Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Faux Upgrade

from Ridley (can't get images to load, sorry!)

Here's something I discovered this week: the faux upgrade.

I have a good friend (and sometimes writing partner) who buys a new cell phone and/or laptop about every six months. (At one point, every time I saw him over the course of the year, he had a new phone.) When you are a gadget-head like me, this can cause a bit of chip-envy. I owned the Prius within the first month of production. Same with the Mac Airbook.

Sidebar: I waited on the iPhone because of the keyboard and because it lacked certain abilities like cut and paste. Then 3.0 software corrected all that and I bought the 3Gs for a summer experiment (publishing is slow in summer and you can take risks with your phone). I had been a BlackBerry loyalist, keeping my last BBerry (the 8800c--a near perfect business phone) for over three years. The iPhone, when combined with (I liked it better when it was called dot-Mac; it's actually NOT about Me!) provides wireless synch for contacts and calendar, just as the BBerry did in Enterprise mode. So now my assistant can update something, and I have it within 15 minutes on my phone, and for 99 dollars a year--my BBerry Enterprise was 80 dollars a month.) So be it. I suffer through some of the iPhone's failings, but I have a workable business mobile phone that can also play video podcasts of Rachel Madow. What could be better?

Return to Main Post: So... we're in a recession. I long for the latest version of the Mac Airbook (a bigger virtual hard drive would mean I don't have to tote an external drive around to carry my iTunes/video). Then my wireless keyboard and mouse start acting up and I go to the Mac store (very dangerous for me to go in that store!) and I buy three things: Snow Leopard--the latest OSX operating system (it actually FREES 7 gigs after install, and runs about four times faster); a WIRED keyboard and a WIRED mouse, and over the weekend I set everything up. Intallation of the software is, of course, a tightrope walk, despite what David Pogue said in the NYTimes. This, because I use the Remote Drive function for the drive-less MacBook Air. That, in turn meant I needed to Carbon Copy my hard drive in case of malfunction. All this took about 5 hours to accomplish, but oh well, I cleaned my office while pieces of the install ran. With Snow Leopard up and running--beautifully, elegantly--I also installed the new keyboard and mouse, and you know what? IT FEELS LIKE A BRAND-NEW COMPUTER.

I hadn't realized how revolutionizing a new keyboard is. It is, in fact, your only tactile contact with your computer, and replacing it gives your machine an entirely new feel. A clean, crisp attack. No hardware errors (the Bluetooth wireless versions were just never quite right--a slight, almost imperceptible delay (for someone who types quite quickly); scroll button on mouse was intermittent, if there at all. But now: ZING! The Snow Leopard upgraded me to 64-bit processing (hold down the 6 and 4 on boot, and watch your machine zip!) and the two inexpensive pieces of hardware give things a new feel. It's not the new Air, but it's surprisingly satisfying. The thing is: as writers we wear out our keyboards and "mice" and don't even realize it. Think of all the times the space bar is hit (or the delete key!) over the course of a year; two years; three...

Do yourself a favor: the recession upgrade costs less than 100 dollars, and you'll feel like new.
Now... if only this thing would write by itself...


  1. Oh how I wish I understood anything you just said. Here's the problem with updating anything on my computer--it screws up some other program that I love but is no longer upgradable. Ah, those wonderful typewriter days when life was so uncomplicated.

  2. Perhaps I'm behind the times. I am still waiting for my beige Motorola cell phone with the rubber antenna, you know, the phone that weighs as much as Babe Ruth's bat. So....I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm glad it all turned out well.

  3. I just wish I hadn't gotten rid of my IBM Selectric II.

    Then, when someone said Carbon Copy, they damn well meant carbon copy.

  4. I LOVED the Selectric and its interchangable balls!!!!!

  5. James O. Born9/02/2009 12:32 PM

    I love small computers and just bought a Netbook. Now I want the next generation of netbooks.

    It never ends.

    Jim Born