I knew this was coming. Dire signs on wire posts rose above the snow along a commercial stretch of highway: The End of Windows 7. When my reliable laptop, Windows 7 version, failed me in 2016 during a writers’ event, I should have acted. The battery refused charging. I’ve relied on the power cord since then. Last month the warning popped up on my start-up screen: Support for your Windows 7 PC has come to an end. No security updates. No software updates. No tech support. Last week Staples Office Supply joined the alert: We will no long support Windows 7. Time was up.
It felt like a betrayal to use my beloved laptop to browse new computers. I clicked on HP models, at least I wouldn’t change brands. A sky-blue notebook recommended for home use caught my eye. It comes with a one-year subscription to Office 360. What? I never needed a subscription before. Things have changed. This model, called a Stream, is driven by an Intel Celeron processor. Those are the only specs I needed since the novel I plan to write takes place on a stream and Celeron happens to be a main character. I click Buy.
The Learning Curve
In the 80s we bought our first computer, an Apple IIe. Since then I’ve navigated Apples, Macs and PCs in the classroom and at home. But nowadays, aside from e-mail and online shopping, my computer serves as my typewriter. Thanks to Miss Cardamone’s typing class I’m adept on the keyboard. Still, I’m an immigrant to technology. Changing anything in settings is beyond my wheelhouse. I’ve always ignored instructions to download, upload, run, or install. How in the world will I transfer fourteen years of data from my old device to the new? I grew anxious.
Once the computer arrived, I let it sit in the box for two weeks before I opened it. I dreaded the learning curve. My new Stream is sleek and attractive, colorful and sexy. It responds quickly and balances lightly on my lap. It supports all the latest crazes in gaming, social media, and entertainment, applications I’ll never utilize. For me it’s a make-over. I feel trendy. I arrow and click my way to a blank document on Word. I bravely start writing a scene for my novel. A few applications have changed but I’ll catch on.
I felt melancholy about the old HP. It’s more like me, past its prime, slow to process, prone to aches and pains, yet fondly familiar. It holds pictures, essays, and poems that preserve a slice of my history, pieces that helped me make sense of life. I need those files for continuity. I’m told to transfer all the data with a wormhole connector. Both computers refuse to cooperate. Exasperated, I overreact. Near tears, I panic that my stories and pictures won’t be saved before Windows 7 disintegrates.
Here’s the real problem. My operating system, Cinda version 67, will soon be archaic. I haven’t quite figured out my own story. Gaps in my past must be filled before time runs out. To fully understand ourselves, we must understand our personal journey. Now, it’s my responsibility to pass on the wisdom and family history to my descendants. My stories might enlighten their journeys. Am I prepared? How much time do I have?
A week later I took both computers to Tech Tuesday at a local library. An expert helped me move documents and pictures to the new Stream. Plus, he assured me I could still download Windows 7 onto the old HP and install a new battery. My old computer will continue to function, as will I. It’s not the end of anything. I will become a wormhole, a link between generations.
“Sharing lives and stories is the essence of existence. It’s what makes life meaningful. It’s what connects us. It’s how we learn from one another,” (David A. Kendall, from his book When Descendants Become Ancestors, 2014).