For the last several years I’ve worked from two computers. One is a desktop computer that consumes my long-standing desk; the other a laptop that, when not traveling with me, sits on a long table I set up for my writing. I not uncommonly switch back and forth between the two, literally spinning my chair 180 degrees to type on the alternate keyboards. Now I’m fretting about not having any computer at all.
My desktop is about 7 years old. That is antique by computer standards. Recently it half-died in the most frustrating way. While the CPU turns on and the monitor lights up, it doesn’t recognize my keyboard or mouse. All the guides say to “click this” or “hit these keys” to fix it, yet neither of the devices needed to do so work. Plugging in a backup mouse and keyboard don’t help; they work on other computers but not this one. My friends tell me that it’s likely a motherboard problem and given its age I should just replace it. Luckily all my files were auto-copied in real time onto an external hard drive, so as far as I can tell I still have all my files (even the ones I wish I had deleted).
So I fret about what to do. Should I spend hundreds on a new motherboard and whatever else? Or should I just buy a new desktop computer? Or maybe not bother since desktop computers are so out of fashion?
After all I still have my laptop, on which I have typed most of my books. It’s what I’m typing on now. Hook up the external drive and I’m all set. Right?
Alas, not so much. Four years old itself my laptop is starting to feel middle age. The battery has gone from not lasting nearly long enough to not recharging at all. Again the online help suggests it’s some glitch that can be fixed by a 10-step plan involving turning it on and off while removing/replacing the battery. Ah, but of the three types of battery access available on laptops, mine is the kind that requires experts with special tools. Lucky me. I’ve now been working with it for weeks as I alternatively forget and procrastinate the problem into not getting fixed. This works as long as I have a place to plug in the machine. So I fret some more.
I’m good at fretting, it seems. Almost as good as I am at procrastinating. Meanwhile, I realize I have to install my photo and phone software on the laptop (it was only on the desktop) so I can write about my new trips. That and a “to do today” list that grows faster than I can cross items off.
Maybe I’ll just go read. It’s a great procrastinator and fret-free, at least until I come back to two barely alive computers that I’ve managed not to have fixed.
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.