Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lappy Happy

So to celebrate the fact that this year, by dint of figuring out what our taxes should be and doubling the amount, I overcame the inability of my HR department to calculate my withholding correctly1 and we are due a sizable refund2.

We decided that we had enough with certain other funds put by to forgo the new desktop computer we had planned on buying and instead purchase three laptops, one for each of us.

This plan had many advantages.

First, The Stevieling has been silently jonesing for a laptop of her very own for years, but after one oblique inquiry a few Christmases ago, when the realities of the "vast" Stevie fortunes were revealed to her disbelieving ears, she abandoned hope. When she answered "nothing" to the inquiry as to what she would like for her birthday present, the perfect opportunity to surprise her occurred.

Second, Mrs Stevie, The Stevieling and I contend like heck for time on the desktop we have. Action was Called For on that front alone. The Stevieling had to be able to spend hours watching vapid Yootoob videos and Mrs Stevie's interminable web-forum dallying was of paramount importance. I was having trouble getting time on the thing just to get the taxes done, and my e-mail piles up unread in a big, electronic unread pile.

Third, every time I tried to start the computer after one of those bally women had been using it it would take forever to boot as it went crazy trying to clean up resources left by their web-consumption.

Fourth, one time in ten there would be a problem with something, and I was getting well-tired of asking "What did you do last night?" and getting back "Nothing". All I can say is that the Women of Chateau Stevie can take a bloody long time to do "nothing".

So I struck a deal with the devil and bought three Dell Inspiron laptops, each in a distinctive colour3, one for each person in The Steviemanse. The Stevieling was gobsmacked once she cottoned on to the fact that the blue laptop on the kitchen table was hers to have and use with no sharing at all. Naturally it's three days later and already there is a problem with one of the pre-loaded packages. Par for the course. It's entirely possible I broke it during the irritating set-up. Well you try registering McAffee from the applet. You'd think that if a company made a product they absolutely wanted registering over the web, the biggest thing on the unregistered version would be a screen-filling "Register Me Now" button. You'd be wrong. I gave up looking after almost an hour of poking the application. I probably tweaked a control that said "never allow this to launch again". It would match the design ethic of the rest of the application.

I've also spent hours just trying to connect to he wireless public networks all over NYC. I suspect the same software that won't tell you how to register it is forbidding the network DNS servers to supply me with a valid internet address. I did manage to access the sign-in page of Optimum WiFi, the semi-secured public WiFi my cable (and internet) company provides, but the servers were so sow responding my train had limped out of range before the sign-on was completed. One day my dream of uploading TOS entries on he iniquities being visited on me by the LIRR as they are happening will come to pass. One day.

Not only that, the perl thing I wrote to manage the stream-of-drivelness run-on sentences and let me convert them to less onerous footnotes will not run properly, and I've wasted huge volumes of time trying to make it do so. I eventually simply rewrote the script to turn the stupid bug into a feature, in the best traditions of IT workers everywhere.

So there you have it. The Stevieling's computer hasn't got the flash authoring environment installed on it, so she can't do what she most likes to do - make incomprehensible web videos. Mrs Stevie only uses hers as a web-access tool, so all those megawatts of RAM and SATAs of disk are wasted on her. And mine is only used to write stupid stuff for this blog - a job I formerly did on an antique and oft-malfunctioning Handspring Visor. All in all a waste of all the power the latest technology4 presents to me in the attractive red package currently sitting on my desk.

Which is why I feel obliged to play the latest and greatest 64-bit version of Minesweeper at all times.

  1. They got it so wrong one year I was dunned by the IRS for quarterly estimated payments, something usually reserved for rich-git Bankers, owners of corporations and others who play fast and loose with the tax system. I tried to get this fixed the proper way, but ran up against "we don't make mistakes. Ever." within the first three minutes and once you get there with this crowd you might as well give the bleep up. Another way to combat this brand of dimwittedness is to submit a W4 document that names a specific amount to be withheld over the year rather than use a calculation based on circumstances. My lot have replaced the "inefficient" paper W4 with a web version that - guess what - won't allow me to implement this simple anti-idiocy scheme
  2. It remains to be seen in these cash-strapped times whether we actually ever see the money we loaned the various government bodies interest-free of course, but hope springs eternal
  3. Mine's red. Red ones go faster
  4. Minus six months as I can't afford the money or the time to configure and overcome the teething troubles with the bleeding edge machines the kids are toting to college, which is to say what I bought is already obsolete by three months

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