Yesterday was a banner day for the Jackson household, or at least for myself. I ordered a new laptop computer to replace the workhorse HP G61-321NR that my wife bought for me when I was hospitalized back in December of 2009 (visit my old blog if you want the gritty details of my near-death experience). The old HP has undergone several upgrades, including a RAM addition (to four whole gigs!), a jump from a 250GB HDD to a 500GB HDD, and eventually to a 500GB SSD—all of which kept it going for nearly 8½ years. There are just so many things you can upgrade, though, and eventually it became clear several months ago that my hardware was aging beyond the point where upgrades are possible.
It wasn’t easy to pick a replacement. For weeks, I pored over numerous manufacturer and reseller websites, from well-known to not-so-well-known. I hit my local Big Box computer store and dealt with a salesman in the laptop area breathing down my neck as I studied his
potential commission available systems. I bugged forums, sent e-mails, and even called my son for input (he wound up bugging one of his friends in Canada into helping me). Eventually, I came to the sad conclusion that the pre-built configurations on offer either didn’t meet my needs or radically exceeded my budget (even after I increased my budget into the $1,500 range).
I had no choice left. It was time to enter the murky online world of custom computer sellers and deal with the dreaded Configurator.
I hit every builder I could find and tried to create the best bang-to-buck ratio machine possible. I spent entire days doing almost nothing but comparing custom configurations, going from generic to name brand systems. I tweaked ad nauseam, always thinking that there was some vendor out there that offered more features for the same (or a better) price. I hit brick walls galore: I could customize certain components, but not in the combination I sought. I’d find a system that met all my demands, but would cost over $2,000. I could get almost the perfect system, only to find that if I tried to upgrade it post-purchase, I’d void the warranty. I grew frustrated to the point of exhaustion.
My frustration spread to my wife, who got irritated as hell with me trying to explain hardware details that she doesn’t understand (and doesn’t *want* to understand) and asking for her opinion on which way to go. She just wanted me to be shut up if I insisted on continuing my tweak and search obsession.
Come Wednesday of this week, I found what I believed to be a system with an acceptable balance of price, features, build quality, and vendor reliability. As usual, it was over my set budget, but this time not by much. My wife, who by then had had more than enough laptop talk, ended my search with two words: “Get it.”
I ordered the system the next day.
However, I still fear that I might have overpaid, might have gone with the wrong vendor, might have picked the wrong components, or (worst of all) might have picked the wrong base system. Call it Buyer’s Remorse in advance.
Allow me to explain. I’m a music composer/producer/one-man studio. I’m also a novel writer. As such, I’m never completely happy with my creations. There’s always at least one more tweak I feel compelled to make to improve my work. If I don’t make the tweak, I fear someone will find fault with what I’ve done. This is a malady that affects many (if not most) of the people who work in the same fields as me. Eventually, we all have to stop somewhere, declare a work as Finished (with a capital F), and live with what we’ve created.
As a result, I sit here half-anticipating and half-dreading the arrival of a new, heavily-customized Gigabyte P55Wv5-SL1 laptop which I in effect created with the dreaded Configurator. There is a larger-than-zero chance that I’ll never be completely happy with it, but as with all of my musical and literary creations, I had to stop somewhere.
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