I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my new, and quite undeserved computer. My laptop is coming on 6 years old and while it seems to get slower everyday, it’s really a result of the demands I put on it and the constant changes in software.
Every software improvement almost always comes at a price. Software designers always want to do more and hardware engineers have to race to keep up. It has always been that way, and probably always will be. So while my MacBook Pro has been a faithful companion, lasting far longer against the depredations of power-crazed programmers than it’s PC counterparts, it too will eventually fall.
As neither software or hardware developer, I cast my lot with the rest of us lowly users. I am a simple slave to the personal computer market place. Even though I constantly review technology as part of my job, and write long thoughtful commentaries (at least I think they’re thoughtful) on the vagaries and verdicts of living in a cyber-world, I too have walked out of the software store only to find that my puny system won’t run this cool new program.
I really didn’t deserve a new computer, after all mine is still working. Any new computer was supposed to be paid for from the millions I would earn from selling the movie rights to my amazing novel. I was going to buy a new computer on the way back from getting the check at my agent’s office. Since he no longer takes me to his club but now favors the corner “umbrella room” for my visits, that all looks pretty distant.
However, I have a secret weapon, my wife. Working for a multinational corporation with discounts from every company known to man has it’s benefits. I played upon her vast sympathies, like the evil monkey-brained slithy toad I am proud to be. Every once in a while I would cry out sad phrases like “oh, woe is me, if I wait for this to finish loading I shall soon be far too old to bring you breakfast in bed (for a year!)” and other cleverly composed alluring tales of woe. She relented with only the barest of recriminations, and of course, several contractual agreements.
Then came the decision as to what to get next? For me, a confirmed Mac addict, an eschewer of the bargain PC and sufferer of many years under the Microsoft delusion, the manufacturer choice was easy.
“Once you go Mac, you never go back”
Wise and true words. It’s a little sad that I discovered that truth so late in life. However, Macs have gotten really good in the past 10 years and are much easier to adopt than ever before. I first got sucked in by my oldest son, he needed a Mac for college so we got one to help him learn that alien system. All we knew was that everything was different and horribly limited. The jaws of hell gaped before us.
It was different. Instead of reading through long set-up instructions and gaining post-doctoral degrees in printer interfacing or developing cryptic questions about networking that we don’t even understand, we just plug things in and they work.
To get the feel for this alien world, just compare the directions for installing just about anything on a PC, with those for installing on a Mac. The 130 page PC book begins with warnings of the dangers of not following directions exactly in sequence, and dire threats of warranty violations. The next section deals with soothing notions of just what you may accomplish “IF YOU FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS EXACTLY.” After that, a host of screens to be transversed, warnings to read and ignore, “new drivers and software” to be downloaded because the ones that came with the device you are trying to install are obviously out of date, you fool. Then, around page 60, comes the final “moment of truth” chapter, in which we reboot the computer and hope for the best. This is followed quickly by customer support numbers with a Chinese country code.
Now let’s open the Mac instructions. It reads “Dude, plug it in here,” with a nice picture of the plug and the place to put it, followed by the words, “Have an awesome day!” in 14 languages.
The terrible limitations turned out to be just being able to work without forcing feeding myself a computer engineering degree. I feel so small now. I’m no longer welcome in the long, sad conversations about computer woes. Nobody wants to hear you don’t have any. The “computer club” demands suffering and painful experiences, Mac users need not apply.
Sadly, I’m addicted to happiness now, so my choices were limited. However, they are all beautiful, which helps quite a bit. Let’s see, sleek new laptop, which should it ever give me problems Apple will replace cheerfully, or make the jump to desktop and gaze lovingly into 27 inches of glass and brushed aluminum?
Being totally bewitched by the sheer beauty of the iMacs I went for screen real estate. Now I will be able to have two complete documents up, side by side, in a readable typesize and still have plenty of room to watch TV, SWI and a few other windows as well. Imagine doing Google searches on the same screen I’m composing on. Plenty of room to compose muti-media entries for blogs, run a Microsoft virtual machine for those things I review or use that demand “Satan’s operating system,” or maybe just watch a movie and cuddle with my wife. If she feels like cuddling in my office, that is. It will be hard to get me out of the office once it arrives. The kids are already putting away a weeks worth of Cliff bars for the coming famine. And it will be all in one piece with a single touch switch, which is nice, my desk is already crowded enough.
To go mobile and work among the trees of some distant forrest, commune with the tribes of far away places, or bang out a blog entry on a crowded train to Newark, I have my trusty iPad. Who needs a laptop?
Still, like most mortals I have to wait for salvation, scanning the horizon for a distant Fedex truck, and checking the track delivery site for hourly updates. Do you suppose it was like this for brave Odysseus? Bound to the mast of his storm tossed ship listening to the sirens call “between the 12th and 14th of May, thank you for using our Ground service……?”
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2011