My netbook is my primary writing instrument. It is not a good writing instrument. In fact, it’s fairly abysmal, but it does has some redeeming qualities: It is small enough to fit in a handbag, it is too slow to offer much in the way of distractions and the battery lasts more than 30 minutes. This is the story of how my netbook betrayed me, and showed itself to be the corporate stooge I always suspected it to be.
Four weeks ago, I changed the netbook’s operating system from Windows XP to Linux. I had two good reasons for this. Firstly, Microsoft had stated that they would no longer support XP, and my contrary instincts prevented me from responding by giving Microsoft more money and obtaining an upgrade. Secondly, Windows and the netbook had a bad relationship from the outset. With Windows XP, using the netbook, even for something as simple as writing, was not unlike riding a tricycle up the side of Mount Blanc, slow and frequently impossible. So I switched it to a nice, straightforward sounding operating system called Linux Mint.
It worked a treat. Suddenly, I could type more than three words without the netbook pausing for an extended coffee break. I could do more than that. I could open two, even three, programs at once, and the netbook would not come to a screeching halt. It worked so well that I forgot to back up, something I have always done in the past, at the end of every writing session. I WAS A FOOL.
My netbook is clearly a tool of the corporate system that created it. It was built for Windows XP, and it wears its Windows XP sticker with pride. “Why,” it thought to itself smugly, “should I change? I’m happy with my lack of productivity, my prolonged coffee breaks.” “You have already written one novel on me,” it said, “I expect to take it easy from now on.”
Last Tuesday, I switched on the netbook, ready for another productive day. I waited for it to log in, my head full of ideas to move on from the full chapter I had written the day before (A FULL CHAPTER!). The netbook wouldn’t log in. I switched it off and tried again, and again and again.
I am no technical expert, you understand. I am just someone who likes to press buttons to see what happens when they’re pressed. I don’t accept it when the buttons do not do what they are supposed to. If something goes wrong, I will keep trying to put it right. This is what I did. For the next four days, I wasted more valuable writing time as I tried everything I could to save what I had written. Initially, my aim was to get my netbook working again. Then I would simply have been content to recover what I had written. It was no go. I went onto the Linux help forums, but they might as well have been talking a different language. What am I saying; they WERE talking a different language. Eventually, I had to force myself to come to terms with the loss of the precious files by simply formatting the whole thing, irrevocably deleting everything on it.
So here I am, once again, trying to recreate what I have written in the past month and backing up, almost obsessively this time. I do not blame Linux, you understand. Linux Mint worked perfectly on my system until it decided not to. Its hard drive wiped and restored, the netbook is also working perfectly again, although I no longer trust it. I suspect that it is just waiting for an opportunity to throw the transition to Linux in my face once again.