Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tools of the Trade: Laptops I Have Loved

If you keep up with this blog, you are not surprised when I say the technology I most use when writing away from my desk (and much of the time at it) looks like this:

I can almost always be counted on to have a fountain pen and good notebook nearby, and they do a perfect job of capturing my thoughts in a way I find peaceful and pleasurable. That said, when it comes to finished work, it is time to pull out a computer like everyone else. (A computer with Scrivener, which is a must and a post for a later day.)

In the beginning, there was this:

Good thing I touch type.
Late 2004 14'' Apple iBook G4. This computer has been through the mill with me. With some help from my mom and between my two jobs, I managed to scrape together enough pennies to buy this, my first Mac, and my first laptop of any kind. When it was brand new, we sat at the back of my favorite coffee shop with a dear friend as he taught me tips and tricks on how to use a Mac. After he died a couple of years later, the computer would sometimes jog that memory of me sitting beside him and his own weathered laptop that sported an "I'd rather be reading Bukowski" bumper sticker, sipping lattes and sharing cookies while he showed me how to survive computing with only one mouse button.

Together, this laptop and I wrote my first novel, and my second. We got through my Master's program. We procrastinated all those things with reading endless message boards, lots of games of solitaire, and so much email.

It was also with this computer that I sat curled in my Felix the Cat pajamas (a gift from my roommate), and instant messaged this adorable guy who lived in my apartment complex at the time. This is the computer he used to IM me back.

2002 Titanium PowerBook G4

Once I messaged him and asked him out to grab a doughnut I didn't even want. Once he messaged me and asked me to go with friends to his parents' lake house, and somehow no one else but us showed up. Once we messaged that we were obviously dating, so why couldn't we just say we were dating? Because we were. Dating. Because he liked me. And I really liked him. So we were, officially.

Husband and I still have them both tucked away in the closet, too sentimental to let them go. The letters on my iBook's keys are worn off from use, the battery doesn't function at all, it weighs a ton by today's standards, and after I lost a big block of writing to a spontaneous shut down, it was time to retire permanently. Every so often I get a hankering to pull it out and see if it still works. It does, loyal as ever. Geriatric, but loyal.

I replaced the iBook G4 with a desktop computer, but quickly determined that I needed a portable writing solution to go with my main system. For a while, I used an HP netbook Husband managed to Hackintosh into a fine little writing machine. It did well, and I actually did a good deal of writing with it, but it was underpowered and eventually became a bit frustrating.

Down the road, I happened to purchase this used from a friend:

Early 2008 13.3'' MacBook. My friend had used this computer pretty hardcore in her music program during college, and it had seen better days. It did everything I needed though, and without fuss or fanfare. I spent a good deal of time writing on it, in libraries, coffee shops, and my backyard. When I was working for a small nonprofit that stayed afloat entirely based on grant funds, I worked with colleagues to write some pretty darn good grant proposals on there. I typed up the handwritten pieces from members of a local writer's group for people with a personal experience of homelessness for their newsletter. More than anything I remember about this computer is the editing. This computer and I spent hour upon hour editing so many things: my work, friends' work, grants, and even helping some local college kids editing their papers. We were going along fine until the fan decided to take itself out and I lost a block of writing. As we covered earlier, losing a chunk of writing is the death knell for any computer of mine. Do it, and you're getting replaced. Stat.

This is my current machine:

Early 2015 13.3'' MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Yeah...after going through a few other attempts at used and inexpensive computers, I lost more writing, which is NOT ALLOWED. Even though I still have a desktop as my "main" computer, I decided to pull the trigger and go for a laptop that will give me many good years of service, and maybe serve up a little slab of fun on the side. Thus far, I'm completely enamored with it. Here's hoping it is a long, long time before it hiccups and I lose some writing. I would be forced to pull out the old iBook G4 again and banish the MacBook Pro to the closet.

After all, I did write this entire post from my old buddy the eleven-year-old G4 without the slightest problem.

No comments: