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Living in the age of tech – or fighting the digital windmills of laptop upgrades

Last week, I undertook one of the few challenges I dread: I migrated from one laptop to the other. Now, all those Apple users out there will probably leap forward to tell me it is easy-peasy with a Mac, but I am not an Apple person. I am an android/Windows person. Mostly, I am happy with my preferences, but when it comes to migrating laptops, not so much. I feel a a bit like Don Quijote charging windmills during the process.

Turns out I spent well over 78 hours sorting out one specific issue: my e-mail. I now have a new email address and have lost approximately 12 000 emails. Yay me.

I am not a digital native. I distinctly recall a time where people used pen and paper and only the true nerds among us had embraced something called Lotus Notes with its early spreadsheet versions. When doing a huge acquisition back in the 80s, I first used Lotus to collate Equity information on the more than 300 subsidiaries included. Boy, was I impressed by what was, essentially, a simple sum. Still, a few months later and I had discovered I could use this new-fangled tool to actually verify that debits and credits matched. Accounting, dear peeps, had become high-tech.

Since then, development has leaped forward. Gone are the days when the head accountant will give you the account statements on paper, carefully annotated by hand. Gone are the long, long pyjama lists (you remember them, don’t you? Striped paper where every other line was faintly orange, every other blue) detailing inventory movements or transactions through the cash & bank accounts. No longer does a portable computer weight like 15 kilos—as the youngest on the accounting team it fell to me to lug about the Olivetti M21.

The “portable” Olivetti M21, all 15 kilos of it…

My latest laptop weights 800 grams, give or take. Comparing it to M21 is like comparing a Porsche with a donkey cart. Back in the 80s, no one had an inbox with +12 000 mails—for the simple reason that most of us didn’t have an email. We rang each other or wrote snail mail—or sent a fax or Telex if it was really, really urgent.

There was no streaming. I know, scary, right? Imagine being obliged to watch what was on the telly or not watch at all! This also meant most people watched the same things, which led to initiated debates at the workplace about such essential TV programs like Dallas and The Onedin Line. (Hands up those who remember the theme music for The Onedin Line)

These days, you start talking TV shows and you realise everyone in the room is watching something different. . .

Back to my recent days wrestling with my laptop—well, with my mail. My stress levels went through the roof, because initially I felt so incompetent. I called support, one of them screwed up totally and deleted all my mail backups. My stress levels went even higher. . .  So I shut down the damned laptop and took a walk, reminding myself to breathe and that, overall, the loss of thousands upon thousands of emails was not really that important.
Did not work all that well, but as I walked, I started analysing what it was that caused my problems. Synchronization, I concluded, hours and hours of synchronisation which totally killed my inbox.
Hmm.
In the back of my head, I recalled something about IMAP servers automatically synchronising local with online mail. Once back home, I started researching POP vs IMAP servers, leading to one of those lovely, lovely “Aha-moments”. I needed a POP connection!
I had a solution, peeps. Not that it gave me back all those deleted mails, but at least my email was now working. I was communicating again. That gnawing bellyache dissipated. Plus, I was darned proud of myself for having sorted the issue myself, thereby restoring some of my savaged self-confidence.

In the overall context of things—especially if we take the very, very long view—my laptop issues are utterly irrelevant. For the cavewoman struggling to feed her two babies while a blizzard raged outside her not-so-cosy home, my recent pains would be laughable. Same thing for all those generations of women between her and me who’ve had far more pressing issues to contend with, generally focussed on plain survival. My own great-grandmother would have found my situation incomprehensible and mildly risible. There I was, struggling with a silly machine, while she’d been left with eight kids to feed and the ninth of the way because her hubby just “couldn’t cope anymore with all these babies you’re popping out”. As if he didn’t have a part in producing said babies…

My great-grandmother did not live in the digital age. I do. And while my battle with a recalcitrant laptop is a walk in the park compared to feeding a bevy of hungry children, thing is I need to have my laptop working to manage my life. I have internet banking, and no laptop, no money.
“Money?” My great-grandmother would likely snort. “I didn’t have any money. None.”
Well, that sort of shut me up. After all, my overall life is so much easier than hers: think washing machines and dishwashers and vacuum cleaners and fridges and electric light and . . . The list of tech advancements is very, very long, and for the most part it has made life so much easier for us, hasn’t it?

Well, except when you’re upgrading from one laptop to another, of course 😊

2 thoughts on “Living in the age of tech – or fighting the digital windmills of laptop upgrades”

  1. I hear you, Anna. I hate Apple products too. My husband got a new Samsung tablet. He could not figure it out. It took me 4 hours to load his info. What a pain!

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