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The Wonders of Modern Technology…

I am writing from the library computer. Three weeks ago, the battery died on my MacBook. It was the second battery that computer’s had in as many years. The first one was replaced under warranty, this one cost me $160. They told me that my ‘heavy use’ of the laptop, i.e. hours and hours of it sitting on a desk, was the problem. Huh? Aren’t they supposed to be used? They’re not pretty enough to just be decoration, and far too expensive at that! Three months ago, I had to replace the topcase on this computer. Apparently I type too much, and open and close the case too often.

If you are actually going to use your laptop, I was instructed, you need to have it propped up on a stand to allow air to circulate around it and keep it cool. This prevents the battery from cooking. You also need a separate keyboard and mouse to keep the ones built into the computer from wearing out. So I bought their mouse and keyboard, and a $60 stand to prop up my laptop and keep from cooking battery #3.

Two weeks later, the battery died.

This time it turns out that my charger was at fault. Seems it was self-destructing and about to burst into flame when I noticed the wire melting and unplugged it. Indeed, it probably was the cause of the first two batteries dying too. I guess I plugged my laptop in too much or something. Replacing the charger is another $130.

Did I mention I’m unemployed and without funding? Well, I actually finally found a job, so now I work 10 hours a week for just above minimum wage. They would be happy to give me more hours, but the student union prevents me from working more than 10 hours per week, and my job is on campus so this is monitored. I still, of course, have to pay full tuition, which amounts to $500 a month, or $100 a month more than I am permitted to earn. Not to mention rent, food, gas, clothes, books…

I really don’t understand academia.

Needless to say I have not yet replaced my charger. Lucky for me, I have an old desktop that is still limping along. Or was, I should say. Yesterday it started making all sorts of weird noises. Then the blue screen of death popped up, sporting the message:”Dumping physical memory now…” I don’t think I’ve ever powered off a computer more quickly!

So now I am without a computer, and trying to finish the latest edition of my proposal for Sunday. I have been working at the computers at the library, which is reminding me why I bought my laptop two years ago. Working here is a right royal pain. There are only six computers in the building that have Word and you typically have to stand in line to use them. I could use one of the computers in the heavily over-air-conditioned, windowless bunkers in the basement of the student union building but, surprisingly, I can’t find inspiration there. After finally getting a computer and working for a few minutes, I had to go to the bathroom. That meant packing up all my stuff, leaving, coming back, standing in line for the computer… you get the picture.

Ten minutes later I needed to print something (the printers are in another part of the building, requiring more packing, moving and standing in line). Not long after that, I got hungry (no eating in the library).

Well, I think you get the picture. I really need my laptop up and running again! At least I know what I’ll be spending my first pay-cheque on. I wonder if the Registrar will take my old melted charger in exchange for tuition…

Time to sign off, head home and do my ritual fridge cleaning in anticipation of tomorrow’s produce delivery.  I can’t believe there are only two weeks left with Orchard Hill.  Thank goodness I have the winter CSA to look forward to!  We are getting a tour of that garden on Sunday.  Hopefully I’ll remember to bring my camera.


3 Responses

  1. Helene,

    Was just thinking of getting another battery for my Macbook Pro. I just use the wall outlet and save the battery when it’s needed. Hmm… Oh, the charger fried. Definitely not fun.

    I helped a client of mine use a USB key (and my brother too) as their computing (my brother did it for a year). Works quite well if you’re using Window apps. As long as the library computer terminals have a USB port (perhaps the London one’s do) – the public ones anyway. Take a look at http://portableapps.com/.

    Cheaper alternative or backup than a full blow laptop.

  2. I am glad that, despite it all, you’re still making your blog a priority. I have been looking back occasionally on blog entries from 3 years ago! It is fascinating to be able to click on the same date from 2007, 2006, 2005. I am still hoping they’ll come out with blooks (blog-books).

    Academia is, indeed, bizarre. I am sometimes amazed that so many people want to enter it. As a friend said recently, “Run away. Become an accountant! Make your mothers happy…” Then, I have experiences like today, when I was sitting at home, curled up on the sofa reading Habermas, and a homeless kid came to the door selling dustcloths. Puts it in perspective. However awful it gets, it’s an amazing privilege too.

  3. Hey Helene,

    Glad to hear you are working (though sorry to hear that you get so few hours.) I am not clear on the reference to the student union that you make. Which student union are you referring to? I ask because the TA union is often accused of not letting students work more than 10 hours when it is the management that insisted on that and we lost in bargaining. But I didn’t think you were covered by any student union in your present job. Let me know. Maybe we can clear something up.

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