Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Operating at the Edge of My Technological Tether

Last December I bought a new laptop. I have a good friend who works at Apple and was able to parlay their employee discount into a 15% savings on a MacBook Pro Retina, Apple's spiffy new offering with splendid visuals (great for aging eyes).

I've had this new toy tool for three months now, but unfortunately it's still in the box, waiting patiently for me to get all the data transferred from my current MacBook (just three years old but now out of warranty).

As I’m outbound today for a six-week West Coast swing, this embarrassingly long stretch of hot new technology gathering dust on Ma'ikwe's bedroom floor won’t end sooner than late April. I'm shaking my head (and so has my community, Sandhill Farm, who has been waiting patiently for my old laptop to replace an aging desktop in our community office—it's the domino effect of new technology).

There are three problems that I’m trying to manage:

1. I’m so busy using my laptop that it’s not a trivial matter manifesting the hours of down time needed to anesthetize my computer long enough to safely effect the mind meld.

2. I’ve acquired new—at least to me—laptops a number of times. (I believe this is my fifth since the hand-me-down Outback I got from Geoph Kozeny in the mid-90s that first gave me access to the information superhighway from a machine that was dedicated to my sole use.) This transfer, however, has been the most complicated I’ve ever faced. Witness:

For the first time, my new machine came with less memory than the one I was leaving behind. That means I can’t blithely dump everything from the old computer into the new one on the chance I’ll want it later. This time I have to do some judicious sorting and dumping so that I can wriggle into my svelte new memory chip. Fortunately, I have a lot of stuff rattling around in my files that I no longer need and going on a memory diet is not in and of itself that daunting.

o  More problematic is that three of the programs I use most won’t work in my new machine: Word, Excel, and Eudora. On the good side Word and Excel are fully supported programs available in updated versions that are compatible with my new operating system (mountain Lion), so there’s a clear pathway to translate my old files, even if it necessitates some extra hocus pocus. On the less good side, it’s the end of the line for Eudora, my trusty email program and the only one I've ever used since I first started noodling around with computers more than 20 years ago.

While it’s not that hard to select a replacement program that will allow me to bring all my old messages forward, the coding and labeling are likely to be messed up and l have to make some hard decisions about what kind of accuracy (such as knowing whether a message has been read or responded to) I’m willing to sacrifice on the altar of trading up. Yuck. Change can be highly irritating.

o  Though there aren’t many people in my immediate circle of northeast Missouri friends capable of piloting me safely through the shoals of data transfer, I was fortunate enough to have secured the support of Rachel Katz, one of my long-time neighbors at Dancing Rabbit, to serve in the role of lead doctor for the transplant surgery. While she and I got right on it in December (as soon as my new laptop arrived in the mail), we weren’t able to complete the work before Christmas and it’s been the very devil finding time when we’re both in the same zip code since. (Am I subconsciously dragging my feet just to eke out a few more weeks with my beloved Eudora?)

3. This need for a careful transfer has exposed a major weakness in my life. While I depend heavily on what my laptop can do, I really don't know that much about how to manage its care and feeding. While that's partly why I purchase an extended Apple Care Warranty with each new machine, it's humbling how little of the transfer I can manage without Rachel holding my hand (or at least my keyboard).

Eventually this will be resolved. All the transfers will be completed, I'll learn the new software, and life will go on. Maybe by May. So far—knock on hard plastic (which is far more available than wood in my upper level seat on the westbound California Zephyr)—my old laptop is still functioning well, so this cautionary tale of a retrograde upgrade is more amusing than devastating. Hopefully I'll be able to keep all my electrons playing well with one another for six more weeks and it will stay that way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is nothing that exists in the world today that is a viable replacement for Eudora.

Thus, some of us stick with our older operating systems, while others run emulators within their machines JUST so they can keep Eudora running.