Jonathan: You love them, you utterly hate them … and every feeling in between all in the space between booting up and shutting down. That of course assumes the damn thing does boot up properly, or for that matter actually gets round to turning itself off rather than going into a coma.
Both our notebooks were originally bought for my engineering work: until a couple of years ago I’d buy a new high spec computer for engineering every two years, and pass the previous on to Denise to use for another two years: the engineering work was so demanding that a four year life was the best that could be expected. But the way things have gone in recent years, that scheme fell by the wayside, and our current computers are over four and six years old, and still running Windows XP. What with the at least seven years of very frequent automatic software updates piled up on top of the original installation, these computers are struggling. Denise’s in particular has become extremely slow and unpredictable: start-up and shut-down rarely working correctly, the display sometimes taking an age to refresh, a growing tendency in the processor to sneak off to the bike sheds for a smoke and gossip, and the hard drive to examine its dimmest recesses in minute detail for a couple of hours just when you urgently need to open a spreadsheet. We were saying to Becky it makes us really want to just chuck the damn things out and go back to a simpler life: but she rightly pointed out that all our economic activities here are very highly dependent on computer technology – the internet in particular: rather than abandoning it we need to reinvest – we have to. So …
Despite the dire shortage of funds – we recently bought a new notebook for Denise: quality build but inexpensive as the applications Denise uses aren’t too demanding (basically Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, Publisher). This is now up and running and the difference is just astonishing! Her day is now much more productive, and that means she’s able to produce more stock for the Hebridean Woolshed, amongst other things.
Unfortunately we quickly discovered that Windows XP and Windows 7 computers connected via a router and network can’t see eachother, so I could no longer access the printers! The engineering software I use is pretty much tied to Windows XP and other drivers and utilities of the same era: I can no longer afford to update that software (maintenance contract costs over £2000 a year), and that means I need to make sure my Windows XP notebook (which is so high spec that I couldn’t afford to replace that either!) lasts as long as possible, so we decided to buy another new computer exactly the same as Denise’s, and that too is up and running with all non-engineering stuff transferred to that.
My old notebook sat unused for a few days – alas engineering work is far from full time these days and in any event it isn’t all about the special design software. Then something came up and I needed to do a bit of a design work. I switched on the computer for the first time in its new role. And would you believe it – the screen had developed a fault! At 1920×1200 resolution, it’s a very expensive – a replacement would cost as much as both computers we’d just bought!!
Without a moment’s hesitation, Denise said – it knows it’s been demoted, and it’s not happy about it one bit! So there you have it, computers too have feelings.
For the moment I can just about use my old computer, but I’m going to have to do something, or else I won’t have any engineering work at all!