held together with dust bunnies
Friday, March 7 2008
One of the curses of having worked in the computer housecall profession is that the profession never really ends. Even if you turn down new clients and tell old ones you're not in the game anymore, there will always be friends and the people you're too kind to tell "no." Well, perhaps you could tell anyone no, but I can't. I can't even say no to Darren, the guy who did my drywall five years ago and who doesn't even pay me every time. This afternoon I was at his place in the 'hood near the Strand (aka the Rondout) trying to cobble together some functionality out of an eight year old computer held together with dust bunnies, lint-filled USB 1.1 ports, SDRAM, and spyware. Guys like Darren should never venture into a Best Buy unchaperoned, but the slick Geek Squad guys on nerd patrol had sold him a new sound card and a USB 2.0 card, both of which I dutifully installed. But if it hadn't been for a CD burner he'd dumpster-dived, I wouldn't have been able to install the drivers (his CD drive was dead).
Darren is a carpenter, and what with the collapse of construction that has followed the bursting of the housing bubble, he hasn't seen work in months. So in his down time he's been trying to work on his ever-nascent music career. He'd spent good money to have a nostalgic song he'd written performed by a shady Nashville-based company that produces country music demos, and he's also been working on recording rap songs using software that looks a little too much like a video game. I wish him all the luck in the world, though I think it might be a better use of his time to master lockpicking, pistol target practice, and high-speed car driving.
I think the thing I appreciate most about Darren is the vibrancy of the rundown neighborhood where he lives. Kids (many of them mixed-race) are out in the street playing with balls or jump ropes, and gap-toothed adults unabashedly wile away the hours clutching beer cans on their porch (yes, even on a mild winter afternoon like today's). Despite its crack whores and burglaries, I'd love to live in a neighborhood like that some day if this whole living in the country thing doesn't work out.
After that ordeal, I went to P&T Surplus to get some provisions, which included a 14 inch color teevee (since I have no color monitors that accept RCA inputs). The price was only $15 for a Sony model with a genuine Trinitron tube. Back at the house it displayed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in crisp gorgeous saturated colors, the kind it's easy to forget are possible in today's LCD-dominated screenscape. This is yet more evidence that sometimes it's good to wait for a technology to be go obsolete before investing in it. (In other words, some day I'll probably own a Blu-Ray player, another fine Sony technology.)
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