George & Wendy Show

Wendy Parker

The ‘new-and-improved’ laptop blues

I’m old and wise enough to have figured out the “New and Improved” lie. This is a crime against mankind, carried out by evil mass-marketing overlords whose only desire is to make mankind as a whole miserable. You find a product to love, develop a relationship with it, commit yourself to it, and just as things get serious enough for you to wear the T-shirt in public, it’s “New and Improved.”

“New and Improved” is code for “The company found a cheaper way to make it, and doesn’t care if it involves feeding babies plutonium death crystals — if it makes more money, it’s ‘new and improved.’ Sell it!”

I hate “New and Improved,” and I’m looking to back a candidate who will propose many laws against “New and Improving” things from here on out. If we’re going to regulate the crap out of things, we may as well make it count.

Most of the general quality-of-life improvements we’ve made in the past hundred years have done us no favors. We’re fat from convenience, full of cancer from chemicals, and stupid because we don’t have to think for ourselves anymore. Hell, we’re improving ourselves into extinction.

laptopI’m currently suffering the new-and-improved laptop blues. I’m pretty sure if I return one more laptop to Best Buy, they’re going to arrest me.

My demands for a new machine are very basic. I want the exact same computer I had before, with the exact same hardware, only new and not bashed up from 30K miles in an 18 wheeler. I want it to look and feel exactly like the old computer, which meets my needs completely but is bashed up from 30K miles in an 18 wheeler. Simple, right?

Try explaining this simple concept to one of The Borg who man the counters at Best Buy.

First of all, they’re all 11 years old and have distracting facial piercings. You know, I don’t care if you want to poke holes all in your face and stick weird things in it, but A) Don’t expect me to take you seriously, and B) Don’t act like a dick when I stare at your third nostril, which you’ve apparently self-inflicted with a wine bottle cork wound.

I don’t particularly care for the ‘New and Improved’ version of dress codes for customer service representatives. And who’s signing the permission slips for all these eleven year olds to get holes poked in their faces? Call me old fashioned, I don’t care. It’s gross to make your ear lobe hang down to your shoulder on purpose. People used to call those ‘disfiguring chainsaw accidents’, now it’s ‘body modification’. Stop it. Call it ‘unicorn rainbow dust’, or ‘kittens dipped in candy’, it doesn’t change the gross factor. You’re an idiot, and you need to go have your damn ear fixed.

Anyway, twice now these festooned children have talked me into buying a ‘new and improved’ version of my old computer, and twice I’ve returned it within days with thinly veiled threats to kill the person who suggested Windows 8 ever be unleashed on mankind, me in particular. Twice I’ve had to explain I want the exact same computer as the old one, with the exact same software and twice I’ve been met with blank stares or incredulous looks. I think the clerks are practicing ‘New and Improved’ ways to piss customers off.

So if anyone has an Acer Aspire, model 5532, with Windows 7 and in the box, hit me up. Until then, I’ll suffice by ‘New and Improving’ my laptop back together with duct tape. You can’t improve on duct tape.

  • Danny Murdock

    They make a cell phone for contractors that is water resistant & nearly indestructible,why not a laptop designed to be bounced around by79,600lbs of Freightshaker & dog food ?

  • SalenaLettera

    We each have a Toshiba Qosmio X505 something or other. They were $2500 two years ago when we got them, but now you can get one for about $1900. The screen is huge, it’s amazingly fast, and I LOVE Toshiba. The product is fantastic and customer service is awesome. I don’t think I’d buy any other brand. Best Buy carries Toshiba, but we got ours at Fry’s Electronics…which is Best Buy on steroids. It’s a seriously awesome store.

  • Zachary Bell

    There ARE laptops that are designed for that. For example. take my Lenovo ThinkPad SL410.

