Of course, what I really need is a new computer.

If I had a dollar for every time I thought that, I could probably buy a new computer. Maybe two of them. And it's not that I'm unhappy with the performance of my current machine, or that I need a whole lot of hardware upgrades to do the things I want to do, or even that it's two years old and therefore a couple of generations behind the leading edge.

It's just that — well, I need it.

I used to think this was a Guy Thing, although I found out quickly enough that it affects women as well. Now I'm persuaded that it's just the most highly developed form of buyer's remorse: the moment we get the box opened, we know it's obsolete, that a better one will be on sale within hours, that if only we'd waited, we could have that ultimate Dream Machine.

Which, of course, we can't, because once we write the check, the dream slips out of our grasp and goes looking for the newest and shiniest. And I don't think there's any way out of this vicious circle without signing up with the Followers of Ned Ludd, and, well, they don't have an online support group or anything, do they?

And I think back to the old Commodore 64 days, with a blistering 1.02 MHz processor, and the time I tried to have it render a 256-color GIF in full 320 x 200 screen resolution. Given the little beige doorstop's limitations — meager available RAM and hardware support for only 16 colors are only the most obvious — it took literally all night. Nowadays this task is trivial.

So I'll soldier on with this old box for a while longer, and every time it takes a whole three seconds to perform a task that took five seconds on its predecessor, I'll wonder: Do I need a new computer?

Of course I do.

The Vent

24 June 2003

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 Copyright © 2003 by Charles G. Hill