A growing family equates to shrinking living space, so with the addition of our second son, we embarked on a major purge. This involved several tough decisions, a bit of furniture-moving, and a lot of cursing. Blindsided by a wifely strategy that still has me confused, I found myself purchasing new furniture to make more space.
Once we were finished, I had to admit that the new computer armoire is sleeker and nicer-looking than the old L-shaped desk we had, plus it really does take less space when it’s closed up. The problem is, it has a smaller desktop area and thus less capacity to hold all of our computer equipment, bills and general crap.
We threw out most of the crap, some of the equipment and a couple of choice bills, but were left with two computers – the desktop model that the whole family is welcome to use whenever they want, and the laptop that I sit and stare at for several hours each night, hoping my muse will intervene with double shots of inspiration and espresso.
Even though the laptop has a built-in keyboard, monitor and mouse, deteriorating eyesight and oncoming carpal tunnel backed my argument for the larger, external versions of these accoutrements. We no longer had space for two sets, so we decided to share those devices and a printer. My wife had one stipulation – she didn’t want to have to switch four cords between computers every time she wanted to interrupt my staring at the laptop in order to print something out with the desktop.
No need to worry, I assured her. They make these little switch thingies that let two computers share four devices. If I can’t find one, I’ll just buy a portable printer and keep that and my laptop in the drawer of my nightstand.
It took me two hours on Google to find a name for the product I wanted – they’re called KVMP (as in Keyboard-Video-Mouse-Printer) switches and as it turns out, they’re largely fictitious.
Armed with my new term, I entered a technology superstore the next day over my lunch break. A kid half my age found me wandering the chasms of computer equipment and decided to help me out by applying his vastly superior knowledge to my needs.
“Can I help you, sir?”
“Yes, I’m looking for a KVMP switch.”
“You mean a KVM?”
“No, I mean a KVMP.”
“There is no such thing, sir.”
“There is a such thing; I found it on your company’s Web site last night.”
“Maybe you should order it from the site, then.”
Now I was getting miffed.
“I don’t want to order it; I want to take one home today.”
“Could I interest you in one of our KVM switches?”
“No, I also have a P. As in printer, something that I imagine most computer users have.”
“Oh, you need a print server!”
“No, I don’t want to install a print server. That won’t allow me to share a keyboard, monitor and mouse, will it?”
“No, you’d need a KVM for that.”
“Or a KVMP to accomplish both with minimal equipment and capital outlay.”
“What are you trying to set up, sir? Maybe you don’t really need a KVM ‘P’ and I can suggest an alternative.”
“You don’t need to know what I’m trying to set up. I didn’t come here to ask for your solution; I know what I need, and it’s a KVMP.”
A passing manager with a good two years on the schoolchild, heard the anguish in my voice and stopped to mollify me.
“May I help you, sir?”
Whereupon the clerk answered for me, “He’s looking for a KVMP.”
“KVMP? There’s no such thing, is there? Are you sure he didn’t say KVM? Sir, what are you trying to set up?”
“He wants to share KVM, plus a printer.”
“Oh! Well, did you show him our print servers?”
I walked out while they were still arguing, and they never noticed.
It took me three trips to similar superstores and three similar conversations with similar polo-bedecked children before I came to a decision. It was time to admit defeat and live up to my promise, so I’m now the proud owner of a portable printer that’s small enough to share a drawer with my laptop.
Fortunately, there was enough room left over for a new pair of glasses and two OSHA-approved, carpal tunnel-reducing wristbands. Although the kid at the drugstore tried to sell me liniment instead.