Laptops, Ads, & Being Controlled by Two Dudes With a Podcast

I didn’t post last Wednesday. Did you notice?

Okay, tell the truth. Do you even know I post on Wednesdays?

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Well, I do. Usually. This time I didn’t on account of computer problems. Don’t get me wrong, I have access to working computers.

My problems were… okay, here’s the thing: We have two desktops in our home office. They’re old, but they work. The problem is our home office. It’s a mess. And the thing is, it’s not my mess. If I clean it, I hear things like, “Hey! Where’s that vitally important document I need?! It’s supposed to be right here in this pile of dirty dishes!”

Which brings me to my next problem: they eat while they’re on the computers. Sometimes the mouse is sticky.

I don’t do sticky.

So our desktops are out, but I could have used a laptop. Every member of the family (except me) owns one. I’m certain that had I asked someone would have loaned me theirs, but I never asked. To me, laptops and cellphones are personal items. I’m not comfortable borrowing one.

Plus, you know, sticky.

And while I know I can post from my cell phone, and have done so, I’d just as soon not. That leaves my work laptop and up until this last week, it served me fine.

But then it happened, my friends. Darkness descended upon the workplace. Terror seized our hearts. It was IT!

The social misfits also known as “tech support” arrived on campus. They seized our MacBooks, threatened to erase all files if we didn’t upload them to the mysterious “cloud.” And then… and then… They re-imaged every one of them!

What did this mean, this re-imaging? None of us knew. Not truly.

What I do know is that when my laptop was returned and I logged on to my work email, this was the message it gave me:

You are signing in with a managed account and giving its administrator control over your google Chrome profile. Your Chrome data, such as your apps, bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings will become permanently tied to (my work email address). You will be able to delete this data via the Google Accounts Dashboard, but you will not be able to associate this data with another account.

It was the “managed” and “control” parts that made me uneasy. I felt like I worked for the government!

Oh wait… I do.

It wasn’t that I had anything to hide, and I rather doubt our district office is too concerned about a secretary blogging from her home. Writing about a trip to Target, going to the theater, or showing pictures of her cat.


Even if her cat is better than their cat.

And yet: “a managed account” … “administrator control” …

I’d been saving up for a laptop. This seemed like a good excuse to buy one. Trouble was, I had my eyes on this baby:


Was it what I needed? It was way more than I needed. It was also waaaaay more than I wanted to spend.

But just look at it! Ain’t it gorgeous?!

As I was discussing my computer woes with Husband, Daughter walked into the room. “You mean the family member who knows the least about technology is talking about technology?”

(Daughter has a snarky side. I have no idea where she gets it.)

She added,  “All Mom needs is a laptop that’s pretty and has a nice keyboard.”

I should have been insulted. But, um, yeah. She gets me.

After a lot of searching, Husband found a laptop in my price range at Costco. It had a full-sized keyboard and… oh! It comes in blue!

I ordered it online and had it within two days. For the more tech-savvy among you, I’ll include the specs:

Not gold trimmed like the other, but for almost 1,000 bucks less? I’ll take it.

You may have noticed that both laptops are HPs. There’s a reason for that. Apparently, I’m a sucker for ads made by dudes with a podcast.

The podcast to which I refer is Reply All, with hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. It’s funny, it’s informative, it’s highly entertaining. It also has one or two ads placed midway through, also done by PJ and Alex, also funny and informative. You find yourself listening just to hear what goofy things they’re going to say.

I first started listening to Reply All about a year or so ago, and I spent a lot of time listening to past episodes as I refinished our kitchen cabinets. Meaning I listened to a lot of ads about HP products, over and over again. All while inhaling toxic fumes. And when the time came to buy a laptop, HP was the only brand I wanted.

This is difficult for me to admit, I want you to know that. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s impervious to advertising. I’m far too smart to be snookered into buying something I don’t want or need. And from what I hear, most everyone thinks they’re immune to ads.

(Kinda makes you wonder why they bother spending so much money on them, doesn’t it?)

