The laptop gave up the ghost over the weekend. A Dell Inspiron 1545, it only lasted a year before the screen went white. This has been coming for some time, but I’d been able to work around it by squeezing the edges of the LCD display. No longer.

So now I’m exiled to the basement to get on the Internet. If I want to stay upstairs, I’ll have to <*gasp*> watch TV, <*Gasp!*> read, or <*GASP!*> talk to my family.

I’ve had a laptop in some form or another for seven years now. I’d assumed I’d always have one. But the Dell I bought is not a typical Dell. Before you lecture me on Dells, keep in mind I’ve worked with Dells for over ten years, including the laptops, and the last laptop went six years without reimaging the hard drive. Also, while I realize Apple builds a good product, it’s not enough to get me to spend extra money to change platforms. Sorry. I’ve used them. They’re very nice and very intuitive, but it’s not enough for me to have to learn how to use a computer all over again.

That said, Dell really dropped the ball on this model. It had no lights for caps lock or num lock, no hard drive indicator, and – this took real genius – required you to use the function key to use the f keys at the top of the keyboard. Is that a big deal?

Well, yes, especially if you’re a programmer and are depending on F5, F9, and F11 to work. Also,  the touchpad (the most evil input device ever invented to begin with) interprets contact as my thumbs being in the same room as the laptop. Result? My cursor would jump to the middle of what I’d be writing at random moments.

Let’s face it. The Inspiron 1545 is the biggest piece of shit Dell has ever built. So until I can buy its replacement (Hello, Sony. My wife and stepson love your laptops.), I have to go downstairs to write, for Internet access, for music. There are some advantages Nita discovered when she had to run Flash on the old tower (soon to be retired and given to my newly single sister-in-law). I get more done down here, as did she. There’s no TV to distract you, and you can crank the music up almost as loud as you want.

But I’m going through laptop withdrawal. I keep wanting to jump on and Google something or jot down an idea or just get on Facebook. It’s hard.

On the other hand, I got out two chapters of the new draft of Holland Bay this weekend. And writing about Himself, the fantasy rocker doing his own autobiography?

Well, if I keep having weekends like I had with this, Holland Bay would be finished in a month.

So there are advantages. And at least I’m not fooling anyone taking my laptop to a coffee shop.