This article is more than 1 year old

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

I may consider offering you cash to break it for me

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Something is wrong with my eyes. Hang on, no, it's my display that's gone smeary. This is great news.

As no one is looking, I permit myself a hint of a smile. It's not out of relief that my male gaze can continue to ogle for a few more years yet. No, I am quietly thrilled to learn that my old LCD display needs replacing. And no, this is not sarcasm. As if.

A demonstrably broken piece of kit fills me with joy. It means I can buy another. A new one.

The new one will be shiny and sparkly with lots of big numbers in the spec sheet and smell like the seats in a new car that make children vomit the moment you leave the slip road to join a motorway.

Oh, and the unboxing! To get inside the box – boldly marked RECYCLABLE – I will strip away about 1.5km of unrecyclable packing tape and assorted security seals. There will be sheets of protective film to peel from shiny surfaces; cable ties to twist off; and reams of unnecessary warranty documentation hermetically sealed in thick, clear plastic envelopes that resist the sharpest of scissors and must be torn open with my teeth.

Moulded polystyrene packaging will snap into pieces in my hands as I lift out the main unit, and tiny balls of polystyrene crying statically charged freedom will scuttle their way skilfully into tiny corners of my office where no vacuum cleaner can reach.

I love all that.

Naturally I do not throw away my old LCD display. I will keep it on the floor for a few weeks. I tell Mme D this is just in case I need a backup display at short notice if the new one goes wrong under warranty. Indeed, I have read the warranty and its finer details are firmly lodged in my head; literally, in fact, as I'm still picking torn polythene from between my teeth. She asks if this "short notice" is likely to be so short that I wouldn't have time to nip down to the cellar to fetch it from storage where nobody is going to trip over it while fruitlessly trying to poke the vacuum cleaner into difficult corners of the office where all the polystyrene balls are huddling in terror.

Of course, the real reason for keeping the old kit in the middle of the floor is so I can look at it from time to time and compare it to its much better replacement now taking its place in the middle of my desk. I need time to adjust. The creaky old display with its bits of dried-up rubber trim sagging out from behind the bezel versus the squeaky, bright and virtually bezel-less new unit.

If I remove the old kit too soon, it feels weird. I get the impression my old display has somehow morphed into something younger, which is creepy. I got such a feeling this week when I read the news that Guillaume Rozier – volunteer developer of France's only working Covid vaccination booking app – was given an Order of Merit by the French president. Photos make him looks just like a 27-year-old version of Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. For a second, I thought Macron was giving the latter a freaky survival award for being shot at by terrorists while drumming for Eagles of Death Metal in Paris five and a half years ago.

This left me with an urgent desire to see both Rozier and Homme side by side, just to be sure they were different men. I already had a photo of Rozier on-screen on my new display; all I needed was for Homme to pop round to the house and sit on the floor for a few weeks for comparison and I'd be OK.

Youtube Video

Perhaps it's just me who finds it disturbing when one person resembles another person from decades earlier. But how would you feel if you walked down the street and met someone who looked exactly like someone from the 1980s, such as, oh I dunno, Falco? Or Max Headroom?

Fair enough, bumping into Max Headroom would freak anybody out but maybe you get the idea.

Anyway, at some point, I will have to dispose of the old display.

Take it to the dump, er, recycling centre? Well, it sort of still works, I suppose, if you don't mind squinting a bit.

Give it away? But what would the grateful recipient of my largesse plug it (the display, not my "largesse") into? It's a 15-year-old LCD clunker supporting DVI and VGA only – even HDMI was too cutting-edge when I bought it. That's old LCD by the way: it gets so hot you could use it as a bar heater. Even the resolution – a screamingly high (when I bought it) 1600 x 1200 pixels – matches no self-respectingly modern aspect ratio.

Mmm, lovely. Just writing that paragraph makes me love my new 4K monitor all the more.

That reminds me, my old MacBook Pro from 2012 is struggling in the summer heat. A replacement beckons. Ludicrously, I insist that it should be replaced by another Mac laptop, one that should be fitted with too much memory – how else did you think this one lasted nine years? Unfortunately Apple hasn't yet announced any M1 machines with more than 16GB.

So, there's only one thing for it. I'll have to get its battery replaced.

I won't see it once it has been fitted but I will know it's a new battery. It will be shining and sparkling away inside the case. I will ask the Genius at the Dimbo Bar if I can take the old battery home so it can sit in the middle of my office floor for a few weeks.

Oh, and then there's my smartphone.

It's nowhere near as ancient as my laptop or display but mobile handsets age in dog years, don't they? That makes mine about 35 years old. Worse, US sanctions have prevented Huawei from upgrading the OS beyond Pie. That means, in dog years, my Android version is 21 years out of date.

So, quite obviously it needs replacing immediately but what can I do? It still works brilliantly. Maybe I could drop it, or lose it, or take a flight to London and sit in an Ibis Budget bedroom for 10 days so that I can eventually go and visit the Tate Modern, lie on a beanbag while looking at an art installation projected onto the ceiling and get it picked from my pocket just like its predecessor.

Hang on, my keyboard's looking a bit dusty too. Netgear's support site has shunted my switch into its "legacy" pages. Even my NAS box looks dull.

I can't wait for them all to fail.

In the meantime, if you want to see someone who manages to look like both Falco and Max Headroom at the same time, I give you Mindless Self Indulgence's Jimmy Urine…

Youtube Video

Alistair Dabbs
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. What do you mean "Who's Jimmy Urine?" Oh come on, you know: Mr and Mrs Urine's little boy. No? Perhaps this will help jog your memory. Oh shut up! :-) More at Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like