Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Update on the Stolen Laptop

The laptop is still stolen.

I’ve given up on ever seeing it — or the data it contains — ever again. In the meantime, I have a decrepit Windows XP desktop computer available for a number of minor tasks.

I don’t know whether the OS is missing important files or the computer is infected with viruses or if this is just how computers were in 2005. Along the line of viruses, if we’re going to use metaphorical sicknesses to describe a computer’s behavior, I think mine has the digital equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Ask it to do something, and it takes time to mull it over first — you can hear the hard drive working away — and even then it might not do what you told it to. There’s no guarantee that files you opened or websites you visited yesterday will readable today. Once, the computer decided to go into standby mode while I was typing.

Why, just now, working in MS Word and knowing that a system crash could happen at any moment, I pressed Ctrl+S and was treated to a dialog box letting me know that the “Places bar” was being initialized. I’ve worked in Word for almost as long as it has existed, and I have never heard of a Places bar.

After two minutes of waiting, the Save As dialog box finally opened. Two minutes after that, I had managed to navigate to a folder on my desktop. Three minutes after that, the file finally finished saving (though it’s still labeled as “Document 1” on the task bar).

That’s no exaggeration. It took me seven minutes to save a file.

It’s maddening. So I generally avoid it.

I’ve been doing a lot of longhand writing, which takes twice as long as typing and leads to hand pain twice as fast. Even when I’m home, I prefer the immediacy of writing to the interminable, inexplicable waiting of using the desktop. And if I want to write on the go, my options are severely limited.

So I’ve given up on getting my laptop back, but I haven’t given up on writing. In fact, I have three blog posts (two stories and an essay) very nearly ready to post, just as soon as I transcribe them from page to screen. If this computer will let me.

If I hadn’t been unexpectedly fired at the beginning of the summer, I might have already replaced the laptop, and you wouldn’t be reading this particular gripe right now. But as it is, I’ve already been putting off paying some of my regular bills to keep from overdrawing my checking account. Until I get a few paychecks from my new job into my account, my disposable income is nil.

The purpose of all these true, heart-breaking facts is to build up a sense of pity and desperation, but also of hope. And here’s why: I’ve launched a FundAnything campaign to try to crowdsource the purchase of a new laptop for yours truly. My goal is relatively small: $500, just what I need to cover a decent laptop, a copy of MS Office Student and Home, and the fees associated with FundAnything and PayPal.

I offer my writing and editing talents as rewards for donors, and you should feel free to offer up any ideas for other rewards you might pay me to perform. Check it out at http://fundanything.com/en/campaigns/help-the-words-flow-again and consider helping me out of this madness, won’t you?

For the record, yes, it does feel awkward asking for money for something so selfish, sandwiched in there among people trying to pay medical bills, save wounded animals, or fight patent trolls. But will I let a little awkwardness stop me? Like my Facebook banner image says, I put the “wkwa” in “awkward.”*

Consider this both an experiment in crowdfunding and an opportunity to restore my faith in humankind.

Just for fun, here's the video I made for the campaign. Notice its low quality. This is the direct result of filming with a tablet that records only in mp4 format and then trying to piece the video together in some old software that won't read mp4s without purchasing a new add-on.

*I totally stole “I put the wkwa in awkward” from someone, though I don’t remember who.