Friday May 20, 2005
Graham was poised to answer the doorbell this morning when the Amtrak guy came to deliver three large cardboard boxes containing all the bits needed to build a new computer. Graham’s been using my poor old Gateway Celeron 400 machine for far too long past the end of its sensible life, saving the cash needed to buy a replacement.
I’d suggested ages ago that we take the money out of savings to pay for a replacement but he’d have none of it and has soldiered on struggling with the tired beast, fixing this, fixing that, waiting for his computer fund to build up to a level sufficient for a decent replacement. That target was reached last week and for days now he’s been updating his research, working towards a powerful beast in a small cabinet, aiming to produce a computer that’s whisper quiet while being as future-proof as human ingenuity can make it. And, yesterday, he ordered the parts from Overclockers. This morning the old computer jittered its way through an email download and then locked solid, requiring a hard restart and an in-depth fiddle to get it going again. Further evidence, if evidence were needed, that the Gateway computer was not long for this world.
“I needn’t ask what you’re going to be doing today, then,” I said, contemplating the boxes.
“Nope. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Certainly not. Just shout when you want tea or coffee.”
And that was about the last sensible exchange I got out of him all day. The three cardboard boxes exploded components all over the kitchen worksurfaces and into the dining room, where the table was turned over to an assembly bench. And, slowly but surely, parts were unpacked, fixed into place, and the empty cartons packed back into two of the boxes, leaving one free for the purposes of eBay.
“It’s hard to believe all them bits are going to go into that one small case,” I remarked somewhere near the beginning of the process.
“Yes. Coffee, please.”
So I made coffee, and served it, and then took myself off to my own computer, clutching a new copy of Norton Internet Security 2005 which we’d ordered alongside all of Graham’s stuff. The annual subscription on the three-year-old copy I’ve been running was only slightly less in price than the cost of a full replacement. So I deleted the old one and installed the new. It was a pain-free install, though I should warn anyone with a slow dial-up connection like mine that the initial online update takes over an hour and a half. It got done, though, fired up without problems, and pronounced my system squeaky clean and secure when it’d done a full scan for ‘threats’. I’m sure the old package didn’t use the word ‘threat’ but there you go. It’s a fashionable word, and an all-pervasive philosophy these days.
I stretched, got up, squeaked my knees into action and asked: “Time for lunch?”
“Please. And tea.”
So he munched his lovingly prepared sandwiches and sipped his hot, steaming tea while continuing with the other hand to study manuals and fiddle with the new computer.
It went on like that all day but by the time we’d had our dinner, he’d shifted the old computer off his desk, put the new one in its place, and left it cheerfully loading Windows XP, darting back periodically to monitor progress and answer installation questions. I’d more or less finished for the day, and was watching something or other on TV. So was Graham, though I doubt he knew what he was watching any more than he’d noticed what was in his sandwiches or on his dinner plate.
I was happy. He was happy. Even Dolly was happy. The new computer was very happy by the end of it all, clean, quiet and neat, loaded with a new copy of Windows, and panting to get on with the next stage.
“You won’t do anything more tonight, will you?” I urged.
“No. I’m tired. Time for Horlicks and bed, I think.”
A little while later, as I closed my journal for the day, I happened to check the calendar.
“Oh dear,” I said.
“What’s the matter?”
“We seem to have overlooked the date.”
“Why, what was it?”
“Gosh. That came round fast. How many years is it now?”
“Twenty-eight, I think.” Pause while tired old poet counts on fingers. “Yes, I’m sure it’s twenty-eight.”
“Doesn’t time pass quickly when you’re having fun?”
“It sure does.”