To some extent we are immune to ads, at least the first time we’re exposed to them. It’s seeing them repeatedly over a period of time that makes them stick. Especially when they’re for products we know little about, or feel intimidated buying. Or when the ads use people we know, or at least feel like we know. We trust them. We trust what they tell us. And we do it without thinking.

Or at least, most of the time we do it without thinking. This time, I thought about it.

When Husband was doing his laptop search, he showed me many different brands – Asus, Dell, Lenovo. All ones he owned at one time or another, all ones he liked.

“But aren’t HPs better?”

He shrugged. “Depends on what you want. Why are you so stuck on HP?”


I couldn’t exactly tell him it was on account of these two guys:

PJ and Alex
PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, hosts of Reply All and HP pushers.

Admitting you can be manipulated by ads is a hard pill to swallow. A bit of an ego buster. But no worries, I can rationalize it! The ads I heard were smart, informative and amusing. The ads did not, repeat, did NOT prey upon my emotions or feelings of inadequacy in any way. No way, no how. I am soooo above that sort of thing.

Or am I?

It’s my work laptop that is being managed and controlled. Not me.


The lesson I want to leave with you is this: Stay aware! Know what ads are selling and how they are influencing you. You are not immune to them, any more than I am. (Otherwise, why would it be a 70 billion dollar industry?)

Oh, and one more thing: After a full week of using this laptop, I can report that it is all I hoped for, needed, and is super sweeeet!

That’s the main thing. The fact that HP owners are smarter than everyone else? That’s just bonus.

28 thoughts on “Laptops, Ads, & Being Controlled by Two Dudes With a Podcast

  1. So let me summarize: Breathing toxic fumes while listening to a podcast made you buy a blue HP laptop, because the government agency you work for is flexing its bureaucratic muscle on a Wednesday.

    or something like that.

    and yes I did wonder what happened last Wednesday – guess I just assumed you were captured by aliens or something. Did you know more people are taken by aliens on Wednesday than any other day of the week?

    1. Wow! You summarized in 30 words what took me over 1,000 to tell. I guess that’s why you’re the poet and I’m the… um… I’ll get back to you on that.

      And yes, of course I know Wednesdays are Alien Abduction Day. Duh! Why do you think I post on Wednesdays? While I’m safely indoors typing, the rest of the world is gallivanting outside and getting sucked into space capsules. 👽

  2. Your fanbase missed you last Wednesday. So did your official publicist. That’s me. I missed you. Even though I was in England with my mother. Or maybe BECAUSE I was. Who knows. I know nothing but I do know I concur on that uneasy feeling when words like managed and control are bandied about – it sort of seems natural that ‘thought police’ will follow, do we think?

    1. OMG!
      I TOTALLY forgot to alert my official publicist (you) that I was sans non-managed, non-sticky computer access! Had you known, no doubt you would have called your contact in Boston, who would have called their contact in San Jose, who would have overnighted a laptop to me. *facepalm*
      Next time, my friend, you’ll be my first call. 😍

  3. I have enjoyed your funny and ‘troubled’story. Now, congratulations to your beautiful and non-sticky laptop with all mod cons …including ads. 😊 . Oh yes, for smart people.
    I will stay non-smart with my IMac and iPad. Not many ads but that suits me.

    Seriously though, congratulations. Enjoy and settle down to you ur writhing again.

  4. I did wonder, but thought you might just be having a “media-free” moment, grand non-blogging rebellion, or had fallen into a pot-hole and was slowly carving a stairway out of it.

    Congrats on the new laptop – its a good feeling to have a brand new one. Then I get all fussy and snarked when I have to rearrange everything (and I mean everything) to suit my neat freak, no desktop shortcuts, no multiple program launcher spots, and all the rest of my little quirks.

    For the record, I never do anything personal on the work computer – everything is logged and everything is owned by them, just doesn’t feel right.

    1. Depending on the pothole quality, I might not bother carving my way out. Just toss me a thermos of tea and maybe a few treats now and then. I’ll be fine.

