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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Indecision Sunday

I spent the weekend not buying a laptop. This is nothing new for me, really; I’ve spent every weekend I’ve been alive so far not buying a laptop. So I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Not once have I been swept up in a wacky series of unlikely events — or by a wicked tequila bender — and woken up asking why my credit card is smoking and where the little computer came from. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

“This was the weekend I would compare all the models, and run all the numbers, and emerge on Sunday evening the proud owner of six pounds of state-of-the-art number-crunching and porn-storing technology.”

This weekend was supposed to be different, though. This weekend, I wanted, for the first time ever, to buy a laptop. I checked the finances, made the decision, and stamped my little feet. This was the weekend I would compare all the models, and run all the numbers, and emerge on Sunday evening the proud owner of six pounds of state-of-the-art number-crunching and porn-storing technology.

It’s a quarter till midnight on Sunday night. I haven’t emerged. And it’s not going to happen. The only thing I’m ’emerging’ from tonight is my pants, when I hit the sack later on.

So what happened? Where did I go wrong? And why the hell did I suddenly want one of those damned miniaturized mechanized machines, anyway?

Answering the last question first, I did it for you. Or rather, for me, which in turn is for you. Basically, I want a more mobile way to write these little ditties and missives, for when retreating to the desktop in my home office isn’t so convenient.

Like when Blue’s Clues is on TV, for instance. Why should I have to miss out on the ‘Mail Song’ or the ‘We Figured It Out’ dance, just because I’m due to drop another dose of drivel? It hardly seems fair. My childlike wonder is suffering, and that’s not good for any of us.

Meanwhile, this desktop machine is getting pretty old. I’ve had it for three or four years, which is ages in computer-years. Why, the technology’s only barely made in this freaking millennium. I should be using the thing to tune in the Ed Sullivan Show, or to stab woolly mammoths with. I think it’s running DOS on a TRS-80 processor, with one of those drives that took floppies, back when they really were floppy. I’m surprised it hasn’t petrified and turned to dust by now, frankly.

So I’m in the market for a hardware upgrade. And I’m no fool — most of the posts here notwithstanding, anyway. I did my homework. I due-diligenced out my ass the entire weekend. I printed specs, pored over reviews, compared vendors, and test-configured machines. I learned more about the current state of laptop technology in the past two days than any Best Buy or CompUSA salesman would ever need to know.

(And certainly way more than the store flunkies around here seem to know. Those guys think ‘Centrino’ is a disease you catch from swapping spit, and ‘Level 2 cache’ is the money awarded during Double Jeopardy. Morons.)

After hours of exhaustive research, of comparing features and options, of cross-checking compatibilities, of generating detailed quotes, and of being mercilessly mocked by the missus, I finally found a handful of machines that fit my needs.

Well… almost.

Actually, I found a handful of laptops that fit my needs, except each model had one flaw that I didn’t care for. They were all different, of course — this one had the wrong processor, that one’s screen was too small, and the other one wouldn’t include a fast enough hard drive. Dammit, if I’m opening a spreadsheet or a presentation or a picture of some naked chick slathered in Crisco playing hopscotch, do you think I want to wait an extra seventeen milliseconds for that drive to spin up?

No. I most certainly do not. Greasy hopping naked girl now, damn you! NOW!!

Clearly, it was time to think about compromises. So I did — I gave up on a few bells and whistles, and cut my ‘short list’ down to three or four machines that covered the basics. Any one of them seemed like a reasonable choice, so I dug just a little deeper to see if I could set one above the others.

That’s when the balloon blew. And blew hard.

The machine with the wide screen, that I wish had the latest chipset? Sez here on their website they’re working on that model, due out in June. Hmmm.

And the one with the fast processor, with crappy graphics? They released a statement last week; a new line with state-of-the-art graphics cards is coming this summer.

And the other one, with ugly machines, dismal service, and an annoying spokesman? Prettified, outsourced, and replaced with a trained monkey in a tutu.

Honestly, who wouldn’t buy a computer from a monkey in a tutu? Now I don’t know what the hell to think.

Basically, the message is ‘wait a few weeks, and it’ll get better’. And it seems they’re right. Only… when is that ever not the case? Computer technology improves so fast, when would there ever be a two-month period when a new processor, driver, chipset, card, networking standard, operating system, form factor, slot type, or designer color isn’t just around the corner?

No matter when you stop the wheel and buy a machine, you’re behind the curve before the box even arrives. Even if you can afford ‘state of the art’, you’ll have to trash it and grab the Next Big Thing™ eight times a year, or all your techie friends will laugh and point and snicker.

What is that, Johnson? A Betamax laptop?

Pfffft. USB is so last year. Doesn’t that thing have Bluetooth?

What’s wrong, Stevens — couldn’t afford a tablet? Geez. Welcome to the 90’s, man.

I decided I’m just not gonna go there. I’ll let the wheel spin a while longer, and see if anything’s changed. I’ll pick out a weekend, go through another round of research, and probably decide it’s best to hold off for some new trinket or feature or other then, too.

Jeez. This is never going to happen, is it? My string of spending weekends not buying laptops is in no danger whatsoever. How does anybody ever pull the trigger on these damned things?

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One Response to “Indecision Sunday”

  1. Monkey says:

    I still have to wait another week (again) for a laptop that I ordered ages ago and was meant to arrive three weeks after that. That point was seven weeks ago, I think, which means I must have ordered it in nineteen freaking eighty five.

    My point is that I very much doubt that there even ARE new laptops these days. It’s a conspiracy, Charlie. They takes your moneys and gives you nothing but sorrow. Kinda like my local Thai takeout. Hurty sorrow.

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