Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How fear of the color purple drove me to buy a computer


by Ken

A proper explanation would begin with how my TV happened to be tuned to the station when I turned it on in the first place. But I can only guess. It's not a station I can imagine ever having intentionally tuned to, but possibly when the TV was lost on I had punched a station number into the computer remote of which a digit or two wasn't "read," or was misread, and then maybe I proceed to watch something from the DVR, so that the cable box remained tuned to the unintendedly tuned-in station. Hey, it's a theory. Because the incontrovertible fact is that by some means or other that's the station that came on when I turned the TV on. If not for that accident, it's doubtful that I would even have thought about buying a computer, let alone actually done it.

Awhile ago I promised, or maybe threatened, to talk about how I came to do such a thing, and I figured the first thing we had to establish is how I came to be watching a home shopping network -- actually, the Home Shopping Network (aka HSN) -- to begin with. After all, I am the sort of person who can be merciless in my ridicule of those lost souls who sit in front of the TV compulsively buying all the crap lovely merchandise displayed on these stations. What pliable, robotic suckers such folks must be, I've always thought. Until that fateful day when I fell victim to the Purple-Computer Prospect, and found my own finger pressing the Purchase Button of No Return.

I was doing something else as, in the background of my life, the HSN on-air team waxed ecstatic about this amazing deal, on an HP notebook computer, part of a package that they solemnly assured us was going to have features not offered at this price again this year, and since I the thought had crossed my mind that maybe I might want to think about acquiring a new computer, one both newer and more portable than my now-ancient desktop iMac, assuming it could be done cheaply enough, I must have gradually started to pay attention to the TV patter, and as I listened, the package on offer came to strike me as a whole lot of computer at a price that sort of fit within a budget, to the extent that an unemployed person might be said to have a budget for fitting within.

Of course the HSN sellers are quite good at doing what they do, and the more they talked up the splendors of the numerous particulars that were included in the package, the more the relevant gears in my brain moved into action. The obvious stumbling block was that it was a PC, and I haven't owned a non-Mac computer in maybe 30 years -- or used 0one since the days of, oh, Windows 3.1, whose historicity was affirmed by the fact that this machine came equipped with Windows 10. But by then I was all too aware that fitting an up-to-date, upgradable Mac into the aforementioned budget was going to be an impossibility. Not even close, even if I was looking at a refurbished unit, and never mind that I had already had a seriously bad experience with a refurbished PowerBook.

Not to mention that, as I've mentioned here a number of times, over the last decade or so I've come to feel increasingly alienated from the Mac universe I used to be happily part of. This had already led me to the decision, faced with the need to do something about an aging android smartphone I'd never learned to use, that one option I was not going to consider was an iPhone. The Strange New Cult of Apple has made it pretty clear that I'm welcome to pack up and take my product allegiance elsewhere, so maybe it's time to take them up on that offer. I may also have considered that acquiring some fluency in the Windows world might not be a senseless thing to do for a person looking for employment. But mostly I think it was the possibility of getting a computer with that much functionality at that modest price.

By now, as you may have gathered, my attention was switching from whatever I had been doing with the TV on in the background to the ongoing sales pitch. Naturally we in the viewing audience were being fed constantly updated numbers on how many of these dream packages had been sold, and how many were left, and I was paying close enough attention that I became aware that the range of colors in which the computer was being offered had narrowed appreciably. At this point the remaining choices were purple, white, and light blue. This got those gears whirring in my head going faster, and my gut started to get engaged. White would be okay, I supposed, and the light-blue option sounded like a possibility, but wouldn't that really depend on the actual shade of light blue in question?

But purple? What kind of color is purple for a computer? Oh, the horror! Understand that nobody was pointing a gun at my head saying, "You must buy one of these computers." However, the Purple-Computer Prospect had lodged in my brain. What would it be like to be faced with having to buy the purple computer? Now my gut was churning pretty actively.

Along about then two things happened: (1) They showed the light-blue model on air, and I really didn't like it. It was a good color for kindergarten fingerpaint, I thought, but for a computer to be used by a chronological grownup? I thought not. (2) The dire word came that the goddamn light-blue computers were sold out. OMG!!! It was possible to be sold out of a computer I didn't want to buy in the first place!

Which is when the fear of the Purple-Computer Prospect took control of my brain. Relatively speaking, the white model was now looking like the only choice. After that, it was just a matter of time before I was punching the "purchase" button. For the white computer, of course -- thank goodness!

It's neither here nor there (well, maybe sort of there) that a short while after I'd made my purchase, as I continued to watch, now in shock at the developments that had developed, an announcement was made that the purple computers had sold out. If you wanted to get in on this amazing deal, you were stuck with (sigh) white.

My white computer was delivered in surprisingly short order (hey, it occurred to me, these shopping-network people must have plenty of experience at shipping product out of their warehouses), and while there would be further adventures (and misadventures) along the way, I have to say I'm on the whole pretty pleased. Windows 10 is still highly mysterious to me, but I'm starting to be able to get things done, including writing this post, while visiting friends upstate, happily connected to their WiFi. (As I may have said previously, I'm confident that no one on the planet understands less about WiFi than yours truly.) And no doubt I'll gradually learn to do more things, and do the things I can do more easily and efficiently. Also, I'm looking forward to learning how to adjust the display contrast (or something) so that I can actually read what I'm writing here. But the fact is, I'm actually making productive used of the darned contraption.

And thank goodness, it's not purple.

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At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I like the purple and I want one! You missed your opportunity. I would never have a Mac or an iphone. Apple controls too much of your life with their products. I have an HP desktop with Windows 7 which is the last decent product Microsoft made. If I could get a purple laptop like the one in your picture, I would buy it in a minute. However, I do not watch HSN just like you.

At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope, Ken, that you are fortified with robust anti-virus and anti-malware protection, Firefox browser with NoScript, and you've covered the camera.


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