Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Moral compromise 

On Sunday, for the second time in my life, I purchased a computer. I would have used it to make this post, but alas, it's in the shop.

My first computer was a Mac II ci, bought in 1992. It served for about eight years until I picked up a discarded computer at work and embarked upon the hand-me-down upgrade path. Lately, we realized that we were going to need to get a newer laptop that could a) run the latest World Book encyclopedia software and b) be easily lugged to China. So, with a tinge of guilt, I decided to put my pride aside and once again actually pay money for a new computer. I did a lot of online searching, thanks to Low End Mac and was ready to make an investment. However, on a whim I also checked out a local Mac store. To my surprise, I found that they not only had used computers for sale, but they also had one that fit my specs--a G3 iBook. I took a deep breath and bought it--assailed by the same doubts I had when I bought the ci. ("Do you really want to spend this much money?")(Though actually it cost about a quarter of what I had spent on my original setup.) But my nerve held, as did my credit line, and I headed out the door with Mac in hand.

I got home, proclaimed my victory and booted the sucker up. Soon, my elation faded. The DVD drive wouldn't open when I pressed the button on the side. Fortunately, I am a power user and have my own set of tools for dealing with recalcitrant computers. Poking the bent paper clip into the little hole, I was able to open the tray and insert a CD. The drive itself worked fine, and the computer would happily eject a disk when given the command. It was just that little switch that wasn't functioning. Having lived with worn, imperfect computers for many years now, I was tempted to just deal with it and start carrying paper clips around with me. However, since I had just compromised my frugal ways for this computer, I was more inclined to head back to the store and demand satisfaction. Which is what I did yesterday. The technician gave the machine a once over (using the same tools as I did, I might add) and decided that it was indeed broken. This time I headed out the door with a sheet of paper instead of my Mac.

However, I'm afraid this story isn't over. Not that I fear any complications in the repair process. No, rather I still need to upgrade the operating system and encyclopedia. And I also have been hearing the whispers of the techno-demons as they whisper their temptations in my ear:
"Hey, you need a CD burner so you can share files with your desktop computer."
"Nah, just a SCSI to USB converter, so you can use your existing peripherals."
"But with a CD burner you could swap files with your work computer as well."
"Actually, an ethernet network would be much easier. It might even add rental value to the house."
"You could do an ethernet network and get a CD burner."
"And the converter, so you could hook up the scanner."
"Hey, if you add a .Mac account you could swap files over the 'net and you wouldn't need to shlepp anything extra over to China."
"How much do digital cameras cost, now that you have a USB port?"