    This 14″ BEAST has survived 167,000 miles in an 18-wheeler and is still going strong. I am very happy with it, and the TrackPoint stick makes use of my laptop on the steering wheel a breeze. New and Improved design? Not so much- it sports the same black and red motif that ThinkPads have had since 1992 and that design has become the standard for business and trucker laptop durability.

    ThinkPads have to pass 8 MIL-SPEC tests before the ThinkPad name is attached to the machine. And then there’s that legendary keyboard, which improves typing accuracy, comfort and speed.

    I highly recommend you get one so you never have to face the “Greek (Geek) Squad” again.

  • Zachary Bell

    While I am biased towards Lenovo after having a great experience with the ThinkPad product line, I also like the Toshiba offerings and would recommend them as an alternative if the store doesn’t carry Lenovo’s ThinkPad.

  • Zachary Bell

    By the way, one of those MIL-SPEC tests performed on ThinkPad is 100,000 hours (1 million miles) of heavy vibration (similar to a Freightshaker). ThinkPads will hold up even when many other laptops fail.

  • Tx_Ghost

    part of the Problem is also as the Hardware ages, the Software is getting more Advanced(requiring upgraded Hardware) but this is how the computer industry works Newer Products means more Money because we have to replace Obsolete Hardware/Software, I remember the Sewing Machine Cases that were Portables 25 years ago with a 5″ CRT Monochrome Screen and a 5 ¼ ” Floppy Drive with a 5 Mb HDD. That won’t run 99% of today’s operating systems much less a Program. So Laptops are way Better Now.But it Sounds like you Want a Tougher Laptop with Windows 7, Just so you do not have to replace it every 3 months, Maybe it will Last a Year.

  • Mark Hayward

    Group Mobile sells many brands of rugidized lap tops and Mobil computers.

  • Scott Baker

    You make mention of Windows 8 in your article. These “technicians” do not know the special requirements posed by day to day commercial drivers. I was a commercial driver, but am now doing custom machines for other drivers. These “techs” are taught to push what’s available at the time. If you have a preference, PUSH!! It’s your cash! I’ve swapped windows 8 for Windows 7 on apprx 150 driver machines. If you want Windows 7 on your new machine, let the “techs” know you WILL NOT PURCHASE THAT MACHINE if you don’t get EXACTLY what you’re paying for. Don’t let these techs determine your needs. They haven’t been there. They haven’t done that. They’ll likely never know any better.

  • Todd Dills

    Scott, you have a website for your services, by chance? We should talk more about the work you’re doing: tdills [at] . .

  • Todd Dills

    I’ve got a Lenovo ThinkPad currently that I like, too. T520, it is, and before that an IBM ThinkPad (T60 or T80, can’t recall) that was an old soldier, running XP for years without much of an issue though it ultimately gave up the ghost.

  • Dr Duke

    I got a new laptop back in November. I have been using a computer since I was in 2nd grade. I have built them, I have worked on them professionally. Windows 8 turned me into the stereotypical grandparent who has never seen one before. After a week of expletives I found this
    It gives you the start menu back, You can pick what version of Windows you want it to act like including Windows 7. It is free. I highly recommend it.

  • eddy

    Oh and by the way Lenova computers formerly known as IBM is now the Chinese government no thank you.I too am a 20 year plus former driver now a Microsoft certified engineer. Toshiba has always been an excellent laptop maker and the comment about the program to add the start button to Windows 8 is right on target.Also keep in mind that every computer maker offers a consumer grade PC or laptop as well as higher grade machines. Consumer grade machines, the cheapy’s, have model names like Acer Aspire, some day it aspires to be areal PC. For the old Compaq line it was the Presario. Also keep in mind if you shop at any of the box stores like Best Buy you are buying a consumer grade machine.You should also make sure it’s a new computer and not a returned unit. They’ve been caught doing this in the past.

  • Dave Nichols

    right on! got forced into new version of quickbooks and it is costing me 100 bucks a month more for the accounting firm that does my books due to the moronic changes to the program. I am furious and looking for an alternative! strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.