We have had a steady history of old, dodgy PCs ever since our first one, around five years ago. I certainly can’t complain about the cost, as they have almost always been courtesy of other people who no longer had a use for them, usually because they were upgrading to a squeaky new machine, but there has been a cost in terms of frustration. In its old state, our current PC ran like a flat-tyred wheelbarrow being pushed uphill by a blindfolded snail – mind-numbingly slow and constantly falling over. Quite apart from the time wasted sitting here waiting for some app to load, the many crashes resulted in lots of lost work, causing naughty words to flow in an almost non-stop stream from my sainted mouth, which then caused various bouts of giggling or distress in the family circle, according to their individual temperament, disposition or species.

Part of the problem was that the tiny hard drive, all of 9Gb, was crammed to the utter brim, mainly with a great influx of digital photos as well as all the old stuff hopped over from previous incarnations of a lineage of PCs from years back. So crammed that I could no longer induce the thing to even do a decent defrag. It doesn’t help that I’m a gatherer of often useless clutter – the inside of my HD looks something like Steptoe and Son’s yard on a bad day – that I just can’t bear to delete. After all, you never know just when you might want a picture of a cow licking a dog, or a dissertation on Open Source versus Microsoft. And the 128Mb of RAM was barely enough to wake the thing up, let alone do anything much else. Even the normally speedy Firefox had became a laggard.

The nasty brown stuff finally hit the whirling blades the other day when even Notepad was having trouble keeping up with my typing speed, which is certainly nothing extraordinary, relying on a mere two fingers and an occasional thumb for most of the time. The low, sustained roar with which I expressed my frustration was enough to cause the windows to rattle and left me with a rather nasty sore throat. However, it was enough to make the Manpet realise that I was, at last, coming very near to the end of my much stretched tether and that it was probably about time something was done.

You may wonder why we don’t just bite the proverbial and go out and get a new computer – after all, a reasonable desktop is not beyond most middle-class Western aspirations, but there is a reason for our hesitation. Buying a desktop at this point in our lives would be pretty much a waste. We are going to be living in a bus just as soon as our home has sold and a desktop is simply not a suitable contender for life in a bus.

Power and space constraints mean that a laptop is the only option. and because I’m wanting to delve more into the intricacies of photo manipulation, something big and fast will be needed. But here in New Zealand, a top-end laptop is still a costly item, so we are putting off the moment of purchase until we have a little more cash in the bank. Also, the longer we wait, the better the specs will be, as laptops are improving in quantum leaps.

So we have come to an interim that will hopefully last the distance. A friend of a friend very kindly agreed to give the old horror a birthday and upgrade some of the hardware. So while this is still a somewhat elderly Pentium 111 machine, it now has a 232Gb hard drive and 384Mb of RAM. Wow! Digital bliss! A-a-a-nd a new and unexpected OS to boot!

So, lots of re-loading of old favourites and a few new ones, now that I have the space, then some tweaking and primping to get back to something that looks like me again. I’m still getting used to the new OS, but so far, so good.

Yeah, I’m gruntled.


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