I keep things forever.
I have my seventh grade yearbook with the Smurf puffy stickers I stuck on it still decorating the back cover. I have my 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan with 82,000 miles on it, a dent in the hood, and Goldfish still under the seats from when the kids were little. I still have a pair of Lee overalls that I have not worn since 9th grade when they were, believe it or not, in style in my hometown.
And I still, until quite recently, contentedly tapped away at our old 2004 computer.
I knew that old PC like the back of my hand, both of which, lately, have been showing obvious signs of old age.
When we first got her, we were amazed by her state-of-the-art 80-gigabyte hard drive. We couldn’t believe that she could connect with the “world wide web” in a matter of seconds, and without the annoying dial up screech-ping-dings we were so accustomed to hearing. We felt exhilarated when scrolling around her desktop icons and multiple open windows with a click of her newfangled mouse.
Seven years, two hard drive crashes, and an added memory board later, our old PC is ready to call it a day. Despite my meticulous maintenance, her keyboard is gummed up and some of the letters have rubbed off. The mouse has lost its get up and go, especially after we’ve banged it on the desk one too many times when the cursor got stuck. And, her antiquated floppy drive slot is packed with dust from years of neglect.
Try as she might, she can’t handle today’s barrage of data. We don’t dare get on Facebook and Googlemail at the same time, for fear that our screen will freeze up. We can’t upload photos, unless we can wait the rest of the day while she takes her sweet time. And we certainly can’t expect to watch a YouTube video without it pausing every four seconds while she tries to process chunks of information in manageable bites, like spoonfulls of tapioca pudding.
As much as we loved our old PC, we knew it was time.
It’s always good to know a computer geek, and recently, my husband befriended one at work. His name was Jimmy, and, like all techno-dweebs, he was more than happy to give us advice on buying a new computer.
Although he started out using the technical jargon of his field, he learned very quickly that he needed to dumb it down for us.
“I personally recommend switching to an Apple iMac for a number of reasons, the least of which is the Thunderbolt data-transfer technology, and of course there’s the four gigabyte memory, AMD graphics processors, and one terabyte hard drive. You can stream half a dozen HD videos simultaneously from an external RAID array, no problem.”
He might as well have been speaking Cantonese. We thought a “terabyte” was something like a “gazillion”, or perhaps it was some prehistoric creature, and all the acronyms had our simpleton brains yearning for remedial assistance.
“Listen, Jimmy, we just want a magic box that will let us type up stuff, look at pretty pictures, and we want it to go real fast and not give us any grief. If the one you are talking about can do all that, we’ll buy it. Now, can you set it up for us and teach us how to use it?” we asked, shamelessly.
With the promise of free food, Jimmy accepted our proposal, and over the course of the next couple weeks, he became a regular at our family dinner table.
As amazed as we were at the capabilities of our new computer, Jimmy was equally amazed at our almost complete lack of computer knowledge.
“So do you guys want me to set up your apps?” he asked one night after a pork loin dinner. “Heck yea, but first tell us what an app is?” I asked, and Jimmy shook his head.
Another night as Jimmy was giving us a printer tutorial after chicken enchiladas, we asked when he was going to connect up the half a dozen cords and wires that seemed to be missing. Jimmy shook his head again, and explained that our mouse, keyboard and printer were all wireless.
We stared into space for a moment, overcome by that weird feeling you get when you contemplate the vastness of the universe.
My husband snapped out of it and inquired with feigned seriousness, “Have you installed the multiplexer yet?” Jimmy shook his head again and laughed, both at my husband’s joke and at our unabashed stupidity.
Despite his frustration with our ignorance, Jimmy continued to subject himself to our requests for his help. For the price of hoagies and chips, he set up our television. For pizza and beer, he programed our DVR. For spaghetti and meatballs, he installed Microsoft Office.
In the end, we put our dusty old PC and her tangle of outdated wires out to pasture, and with Jimmy’s help, we are learning about our new magic box with her state of the art terabytes and microchips.
Too bad that it will only take a nanosecond for her to become obsolete too.