About mid-way through March my computer started experiencing problems with PRAM. There were big pink lines that would appear across the entire screen for a few seconds, then the laptop would shut down. Then a blinking light with accompanying beep would start, not stopping until I forced the computer to turn off. This happened at first only once a week, then with increasing frequency until the problem was occurring several times per day. I took the computer to the closest mac store so they could look at it.
I must say, the guys at Mac Center in the Viva Laureles mall were excellent. They listened to my problem and then helped me out by giving it a good cleaning and running all the tests they could think of for only 40,000 COP. Really nice service. Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem. After a few days with my computer back the problem was popping up again. This time more frequently, and I was unable to restart the laptop for longer periods of time. I took the computer back to the Mac Center and they said that because they had already replaced the RAM to run tests and knew this was not the problem, it was probably an issue with the logic board. As any mac owner knows, this is the kiss of death.
Because of the Easter holiday, I knew it would be at least two weeks until I could bring in my computer for more testing and analysis. In the meantime, I’m stuck. Currently I’m using my laptop to write this post, but I know that the computer will only work for a limited time today, so I’m trying to write fast. The problem is that nearly all the work I currently do, and the majority of my job hunting tasks, are done on my laptop. Without it I feel paralyzed here. I still want to sort out the troubles with this very expensive, and besides this one issue, reliable computer. It cost a lot of money and I’m unwilling to replace it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
While those troubles are fought and dealt with, I’ve bought a tablet to serve as a travel computer and back-up. I spent the last week obsessively reading blogs and making comparison charts of all the convertible laptop-tablet models on the market. I narrowed my choices down to the Microsoft Surface Pro, the HP Spectre 360, the Asus ZenBook, and the Acer Switch Alpha 12. All of them have their relative pros and cons in respect to screen resolution, keyboard layout, processing power, memory, battery life, and price. In the end I made the decision based on a combination of all of them. I chose the Acer Switch Alpha 12, a tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard and writing stylus. It has a moderately good processor, memory, and after testing the keyboard in-store, a comfortable size and typing feel. The trade off was the battery life, the reviews online all said the same thing.
Here is where we come to the biggest problem of living abroad with computer troubles- there is no way to buy an English standard keyboard off the shelf. All computers sold here come with a Spanish keyboard. After years of practice I’ve become a decent touch typer, but that all goes out the window when many keys are moved and others change shape. In the end, the best option was to order online and pay the enormous shipping and import costs. The international premium shipping cost $40 from Amazon, the estimated import cost was $110. It was painful to pay these fees, but I knew it had to be done, I’m losing too much time each day that my computer shuts down and refuses to start up again.
My new Windows 10 tablet will arrive on Monday, April 17th. I’m nervous for the big switch to a machine running Windows 10, but I feel like I made the right choice in straying away from the “walled garden” of Apple with this purchase. Their machines just work most of the time, but when they don’t, it’s maddening to fix them. I’ll hopefully still have my MacBook Pro for years to come, but just in case I’ll also have this handy little convertible tablet.