I am writing this on a modern and streamlined Windows Surface Pro. The keyboard snaps on with such a satisfying click that the ad for this product includes happy users snapping the keyboard on as background percussion. It can format a full length novel with page numbers, chapter headings, and footnotes, and when I am done it can run a speedy game of “Fruit Ninja” if I want to.
I don’t want to.
What I want to do is install my brand new satellite phone so my husband and I can contact the internet when we are at sea on our yacht next week. While I will most likely update Facebook and write a few blogs, this connection is more important than that.
With the internet, we can get wind speed predictions, the height of ocean swells, and should we need it, hurricane warnings. A satellite connection could be the difference between a gentle sail across the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, or a nightmare voyage tossed about by gale force winds, lost somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Pacific Ocean.
And my new computer won’t help. Apparently the modern satellite phone, purchased just weeks ago, will not work with Windows 8.
So now the brand new portable combination pad/computer that was going to do everything, might be relegated to a video player to help us pass the time. Maybe a bit of reading on the kindle app, or writing on the snazzy keyboard with the satisfying click.
Luckily we have a six year old computer that can take up the slack.
It weighs at least four times as much as my new machine and is slow and clunky, but it has lots more connections around its bulky edge. Seventeen to be exact. There are pin connectors, and slide out slots, and four USB ports. I don’t even know what most of them are for.
The new one boasts just one USB port.
The old one plays CD’s and DVD’s all by itself, and has a built in card reader that used to be so useful for copying photos to the hard drive. It also has a connection that will connect to the GPS on our boat.
Too bad it won’t run our navigation program. That needs the same part of my new computer that plays Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds.
So, we will have two computer systems running on our boat. One for navigation and one for internet connection out at sea. One for making sure we don’t get lost, and one to make sure we know what our chances are of getting sucked into a whirlwind, or being swamped by a tsunami.
Last week, I went to get a car charger for my new computer, and the fresh faced young tech expert in the store scoffed at my request. “We don’t carry accessories for that model anymore” he said. It seems our ‘new’ computer is out of date even though we bought it about eight months ago.
I wonder what he would make of our old computer. Dark ages perhaps? I bet he would never guess that it is the one that will connect us to satellite across the world. Sometimes old really is better.
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