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Getting Your Priorities Straight

27 July 2006

The girls have been using an older PowerBook for their RPG (role-playing game [think Dungeons and Dragons]) adventures (let’s call it Gamer), but this PowerBook had lost the capability to recharge its battery. This was a bit of a problem because Gamer also didn’t recognize the power cord. So we kludged together a system where they would play for about an hour, save and shut down Gamer, switch out the drained battery with the fresh one in my PowerBook (let’s call it Workhorse), and start up Gamer again and get another hour’s worth of playing time. This was a bit awkward, but it worked. Until Workhorse decided that its electrical system was going to become wonky, too. It sometimes would not charge up a battery, just sit happily at 23% charge and use power from the power cord.

Workhorse also freezes up if the power cord is disconnected unexpectedly (but isn’t this portability supposed to be the beauty of laptops?). There have been a few times, in the middle of a project, that I’ve justifiably been stressed about getting things done on time, what with my files irretrievable, and switching data from CD backups onto our even older iMac (GranPoppa) to be able to move forward on my deadline-driven work.

Now, one of the academic perks which makes up for the low salary of professors is the new computer you get through the university every few years. The Consort just brought home a new laptop. A sweet little MacBook with tons of memory and extremely fast processor speed (so let’s call it The Puppy [“look at that puppy run!”]). He’ll need it from time to time to run some data, but he’s happy to share its use with the family.

Create a cascading priority list makes a lot of sense. That is, I get The Puppy and the girls get my wonky but still useable Workhorse—which runs RPGs well—and we place the Gamer in retirement. Then, if the Consort needs to run one of his experiments on The Puppy, he takes it from me, I take the Workhorse from the girls, and they either don’t play for a while or we wake the retired Gamer for them.

It is a fact that RPGs work much better if the processor is fast. It is also a fact that the software I use for my projects is Word, Excel, and Acrobat Reader. Which, really, don’t need the speed, actually. I guess.

So the girls got The Puppy.*

It comes with a webcam built in to the top of the screen. It is shiny and new. It is pretty and clean.

Excuse me now. I need to go fetch the Workhorse another nosebag of grain.

*This was voluntary on my part. I was the one who suggested it. (A moment after which I thought, “What the hell was I thinking?!!!”)

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