Monday, July 15, 2013

Did I Mention I Was A Luddite In A Past Life?

The computer revolution started when I was in high school. It doesn't seem that far away but it's 30+ years ago when I wanted nothing at all to do with the digital revolution. Fast forward and I have more computers in the house than I have sense, and that's saying a lot. Oh, most of them are old and cranky - one is just a year younger than MB, and he's turning 13 this year. There's the one I inherited from my father and brother when they updated, but it's probably 7 years old at the very least. The one I built is a little over a year old, maybe two, but I love it because when something goes wrong I know how to fix it. For the most part. 82% of the time - and the rest I want to take my emergency reprogramming tool (a.k.a. ax) to it just like the rest of the electronics in the house. There's DBS's computer, which is his purview and his problem. And then there is my laptop.

Okay, I bought this one without doing my usual careful research and review. It was a refurbished Dell 5150 and I just loved, loved, loved the model number. I should have known better. It has overheating issues that fried the internet connector, so we have to rely on a pcmcia adapter which I broke, and which has taken me several years to getting around to replacing. I've used it as an internet-blind writing desk, which is not a bad idea when you're as distractable as I am. Writing is hard work when inspiration leaves you flat, I'm as susceptible as the next person when it comes to putting off the hard work, and the internet offers so much that is so much more fun than hard work. Which is a character flaw that leaves me very sympathetic to the Banshees when they would rather Netflix or play the umpteenth round of Monster High Soap Opera, or read a good book for the zillionth time, than do their chores or their homework. But still. The dishes still have to get washed and the writing still has to get accomplished, and we all have to be grown up when we don't really want to be all of the time.

The time has come, my dearest walruses, to talk of many things - one of which is my inevitably having to chase work like a full-time job in and of itself, the Banshees' ability to educate themselves in my absence, and the need for a mobile platform with which to accomplish this. Since we have absolutely NO free cash - and I mean zero, zip, zilch, I have to plot for 9 months to afford the gas to get to a museum, NADA free money in the budget, that means the little old 5150 must be pressed into service again. So I found a cheap little replacement pcmcia card - already I like it better than the old one, and I've been busy this afternoon updating and revamping the poor little laptop.

Oh, it is a slow little computer compared to my desktop. But it is trying. And it will run the Teaching Textbooks software, which is what the Banshees currently use to learn math. I will have to sell a kidney when they get through the levels we have, but it's all in a good cause. (They have pre-calculus. My high-school math-phobic self would be shocked to know I'm plotting to get that program for myself. I might let the Banshees have a crack at it if they're nice to me.) I have to call TT tomorrow because their program tells me my key to #6 has been used once too often, but it should clear up okay. I'm currently replacing the antivirus because hey, you ought to do that every few years or so. This is taking hours. Hours and hours and hours. I'm tip-tapping away on the desktop while keeping a wary eye on the little 5150 and hoping it doesn't do something counterproductive, like burst into flames while its downloading Avast. I seem to remember that it has problems with its media player - bother - which could be a headache because Yale online has so many lovely, wonderful, toothsome history classes. (Seriously, check out Videolectures.net, look for Yale, and take a lunch with you. You'll thank me.) Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat, and now that the computer can connect to the web I can download a usable media player. Woo-hoo! I also took the time to put in Revo Uninstaller. I love that utility.

When and if I find work long enough, I'll get a bottom-of-the line new laptop and put this one out to pasture, i.e. convert it to a pure Linux Ubuntu machine. Then I'll have to start clearing out the rest of the electronic detritus that has accumulated on the flat surfaces of the house. I've got figure out how to effectively kill the hard drives before carting them off to the electronics graveyard, but once they are gone, oh my goodness the amount of household real estate I'm going to be opening up boggles the brain.

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