Sunday, February 12, 2006
OK, I Like Shopping
I'm thinking about a new computer and so am doing a little shopping. Maybe this is something that some people dread--my wife would hate this task above almost any other--but I seem hard-wired to obsess about these things (toys and gadgetry) and I rather enjoy picking my way through the thicket to a (hopefully) happy destination.
I spend a hell of a lot of time with this machine. In addition to the blogging (which all of you know can be quite time-consuming), I've kept a journal for years. Plus there is the email thing, which is heavy or light from week to week, the occasional movie to watch, plus several hours per day minimum of iTunes usage. So this is pretty easily the best couple grand I've spent.
I'm an Apple person, this Powerbook being my sixth or seventh Apple / Mac. I have some experience with PCs, both having done some work with them a few years back, and getting to use my wife's school computer regularly. I'm also my mother-in-law's unofficial problem-solver with her PC. It's just a tool, I know, a means to an end. But computer platform loyalty seems to have a life of its own; it's a topic which some people, anyway, seem to approach with a kind of religious, evangelical zeal. I suppose this comes from our having to master a fairly complex set of skills as computer users, skills which differ slightly from platform to platform. So we get to know a particular skill set, and that becomes our home base. Apples have traditionally been easier to use, and, for a person who has mastered the minutiae of Windows (or especially DOS!), the idea of someone not wanting to tackle the beast must seem like wanting into the fraternity but being unwilling to undergo the hazing. And those of us who have this world opened to us without the hazing are understandably rather vehement in our conviction that the hazing is silly and unnecessary.
I'm far from an expert on anything, PC or Mac, and I suppose I have the natural predisposition for the Apple in that I have no inherent desire to learn anything about the machine: in an ideal world, I would simply turn it on and it would intuitively do whatever I wanted. This is presently impossible, but the closer we get to this the better, in my mind. I got my first nudge in this direction from a good friend of mine who makes his living at a major university, being directly responsible for several hundred personal computers and a couple big mainframe servers of several platforms. He knows all the systems intimately and works with them daily for his living, and he comes down pretty unequivocally in favor of the Apple. I have no special software demands (though there are far fewer conflicts, he assures me, than most people believe) and they tend to have very nice machinery quite apart from platform and software considerations. So my own enthusiasm is not quite at the religious level we see, but I have a happy history with Apples and a predisposition to favor them now.
And quite apart from this discussion, I feel we all are very much served by having a choice in this matter. I'm convinced that Apple has played a really major role in shaping the development of the personal computer, and continues to do so; and I'm likewise convinced that for all the good things that Bill Gates has brought to so many of us, his motivation, and the world that would come into being without Apple's pressures, are things that we might do well to look at with a modicum of skepticism.
The latest Apple machines, recently released, are using--of all things!--Intel processors. Now if I were one of those zealots, this would surely rankle. What's next? The ability to run Windows on your Apple if you want? Lutherans asking back into the Catholic fold? Dan Quayle for Vice President? The converse--the ability to run Apple's OS on PC hardware--might actually be an interesting prospect. While I have been really happy with all my Apple hardware, it's really the OS that has earned my loyalty; plus, there's clearly some very good PC hardware--IBM, HP, Dell, etc.. But there's no way they're opening that door. Other than this processor change, they appear to have subjected the rest to a general freshening and detail tweak. Given my happiness with this Powerbook, I can't fault that thinking.
Anyway, people's thoughts on hardware and platforms are welcome. It's always interesting to hear what people are using and why and whether they'd continue or go off in a new direction.