I’m often asked by so-called friends, family and work-related folk “Which computer is a good buy?” When I go, “I don’t know?” – some look disappointed whilst others take on a look which suggests, “You mean you call yourself an IT expert and you don’t know what computer is best?’ – at which point I would be having fantasies of strangling somebody.
Why? Why would that incense me? Well – do I go around asking people what’s a good car, good cooker, good newspaper to read, good food to eat etc? By now somebody is likely to be thinking, “Well computers are a bit different aren’t they?” – which would cause me greater pain. Why? Because it’s not about the object, but the stupidity of the question? Huh?
What’s good in my perception may not be good from another person’s perception. A few years ago I went to a neighbour’s house for an informal chat. I get asked “What’s a good car to buy?” I responded, “Bentley, or Mercedes – or possibly a Jaguar”. Then they go, “Oh we couldn’t afford that sort of thing?” And then I go, “Well how am I supposed to know what your limitation on cost is, when you had said nothing about it at the outset?” I know, I’m supposed to be a mind reader. No – I’m supposed to assess their humble surroundings and make a value judgement about what they might be able to afford – and then pigeonhole them into a ‘type of people’ who might be limited to that range of cost for new cars. Errh then I’d be accused of judging people and holding to class-bias. You see what I mean? I can’t win!!! If I make no value judgement about people and go just on brand name I get it wrong – and if I make a value-judgement about what people can afford then I’m ‘judging people’.
You want to get to the computer thing rather quickly – don’t you? No chance!!
The point is that for me to recommend any item as being ‘good’, I have to know what is good for an individual’s needs and limitations. So asking me a question without giving specifics is truly a waste of my time. If someone said, “I only have £300 to spend. I want the best value for money on a computer, that’ll connect me to the internet, deal with emails, do some basic word processing and watch a few videos. I don’t need any future-proofing as I wish to buy a new computer in three years anyway..” – then I have something to work on.
The there are a bunch of people who go, “What’s a new computer going to do for me?” I call that a dumbass question. Why? Because a) I don’t know that computers do anything for anybody; they have no will of their own. How about a stupid question like “What’s an axe going to do for me?” Like nothing – it’ll just lay there until you put it to whatever use you desire. So a new computer is gonna do bugger all, if you don’t know how to use it to its fullest potential. It is a tool. What does that mean? It means – you dimwit – that if you don’t know how to use the tool, it’ll do very little good for you or probably cause you or others suffering from your bungling misuse of it. You didn’t like the ‘dimwit’ word – did you? But it kept you awake didn’t it!? Yes it did. BTW who am I talking to – you now wonder? I do this thing where I talk to some imaginary fool in my head. Got it! No? Keep calm and move on!
So – the question is not about what the ‘thing’ is gonna do for you or what’s a good buy. The real question is what do you want to achieve better, more efficiently – basically you need a tool to enhance what you already do or use it to achieve new things. If you have no such needs, ‘Keep calm and do nothing’ and ‘Keep calm and don’t buy a new computer!’
Have I told you as yet ‘which computer to buy’? Of course not. You wish to be spoonfed – don’t you? You want somebody to lead the way, to show you and tell you what to do. Why? Because you like an easy life – and you think ‘who doesn’t?’
Finding a computer that’s right for you:
means you do the work of learning what’s what.
Is about learning what computers can do i.e. you understand the potential uses of computers.
means you have to then assess which of those potential uses you incorporate into your life to make your life more enjoyable and efficient.
requires that you exert some effort and withstand some discomfort in learning new things/concepts/patterns of thinking and behaviour.
means you don’t expect the computer to know what’s in your head and just go and do it for you.
involves learning about computer specifications from a hardware point of view.
means you will understand that a computer is not just a piece of ‘kit’ i.e. a machine – it isn’t.
means you appreciate that a computer cannot realise it’s potential if you don’t have the software on it to do the things you require.
means learning a new ‘language’.
means not getting conned by some sales person who will assure you within a few minutes of sales-talk, that they know exactly what’s right for you, after massaging out of you how much you’re willing to spend.
And finally I think that people who are willing to cough up simplistic answers about what’s best for other people are full of themselves and either intent on, or unwittingly, out to exercise some power or control over you. You can now take some or all of my thoughts, think about them, or leave them. But one thing is certain, I’m not going to tell you what computer to buy, or to tell you what a new computer is gonna do for you. Save it – I know you don’t like my style. I know I’m not helpful to a majority who read this. Tough – it’s the way I see the world and on my blog, I’ll say it like I see it.