Thursday, July 05, 2007

Uncut: laptops


Simplicity has lost its edge. I know this because recently I bought a new laptop.

In fact, I am writing this offering on my brand new, super-fast, memory-laden, handsomely designed, sleek laptop.

Looks great. Made by one of the world’s foremost laptop manufacturers. Promised everything. Had all the right specs. It’s driving me mad.

Right now, I am fighting back an almost uncontrollable urge to fling it out the window and let it rest by the racing bike up against a tree.

Good question, why is a racing bike up against a tree?

About 18-months ago I found the bike up against a tree in the public open-space in front of our house. It sat there nice and neat for three weeks.

At the end of the three I realised I had grown fond of it, so I took it and set it up against a tree on my side of the open-space.

Hildegard questioned its appearance and I innocently replied: “No idea how it got there but I quite like it.”

Life went on until the next curb-side collection when I noticed a proliferation of bikes, as though the householders had grown tired of them, forgotten to water them, feed them or care for them and had decided to dump them.

Driven by an urge to ensure my lone racing bike had a family of its own, I collected five of the lost souls and placed them all against trees and would have collected more until Hildy put a stop to it: “Enough, Jon. This is not a junkyard. It’s a domestic dwelling.”

Maybe so, but a dwelling housing folk of compassion, understanding and a willingness to take in lost machinery of all species and care for them, whatever their state. Junk maybe, but not discarded as though never having made a contribution to the forward lurch of humanity.

Bikes when bought are generally bought to last the lifetime of a rider’s riding legs.

Which brings me back to this laptop.

When purchasing I assumed it would at least last the lifetimes of this writer’s writing hands and I imagined it would be faster than anything I had ever driven before, faster than a blink, easy to get around, all commands logical and easy to implement.

Nuh. No way.

Its time is almost up.

It’s painfully slow.

I can’t find programs I know are there but it won’t help me find them and programs I thought I had closed-down keep popping back up to haunt me as though operated by a family member I once insulted who is no longer of this earth but has found a way to crawl inside a laptop.

Then there is the intensely irritating habit this particular piece of software I’m using now has of suddenly leaving the bit of page I am currently working on and darting over to another section and inserting words that make no sense whatsoever having seen the blue pineapple when it blurts yes nearly won a bazooka, oh, no, there it goes again.

It’s junk and I paid a handsome sum of money, so much that Hildy will never allow me to lean it up against a tree alongside a bike, even if it is an artistic statement highlighting the absurd claims of laptop manufacturers.

It’s unbelievable, have you seen the variety of cheeses available in your local supermarket? There’s light cheese, extra-tasty cheese, mature cheese, semi-retired cheese, sliced cheese, diced cheese, cheese crumbs, cheese bombs, cheese warts and cheese knees.

Sorry about that, that last paragraph made its way in from next week’s column.

The first laptop I owned was a large machine made by a prominent car manufacturer. I needed a fork lift to get it out of the car and on my lap.

It was a simple machine and I had to learn MS Dos, the Microsoft Operating System, to get around it.

I bought it 20 years ago and it was slow, cumbersome, unwieldy and, now I think of it, a lot like this complex piece of junk that Hells Angels would you marry pineapple fritters over my dead Paraguay baked ricotta.

Which is why I, when I decided to get back on a bike, that I didn’t go out and buy a brand new racing bike, I simply waited for the right one to appear during a roadside collection. Oh, no, that’s not the one up against a tree, this handsome machine is firmly tethered to the house.

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