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October 24, 2016
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New Toys

Last week, Nicole wrote about wanting some new diabetes tech. I'm pretty happy with what I have on the bloodsucking end of things, but my Sony VAIO notebook has been having issues ever since it got a spill of coffee at a 2010 political meeting, and after five years, it's getting a bit long in the tooth. It's become ridiculously slow about updating the video on my browser, and painfully difficult to switch between applications.

There have been several reasons I've put off replacing it, cost being only the most important of the lot.

Upgrading to a new computer means not just the cost of the computer, but (at least usually) the cost of upgrading all of the software packages I need to run, some of which can get rather pricey. Because I keep track of some of my stuff in Microsoft Access, I need Office Professional, not the much-cheaper "Home and Student" edition that comes bundled with many computers. I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator when I need to create graphics, and InDesign for page layout. Acrobat Pro is an essential tool in my office, as it allows me to edit Acrobat documents to (for example) personalize my Tour de Cure beg sheets.

Upgrading all of this software means, literally, a cost of thousands of dollars — more, if you figure that the licensors are trying to migrate users over to a subscription model, meaning ongoing costs of a hundred dollars or more a month to maintain everything I use. That's just unfeasible on an hourly sales clerk's salary.

That said, I can't type or transcribe computer club or political meeting minutes as quickly on a tablet as I can on a "real" computer. It doesn't help my speed that the smaller device's keyboard is cramped and the layout is unusual. Worse, the standard shortcuts that work in Word and in most Windows (and many Macintosh) applications are either missing or remapped in Android and the various Android versions of Office, frustrating many years of conditioned keyboard-shortcut reflexes.

The remaining option is (was) upgrading the hardware and operating system and transferring the licenses from the Sony Vaio to the new computer.

At this point I'm about a week into using my new HP, getting used to having a touchscreen, and dealing with the control dysphoria that comes from multiple systems with different physical user interfaces (and methods of maneuvering them). The biggest thing that concerns me about this, long-term, is the observation that hours at a touchscreen will exacerbate the peripheral neuropathy in my fingers and the arthritis and tendinitis in my hands, arms, and shoulders.

For now, though, it's a new toy.

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