I thought it was my internet signal. It wasn't. It was my little netbook! These are fine for doing a bit of text processing and spreadsheeting around, but not for proper computing. And squeezing someone's voice through an internet cable is proper computing. So I couldn't Skype my mother, or anybody else for that matter, from home. And that sucked. And doing that in the office is only a good idea if you're alone, and now with two postdocs, one PhD student and a guest academic in the office, that doesn't happen very often. Not good!
And then I went on fieldwork. I didn't want to have to twiddle my thumbs, so I inquired if I could perhaps borrow a university laptop. On my desk in my office one finds (very befitting in a way) a desktop. And I could borrow one! And being able to work away from the office was a revelation (yes I know, I'm a luddite.) And during the weekend between fieldwork and back to the office I had a proper machine at home. And with that thing I COULD Skype my mum! So now I knew what to do. Buy another laptop! A proper one, this time. So I did. I have. This text is typed on it.
Why didn't I do this earlier? Maybe because I tend to adapt myself to the world rather than adapt the world to me. But sometimes that's not the best strategy. So now I did something uncharacteristic, and will be able to escape the office a bit more. I can log in remotely to the University network, and I can probably get quite some of the software on this machine. I can phone my mother from my living room and take a computer with me on trips! Bring it on! The luddite has bought an industrial mill and already loves it!