So I'm laptopped again: an HP mini 110, at a total cost of $290. I'll probably regret this, but I'm keeping the Windows 7 "Starter" OS. I uninstalled the Norton teaser and installed free Avira instead. Downloaded Open Office (I'm damned if I ever again will submit to the highway robbery of Microsoft desktop tools!) and trying out Zumo. I am now officially ready to rock and roll again.
My aim is to keep my laptop cost down to $15 per month, and my strategy for doing that is going the dirt-cheap route. The big downside is that really cheap laptops don't last long at all. To meet my goal I'm going to have to keep this running for twenty months. Since all three of my last laptops have died of power jack contusions, I'm going to try to be very tender with this one's power jack. No more working on it while it's plugged in: no more getting tangled up with the cord when I get up off the couch.
It's a pain to go the low end route, since you have to replace the laptops so often, but it also keeps you disciplined about storing *nothing* that you really want to keep locally. That's been my goal for years. The local drive is there as a backup, of course, but anything I really want I keep pushed out to the net, one way or another, where professionals tend the data and back it up. Every time one of these laptops goes south, I do discover stuff that I was keeping only locally. But less and less. I handle each succeeding calamity with greater aplomb.
One could also go high end. But the thing is, if I bought myself a really nice Mac, say, I'd be looking at keeping it running for ten to fifteen *years* before it would work out to being as cheap. And unless the technology races slow way down, any machine looks to be useless ten years from now, no matter how high end it may be right now. I have a settled preference for taking my lumps up front.
I had a bad, bad hour with this machine when I first took it out of the box, and it would not power up for me. The power switch is a little spring-loaded slider that masquerades as a two-notch switch, and there was nothing on keyboard or screen that acknowledged powering on: I apparently turned it on and off so rapidly that I never saw even a flicker. I called India in high dudgeon, and spent half an hour learning, painfully, that there are alpha-bravo systems for confirming alphabetical serial numbers that I have never heard of (was he really saying "a as in aardvark," or was I having auditory hallucinations?) and that a circular saw going in the kitchen moves me easily from "hard of hearing" to "stone deaf." Eventually the screen started doing something, and I hung up on my friend in Bangalore -- who was by this time nearly as frustrated with me as I with him -- and life became one long sweet song.
So I'm back! And now I can get seriously to work on my poetry MS. O happy day!