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An expedition into the future

Oliver Fortune dips his toe into computers

Yesterday I ventured out to a PC World superstore in order to buy a new free-standing keyboard for use with my laptop.

I’ve always found the ‘sit up and beg’ aspect of built-in laptop keyboards less than user-friendly for my personal ‘two-fingered’ style, unchanged since I first learned to type more than fifty years ago.

About ten years ago, to deal with the issue, I took to plugging a bog-standard keyboard into my laptop and typing on that. Recently, the paint on so many keys having been worn away through over-use that even my ‘sense’ of the location of particular keys had begun to go AWOL, it became clear that a new one would be a step forward.

As a result, dear readers, courtesy of a brand-new £30 Logitech example, this morning I am typing like Usain Bolt.

Modern technology being what it is, the march of progress means – for example – that whereas, five years ago, a computer ranking 5 out of 10 for all-round power and excellence might have cost you £750, today you can buy something that ranks 7 or 8 out of 10 for less than £350.

By the same token, a fashion has grown for the average life expectancy of a computer to be regarded as about three years.

The theory runs that this benefits for both consumer and manufacturer. The former gains an ongoing ability to update his computer [I saw a television programme a few months ago in which it was pointed out that it took a computer the size of several rooms for NASA to fly the Apollo spaceships to the Moon in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the total power of which is exceeded tenfold by the everyday laptop that every 12 year-old child takes to school today] … and the latter continues to makes acceptable profits via the resulting sales-driven rise in turnover.

Yesterday, having identified my keyboard purchase in about five minutes, out of interest I strayed into the ‘Computers’ section of the store. I’m nearly three years into my current laptop and maybe the time has come for an upgrade.

My ancient mind-set being what it is, I always walk straight past the highly-stylised and attractive Apple benches.

I’m told by those in the know that Apple products are the default weapon of choice for anyone working professionally in the media but, for someone like me, they’re totally off limits for the simple reason that their operating system is completely different to that of PCs (Microsoft, Windows etc.) that I’m familiar with and – no matter how badly I would like to be ‘in’ with the young and hip crowd – you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

And so to the PCs area – on the way ignoring the smartphones, tablets, mini-iPads tables section because that’s also a foreign land to me – where I discover the range is staggeringly large.

They now have a category called ‘2-in-1s’. These is a smallish device purporting to be a ‘best of both worlds’ combination of a laptop and tablet – basically you can either use it as a laptop or, if you wish, detach the screen and work on that via touch-screen technology.

Next up are laptops which contain in-built touch-screen technology.

Neither type of interest to me. I’ve never tried touch-screen technology and never will.

After that yesterday it was a case of laptops or desktop computers – the latter coming either in ‘all in one’ or tower form.

Having briefly looked at least forty computers of confusingly different capabilities, options, hard disk capacity, memory and power, I then retired – hurt and bewildered – and returned home.

I shall need to rest and build up my confidence before returning to the fray.






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About Oliver Fortune

A doctor formerly specialising in sexual health, Oliver has written widely on matters relating to sex, relationships and counselling. He is divorced and has one daughter. He is a keen skier and mountain biker. More Posts