Ghost in the machine, spirit of the thing

Over the holidays, I took the old Asus eeePC 701 that I used to lug around as a beat reporter for a tabloid newspaper in 2008 out of storage.

Immediately apparent after replacing the power cord, powering it on, and typing in half-remembered passwords was how pampered I had let myself become in the years since. I used to be happy with its 7-inch screen and the non-existent battery life, but companies I’ve worked for since then let me use their equipment, so I got used to working on proper laptops.

The internal memory is a laughable 4GB and the keys are only slightly larger than the ones on my battered Blackberry. How, I wonder now, did I ever get any work done on this machine? I did, though. Hundreds of news articles and actual writing, too.

I got this netbook, got my mother to buy it, really, because all I really needed was a machine that could run a word processor so I could write. With no office machine–or office–to work on, it seems we are back to that, to what Miyamoto Musashi called “the spirit of the thing.”

In its years in storage, though, the eeePC (I call it Babbage)’s ‘e’ key seems to have stopped working. I have had to resort to using Ctrl-V whenever I need to use that most commonly used letter. It is a situation that Musashi would have called “fucked up.”

It isn’t insurmountable, though. Few things really are as long as you stick to the spirit of the thing.

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