Opinion: When a laptop eats your work, it's time for Dark Age oaths

Here is a picture. A man is sitting in a room, surrounded by other people, all of them stabbing at small pieces of plastic, while televisions blare and smoke hangs in the air. (The press room at any political party conference, deadline approaching .) Suddenly the man changes colour.

A line of crimson washes up over his shirt collar, lunges across his face and disappears into his hairline. The man leaps up, back arched. He starts to dance around the room. Foul words pour from his mouth, profane plosivesthought up in some Anglian bog during one of the less pleasant bits of the Dark Ages and rarely heard since. The man's colleagues stab on, for they have become used to this behaviour.

The man, O Reader, is myself, and I have been using a Dell Latitude notebook computer, lent to me by the Network Page. This, I have been assured, is an object of desire, the hottest little laptop in the West, the sort of kit that will get its owner admiring stares. If I saunter round the political conferences carrying this, I will be an object of attention. Well, they were right about that, at least.

Apparently the point of the Dell is that it has a battery that lasts for eight hours, so you can do things such as use it on the train. On the way to Blackpool, I couldn't. The in-built mouse jerked and leapt across the screen to the rhythm of the British Rail rumba; the keyboard design, with a fat slice of plastic between you and the keys, makes typing harder than on simpler, cheaper machines; and my eyes ached.

None of that, however, matters so much. What caused the real spasms of anger was that my machine suddenly closed itself down without warning. When I restarted it, the copy had gone. If one has just spent three hours honing and polishing a thousand words,this can seem a less-than-endearing trait. If there are only minutes left to deadline, then a fellow, however naturally amiable, might feel a trifle narky. If it happens three or four times, then only the thought of how much the thing costs prevents a chap from flinging it through the nearest plate-glass window.

A final irritating problem was the unreliability of the communications system, which seemed to connect to the office less often than the allegedly plain and unglamorous Tandy laptops that I had used in the past. Again, if one is short of time, and requires a measure of predictability, this failed my road test.

No doubt this machine can do lots of brilliant things I do not know about. No doubt it can play games involving mentally deficient barbarians, nuclear-tipped dragons and hooligan hedgehogs, while reconstructing the tax exposure of Mitsubishi Electric on a spreadsheet across which pink and avocado-coloured toasters are flying to the strains of Handel's Samson. But all I wanted to do was write sentences and send them through a telephone line, and I wasn't impressed.

Next time, I'll indent for a Biro, a notepad and a pocketful of 50p pieces.

Andrew Marr is Chief Political Commentator of the `Independent'.

Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

    The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

    They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
    A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

    Dropout generation failed by colleges

    £800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
    Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
    Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

    Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

    Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
    Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

    Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch