Wednesday, November 16, 2011

getting my laptop fixed and Mac vs. PC

So I typed a little too early when I told you all that my laptop was dead. After a lot of panicking and calling all the local Jinan numbers in my phone, I managed (thanks to a lot of help) to find someone who could fix my laptop. Well, almost. It crashes on me about once daily – when I try and open more than one program at a time. Luckily, though, I have a big external hard drive and was able to download my entire precious collection of photos and documents onto it. So now even if the laptop dies, I have the important stuff.

So as much as I was loathed to spend money, I realised that it really was time to buy a new laptop. In 21st century life for a young-un it’s not really optional. I have been thinking for a long while now, actually, about what kind I would get if I could, and the MacBook Air is exactly what I wanted. Design and portability. Back at home in Brisbane I have a massive and totally awesome powerful desktop computer setup, so what I want in a laptop is a total inclination to take it with me everywhere I go, and a really speedy turning on-and-off time, and battery life.

The final straw was discovering Stephen Fry’s blog, and reading him talking all about how much he has always loved Apple products. I swear that man sells more Apple than those catchy ads with the black and white silhouettes. I had always been a little weary of Macs. I am well aware that they are super pricey, and with an electronic engineer as a brother, I get the ‘function over aesthetics’ argument drilled into me regularly. I grew up as a PC girl, I often enjoy the odd game or two (Age of Empires, Diablo, etc), and I don’t have a lot of cash to splash. So why a Mac? Truthfully, no other product competed with what I saw in the MacBook Air in terms of battery life and portability, but as usual, I had to make this decision about a ‘bigger question’ of my life.

I always do this. I make every decision in my life come back to “the person I want to be”. Anybody who has read this blog for a while will recognise this ridiculous thought process, and no matter how conscious of it I am, and how fed up I feel about taking things so seriously, I cannot help but give small matters serious thought. There are several fundamental differences between the kinds of people who own Macs and the kinds of people who own PCs. So which was I? Which am I? And MOST importantly – which do I want to be?

Agh. What I think it came down to, is that I no longer feel the need to prove myself. Spending a lot of money on a new PC would send the message that I’m a practical person who isn’t concerned with the frilly willy nilly silly things in life. I used to be quite concerned about that. It was a source of great personal insecurity – whether or not people thought I was a serious and logical and practical kind of person. I used to make fun of people who didn’t seem ‘grounded’ enough for me. Ironically, I looked down upon many traditionally feminine things, because for some reason I felt like they embarrassed me. Totally and utterly ridiculous and stupid, I know, but at the time I didn’t realise it. I used to feel like a douche if I ever put make up on in the morning, and giving more than two seconds thought to an outfit was “dumb”. I’ve changed since then. I could talk for pages about why and how, but essentially, I realised that we live in a very visually-stimulating and visually-celebrating world. And I dig it. I totally love getting dressed up now, and “girl stuff” is awesome. I feel much more comfortable and sure of my intelligence and integrity, and myself in general. I don’t need to prove my “practicality” to anyone any more.

The flipside of this, is that people who own Macs are usually hipsters. I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s just so damn embarrassing to be labeled a “hipster” these days. I think it’s the connotation that you wannabe individual for the sake of it? Or because they can be fake? I mean, obviously they can also be absolute dickheads, as this wonderful song points out, but punks can be dickheads and I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to be called a “punk”. I guess I just personally don’t like being labeled as anything, and I don’t think that anybody really does. All kinds of stereotypes are limiting and always insulting to people who value their individuality. Brisbane is a kind of sleepy town. Unless it has changed in the year I’ve been away (which is actually totally possible) if I turn up to lectures with a MacBook Air, people are going to start making character judgments and assumptions. If I walk to the cafĂ© in the city with my MacBook Air under my arm, there is every chance people will think I’m a hipster douchebag. That is what me-two-years-ago would have thought. Heck, I used to think iPhones were douchey. How the times change…

After mapping out the pro’s and con’s, I sat down to think more about the ideal Bri. Think about it - if you could still be yourself, but the most awesome possible version of yourself, would you own a Mac or a PC? And here is where I stumbled onto something interesting. I can’t think of anyone who would take this question seriously, and choose a PC. The kind of person who sits down and thinks about buying a new laptop according to “who they want to be” is a Mac kind of person. The point of view from which I was assessing the situation had a completely predestined outcome. If I sat down to decide on a new laptop with a ‘cost-versus-benefits’ mindset, there is no possible way I would end up buying a Mac. Because of our fundamental differences, our decision-making paradigms often mean that results of life choices are essentially pre-determined.

It’s like somebody thinking about what to eat for dinner according to “what they feel like” and somebody else trying to figure out “what is cheapest and most nutritious for me”. The tools which they use to try and make the decision tell you immediately what they are going to eat. The process of judgment is entirely unnecessary. I hope this is making sense.

But anyways, that’s when I knew. When I approached the situation with a “what kind of person do I see myself as?” query, there was no way I was going to buy a PC.

