Toying with Technology

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

September 1, 2011

Camera Exlporations

I’ve itched to upgrade this laptop for some time. I like to experiment with technology, but I am limited in what I can do with our low-powered desktop. Instead, I like to play with the low-powered laptop.

First, it could be noted that my husband and I are cheap when it comes to technology. We don’t buy new: cellphones, computers, or tvs. We buy them used or get them for free because a kindly relative is upgrading and they feel sorry for our ill-begotten technology.

It’s a conundrum to be sure since I love it. I like to learn it, play with it, and toy with it. But, I don’t like to spend money on it. We received our first laptop, or rather, I experimented with my first laptop when I met my husband before he became my husband. At the time I was without mobile, without digital camera, and only possessed one desktop computer which I let be the “house computer”. When he came into my world, I mistakenly assumed he loved technology since he had a fancy (at the time) phone, snazzy digital camera, and a laptop!

I have since learned my husband loathes technology (those darn engineers are always screwing things up), and he got many of these items from his dad. Sure, he enjoys their functionality, but he really despises when they break. He can fix cars, but computers are getting harder and harder. I’m the software guru of this family.

Well that laptop died, and in one of our Michigan trips, his father allowed him to switch out the dead laptop for one of many IBM ThinkPad‘s he acquired when the local community college upgraded. My husband also despises tiny laptop screens, so the ThinkPad became mine.

When we made the switch to Ubuntu, I became even more excited about the flexibility I have with playing with software. I don’t have to worry about licenses since most of the open source software I use is free. I could word process, formulate, draw, and listen to music better than Microsoft ever allowed. And, I had the opportunity to change when the distribution changed… EVERY six months!

I enjoyed perusing tv shows with the laptop on my lap while I checked out Facebook, my email, and updated my blog. Then, a year ago, something happened. Suddenly, the wireless stopped working. We found a cheap Ethernet cord, so that worked to keep connected to the DSL. But, then, the battery got even slower. It was already slow, but it got even s l o w e r.

Suddenly, reformatting didn’t work. I thought I had made an Ethernet connection, but tonight I’m not so sure. The poor thing has even gotten picky about where it will work. It will, for example, connect to the wireless at work, but won’t recognize anything at home — and it’s even a new modem!

Tonight, I upgraded to the newest available, stable, Ubuntu distribution, 11.04. The laptop is too old to use Unity, but Chromium works. My system isn’t bogged down, and I am blogging. Yes! I can toy with technology.

That doesn’t mean I’m not craving a new $400 Acer laptop. Because I am.

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