Exciting times in the world of personal computing, and by that I mean it’s déjà vu all over again. Apple is preparing to upgrade its Macbook Pro line’s processors just a year after it refreshed the whole kit and kaboodle. And its new, faster Macbook Air debuted just months after its other new, faster (but now apparently old, slower) Macbook Air was pushed for Christmas.
I have had a hate/love affair with Macs. Back in the ’80s, Apple computers were neither affordable nor practical. PC clones were it if you were eager to join the PC/word-processing revolution. Although publishers generally used Macs in the 90s, they crashed more often than Aeroflot.
Then Steve Jobs returned to Cupertino, and new fruit-flavored unibodies came bursting off assembly lines. And while I had flirted with the Performa G3 desktops before then, it wasn’t until the plastic iMac G5 that I found something I thought I could live with.
Until the power button stopped functioning and the hard drive died, taking all my data with it.
I was convinced that Apple made great software but couldn’t make hardware worth a tinker’s toy. So I went back to Windows — namely the Thinkpad (which I was able to purchase at using my employee discount while at Time magazine). I am one of the three people who actually liked Vista (Service Pack 1). The other two are Bill and Melinda Gates (at least officially). Never had a problem with it, and loved the UI. And Thinkpads, even post-IBM, were powerful, durable machines (although the battery life was just shy of the time it took to boot up, or roughly 30 minutes).
Then Apple dumped Motorola and went Intel. And we started getting those shiny metallic iMacs in the office. They ran like Pascal’s dream: quiet as a corpse, as brisk and responsive as a descending colon at Taco Bell. And again, all the publishers I worked for, in-house or freelance, were on some version of the Mac
So I bought me one. And then I bought me one of those Mac Airs to facilitate my work as an online editor. It is simply the finest machine I have ever used, even though it’s the older, slower version of the new, faster iteration.
And now Windows 8 is upon us: and it’s touchscreen. If this picture is any indication, it looks like it was designed by Hasbro. I have mixed feelings about touchscreens and the smudge factor. I’m about to dump my Blackberry for the iPhone 5 and so will have to adapt. (I don’t have an iPad, as I cannot conceive of the point of one if you already have an uber-portable laptop and a smartphone. To read books, magazines? I don’t think so.)
While Windows 7 was supposed to take away the bad taste left in everyone’s motherboard by Vista, I don’t know anyone who loves the system. I upgraded for my Thinkpad, and found the constant reminders to OK this or upgrade that, along with the extra steps it inevitably took to do something that one button enabled on a Mac, maddening. I doubt I will find Windows 8 so compelling I would abandon the Apple franchise. (Although I have not yet upgraded to Lion. I am not an early adopter.)
Remember when the biggest decision you had to make was whether to go electric on your typewriter? (Do any of you even remember typewriters? Surely you’ve seen them in museums and on old TV shows…)
I wish I could wait for the very last thing they’re ever going to devise to debut so I wouldn’t feel like I’m always one or two versions behind the latest obsolete technofeat. Even “cloud computing” is beginning to sound quaint.
When is that chip inserted directly into the skull coming out? Or must Antichrist be revealed first?