I love it. I’ve always found with Macs that they’re much easier for the regular Joe to troubleshoot. PCs are like the Wizard of Oz — they don’t want you to know what’s behind the screen.

  11. February 24, 2010 7:07 pm

    Everyone is saying go Mac, but if, as you said, you’re not the most computer-savvy chip on the motherboard (and I’m not either), you might find a Mac tough to navigate and troubleshoot. We’ve had Dell, IBM, and HP laptops and been happy with all of them. Our current HP is my favorite.

    PS: Thanks for the computer trip down memory lane! I could play the heck out of some King’s Quest with the joystick and a floppy. =>

  12. Jan permalink
    February 24, 2010 9:51 pm

    I’ve always had Macs and have never had one long enough to have a problem! Josh, you see, is an IT Guy and whenever a Mac comes along that he thinks would be better for me he delivers it! I now have a big screen iMac and love it, and the really great thing is that he can update it for me by remote control! It’s good to have an Apple Certified Consultant for a son!


  13. February 24, 2010 9:53 pm

    I am the biggest loser in the world because I run Windows on a Mac — the result of a fiasco in which I discovered that the only program I can’t live without — Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice dictation software — is the only program that is vastly, vastly inferior on the Mac.
    But I do share your love of the nerdy techies. As I was going through my Mac dictation software woes, I spent a lot of time on the phone . From my post about the whole ordeal:
    “I spent 40 minutes on the phone this morning with some drawling guy named Jason and it felt just a little bit like suicide prevention call. “Jason,” I kept saying as the call drew to a close, “Jason, I’m scared to get off the phone with you.”
    “Yeah,” he would answer, “I’m kind of leery about that myself.”

    So, if you need voice dictation software, don’t get a Mac. Otherwise, I hear they’re really nice, and it sure does look pretty on my desk. Even if it runs Windows.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      February 24, 2010 10:17 pm

      Susan, I am cracking up at your comment. I totally understand. When my computer guy suggested I browse I was kind of hurt that he didn’t want to go on a date to Office Depot with me. Oh, and *I* am the biggest loser in the world because I’m not sure why that’s weird to run Windows on a Mac. I think I’m more confused than ever…

  14. Ellen permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:18 pm

    Great helpful comments.

    I am very pleased with a fairly new inexpensive 4 GB Acer laptop (running Windows 7). Much faster and more reliable than the previous 5-year old laptop. The main thing though is to get all the information off your old hard drive so you have your email address list etc. for your new computer.

  15. February 24, 2010 10:23 pm

    Oh (in regards to why it’s weird to run Windows on a Mac), because I have some internalized PC-phobic issues about finally getting to be a cool kid with a Mac, only to have to end up running Windows on it all over again. I describe it as driving a Maserati with leaded fuel. But maybe I’m just self hating.

    On a different note, what plug-in do you use to get those little responses to comments within the comment? I like it.

    Off to bed …

  16. February 24, 2010 10:45 pm

    And I was feeling a bit extravagant wanting to upgrade my PC after a couple of years of fatal error messages and spontaneous shut downs….The last time I had it worked on the guy said, “Don’t spend any more $ on it.” I guess my desires for a new one are somewhat warranted! My computer must be at least 10 years old. Alas, I know nothing about the techy stuff. Good luck and I am sorry for the inevitable loss of your beloved PC.

  17. February 24, 2010 11:31 pm

    I just got a new HP from Office Max. It’s my first laptop, and I’m in love. Sadly for my husband, I couldn’t get on board with a Mac. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit. Oh~it’s the Pavillion Entertainment Notebook, and if you can get it on sale, the price is good.

  18. February 25, 2010 12:10 am

    mac. all the way. i kept hearing it and when my dell laptop bit the dust, i got a macbook pro. it is simply fabulous, for so many reasons!

    it was really great to see you today! even if col didn’t want me to be there and they both kept all of their clothes on…

  19. Emily permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:16 am

    oh dear, I’m adding my voice to the mac folks. I’ve had the same mac desktop for 8 years, with only one update after 5 years. We have gone through 6 pc laptops in the time we’ve had the mac. We run a business from home (who doesn’t right?) and the only annoying thing about the mac was occasionally people sent me files that were in a format only the pc’s liked. I have a program for reading them now. BUT, don’t get anything your computer guy can’t fix. Kinda like moving to the rainforest and bringing a hummer. You’d be better off with the toyota, so the local mechanics can fix it. (via Car Talk on NPR)

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a couple of weeks now. thank you so much for putting your incredibly articulate and poignant writing out there.

  20. February 25, 2010 10:18 am

    I got a Dell Inspiron 700m Notebook in 2003 and it’s still going strong. Love being able to work on the balcony, the kitchen bar, anywhere. It replaced my 10-yr old desktop built by the local computer doc. It, like yours, had to be put down.

    Your problem of losing your way following links. Try right-clicking on the link and select open in new window. I just did that from ‘Lobotome’ so I could visit you and go back to her.

    Like your writing style.


  21. Melissa permalink
    February 25, 2010 11:53 pm

    Hi there, found your blog through dig this chick and love your writing. I also have to chime in for the mac love; I am not at all tech savvy and yet love my macbook. Like really love it in a way I never thought I could love a computer, of all things. And I’m certain I don’t use it to its full powers but still, I love it.

    And also loved the part about the kids running naked when the quaint tech guy was around.

    Good luck!

  22. Jen permalink
    February 26, 2010 12:24 am

    I have a Sony Vaio laptop in the kitchen. I like it, primarily because the oh-so-stylized “VIAO” logo on the front (which I confess took me a while to figure out) reminds me of Prince, when he was “(unpronounceable symbol) the artist formerly known as Prince”. Also because it works, despite getting kind of flattened on an airplane trip.

  23. February 26, 2010 9:47 am

    I was so unqualified to answer your questions. As you know, I have had some computer problems. What seemed to work really well was to get my computer professionally cleaned up and to switch browsers. I’m glad to hear that your computer is on the mend!!

  24. March 22, 2010 12:41 am

    Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.And this is **refurbished laptop** site/blog. It pretty much covers ###refurbished laptop## related stuff.

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