Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 14 September 2009

Meet my superior alter ego

Without a computer I would be an aspostrophe-ridden bucolic in Adam Bede. I use it to buy books from 13,000 secondhand bookshops round the world (ABE), to buy books in French from French sources (cheaper even with the postage), to write verse aided by a free rhyming dictionary open in an adjacent window, to send cash to grandchildren, to phone US friends for free (Skype), to check equity investments and to update them on a spreadsheet, to produce a quarterly newsheet, to run a local website, to spec a digital camera unavailable locally, to view my house from the air, to download books for my ebook reader, to download my CDs on to my MP3 player, to check routes and driving times to distant parts, to ask tricky questions about website design and DIY of experts, to appear competent in foreign languages, to call up pictures of virtually anything, to store digi-photos and to scan and store optical photos. To blog.

It is vital my computer works well. It must be repaired when bust and incorporate worthwhile computeresque developments. When I arrived in Hereford I had a modified Dell. Over the years parts were replaced until the only originals were the power supply and the case. A new processor and motherboard caused even these items to be ditched and I am now left with the old keyboard. – sweat-stained and definitely unhygienic.

Barrie and Jim, who operate from a converted house on the estate, do my bidding and I have spent several thousand pounds with them. I do not resent this. A slow computer is a contradiction – like a well-equipped car that only travels in reverse. I could buy things cheaper online but with them I discuss what I need before writing the cheque. A vital asset.


marja-leena said...

Alter ego, heh! Very impressive for someone of your age! I have friends and family decades younger who still are barely computer literate. And you certainly are fortunate to have found some good technical people to help you.

Is that ABE Books? That used to be a Canadian company out of Victoria, BC. As I recall two couples started it in a home garage and grew so successful that A'zon bought it a year or two ago. I'm always saddened when successful Canadian companies get absorbed by our neighbours. (sorry, have gone off topic!)

Sir Hugh said...

Just watching tele. A man in the UK was bitten by a spider in his bed and used his computer to identify it from its remains. I bet this has not been one of your many uses of your pc.

Sent from my iPod touch.

Julia said...

Having real people help with your system administration is definitely worth it! The best go the extra mile to retrieve lost data, and figure out when it makes more sense to buy new than hunt for solutions. My old computer died just before our vacation and one of the best messages I got on the trip was - "We saved all your photographs!"

Rouchswalwe said...

Don't have a computer at home ... yet. I rely on the local library and my newfangled Nokia can do certain things (but the memory is limited and you wouldn't believe how sloooooow it is).

herhimnbryn said...

Sitting on the sofa using my acer netbook (wireless) on a rainy day in Western Australia, to write this. Ain't technology grand?

Plutarch said...

It seems to me that you have almost become sentimental about your Dell rather as some journalists become sentimental about old portable Remingtons. Plus ca change ...

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: ABE Books. You mentioned their Canadian origins before. And yet ABE is a German company - at least, it's in that direction that several hundred pounds of mine have gone over the years.

Sir Hugh: No I haven't done the spider trick. Nor, for fairly obvious reasons, have I operated on myself for breast cancer under laptop instruction as one Antarctic explorer did recently.

Julia: Advice is of course the most valuable service. But it does require the recipient to be familiar with computers. I shall shortly be blogging about giving help to someone who knows absolutely nothing about them. The sessions break off every now and then while, with barely controlled impatience, I provide another dissertation on, say, RAM. Glad to hear about the pix. So there's someone else other than me who doesn't do back-ups.

RW (Z S): That's like choosing to run the 100 m in a diver's suit. And yet you remain so sunny. I'm astonished that the frustration doesn't break through.

HHB: Or even in Eastern Australia, about which, as such, no one seems to talk. I have never owned a laptop (though I bought one for Mrs BB). I'd love to loll but I find the joystick pad a cumbersome tool. Bought Mrs BB a mouse after initial complaints and she's away.

Plutarch: If there is sentiment it's sub-conscious. I see my computer as a machine to be ruthlessly eviscerated for my greater good. The last remaining part of the Dell (the QuietKey keyboard - it's a lie, I say) may have to be discarded as a health hazard.

marja-leena said...

Oh, you buy from the German branch of AbeBooks? They are in many countries including UK. Here's more: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/amazon_buys_abebooks.php

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: Somewhat mystified by AbeBooks' origins I did a wee bit of journalistic research. Below is a shortened version of a press release I found:

Dec. 1, 2008--Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the completion of its acquisition of AbeBooks.

AbeBooks will continue to function as a stand-alone operation based in Victoria, British Columbia. AbeBooks will maintain all its Web sites, including its Canadian Web site. The Web sites will continue to have country-specific content, such as reviews of Canadian-authored books and interviews of Canadian writers.

Its global websites (include) Abebooks.co.uk. A true internet success story, AbeBooks.com has been selling books online since 1996, and is a private company based in Victoria, BC Canada, with affiliates in Germany and the United States.

This explains why, when I Google AbeBooks UK, any money I pay in goes to the company's nearest affiliate in Germany.

Now I intend to solve the problem of our existence on earth.

Avus said...

All agreed, BB. Where would we be without the digital age - especially us of a more "mature" disposition.
All those things it does for us and our daughter, 9,000 miles away, seems to be just around the corner

Avus said...

Abe Books has always been my standby too.