Yesterday’s Machine

I bought my Vaio? desktop in 2002. While that may sound like only yesterday to you, in computer years, that bad boy is older than I am. This warhorse has served me well these last 10 years, recent bouts of goofiness notwithstanding. I’d keep it around another 10 if I could … although I doubt it’ll last that long. Computers aren’t supposed to last. Nor do “smart” machines grow smarter with age, however brilliantly they performed in their heyday. From Bill Gates to pearly gates: their destiny was decided before they left the factory.
I remember when my desktop was the new wunderkind on the block. There was hardly an operation this multitasker couldn’t perform. Knew every trick. Sprinted like a champ. Never broke a sweat. Nowadays, it shuffles lethargically, half-heartedly, like some old geezer, huffing and muttering under its breath when I issue a command. It piddles about with trivial background chores that steal its energy and focus from the job at hand. It’s moody, erratic, forgetful. It trips over itself, misplaces things, takes forever to go to “sleep” at night, and wastes even more time “waking” back up again. Sometimes, I don’t know what the blame system is up to. Reminds me of myself.

When it comes to word processing and photo editing, the rascal still delivers. Same for email and audio playback. Forget about surfing the Internet, though. I’ve stood in checkout lines that moved faster than this tired bucket of circuits. Time was when it zipped along that “Super Highway” like a drag racer. Of course, that was before websites began inundating users with multimedia ads, tracking cookies, pop-ups, add-ons, upgrades and other assorted junk designed (supposedly) to improve their “experience.” That was before the Internet became an informational sinkhole. Trying to navigate today’s Web with yesterday’s machine is like pushing a piano uphill.

Eventually, even the most undemanding consumers are forced to buy speedier, more powerful PC’s to handle the load. Last year, I broke down and bought a great new laptop. Now I feel like a traitor!
I know it’s just a matter of time before my beloved Vaio? suffers a massive stroke and vaporizes all my data. I’m continually backing it up, doing preventive maintenance, forestalling the inevitable. Three times, I contracted a virus. (I didn’t; my machine did). Each crisis prompted a call to the Systems Administrator (that’s me), who spent days nursing that brat back to health. Believe me, I get no kick out of troubleshooting every tic and bug this neurotic piece of technology comes down with—I’m a lover, not a geek. Yet if I don’t preserve it, who will?

A less tolerant person would have tossed the bum out by now. I cannot. For more than 10 years I poured my creative self into that machine. It contains a vital a part of who I am, what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve created. Maybe it’s because I, too, am old and flawed that I feel an attachment to it. Maybe I refuse to let today’s tech-market persuade me that what I own is no longer useful. So what if my laptop out-performs it? As long that “bum” in my office has life in it, it has purpose. And whatever has purpose, has life.

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