      You know, writing on the work device gave me momentary pause, but I got over it. It wasn’t until “Control” popped up on the screen that I decided, eh, time to move on. Even though I have to find a new desktop background. Ugh! 😉

      1. 🙂 I admit to being a little “privacy challenged” by technology. It just seems they track you everywhere (not that I have anything to hide) and I resent that. We all need a modicum of mystery in our lives!

  5. I was totally entertained by your laptop story. Your new one is beautiful and I doubt that you fell prey to any subliminal messages whilst you listened to those podcasts at all. Hope all your words flow easily with your new beauty!

  6. I love the new laptop… and yes your post for this week had a certain brilliance about it as though an angel on high were singing it’s praises.

    I did notice you were absent last Wednesday for it rained all day and the dog howled forever more, forever more.

    Enjoy your new laptop… jc

  7. Two confessions: One, I was totally enraptured with your post, as usual, until I hit the image of the aluminum and carbon fiber HP laptop. It is deliciously gorgeous and my eyes rolled back in my head, making it difficult to process the rest of your post. I had to take a small break and calm down before I could properly read your lovely dispatch.

    Two, and this is very sad, I have a “new” laptop that I hardly ever use, even though I bought it (oh the shame!) nearly two years ago. The purchase was an extremely good deal, one of those rare flash-sale things that you can blink and miss, where I paid a third of the original price even though it was a new model. The issue? I really love the ancient laptop that I am still using and I’m having (rather extended) separation anxiety. The good side is that I already have a go-to should my beloved ever bite the dust. The bad side, of course, is that the situation is kind of ridiculous.

    1. YES, YES! It’s gorgeous right? And only 2.5 pounds, Brian! Can you imagine it? All that beauty and power and gold-trimmed glory at only 2.5 pounds?!! You should see the video of it where it kind of twirls in the air in this intoxicating loop, showing its 360 degree flip… *sigh*

      Let go of your laptop shame, Brian. You’re among friends here. Come, let me show you what resides in this drawer over here. Do you see it? The phone? The one that was discontinued three years ago and is no longer supported, but I still keep it charged for old times sake, and … oh hell, let’s just get it out in the open for all to see: it’s a Window’s phone.
      There. I said it. And oh, how I miss it. I really do. I had everything set where I wanted, my pictures were so easy to find and share, my notifications clear, my–
      No! No more… It’s time I move on. Accept the new one before me… *heavysigh*

  8. When you didn’t post last Wednesday I went into a dark corner of the closet and — well — it wasn’t good. Thank God it was “sticky” that halted production and not that you abandon cyberspace for real life. (Crazy thoughts go through your head when you’re in the closet.) Totally congrats on the new laptop. I was a Toshiba man for years but once you go HP you never go back.

    1. I’m getting an image of you as Lillian Gish from that silent film, Broken Blossoms. Lordy man, I hope you recovered intact!
      So far I’m loving the HP. Members of the Apple cult may scoff, but I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck, and that’s what counts.

  9. I noticed the missed post. Yesterday. I find comfort that you can understand my internet issues. Even if it was only briefly at your end, but here it’s a daily, ongoing challenge.

    1. Sounds like my sister’s place in northern AZ, you never know when you’ll get cut off in the middle of reading emails or watching cat videos. Of course, there are benefits to that as well, which I’m sure you can appreciate. 🙂

  10. Oh my goodness, that laptop in the fiest photo is indeed elegant. The gold, and the black. Laptops aren’t my thing. If one works, it’s all i want. This is kind of like looking at a gorgeous outfit in Vogue, though, that i could bever bring myself to spend that kind of money on. Impractical, unnecessary, overdone, and ridiculously spendy.

    The blue one i loooooove! It looks inviting, real and with a much more practical price. Perfect! 🙂

    1. Now that you mention it, the gold & black number, though lovely, looks like something a CEO would get… with their expense account!
      The blue is definitely more my speed as well as price point!

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