LAPSTOP! an essay: ‘Why Do Laptops Ditch Us All The Time?’

If I were some great neta, I would call for a Revolution against the tyrannies committed by American capitalists on an entire generation of laptop owners. As did all great revolutionaries and leaders before me, I plan to drive primarily on mass-hysteria, employing such ingenious, rhetoric war-cry as would befit the scale of the offensive:“off the laptop, buy the laptop, whore the laptop.”

Among all technology products, my experience with laptops has been the most ordinary. The huge hp laptop that possessed me until very recently was a proper scandal. I could have rather had bought a dog, for that laptop simply refuses to run now. I press the power-button and the heat-sink fan starts with genuine fanfare: an instant, startling whirr that matures into a loud, low-pitch buzz as a few LEDs momentarily blink around the keys. That’s the only light that emanates out of the device- not a single pixel lights up on the screen, even as the buzz continues in the background. The corner that houses the hard drive lets out a metallic tinker of noises that an engine mechanic would mistake for knocking. Within two years of its buying, starting my laptop became an exercise in futility, taking me through such feelings as hope, anticipation, and irritation, all of which summarily ended in despair. Pounding the laptop with my fist hasn’t helped either, as it did for the old Weston TV we had at home. Indeed, there is little in electronics to shock you, pleasantly or otherwise.

I’ve been gifted a net-book lately. It behaves nice and has so far served well in its humble capacity. I just deleted the effing heavy Norton anti-virus system which did nothing other than doing meaningless daily updates and interfering with my netbook’s speed and functioning. It’s gotten zippier since and the low-key Avast works good on my 10 incher (that’s my netbook’s alias of course)

At the heart of it, laptops are complicated devices. The motherboard, quite like the sincere mom in an ever-falling-apart family, has always got too much to do. So microprocessors have gone from being single core to dual core to Core 2 duo, less than 2GB RAM is deemed incompetent, and a sub-160GB hard drive is next only to floppy drives. And there’s the add-ons: video accelerators, game-dedicated graphic cards, and a host of peripheral inclusions that make your laptop performance-ready. My theory is that all of it housed underneath a slim bonnet is simply too much technology to run on Li batteries which companies funnily, falsely claim would provide several hours of back-up. As the laptop becomes older, batteries truly become the weakest link in this pain-chain.

Thus, while technologies have evolved over the years, laptops themselves couldn’t evolve into products that could meet common expectations. The experience of owning a laptop, unlike that of owning, say, a mobile phone, hasn’t graduated a great deal in the last 4-5 years. It is as if in the case of laptops, the technologies at work simply couldn’t converge. While one must concede that the content itself has gone richer and the bar of expectations is getting set higher and higher, laptops didn’t overwhelm us in a manner that technology typically does. Personally, the whole computing experience hasn’t improved dramatically since the Windows XP days, while the companies themselves have seemingly gone “all-in” : today Intel is at i7, Microsoft at Windows 7, the Symantecs tie-up with manufacturers for 79% discount offers, Mozilla and Chrome force updates faster than your local cookie man’s oven cycle, and “Dell recommends” us whatever Microsoft recommends them. Cynical as it is, all this sounds like a convenient nexus. Suffices to say laptops have failed to stagnate into slick, glitch-free products of scalable utility.

It is as amusing as it is distressing when you also know that the microprocessor industry proudly follows the famous Moore’s law (named after none other than big-daddy Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore) that talks of long-term, exponential-like growth in microprocessor capabilities. If Moore’s law couldn’t rescue us, nothing should. I wonder if the fact that supporting technologies couldn’t grow as fast as the microprocessor technology has got anything to do with this.

Over the years, after having made huge investments in Intel, Microsoft, hp (%$^bc#^), Compaq, I now know the truth about buying laptops: know your usage, know the utility of the device clearly, know that tablets are already here to make you feel cheaper, know your Faith, for you need His grace that the device is operationally existent for a few years. Most importantly, treat your laptop with dignity. If u treat it like any other device around u, it may self-hang itself repeatedly in exasperation. Your laptop needs your care and love, and you got to understand that: keep your device on a flat surface so that the heat-sink doesn’t asphyxiate, put it off charging after it’s gotten charged so that the battery holds well, and such pampering. Hey, that sounds like religion, not science! And if you fail, you’ve had it- thine shalt be all the sorrow of Hell and thy laptop shalt burn in the heat of its own sin(k). If the world of modern technology products were thought of as a George Orwellian society, laptops would be the ‘Delhi Belly’ teens of today that come in two varieties: the apple and the rest….the once-bitten ones and the flimsy, colorful, madly-screwed ones. Invest in care, and prayer!


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