On the Hazards of Virtuality (Part 3)


So, as usually happens whenever I get a bad computer-related scare, I start shopping for new laptops.

This is the nth time I’ve run this exercise. The first time was about two years ago when age had begun to make my laptop’s already considerable bloatware frankly unmanageable. However, several online searches made me cancel the acquisition as I simply couldn’t find anything that beat my current machine. (Its bloat was strictly confined to performance—appearance-wise, I still think my Sony Vaio TX or VGN-TX46GP/W is one of the sexiest things ever created, on a par with the now defunct Motorola RAZR clamshell mobile phone).

Then I started another search about a year ago when a strange two-toned vertical line suddenly started to bisect my laptop screen. (Before its advent, I was already suffering from having the same screen populated by strange black scratch-like patches). The patches were annoying but ultimately harmless as they confined themselves to the periphery where they obscured little that was important. The line, however, was thick enough to block letters—an actual inconvenience when one’s line of work makes impeccable spelling absolutely essential. 

Even then I refrained because there still wasn’t anything that could beat my ultraportable in terms of lightness and features. (To readers unfamiliar with the ultraportable range, an ultraportable is a full-featured laptop that weighs barely more than a kilogram. To my mind, it’s the ultimate marriage between style and substance. And, like most truly worthy institutions, it didn’t last: its presence in the market was quickly eclipsed by the arrival of the much cheaper but also vastly less equipped netbook.)

Loyalties notwithstanding, I have to seriously start looking for another laptop as my TX turns five this December (making it a Methuselah in the digital equipment world). I’ve asked time and again if old stock of the model remains available as I would gladly buy the exact same item, but traces of it have long disappeared.

All of which goes to prove that relentless innovation isn’t always a progressive thing. They really don’t make things the way they used to—and I wonder when we’ll start noticing what a loss that is.

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