Trouble is afoot. On the eve this column was due I sat myself down in front of my computer, called up my word processing program and, after four minutes of typing, the computer shut itself off, mid-sentence, no apology. “Odd,” I thought. I turned it back on, worked three minutes and it shut itself off a second time. “Ominous,” was what came to mind.

After a third time, it would not allow me to turn it back on. “Bedtime” was one of the milder words that crossed my lips. Apparently my primary work computer had expired right there on the job and could not be revived with CPR, DOS or the Heimlich Maneuver.

To reveal how far along the path to nerd-dom I have traveled, let me just say I mulled over the problem as I lay in bed. This was not unfamiliar territory, as my wife used to amuse people at parties by disclosing that I stayed up late reading computer manuals and, to add a measure of horror, she would add “in bed.” Ah, but that was from a time when computers came with manuals.

Many writers have formed long-term relationships with their typewriters, but I have been a personal computer owner since 1981, when I fell in love with the delete key. I felt that this innovative feature could never be surpassed, but we had our spats and when spell-check came along we parted ways, although we are still friends.

My troubled desktop, which I use to do all my writing, has been with me now for quite some time. I’m not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed, but the hardware still runs a 17-year-old operating system called Windows XP. (Did you hear that? That was the entire tech community groaning.) Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP. They haven’t for years. This means they no longer send updates to protect your machine or to add new functions. But on the upside, Microsoft no longer bothers you with those inconvenient updates and notices that I am constantly dealing with on my laptop, which runs the new Windows 10.

It’s strange to have been on the leading edge of the personal computer revolution in the 1980s, buying machines as fast as new models emerged and always learning new software, but at some point realizing that in slowing the adoption of new technology I am now considered so far behind the times, middle-age people are calling me “pops.” Younger people try to hold my hand when they think I’m fumbling with the new technology. The other day a young man giving me his contact information advised me to tap the little symbol that “looks like a person” on my smartphone in order to access my contacts. “Thank you” I said as I added him to the 200 other contacts I already have on file.

In case you haven’t noticed, people have generally stopped buying desktops. All the young men walk around with laptops, notebooks or smartphones as their primary computer. They do not want to be tied to a desk where they can concentrate on the work in front of them. There is a simple explanation for this: You don’t meet a lot of girls sitting at your desk. It’s just a fact of life. The chances of meeting your true love are greater working a laptop at a coffee shop or at any event ending in “palooza” than they are sitting at a desk in some office and, really, is life about working

at your desk or about meeting your true love?

And speaking of love, my wife has encouraged me to buy a new computer but I can’t afford one. It’s not the money; it’s the time to get it up and running and it’s the programs and data I will possibly lose in the process.

So I attacked my dead computer with the determination of a young surgeon in the emergency room. A power supply swapped out from another dead computer, a tweak here, a cleaning there and it’s now back, humming along with its unsupported operating system and out-of-date programs. One of the steep costs of being handy with computers is being able to keep the old ones running.

Someday I’ll get around to a new desktop but I’m also planning to fix my old typewriter — for backup. Please don’t tell the delete key. I don’t want any more trouble.