Saturday, January 20, 2018

Learning to live suboptimally: A computer example

When things that once brought you pleasure and worked to your advantage fail to do that anymore, there is a time to find ways around it. I call that living suboptimally. And I will describe my computer as a case in point.

The last year I was on staff, I had a computer that was two and a half years old. When I became an independent contractor to the same previous employer they did me the favour of allowing me to keep that computer. That was great but after five years as an independent contractor my 7 year old computer is starting to get a bit tired. Suboptimal.

I have found ways to deal with that and it provides a reasonable metaphor for life, perhaps.

I need to prepare for the eventual catastrophic failure. I actually thought I had experienced that early last year and my previous work computer sat dusty in a corner for 6 months. Even then, I was reasonably unphased. I had begun the first stage of living suboptimally. There was no chance of me losing any data because anything important is stored on the cloud. I gave up on the idea of getting anything resembling performance - this was once a laptop that I could take overseas and count on presenting with, and doing major data crunch. Yeh, nah. No longer.

So I just came to terms with the fact that this old computer just wouldn't do the things for me that it once did. In computer world it's just that the hardware is getting old, in the world of personal relationships sometimes people just lose interest. I have software that I like to run on my computers and sometimes that software is a little bit demanding.

Living sub-optimally just means that there are some pieces of software that I don't ask my computer to run. Sure, the computer could run it but if I anthropomorphise a little I'd probably say that the computer has just lost interest. And the amount of extra effort and workarounds required just don't seem to be an efficient use of my time.

There is some software that I simply still have to run on this PC. I can't change the BIOS and it still needs to run a version of windows/office.

If I have a critical activity that I really, really need my old PC to execute then I need to plan for it. That might take hours of putting things in the right places, making sure the PC has had a fresh reboot (perhaps even two) and making sure there aren't too many extraneous demands on it. I shut down all peripheral programs and allow the computer to concentrate on only the one thing that I need it to do. If I manage to caress and cajole the computer adequately I seem to get it to do what I need it to. It's a lot of work, but sometimes there is no other way.

So, living suboptimally is a skill. A great old (now dead) friend of mine once said "I expect nothing of people, and I am rarely disappointed". And the same seems to be true of computers. It's not a path to exhuberant joy, but perhaps "exhuberant joy" - in the long term - is simply a mirage, anyway.

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