"...the thingness of something becomes apparent when it is no longer functioning as it did before or it becomes dysfunctional or if it appears in an unexpected place..."

i bought a €40 macbook air

some people invite you into their warm houses and make you coffee and talk to you about the meaning of (their) life, or their sadness about something or someone, when you go and look at a computer they want to sell, while others expect you to work out whether you want to buy it standing in the cold wind in the dark on their doorstep.

it won’t start up, the ad said. it’s an eleven inch macbook air but that’s all the seller knows about it. the picture shows my favourite computer, which as i told you before, is dollar for dollar, euro for euro, and gram for gram, the best computer ever made.

there is a big question mark on the screen which looks scary but this is actually a good sign. the machine is alive! and it’s asking, where is my start up disk? the machine’s inability to find the start up disk can be due to something simple (e.g. there is no working operating system on the disk) or something complicated and impossible to fix without going to a lot of trouble e.g. the disk has died and needs replacing.

it may be a beautiful thing which is a joy forever, and it is, and it may be alive, which is a good thing, but if it’s from 2010 or earlier, it’s basically useless, even for writing, because it was 12 years ago that they started making this machine with a backlit keyboard. and if you write, think northern european winter, night time, 2023, life without a backlit keyboard is unthinkable.

it comes with a charger, he says helpfully, handing it and the machine to me.

you can never have too many chargers and, if it’s the one that came with the machine, it can tell you something about the kind of life it’s had, and the type of connector shows you if it’s older than 10. this is a magsafe 1 connector so the machine is pre 2013 but, in the dark, i can discern the lighting bolt next to one of the ports on its side. this is the machine’s way of telling me that it’s not more than 12 years old.

i need to start it up, i say.
did you read the ad? he asks nervously.
he just wants to get the thing out of his house and the two warm twenties that are in my pocket into his.
i have a bootable usb drive.
oh ok.

as we wait for the machine to start up, which is going to take a while since its booting off a USB drive, the seller offers a half-baked and half-hearted non-explanation of how he came by it.

i decide that it’s too cold to wait for it to start up all the way. i am not in love with this little machine yet but it would hurt to leave it there so i hand over the money and take it home.

in the safety and comfort of my home the machine tells me it’s a 4,1 which means 2011 so it has a i5 sandy bridge processor which contains around half a million transistors. the processor is not the problem it’s the fact that it only has 2 gigabytes of RAM.

the internal drive has been removed and the battery is shot. it won’t take any charge at all and as soon as you pull out the magsafe connector the machine dies but the keyboard is perfect and the backlighting works but i have bought a lemon and probably paid twice what it’s really worth, but i still like it. how could you not?

every computer has a personality and possibly a soul, depending on your definition of soul.

ok ok i’ll get you a new (second-hand) ssd…