Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My wife's computer broke. The screen just doesn't come on anymore. I tried to fix it but, acch, those PCs and their mindless impersonal interface. It's just what we need around here, another broken computer. I suppose it could have come at a less opportune time -when we have less disposable income and less time to waste on the hassle, but why wait?

New computers interest me, but for all their gee-whizz-bang they're just tools. But they're tools with memory, which is a fascinating concept. Without memory, we humans are nothing and it's the same for computers. All those times you connected with friends and family, sent messages and photos back and forth, your whole business and all your personal records and love notes to your spouse -they're all right in there- but years go by and the tower looks the same. You'd think it'd have labels and stickers and tags all over it from the years of service. Like an old steamer trunk.

She's not very interested in using my old Mac. ("I need to use Excel." "I have Excel, honey." "On a Mac?") It's never really been a problem having a Mac user and a PC user in the house. On the contrary, it's been quite helpful at times to be able to open all the files out there on the net, but there is something vaguely asinine about it. It's like being married to an expatriate who refuses to learn the language.

The thing is, we never transferred her old PC files to the current PC, so if we get a new PC we'll have two old computers to transfer everything from. They sit here now like unpacked luggage after a long trip. Isn't there some sort of magic Windows button you can push to make this all happen automatically? I got a thumb drive for it, but the older model couldn't see the thumb drive. It just hung there on the side of the tower, like a cybernetic appendix. Screw it. Next time I go to Hawaii I'm going to leave the luggage on the curb with the garbage upon my return. (On second thought, just leave it in Hawaii!)

When you get a new Mac and turn it on, you get a friendly "Hello!" and a smiley face that asks you, "Would you like to copy all your old files and transfer all your system settings to this machine?" Why, yes! And then you plug a cable between the two and bang, there's your desktop again. Better. Stronger. Faster. It took, like, an hour, though, and not every file works. It's called the "Migration Assistant," which engenders the image of an Ellis Island customs official smiling and nodding, pointing the way, all the while not understanding a word you're saying. You get there and your Old World clothes are rejected by the culture.

So I would like to get the aged monoliths out of the office, among other things. Everything is just piling up around here and we're due for a fire sale. I know the moment it all goes out the room, though, I'm going to need those old reenforcement rings and packaging tape I've been saving. It's like those ten year-old emails and business files on that old computer -we'll never have a decent need for them until the beast leaves the premises, and then there we'll be, borne on the shore of the New World, with no history and nothing but a clean slate.