Home Computers: A Cautionary Tale

Friends who have work-issue laptop computers, beware.

You all have home computers. I’m sure of it. Andy and I do too. We bought our current Big Computer in 2009 just before we had Graham. It was great.

In recent years, however, it has transitioned from ‘The Place We Go To Do Everything’ to ‘The Place We Go To Dump the Photos Off Our Memory Cards and/or Handheld Electronic Devices’. Mostly because we can do almost everything else on our tablets and phones and – because the Big Computer has been creeping up in years – the tablets and phones are easily 2-3x faster than this old machine that I’m typing on here.

The work laptop I never really used as a personal computer. At least that’s what I thought. But after having turned in my laptop my last day of work I realized I did regularly use my work laptop for one thing: writing my blog posts. There’s just something about having a physical keyboard and good, old-fashioned multiple-windows-visible-on-one-screen interface to work from.

Hence, when I turned in my work computer, the blog posts came to a screeching halt.

Butbutbut, you say, you have a Big Computer. What about Big Computer?

Yes, good question. I’ll answer that with this:


And this.


Oh, and this.


I sat down to write a post at 8:30 this morning. After much rainbow-wheel spinning and grinding sounds in the hard drive, I decided to get a stopwatch and see how long this endeavor was going to take me. Just to paint a picture so you can see why exactly I haven’t been writing. Because – just so we’re clear – I have sat down to write on Big Computer a handful of times over the last month.

This morning, I was determined to get something posted. When I first wiggled the mouse and got rid of the screen saver, I saw my internet browser was open with multiple tabs open. I decided the fastest way to get out of this was to close out of the browser altogether and start fresh. It took 2 minutes 30 seconds of rainbow-wheel-grindy-noise action for my first window to pop up telling me a page wasn’t responding. I killed it. Then 15 seconds later, I got another pop-up, so I closed out of that too. Finally at 3 min 17 sec after I hit the “x” on my internet browser window, the browser actually closed. Relief. Except… I hadn’t actually accomplished anything, had I?

I waited a whole minute for the grinding to subside (not stop, mind you) before taking a deep breath and opening the Photos app (where I have to go to get the photos off my phone for a post). 40 seconds after clicking the icon to open the application, the application icon was still bouncing indicating that it heard me – but no actual window was open yet. At 1 min 3 sec, a window appears. Ahoy! But… the window came with yet another, slightly different wheel telling me to Please Hold On while my computer tries to rally and, you know, actually DO something.


I stared at this screen until 5 minutes 45 seconds had passed. I decided that maybe restarting the computer was a good idea. I clicked the apple icon in my upper-left hand part of the screen to open the ‘shut down’ menu, but all I got was more grinding and the tortuous (yet oddly memorizing and pretty) Rainbow Wheel. I stared at the Rainbow Wheel for a solid minute, until I finally reached around the back of the computer and held the power button until the screen went black and the grinding was put out of its misery. No more grinding. Peace.

Time check: I’m now 14 minutes and 45 seconds into the process of writing a blog post and am staring at a powered-off computer.

I start the bugger up again and a paltry 5 minutes later (just shy of a total 20 minutes from the outset of this journey) I have succeeded in starting up my computer, downloading the photos off my phone and opening a browser window to start a blog post.

Not bad! Except, yes, BAD. Awful, in fact.

So, back to my original message. If you have a work-issue computer and you have been using that to get by  – all the while neglecting to keep your home computer up to date – you might think about doing a little maintenance on your home compy. Dance with the one that brung ya.

Because it’s almost an hour since I first sat down to post since I went dark over a month ago – and you STILL have no idea how I’m doing or how the family’s holidays were. But we’ll get there. Promise. Just maybe after I’ve stared at my Rainbow Wheel a bit more.



  1. Good word. Hadn’t thought through that angle before.

  2. Ha! That’s funny and so true. We were just talking about our “big computer” and how can we get rid of it altogether? it’s from 2008 (Scary!), But yes, we find we go to it a lot since many sites are still not really tablet friendly. It’s definitely a leisurely process. We actually broke our Apple addiction over Christmas and we’re trying out a Samsung tablet. Not as scary as you’d think!


  1. Going Analog says:

    […] if I walk into my home office, sit down at the Big Computer, and get on my web browser. Reference three posts ago as to why this happens basically […]

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