My son has a crappy computer. So do I. So, probably, do you.
Crappy computers are everywhere, ubiquitous and useful, home and office. They have cheap motherboards assembled God knows where (we know, too), flimsy processors, garbage software and they work just fine. For what we do, I mean. Write, surf, stream. It’s a machine, and unless you hit it with a hammer or are dumb about threats, you can invest pennies per day and get your computing done.
Not if you’re a gamer, though. Gaming is where the computing lies, these days, and I’m not talking about solitaire.
Gaming is what my son does. This is unremarkable for a 22-year-old man, for sure, but also unremarkable for his particular neurology, and he’s always been this way. None of the fussiness about gaming and compulsion and sedentary lifestyles and imaginary violence applies. He could be charting bus schedules. He plays games. He is not that guy, forget that. He is John.
His crappy computer was bought with a loan from me, not a hardship, and like other crappy computers it will do some things well and some things not. Unlike his father, John’s PC limitations glare at him. There are things he can’t do. Things he would like to do.
I know something about this, not a lot, enough to understand. You can buy an amazing gaming computer if you want to drop a couple of grand. You can build one cheaper, but (at least in our case) that would require patience and time, piecing it together. I could handle that delayed gratification, maybe, John not so much.
So for his birthday I attempted a Band-Aid. At first I was leaning toward a high-end video card, but he has a processor onboard that goes way beyond mediocre and not in a good way. I found one, a nice and powerful one, affordable. I bought it for his birthday, but the day it arrived I learned of some complications. It might not work, which we wouldn’t know until it was installed and way past the point of return, so I exchanged for one with more chance of success.
And success is what we got. I’ve never done that, switched out a processor, but it was smooth and not all that tense, the two of us working together. John is good with sensing spatial coherence, knowing that there is probably one way things fit together and seeing that one way. Me, I imagine all sorts of potential fits, always have. But unlike, say, plumbing, computers don’t make me sweat much. I understand how they work, and why. I just maybe need someone to align the edges.
That processor booted up and was an improvement, but that turned out to be the start of cascading consequences. Sure, you had more power, but it turned out the video card was still the key. So I offered to front him the cost of that same high-end baby I once had my eyes on, and it came yesterday. Funny story about him waiting and when it finally arrived, but actually maybe not that funny. I’ll pass.
That video card does not work, though, is not even recognized by his computer, like me standing in Macy’s at the perfume counter. Unseen, unacknowledged, and maybe not really belonging.
I believe I’ve traced this to an inadequate power supply, since the specifications on the video card box mentioning 500 watts as recommended and oh, we have 250 watts, you think? So off this morning to buy a new power supply, and we shall see. Surely there will be something else, as we all know that if you give a moose a muffin, it’s going to want a glass of milk. Possibly a new heat sink, too. Mooses are like that.