I mean, it is quite obvious that I have blown this whole thing way out of proportion, but I like to think that “flair for dramatics” is one of the reasons I’m a Mac kid. It helps that all of my best friends have Macs instead of PCs, and that Stephen Fry likes Macs, and you know what – I’m not ashamed to say that their advertising campaigns are-off-the-fucking-hook in terms of coolness and totally make me wanna buy their products. Yeah. Shazam. I am comfortable enough with myself to admit that my purchasing mindset is heavily influenced by ad campaigns. Boohoo, aren’t I a terrible example of Generation Y, the constant brainwashing by the big corporations blah blah blah. I’m tired of hearing it. I know who I am and I know what I want. I want the Helen of Troy of all babe laptops. I want my screensaver to be my painstakingly gathered collection of iTunes album artwork. I want my whole technological life to be synchronised so that I can spend more time painting and writing and drinking and laughing and running and reading and taking pictures.

So. Now I am the proud owner of a brand spanking new MacBook Air, and It’s just sitting at home waiting for me. Why? 1) I couldn’t buy one in China, or it would all be in Chinese. 2) I couldn’t get it shipped because you can’t send laptop batteries by airmail anymore. So. Now I feel entirely frustrated. It’s like I’m in a long-term relationship with a really hot and awesome and sexy guy but Skype won’t even work. All I do is sit with this old laptop, dreaming about how dreamy my other new one is. It makes me feel a little dirty, yes, and also a little ashamed because this old chunky thing has been so good to me. I guess I just have to keep reminding myself that these are inanimate objects…

BUT WOAH!!! I digress completely. This post was supposed to be about the funny thing that happened to me when I went to get my current (old and chunky) laptop fixed. It was the second time I had been to visit this computer genius dude, in this weird underground computer market. He had a tiny little 2m x 2m work space, and like, a million laptops to fix. The whole place was like a cemetery for computers, with shells of PC’s and old smashed monitors and piles of keyboards littered around everywhere. It was super dirty and also kind of creepy. The male-to-female ratio was super high (on the male side, duh) and although I’m used to getting stared at in this country, this place hit an all-time high for gaping mouths. Weird and creepy.

What made it worse, is that I had to sit and wait for about half an hour while my laptop was getting fixed, and so by the time the repairs were complete, everyone in the whole damn complex was aware that there was “a really tall foreign girl with pretty hair and a strange face” in their workplace. (At that stage they didn’t realise I could, in fact, understand what they were saying.) And then the worst thing happened. The young man that fixed my computer pulled out a camera, and asked to take my picture. This, in itself, is also not an unusual thing to happen. I’ve lost count of how many complete strangers I have posed in photos with, but the trouble with this situation, was that once I said yes to one guy… they all came out.

Oh boy. I was posing for photos for almost twenty minutes – almost the time it took for me to get my laptop fixed in the first place. Not just with all the boys, either, the little old cleaning ladies wanted photos with me too. I learnt in the beginning of my time in China, that there really isn’t much you can do in this kind of situation unless you wanna be a total bitch about it. It’s actually pretty funny too. I speak with them in Chinese and there are all kinds of amusing conversational errors, for example, one young man asked me for my msn address, and I laughed and replied that “no, in my country, only children use that”, and he thought I said “no, in my country, I have children”. Very funny times. As usual, they couldn’t believe I was 19. I think their incredulation mainly comes from the fact that they usually cannot guess the ages of white people. Also possibly because I’m here alone, and to be away from your family whilst at university age is not really something that the Chinese do.

These photos are some that were taken that afternoon. Not particularly flattering of me, I know, but I just want to try and illustrate the randomness and relative hilarity that I experienced that day. Times like these are full of potential to just make you fall I love with China all over again. It’s easy to do so in Jinan. It’s a wonderful city full of lovely people, especially after the harshness of Shanghai. I mean, when I woke up that morning, I really didn’t expect to find an underground computer market full of people wanting to get their pictures taken with me and talk to me all about Australia and themselves and everything.

I had been devastated and panicking that my laptop wouldn’t come back to life, but I think times like these can really put things back into perspective.

And a good laugh never hurts.


  1. Freedom is the first step towards individuality. This is an interesting conundrum as when you say ‘who they want to be’, if as a result of that mind set you chose mac. You become one of the masses who like you will now be forced, for the rest of you mac enslaved life span, to use the same software as every other mac owner. Buy the same hardware as every other mac owner and be disallowed to, if you ever felt inclined, to write your own software. So realy if you want individuality MAC is the worst thing possible to buy! With PC you could have windows, linx or crome just to name 3 of the many options! Then you have the hardware options which BLOW the minds of most mortals.
    By; The Brother

  2. I wish I could 'like' that comment.

  3. What was your laptop’s problem? It looks like you’ve had a long day, and I hope that you were able to fix it. Anyway, you should have considered purchasing a new one rather than spending on repairs, which doesn’t guarantee that the same thing won’t happen again.

    -Benita Bolland


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