shutterstock_1252780543 Open laptop with windows 7
Image Credit: Shutterstock

My laptop is starting to grind, It’s got a noise that’s started a few days ago. It’s not always there, but when it’s been on for a while, it starts to complain.

I’m no techie, but I think it’s arthritis. I have a dodgy left knee. So it’s mostly fine, but when I’ve been walking a lot, it starts to kick off. Just like the laptop.

Sometimes, if I have to bend, I get a sharp pain. I can’t make my laptop bend, but it does seem as if it has a sharp pain.

Other times, when I go to reboot the laptop, it seems to take its time. I think it’s a bit like me some mornings. Hard to reboot and get out of bed. I need a good coffee to get me going. Coffee and laptops don’t mix. I once spilled coffee on a laptop. It was toast. And yes, I’ve been known too to eat toast over my laptop too as I check out the morning news from the various sites I regularly visit.

Sometimes the editor in Dubai used to ping through, wanting something done quite quickly. I use to have to buy time, like an hour or so, because the laptop isn’t behaving like it should.

When I started out in the news business, if you were away from the office and had to quickly write a story, you wrote it in longhand in your notebook.

The next challenge then was to find a public phone box and hope that it was working. All newspapers used to employ “copy takers”. These were invariably women who would pick up the phone when you called back on a reverse-charge phone call. Does anyone, apart from prisoners on television or movies, make reverse-charge telephone calls anymore?

As soon as they answered, you had to give your name, the “story slug” — a quick one or two-word description of what you were going to dictate back, and off you’d go. I swear, if you coughed in the middle of the dictation, that would appear in the typed story that was handed to the editors.

“The county council cough, cough, sniff decided on Tuesday to sniff, cough … “ the story might go.

And when you’d get back to the office, the editor would ask how your cold was … All very embarrassing, I seem to remember.

When the newspaper got a fax machine, we thought it was like sending a man to the Moon. You could transmit stories from one place to another. And then we got pagers. Pagers! Does anyone use pagers anymore, I mean, except for the type of activities that would have you behind bars now to make those reverse-charge phone calls.

I remember working at one newspaper when it got its first “modum”. It was a box as big as a small suitcase. You had to stick a landline handpiece into rubber mould and it would 900 characters a minute. Whoa.

I think it’s time I started to look for a home for old laptops. Can you imagine the old laptops all getting together and sharing their stories. Then again, old laptops are like old people who start losing their memory. And it becomes very difficult to talk to each other.

Laptops are also a bit like people too in that they need virus protection. I’ve had my two coronavirus vaccine jabs over the past months. I keep getting warnings too that the laptop needs some virus protection. I’ve checked and while it is overheating a bit, I don’t think it has COVID-19. That grinding noise can hardly be categorised as a persistent dry cough — one of the other symptoms of coronavirus.