New Computer, New Goals

Clearly, my desire to post on this blog on a regular basis has not become a reality yet.  I’d love to make excuses for that – the top one would be that my computer was a rabid piece of garbage that made using it for simple tasks a living hell.  It would freeze at the drop of a hat, if I dared to open ANY program on it before it had been turned on and running for less than 20 minutes, the entire computer would lock up and I’d have to force-close it, and for the last 3+ months it has refused to power down.  It’s a force-close every time I use it.  Not good for the little computer brains and hardware.  This PC came from a very reputable computer manufacturer, whom I shan’t name, but within the first 6 months of my owning it, it was clear that it was going to be a problem computer.  

It has long been known amoung the bulk of my friends – particularly those who knew me in college – that I break computers.  It’s not an intentional thing, and it’s not like I drop them or am too hard on them.  It appears that my near presence near computers could break them, back when I was in college.  Personally, I think that all those computers were near the edge of breaking anyway since they’re such complex little machines and I had nothing to do with it.  Clearly, the technology has improved in recent years, since it’s been nearly a decade since I broke a friend’s computer just by looking at it.  However, this little laptop PC gave me hives from the start – 6 months in, it stared giving me the blue screen of death for no reason.  I would call tech support and be on the phone for hours.  Tech Support would come to my house, do something to fix problems X-Y-Z, and then 2 days later, the same issues would occur.  After many months of trying to pin down the source of the problem, I came up with one working theory which always seemed to be true – any time there was a Microsoft Windows update, the computer would crash the next day.  Now I’m not trying to blame Windows – I truly believe this little gadget was created by the devil on one of his off-days – but it hit a point where I would try desperately to NOT update anything having to do with Windows on my computer.  Unfortunately, that’s not always an option – Windows will update itself as it sees fit whether you tell it to or not.  And thus, the cycle would continue.

The shocking part is that I have kept this minion of evil as my computer for – wait for it……
7 years.

That’s right, 7 years I have lived with this little beast.  For months at a time, it would work fine – then something on it would sputter and die or put me into a constant state of panic that the whole system was going to shut down.  The truth of why I let this go on for so long is two-fold – one, I hate changing computers.  I know that some people are all “Yay, new shiny piece of technology, WOOHOO!!!”  I am much more in the vein of “Oh God, now I have to learn where everything is and what buttons to push and what the special features now and oh jeezy creezy did my pictures NOT get transferred over???!?!?!!!”  In other words, I fear that kind of change.  I’m sure that a large part of it is my personal belief that I do break computers and am somehow a bad luck charm towards them.  As much as I wanted to escape Windows Vista – the WORST operating system known to humankind – I didn’t want to have to make a change.  The second thing is – computers are expensive.  I had just shelled out something like 8 or 900 dollars for this one, I didn’t want to have to buy a new one just a few years later.  But after those first few years of “Oh, I don’t want to spend any money on a new laptop even though I need one” passed, I began to just feel accustomed to the bad behaviors of my laptop.  I knew it didn’t always like to read discs and would sometimes shut down because it would overheat, so I had come up with the solution of balancing it half on, half off my glass coffee table so the fan could suck in as much air as possible, thus minimizing the risk of it shutting itself off only halfway through burning a CD onto ITunes.  I understood that sometimes it would get confused about whether I wanted it to sleep or stay on, and so it would flicker back and forth between the screen saver and the desktop for several minutes before deciding which to do – and that I would only make it worse if I dared to touch the mousepad!  I was the equivalent of that person driving the 19-year old car, pouring oil into it at every red light to keep it from overheating, and deep-down believing that if I just add another piece of duct tape to the bumper it will stay attached for another 30 miles.  (I’m starting to sound like Stephanie Plum from the One for the Money series back when those books were still entertaining.)  I was in far too deep to consider leaving this overwhelmingly awful relationship for a new computer, a potentially better computer.

But when it finally started really and truly dying in the fall of 2012, I began to take stock.  Okay, what was I looking for in a laptop?  Did I want to go with this same company – which has perfectly fine desktops – and chance getting the same boatload of issues?  How much was I willing to spend?  And was I backing things up enough?  I started chatting with friends about their computers and came to a very fast realization – nearly all of my friends here in Cleveland are Mac users.  What’s more, they’ve been Mac users for either their whole lives OR they used to love their PCs but had all the same issues I’ve had in life and transferred over to Macs and never had those issues again.  Now I had tried to use Macs when I was at Dickinson College – but I found it an overwhelmingly frustrating experience for a multitude of reasons, the largest of which was that no one ever taught me how a Mac was different from a PC and what the different keys would do.  I was already feeling inept at computer technology, so the idea of just picking it up on my own was way too foreign.  But after finding out tons of advantages to getting a Mac – not the least of which is that Apple actually has stores I can take it into if and when I have an issue – I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could make the switch over.  And besides, I was beginning to think that my computer curse was well and truly over because I’ve had this fantastic little PC laptop for work for almost 2 years now and not had any issues with it.  (Knock wood!)

So last Sunday, I went to the Apple store and was talked into buying a MacBook Pro by the charming staff there.  This is something I’d been planning and preparing for for quite some time now, so I had a friend who is a teacher pose as my “husband” so I could take full advantage of his tax exempt status and teacher discount.  I left my sick and dying laptop there so that the lovely techs could do a data transfer…unfortunately, my old computer really is a gigantic piece of garbage and kept freezing during the transfer process, always at the same place.  (Really, I can hear the devil cackling when I type that sentence.)  So I’m going to have to grit my teeth and just spend several hours transferring everything over – oh well, it’ll help me get to know my new computer, which I’m tempted to name Judy.  Last night was the first time that I got to actually sit and play with my new Mac, and I have to say – it wasn’t a scary experience at all.  Megan and Devon had given me enough little tips and let me play with their Macs to the point where I felt comfortable trying to open and close a few new things, and knowing that there are techs right down the road who can help me made me less anxious about the possibility of breaking it that very first night.  So we’re slowly getting to know one another, Judy and I, and I signed up for a training workshop at the Apple Store on Sunday to get to know my mac…I’m excited to learn all the little tips and what the different buttons do, since I know this is very different from using a PC.  And if things really start to get difficult, I’ve always got my work laptop to run to!

Now I know the title of this post includes the word “goals” – I feel like I need a new project.  Last year, I was still doing the Picture of the Day with Allan, which gave me something to do every day.  This year, I’ve been feeling more and more that I want to get back to writing – how is it possible that I used to do it every day and then just allowed it to fall by the wayside? Is this what happens when you start to make life changes?  Maybe.  So my new goal is to write at least 100 words every day.  It might be here, on this little blog.  It might be on whatever program passes for Word on a Mac (that’s one thing I still haven’t found!), or it might be a poem written by hand.  (I have never ever been able to write poetry on a computer first – it just can’t be done.)  I figure if I write a poem, I’ll let the word requirement slide.  But I feel the need to do something that is an act of pure imagination and creation, something that gets me outside of my box of just reading what others have written or watching a movie or TV show or following a knitting pattern.  I want to make things.  I want to look at something and say, “I made that from nothing more than my own mind.”  It’s time to grow.

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