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HomoTech :: Lose a Laptop, Find Yourself

by Oscar Raymundo

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday January 16, 2010

HomoTech ::  Lose a Laptop, Find Yourself

My first girlfriend; her name was Chloe, and we "met" my junior year of college. Chloe was white, thin and had a pretty solid memory. With a simple request, she could immediately regurgitate past information - the photographs, letters, songs and other artifacts that documented our relationship. Shortly after I bought her from the Apple Store on campus, she became my confidante; someone I could rely on unconditionally to keep all my secrets safe in her hard drive.

Chloe was a Macbook. I guess you could say I take the concept of "personal computer" a little too personal, but why not? After all, for a freelance writer, a computer is the end-all-be-all of mobile productivity. And after years of use and abuse, it's easy to take said workstation for granted.

Late this summer, Chloe began acting up. She hesitated a bit before opening Word documents, and she sometimes neglected to show me the time- or how many hours of battery life she had left. Of course these were all warning signs of a certain doom that I didn't want Chloe to go through. So, I did what any caring boyfriend would do in a similar situation: I took her back to Apple.

(Of course I'll use any excuse to get in the Apple Store to check out the iCandy. The post-adolescent employees in their loose-fitted monochromatic shirts, square-rimmed glasses, and iPod earphones wrapped around their neck, tossing their chestnut-colored hair to the side as they log in and tell me what my issue might be. I don't care if they're community college dropouts- they're real Geniuses to me...)

"Has this computer been around any liquids recently?"

Yes, the ever-so-polite way of letting me know that if water, milk, Diet Coke or lube has spilled on Chloe, I would have to pay for the repairs; damage from liquids isn't covered under AppleCare. Kind of sounds like a sham to me- an expensive insurance plans that disregards external mishaps. It also makes Apple products seem like time bombs with an internal clock designed to press forward with their deterioration.

"Of course not!" I responded. "What type of person lets their girlfriend drown!"

Chloe was scheduled to get a new operating system installed and even get part of her keyboard replaced; it had sustained some damage during a dance party about a year ago.

Fortunately, I had the chance to recuperate all my files before the amnesia-like system restore, which would take Chloe back to 'blank.' Once repaired, I'd be able to input all the information Chloe carried before. Thoughts of losing Chloe's files worried me though, and purchasing an external hard drive seemed like the only sensible solution.

Disaster averted! (Or was it?)

When I got Chloe back, however, she was as good as new! Why did I need to back something up that was certain to last at least another year?

Chloe was in perfect shape - perhaps too perfect. Three months after I saved her, Chloe - my Macbook - got stolen. This time, there was no way of recuperating all that she held inside.

I lost it all. College papers, photos from trips through Europe, rare remixes and compilations, short stories, browser bookmarks, and the list of every band I've ever seen- and every guy I've ever hooked up with. Even the minor files I rarely opened; I began to notice their absence.

The following week I got a new laptop - a Macbook Pro named Dax. (Being a victim of theft gave me reason to splurge.) He's shiny and pretty, but oh-so-empty inside. Kind of like the guys I dated right after college.

Fortunately I'm surrounded by people who understand the pain that is navigating the barren land of a new computer rather than point out the fact that I should have been backing things up regularly. For Christmas, my extended family got me several iTunes gift cards so that I could begin a new music collection. College friends sent me pictures, and I'm sure I can find the rest tagged somewhere on Facebook. My long active gmail account has kept several word document attached to e-mails sent over the last three years.

After I alerted the police, I learned about software that when installed on your computer acts as a tracking device and locator in case of theft. I also discovered, a site that offers online back-up starting at $5 a month. And of course, most of us have iPhones, disk drives and other gadgets that store bits and pieces of our files here and there.

As terrible as it sounds, for me, it wasn't that bad. In fact, it brought to light how dependent we are on technology today. And although my life went on hiatus for a few days after the incident, it was surprising to see how easily I got over the inconvenience of starting fresh.

Oscar Raymundo is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. He has written for SF Weekly, the SF Bay Guardian, Wired, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CosmoGIRL! and the official Facebook blog. He is currently at work on his first novel. He blogs here.


This story is part of our special report titled HomoTech. Want to read more? Here's the full list.