Alice-Azania Jarvis: Computing on the cheap - get a loan of a laptop

In The Red
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The Independent Online

That could have been worse. Having braced myself for the horrific prospect of spending a minimum of £400 on a laptop, the eventual result came as something of a surprise. I have spent nothing. As it turned out, a relative still had their old laptop, discarded a few years ago but still perfectly serviceable.

Quite why it was discarded in the first place remains a mystery to me. As someone who values their computer on its ability to, um, switch on – as opposed to, say, perform the latest piece of technical wizardry – I have never understood the rate at which more technically inclined among us race through their gadgets.

Admittedly, there are a few disadvantages to this method. Firstly, the computer is not mine. It is on long-loan, as it were, until I find a suitable replacement. This is likely to translate into long, long time since, no matter how much I manage to save, I find it almost impossible to reconcile myself to spending a vast amount on a single item. Even if that item were to be as dreamy as an Apple MacBook (unlikely, since they appear to cost upwards of £800 – that's more that I've spent on anything in one go, not to mention more than I've managed to keep in my bank account at any one time) I would struggle to do it.

Secondly, it appears intent on reminding me of its (probably) transient status. Using a range of subtle indicators, it repeatedly rubs it in. "Hello Doug!" It chirps when I switch it on, like some perverse stepchild refusing to recognise its new guardian. "My name's not Doug," I hiss back, irritably, not that it ever learns. In my computer's eyes, I will never be a woman called Alice, but instead a man named Doug.

On the other hand, there are a host of advantages which, given their material nature, do, I like to think, rather outweigh their counterparts. For starters, I'm paying nothing. Well, apart from my usual internet bill, which is not very much in the first place. Secondly, I have a disk drive, something I was seriously considering going without in the name of economy. And thirdly, well, this laptop actually works: I can watch YouTube videos without waiting 45 minutes for them to load!

I have no idea how long this arrangement will last. It may only be a case of tiding myself over. Or – here's hoping – it may prove a long-lived and fulfilling match. In the meantime, I'm laughing all the way to the desktop. Or something.

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