How long ago was it that we did our writing using typewriters or writing longhand on a sheet of ruled paper? I remember making the transition to word processing in the 1980s. I still have my ancient Remington portable that I used in college and that has traveled with me all over the world.
What could go wrong with a typewriter? It might need a new ribbon or it might simply need to be cleaned and lubricated. That was about it. In Vietnam I actually resurrected a Smith-Corona portable using gun oil and sandpaper after it had gotten rusty from disuse. It worked fine after that.
Since at least the 1990s I have had a computer for word processing, and have gone through several—too many to number here. The most common cause of failure had been the power supply, but I have had hard drives fail and the most recent failure is probably the processor.
Fortunately, I have a backup—a laptop that has primarily been my travel computer. Since it has mostly been sitting unused it was a little cranky when I woke it up. It took a few days to get to where it works pretty much glitchfree, but we are there for the most part. Problem is my saved work on my desktop is on its hard drive, where it will stay until I can find a way to recover it.
One thing you get used to with any computer is the need to do periodic software maintenance. A regular disk cleanup is a necessity to get rid of some of the extraneous files that can build up in a computer system. I did this regularly with my desktop and am getting used to doing it on the laptop. If you use a Windows operating system there is also the matter of updates. Some are more useful than others, but most deal in some way with system security, very necessary these days.
Fortunately for my column writing enterprise, I only lost a few files with the failure of my desktop. One was a column in progress that I could start over on without difficulty. Many of the others could be recovered from sent e-mails.
The laptop is not an ideal remedy, but it will work for now. But the Remington portable is always available should that quit working.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.