I was sitting in a low chair with my laptop on a coffee table beside me. One lead snaked out of it to the wall socket; one led to the stereo, so that I could hear a cleaned-up MP3 of the tape I had made while interviewing Roy Foster and add to the notes I had made at the time. It was a relaxing moment. My leg was carelessly thrust through a loop in the power supply lead, though I didn’t realise this till the phone rang and I jumped to my feet with a snarl of fury, modulating to horror as I started across the room, felt a tug on my ankle, saw the coffee table toppple, and the laptop drop to the wooden floor. That was the loudest sound I’d heard all year, almost the loudest sound I have ever heard I my life. The mains lead now lay coiled straightened innocently across the floor.
But the laptop survived. Not so much as a pixel died in the fall. It didn’t even reboot.
This isn’t just an argument for buying a thinkpad. It also made me wonder how on earth anyone can make a profit from computers in a low-inflation economy. It’s not as if I need anything more powerful: all I really want it longer-lasting batteries. So if computers don’t go obsolete in any interesting way, and won’t break either, why on earth do we need to replace them? No wonder people are tryng to sell us debt instead. No wonder Dixons makes 40% of its prrofits, according to one estimate, from the guarantees it sells for things that are never goig to break, even when they drop from coffee tables.