Jumping off our boat into water over my head was easy compared to the challenge I’ve been dealing with these past two weeks. Needing to replace my eight year old Toshiba laptop, broken lid, noisy fan and slow operating system by today’s standards, we headed to London Drugs to find me a Mac. His Nibs has just converted to Mac and loves it. I played around on his a bit, so with my reservations under wraps, agreed to join the movement away from Windows and onto Mac. No more updates running in the background or frustrating windows glitches, security issues or incompatible programs. And no noisy fan. I was convinced. Almost.
It was a beautiful laptop, silver metal body, slim, light, back lit keyboard, nice typing feel to it. His Nibs loaded all my files into it and I leaped in. No tippy toeing slowly in for this girl. Uh, two finger scroll, three finger drag, stretch the page with finger and thumb? I’m not playing Lego here, I’m trying to type a poem! And where are the words on the tool bar, it’s all pictures. Pictures of things I have no idea what they are supposed to represent. Pictures pop up when I move the cursor around. This feels like a game and I’m not winning.
Keep in mind, I am a writer. A pen and real ink person at heart. I typed out stories on an Underwood typewriter for goodness sakes. I moved from a typewriter to a desk top computer back in the 1980’s when His Nibs convinced me I would never have to use ‘White Out’ again. Just push delete and it’s gone. But pictures have no meaning to me whatsoever. I didn’t read comic books, I read dictionaries when I was in school. No, I’m sorry, this will never work for me.
Back to the store. Fortunately they have a return policy, no questions asked. I explained to the sales lady I was a writer, a typist, I needed a computer with a standard keyboard and no pictures. “Do you want a number pad?” She asked. “No. I don’t play games, I type.” She led me over to a Sony Vaio. A little smaller than my Toshiba, shiny black. I tried out the keyboard, standing on tip toe to reach the shelf it was on. ‘The sly brown fox jumped quickly over the sleeping dog.’ Same keyboard I was used to. She showed me the comparisons between other computer return keys, size of screen, I am happy with this one. Off we go with my new laptop. Again. His Nibs worked all evening moving files and configuring tool bars. Finally it’s loaded and I try it out. It has a number pad! I didn’t even notice that in the store! The whole keyboard is off center so it has to sit off center on my lap, a most awkward way to type. The fan sounded like a rocket ship about to take off and the cursor seemed to have a mind of it’s own. No mail program in it. We find one online and install it. It has pictures on three large tool bars that look like they were developed by a four year old. Messy, ugly and full of unnecessary choices I’d never use. It could not be customized. No, sorry, I can not live with this one either.
Going down for the last time, ready to chuck technology and buy a typewriter. I wonder if there are any for sale on eBay. The salesman approached, we told him our tale. “A computer is a computer,” he pronounces as though to be in such turmoil over which one to buy was ludicrous. His Nibs suggested we just look and try them, dismissing the salesman politely. We found only four computers without number pads and two of them had the standard keyboard. The others had extra keys between Enter and the letter keys. Some were bilingual with red letters all over the keys and some had so much information and pictures on each key you would need a magnifying glass to read them. I chose a Certified Data. Made in Canada. Smaller than the last one but clear and quiet. This is it, if this does not work it’s back to pen and ink for me.
This is a long story and does not end quite yet because His Nibs is still customizing the tool bars to look like my old Toshiba with classic Windows and words without pictures. None of the programs on my old Toshiba will work on my new laptop, so I’m going to use Open Office to replace Microsoft Word which has the feel of my old Word program. We had to resort to a very customized Windows Live Mail but got rid of all the Live programs for social networking and messenger. I’m not that social and don’t intend to be.
Why has Outlook Express disappeared completely? Why is Windows more like Mac than Windows? Why do you have to pay almost $800. for a computer filled with web cam and programs you’ll never use if you live to be a hundred but none of the programs that have worked perfectly for the past eight years? And no mail program. Who are these geeks who rewrite and reconfigure to keep buyers forever in a state of stress?
If it works, don’t fix it. Get those brains working on finding a cure for cancer and leave the keyboards alone. And while you’re at it, if you want customer loyalty, keep those good programs that work beautifully and stop trying to look like the competition. Pictures will never be competition for words as long as there are writers alive.
PS. I wrote this on my old Toshiba and I’m having a hard time letting it go. Where will it go? Where do all those old desk tops and lap tops go every year as they are forced into obsolescence. How green is that? I had to pay a recycle fee to get rid of something I would very much like to keep if it still worked. It’s like buying a new fridge that’s full of food you’ll never eat but you have to take it full, whether you want to or not. This is progress?