Monday, 15 July 2013

Screen Saviour

Last weekend, as part of my aim to be a proper self-employed person, I bought a new computer.

Previously I'd been using my husband's laptop, an exciting step-up from the Acer Notebook that I impulse bought four years ago so I could write a novel in Starbucks and look important on a train.

The laptop, to be fair, has been brilliant. Fran and I have finished our craft book for children and our first print run has completely sold out, we're taking wholesale orders and working on a new range. I now turn up to meetings without making a joke about the fact that we've called it a meeting and not just cake and a chat. I have spreadsheets called things like 'Sales and Balance Sheets' and 'Stock Inventory'. I filled in a survey and ticked the 'Work Part Time' box. I've sent 13 tweets.

So I thought I could justify taking the next big leap and working on my very own computer. With just my work stuff on it. And my music. And all my photos.

Henry's father spent a considerable amount of time the night before filtering pictures of laptops by computer-ish words like 'RAM' and 'LOWEST PRICE FIRST' while I pretended to be interested by intermittently pausing Mad Men and leaning over to look at the screen. I did want a computer, but I would almost definitely be choosing it based on it's colour and whether it came with any free stuff rather than a specification, whatever that is.

'Get a Mac!' texted my friend.
'More expensive and no idea how they work!' I texted back.
'Yeah, you don't need a Mac. Everyone thinks they need a Mac but it's all just marketing'

Bloody marketing.

And then we went to bed.

"There's an Early Learning Centre next door", I remembered as we all piled into the car the next morning. "One of us can take them to the play bit if it's a nightmare".  Meaning, obviously, that he can take them to the play bit and I can walk around the audio section fingering iPods.

PC World, it turns out, is not set up for family shopping so Henry's father went to show the kids the fridge freezers before a man called Dan came over to help me out.

"I'm looking for a computer...for my business", I said, trying not to sound like I was in a film.
"What do you do?" asked Dan
"I make books, they have lots of images and they've clogged up the one I've got now".

Made that up.

"Ok great, have you looked at the Macs?"

"I don't want a Mac. I know I use InDesign and make books, but I don't want a Mac, I don't need it."
"You use InDesign? Have you ever looked at having a Mac?"
"I don't want a Mac, really, a normal computer is just fine."
"A Mac is normal for designers."
"I'm not a designer. Honestly. Just a pc. A laptop will be great"
"They are really fast and great for graphics software"
"I don't want a Mac"
"I did a graphics design course and we used Macs..."


<pointing vaguely across the store> "There's one I've seen, it's fast, it's 16 mega...bytes...whatever the speed thing is..."
<starts walking> "OK, if you can show me...These are the Macs by the way..."


"Oh, right."


"Can I just...just out of interest, I've never really seen one... Big screens. Wow. They've got big screens haven't they? Where's the...Is it all just in the monitor??"

The massive, amazing, shiny, uber-cool monitor. 

"I mean, I don't want a Mac. They look good though don't they."

Suddenly, Henry's Father comes jogging through the kettles section looking flustered.

"Sorry darling, the kids got a muffin out of your bag and smeared it on the carpet. It's ok, they're demonstrating a Vax on it. Oooo is that a Mac??"

"Yes, I don't want one, I'm just looking."
"They're really good for designers aren't they?
"I'm not a designer".
"Wow...Is it all just in the monitor??"

Half an hour later I'm talking to Graham.

We are sitting in front of my new Mac.

I am so happy I am having to clench my fists to contain an air punch.

Graham is a man with a look on his face that says 'I hate people who know nothing about computers' but unfortunately has been selected as the one person in PC World who can make computers 'Walk Out Working' - the service reserved for people like me who Walk Out Clueless only to Walk Back In the next day to ask where the on button is.

Graham hates me. He hates that I can't remember any of my passwords and that I keep saying "...different to a normal computer" and using the sound 'oooooo' whenever a window folds down in that twirly way to the bottom when you minimise it. He hates me and he hates my children, who are banging Rangemaster oven doors two feet away and putting soft toys in the washing machines.

He clicks a lot and talks about docks and system preferences and livedrives and I nod and try to resist stroking the screen.

Just before I'm allowed to go, Graham asks to demonstrate one more thing.

"Can I just look at your phone, I can show you how your Photo Stream will transfer your photos straight onto other Apple products".

He takes my phone and opens a window on the Mac. A picture of a naked woman in a cornfield takes up the entire screen.

We leave.

"What the hell was that??" Henry's father hissed as we break into a jog towards the car.
"It was a picture of my friend who wants to be a glamour model" I said, as if that should be totally obvious. "I took a screenshot of one of her pictures to show someone..."

Luckily Graham did make the computer work because I can now obviously never go back to ask for help.

And I love it. All my work stuff is on it and I know where all my files are. Fran's amazing illustrations look awesome on the huge screen and my screensaver is a photo of a cake my daughter made with my Mum.

At least it is every 15 seconds, after  a photo of Henry eating ice-cream in the park and a woman in a thong on a sheepskin rug.

I'll make sure I sort that out before my next meeting.