Positive Cynicism – The final meltdown

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

I must not have been a very good boy last year, because right after Christmas, my computer finally melted down. It’s melted down before, don’t get me wrong — you’ve seen the breaks I take — but I’ve always been able to reboot, clear out virus problems, fix the registry or, worst case scenario, reformat. But when your computer crashes in safe mode, it’s pretty clearly time to get rid of the damn thing.

I had a Dell from something like 2003. It was still running Windows XP, so at least I got to bypass Vista entirely. It had a frustrating slow processor (for 2011, not for 2003), and I was getting more and more tired of that giant desktop. I had always wanted to get a new computer. I just wanted to wait until I could actually afford one.

But this, no, this had to become a giant paperweight over the holiday break. Of course.

Of course it had to happen when the local library was closed and I couldn’t get to the public computers.

Of course it had to happen when my wife’s Toshiba laptop was in the shop after suffering its second massive crash in the six months we’ve owned it, just before Toshiba mailed it back completely unsecured in its box — a box that showed up with a hole in it, so, you know, thanks for the care and attention to detail, Toshiba.

And of course this has to happen when we’re poor — and we’re always poor, which is why we both can only work part-time/freelance on jobs we find on the freaking computer!

So this was a fun situation to find ourselves in.

The first thing we did was go to some rental places to see if we could float enough money to rent a computer until our tax refund came in with, hopefully, enough to just pay the damn thing off. We were a bit leery of this option, not just because of the hit to our incredibly meager finances, but because we really only had the option of pre-leased machines. Granted, the warranty options were surprisingly generous, but I was just wary of paying for a computer with the possibility of preloaded problems. Was it worth it, or could we hold out until the wife’s laptop came back maybe with its issues resolved?

My mother entered the stage then and tried to help, and I want you all to remember that I appreciate that she had good intentions while I continue to rant here.

My mom dropped off an older Mac she had laying around.

And frankly, in all honesty, I would rather have no computer at all than deal with a Mac.

I know this is an insane point of contention with a lot of people online. There are a whole lot of Mac zombies out there who don’t mind spending the money to constantly upgrade their OS for the wonderful sense of elitism that being a Mac user and part of the whole Apple community apparently provides. And you know what? Fine. That’s cool. Whatever makes life seem worthwhile in this terrible economy and idiotic political climate. I get that. But even with an unlimited amount of cash, you could not pay me to be a Mac user.

Here’s my problem: I need to access my email and a specific website in order to accept and carry out paid work assignments. It’s the same for my wife. And here I was, stuck with a Mac that was running an older OS and that could only be upgraded so far without just springing for a completely different overpriced machine. So out of three browsers loaded on the damn thing, exactly none of them could access my email. IE? Couldn’t access freaking Yahoo Mail, much less either of our work websites, without upgrading to a newer version of IE … which we couldn’t do without upgrading the OS. Ditto for Safari. And Firefox wouldn’t open at all. Chrome? Opera? Couldn’t even download those on the OS this old thing was running. So while we had a computer that was very pretty, it wouldn’t work for literally the only things we desperately needed it to do: access email and our job websites.

This was incredibly frustrating. I managed to find access to a newer OS through a friend of mine, which would’ve given me the minimum of what I needed, but I couldn’t load it from a USB device. I needed a disc. When I searched the web for advice, I found chat room after chat room full of total assholes whose most helpful comment was “If you don’t have a disc, you must have stolen it, so fuck you, we’re not going to help you.” The archons of Apple, jealously guarding their holier-than-thou status by refusing to open the curtains to show you the inner workings of their church. So thanks for nothing, Appleholes.

My experience with the Mac zombies, and the noise of their moaning Wozniak’s name while copulating with their servers, drove me away from the Internet for a few days. I experienced a wider world … well, a wider of world of Star Trek and Saturday Night Live reruns streamed from Netflix through my Wii. But still, it was nice decompressing from the annoyances online of political commentary, snobbery, fanboyishness and the aforementioned Appleholes. I read, I played games, I did some puzzles … I lived. Remember living? It used to be nice, back before we started letting in so much of the damn noise. It was a fun break. Frankly, I think it’s the kind of vacation I need to take more often.

What ended up happening — since I’m obviously online again — is that I scraped together some holiday money and just bought myself a new laptop (not a Toshiba, that’s never going to happen). I don’t need a tower or an all-in-one; I just need something that gives me word processing and that can access my email and jobs. Frankly, this little laptop is faster and has more space than my old Dell did, so I’m set as long as this thing wants to keep working. I’ve long since lost my fear of losing anything important — I don’t place importance on a lot of things anymore, since it’s just destined to be lost — and now that I’ve reconnected with silence and turning the white noise from the Internet vacuum off, I feel a lot better about the world than I did last week.

Oh, and sorry for the Appleholes crack. People just pissed me off. In the end, it’s not important.

The real lesson of this week: not a lot about the Internet is.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com

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