The Computers of Scalziland
Since the disappearance (and eventual reappearance) of the MacBook Air, and the emergency purchase of the most recent Acer netbook, there has been some curiosity in among Whateverians about the current state of electronics at the Scalzi Compound. While I choose not to go into complete detail on the grounds that I would hate to give thieves a shopping list, I will note that as far as laptops go we have six functional ones at the moment, one for each human and each of the cats (the dog prefers not to go online). In chronological order, they are:
1. A 15-inch Toshiba (the one in the back on this picture), which I bought in 2007 when I was on my “Last Colony” book tour to replace the 12-inch tablet computer I had at the time, which died when I was in Ann Arbor. This computer wheezes and clicks and we bought a replacement for it because we were sure it was going to die, but like a silicon version of that old guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it is Not Dead Yet. This is my wife’s primary computer.
2. A 17-inch Asus (not pictured) which I inherited as President of SFWA; the previous president bought it for business purposes and then shipped it to me when I ascended. It’s a desktop replacement, and as I had a desktop, I sent it into my daughter’s room (after removing anything confidential to SFWA, of course). Its keyboard is partially broken (the computer works fine when you plug in an outboard keyboard), so at the end of my tenure rather than passing it on I’ll probably purchase it from SFWA at current value; giving my replacement an only-partially operating piece of equipment is laden with too much metaphor, I would say.
3. A 12-inch CR-48, the prototype Chromebook I was sent by Google two Decembers ago (it’s to the left in the picture), which I wrote about half of Redshirts on. I’ve written about this one a bit; I liked the form factor of it but the trackpad was (and still is) awful, and at the time I was trying to use it, it had bugs integrating with Google Docs, which is what I needed it for. I still use it from time to time for Web browsing.
4. The MacBook Air (facing you in the picture). Lovely computer, for which I would note I paid more for than all the other computers on this list (a fact mitigated by inheriting one computer and being sent another by Google). From a practical point of view I’m not at all convinced that the premium I paid for the thing is justified; on the other hand when I use a non-Apple laptop I want to scream at its trackpad. I’ll be curious to see if Windows 8 mitigates the UI advantage Apple has to any serious effect. This is my primary computer at the moment.
5. A 15-inch (widescreen) Hewlett Packard (to the right of the picture). This is the replacement for the Toshiba, which hasn’t died yet, although probably will at some point in the reasonably near future, so we’re prepared, as it were. The HP is at the moment the “family computer” in that it sits at a built-in desk in the living room area, which makes it easily accessible when we’re all downstairs. You’ll often find Athena here, checking in on Facebook, or Krissy looking up something. I used it yesterday to make a video for a thing I’m doing after iMovie on my Mac made it clear to me that it didn’t want to be used.
6. An 11.6-inch Acer: Bought a week ago and the emergency replacement for the Mac, since I needed an actual computer while I was traveling. Right now it lives in my office and stays on the desk; the Mac tends to wander around the house with me.
I’m the first to admit that six laptops in one house is ridiculous, but I like to think the number is mitigated by the following facts: a) I was gifted one by Google, b) inherited another, c) bought a third to replace a computer that’s in the process of dying, d) bought a fourth to replace on I had every reason to suspect was lost forever. Nevertheless: SuperNerd, Thou Art I.
From a practical point of view I will say it’s easier now to have a bunch of laptops in the house than it used to be, because almost everything I write/do on a computer these days is stored online in some way. I do a lot of writing on Google Docs at the moment, store documents in Google Drive and/or Dropbox, and otherwise store material redundantly. When I lost the MacBook Air, I didn’t lose any work, because I could access it by signing in with another computer. It’s nice basically to pick up what you’re doing no matter where you are or what computer you’re using, and I definitely use that to my advantage these days. I don’t even have to save things to a USB drive anymore. Mind you, if Google goes down, I’m doomed, but then, if Google goes down, we may all be doomed.
(Before anyone makes the objection: I still DO save things locally, because, you know what? Google might go down one day. Also, there’s some stuff I don’t want to put online. Like my collection of badger porn! Wait, forget I wrote that last sentence. Anyway: Redundant data storage is your friend.)
So there you have it: A Scalzi computer census.