Conquering Fear: New Computer Means Learning a New OS

Saying goodbye is always hard. One hates giving up the familiar and the comfortable.

Starting something new is just as difficult. As humans, even the bravest of us fears the unknown. And learning can be hard. What if the new thing isn’t as easy or intuitive as the old?

So it was with great sadness and trepidation that I bought a new computer this past weekend. I really wasn’t in the market for one. I had other needs, desires and plans.

But unfortunately, the old one was dying a slow, ignominious death. Like a strong man hobbled by terminal cancer, my old laptop had gone from the best computer I’d ever owned to a major liability to my career.

Periodically, the USB ports and the speakers would stop working. The only way to solve this problem was to do a hard restart while Windows was trying to load, so it would launch and run Startup Repair.

The frequency of this issue was increasing, and sometimes I would have to run Startup Repair more than once to resolve it. I’d been putting off buying a new machine, because it really isn’t a convenient time for the expense, and I’ve heard Windows 8 is a lot harder — less intuitive — to navigate than its predecessors. Motivated by fear, I resisted change.

But last week, as I was preparing to write the final chapter of Ghost of Chance, the machine crashed, and I wasn’t able to repair it. Moreover, it was running really hot, making me think the problem was caused by a malfunctioning fan. Five years old and two years out of warranty, my computer was telling me it was time to move on.

I couldn’t get all the features on the new machine I wanted. I wanted a detachable screen, so I could use it as a tablet, but you can’t get those on machines that also have full-size keyboards. I also needed to make sure I had enough ports to plug in my external mouse and keyboard. I am a writer after all, and I need to sit in a comfortable workstation, so I can type.

The new computer.

The new computer.

But I did get one with a lot of neat features including being able to bend the monitor completely backwards, so I can use it as a (large and a little heavy) tablet. I’d heard Windows 8 doesn’t work well without a touchscreen, so I  made sure to get one of those.

And I’ve found Win8 to be a lot more intuitive than I was led to believe. I spent the afternoon loading data and programs, and it didn’t take me long to learn how to toggle between the new screen with its apps and the traditional desktop environment. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using a smartphone for two years now and am therefore acclimated to the way that technology works, but Windows 8 was not the fearsome monster I was told it was. I’m actually kind of liking it.

So it seems the Summer of 2014 is one of transition for me. Not only have I relocated from Kansas to Ohio, I’m moving on to a new computer and operating system. I’m facing the Brave New World mostly unafraid.

I salute my old machine. It was a really good computer — the best I’d owned prior to this one — and I got five years of use out of it, which is an eternity for a tech device.

I just wish it had been six.

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