Monday, March 23, 2015

Come on, fair’s fair – if Jerry Seinfeld can own 46 Porsches, why am I a nutter for owning six Mac laptops? Well, I’m not, of course, I’m ‘a collector’. So there!

Let me first of all tell you how many laptops I have, most used by me, two used by my children, and one provided by the paper I work for (and which I have long forgotten about as have they): ten. Sounds mad, doesn’t it? And it is mad. And however much I rationalise the situation, however much a protest that ‘if you understand why each was acquired, it would not seem half as mad’, I must admit that any sane person might think me stark, staring bonkers. Which is not comfortable to know – but a few days ago, when considering how I might write this blog entry but saving at least a modicum of credibility, I hit upon it. And my solution is so breathtakingly neat and simple, there’s real beauty to it. It is this: I am not some idiot who cannot stop buying laptops he doesn’t need, many of which he hardly uses and one of which he hasn’t used at all except to set it up - I am a collector. That’s it. Some people collect Chinese vases, some people collect Elvis memorabilia (and will spend a fortune on the most insignificant piece of Elvis crap), some people collect vintage cars (Jerry Seinfeld apparently owns 46 Porsche cars, which are stored in an rented hangar at Santo Monica airport), I collect Apple Mac laptop, and am thus, m’lud. fully acquitted of any charge of being a total nutter.

. . .

But if only it were, of course, that simple. In fact, I know myself quite well and have always had a tendency for getting at least one more of an item. The theory was that I ‘have a spare’ in case the first one, unaccountably, went up the Swannee.

In practice, of course, I simply have some kind of – admittedly harmless – quirk of character which delights in multiplicity. I have previously written about my collection of mobiles phones, since reduced to just four but which at its height was a collection of, it seemed, almost 20, and I have three personal internet radios (although I can no longer use them to listen to BBC Radio 4 as bloody Aunty, in her wisdom, no longer broadcast in the WMA format used by whatever service the radio is tuned to – too expensive, it seems, although bloody Aunty seems to have more than enough money washing around to pay various execs fabulous sums for both an annual salary and expenses). I deployed the excuse that it was a good idea to ‘have a spare’ several times when buying a new – new to me, that is, all but two of the laptops were bought secondhand on eBay – but now that I have found sanctuary in the role of a being ‘a collector of laptops’, I need no longer resort to that rather threadbare excuse. In fact, at least three of the laptops I now own were bought when another seemed on the brink of dying.

One day my 13in 2008 Macbook, one I keep in the kitchen at home and on which I get all my emails, simply refused to boot up. To this day I don’t know why, but to all intents and purposes it had breathed its last. So it was straight onto eBay where I bought a replacement. And what with the simplicity of swapping hard drives in the particular model – a child can do it in under ten minutes – getting one which was more or less the same seemed the obvious thing to do. So I did, and bugger me the supposedly dead Macbook sprang back to life within hours (and never again gave me a moment’s worry until I sold it recently on eBay.)

That second replacement Macbook then took up residence at my stepmother’s house just down the lane where I could use it whenever daily I dropped in to see her and where it was safely away from my wife, who has a nasty complaining streak I don’t appreciate and get on well with. At my stepmother’s house at the time was another laptop, a 15in Macbook Pro. This, too, had been bought when the more or less identical model I kept at home in our bedroom to use in bed also seemed to have developed a fatal fault. And this to suddenly became ‘the spare’ when the laptop it was to replace inexplicably didn’t go tits up.

Actually, most recently it has: the screen went black and although it booted up no bother, it was pretty useless without a working screen. I had twice had it repaired by a very good Apple service near Guildford – it was a design fault with that model, but the Apple repair guy had invested in a machine which put in place a ‘new chip’. He has explained it to me, but I am none the wiser, and any when the screen went blank again and I took it off to his workshop, this time it wasn’t the same fault and he couldn’t identify the new fault. That was when its ‘replacement’, bought several years earlier, came into its own. The knackered Macbook Pro was packed up and sold as ‘for spares and repairs’ on eBay – bought for £93 by someone in Spain of all places – and its replacement was moved into the house to sit where the old one was. They have ever-so-slight design changes but to the untutored eye – and in matters computer my wife’s eye is as untutored as they come – you really couldn’t tell the difference.

As the late Sir James Goldsmith observed ‘When you marry your mistress, you create a vacancy’, the transfer of the replacement from my stepmum’s to mine created a vacancy, and one, dear reader, which I duly filled: where the replacement once sat, there now sits another, more modern 15in Macbook Pro. Something similar happened with my Lenovo x121e: it is the laptop, a very neat little laptop I should add, which I carry around with me and take to the pub in South Petherton in Somerset, where I can outside with my pint of cider, light a Wilde Cigarros and watch the Wednesday Champions League football on Sky Go.

One day, I switched it on and the screen was somehow obviously knackered. That first time I immediately rebooted and the screen was then fine, but the problem cropped up again every so often. So I decided to get a replacement and found – this was a stroke of luck – a more or less new Lenovo x131e on eBay which I got for a very good price indeed. Ah, but there was the rub: it was brand-new and – well, do you know that feeling where something is so nice and pristine you don’t want to use it and spoil it? That’s what I felt. So once I had set it up, I put it back in its box and instead, after consulting YouTube as to how simple the job would be, ordered a replacement screen for the x121e which I fully intended to install the next time the fault manifested itself and then sell the machine on eBay. And, of course, it didn’t manifest itself ever again. The x121e, which is obviously fully acquainted with Sod’s Law, has worked flawlessly ever since I bought its replacement.

At this point I should like to remind the reader that I am not, as might seem, a total wastrel of a nutter who wastes good cash on laptops he hardly uses if ever, but a ‘collector of laptops’ who has every right to own a collection of laptops he hardly every uses. I am keen to remind the reader because a week or two ago I gave into that itch which befalls me from time to time and bought a rather neat – and in perfect condition – 11.6in Macbook Air. I had first considered buying one to replace the x121e, but eventually opted for the x131e. But – well, I liked them. They really are neat. So I bought one and added it to my collection. And there you have it, an honest account of my rather large collection of laptops – and note the word ‘collection’ is here highly appropriate as it saves me from all and every charge of being off my head.

By the way, my other laptops are an 11in Acer I had bought to replace and 11in Acer I had bought in France because I didn’t realise – as I bloody should have done – that the keyboard was the French layout, but which I passed onto my son to make way for the x121e because I really didn’t like typing on its keyboard; and a 15in Medion I bought in Asda for my daughter after the Samsung she had been using went up the Swannee for use at college. Then there’s the works Lenovo T440 I never use. Oh, and the first white Macbook I had in my collection made £90.50 on eBay. It had to go, because I had set my heart on getting a more recent 13in Macbook Pro, ‘hewn from one block of aluminium’ model (yeah, right) and its replacement was brought into the house to take its place.

If at some point in the future you are feeling really bored, remind me to tell you all about the many other laptop in my collection I have had in addition to those listed abover: off the top of my head two Mac Powerbooks, two Mac 1400s, three 13in Mac G4s and for my daughter’s use two (I think it was just two) Dells.
But, please note, they were all part of my ‘collection’ of laptops: anyone here laughing at Jerry Seinfeld owning 46 Posches he doesn’t use or need. Not, I thought not. Let’s keep this square and even, shall we?

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