My Computer Desert, And The $5.80 That Opened New Doors For Me…

How was your weekend? We ended up with comics and crosswords in the Sunday paper, so good for that.

And I know you haven’t heard from me in a long time–about two weeks. Okay, two weeks isn’t that long when we think of the expanse of the universe as a whole, but you get my drift, right?

A couple weeks ago, I’d gotten everything in for my last edit (and put in an acceptance for another one, but I’m swerving from the subject).

I planned to drop my computer off to get checked out the following Monday. One of the browsers on there was reading security certificates for some websites as if they were no good, when they were fine.

I was also having problems with being redirected to strange websites that didn’t match the links I clicked on (but only when I looked at a particular website for freelancers). The tech guy had said they would need to look at it for about two days, probably more, which was fine, because I had time off for another reason.

But that meant that I’d be without a solid desktop (my Gateway is basically a large typewriter–not too good for web browsing, and not as solid for email checking, either, especially over dial-up). And I could forget about browsing for freelance work or checking Facebook. I enjoyed being unplugged, I gotta say.

But, the night before I dropped off my computer for a checkup, I looked at laptops on Amazon just out of curiosity. More on that in a minute.

The computer repair went well, considering it had to be in the shop for 8 days. Complaint? No. They’re a local place, and they’ve always treated me with respect and given me their best effort (which you’ll see in a moment, including a few cherry-on-top-of-the-sundae moments).

And in the past, I’ve had experiences that have proven to me some of my technical problems are customer service nightmares. Not the kind of thing you can solve on page 153 of the manual, or in a barely-scratches-the-surface FAQ section. The techs did an awesome job, told me to stay away from the website that was redirecting me, and also cleaned up some junk files and minor adware problems that were on the machine too.

They weren’t able to solve the certificate problem (even though they wiped out the offending browser and installed it from scratch). They told me that because my machine was running Windows XP (officially phased out April 2014, I think), that what they could do to help was limited.

Since they were only able to solve part of the problem, they offered to give me a discount on the whole thing AND let me keep the new RAM they installed that TRIPLED my computer’s processing speed! Awesome. And yes, my computer was running 512 MB of RAM before, for you savvier computer guys and gals out there. Most computers have 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM now or more (which is 8 times the 512 that my computer had).

The tech at the shop said they upgraded it so that they could work faster, and then ended up just leaving it in. And vacuuming the case out for me, and telling me how to make it sure it didn’t get as dusty.

So, after a connection problem that prompted me to reinstall our ISP’s software (a separate but simple-to-fix snafu I still don’t know the reason for), the Windows XP computer is back home now, and working great (as long as I stay away from the offending browser for certain applications).

On to that $5.80 and the point of this post.

One of the laptops I looked at before I took my computer into the shop had such an impact on me, that I bought it (using the teeny screen on my phone for part of the transaction).

I’d forgotten Amazon was collecting sales taxes (they have a warehouse in my state now). That meant about $13.61 that I wasn’t expecting, bringing the grand total of the laptop to…


Not bad, not bad at all. The rest was covered by my Amazon gift card balance (now at $0, at least for now).

I can do browsing, email checking, and what-have-ya from a screen larger than a smartphone, when I have access to wifi when I’m out and about. Which is awesome.

My new computer has a processor about four times faster than the desktop I had repaired, with 8 times the RAM I had before the shop upgraded my desktop for me.

There’s just one hitch, if you can call it that.

Windows 8.

Why? Just because it’s not what I’m used to? No, I’m getting used to the new system. It’s actually Office. I’m sure that the version of Office my desktop has (the 2003 version) isn’t compatible with my laptop that runs Windows 8.

Which means that I have to get a free trial of Office 365 and/or buy access at about $99 per year, for life. Which also means, now that my desktop running the (free) software I use for editing and writing is back, I may not need to get Office 365 at all.

It’s just wanting to write some fiction in proper manuscript format when I’m on wi-fi somewhere or thinking I want to look at a doc I already wrote, and realizing I can’t, as of now, is a bit of a downer. My laptop has some preinstalled doohickey that builds RTF documents (like Word, only smaller—that’s how I think of it anyway), but it’s just not the same.

I was going to check out OpenOffice, because I do a lot of editing as part of my client work. My boss’ experience with that is that he had a novel that had gotten corrupted while he was editing it inside OpenOffice, so he opted for Office 365 instead.

I’ll get it figured out, just like I did after I got the nudge on how to use an FTP server (and it’s NOT complicated at all to do that, just unfamiliar, or at least it was).

My point here for fiction writers and copywriters, is to do what works for you. There are copywriters out there who write out classic sales letters with pen and paper (something I did once), and there are fiction writers who do longhand writing too. Old doesn’t mean obsolete.

But new can be faster, easier, and much more convenient for accomplishing the same task. And pen and paper don’t need an AC outlet and power cord to get the job done. And a spiral notebook doesn’t need to be recharged, but you do need to flip pages every so often.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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