I was going through some old files, cleaning up, the other day, when I came across the invoice for my computer. It’s been roughly two and a half years since I “switched.” I’m speaking of course, of buying a Mac to replace my windows/linux primary desktop. This makes me a “switcher,” in the parlance of our times.
Looking back, I’m not entirely sure what it was that made me switch. It was probably a combination of things: having some extra money around, dealing with just one too many frustrations with my computer, getting a Playstation2 so windows gaming wasn’t so important anymore, and hearing and experiencing good things about OSX. So, I took the leap, ordering a PowerMac G4 from apple.com with my educational discount. This wasn’t my first experience with MacOS. I’ve owned a few MacSE’s over time, and still have one in working order even. On the first day the iMac was released way back in 1998, I went to CompUSA and bought one. I enjoyed it for a few weeks, and then returned it. This was my plan all along, since there was no way I could spend $1500 on a new computer at that point. But, this time it was for real.
I’m happy to say that two and a half years later, my life is better for having made the move. The original vision of a “personal computer” was as a tool for our betterment. It was supposed to increase our productivity, open up new possibilities, and generally lead to the “betterment of civilization.” Quite immediately upon my purchase, I found that I was swearing at my computer a lot less. I was pounding my desk and banging on my keyboard a lot less also. I was able to actually get things done with my computer — surf the web, check my email, write and read documents, listen to music, watch videos — without feeling like I was embroiled in a constant Man vs. Machine struggle.
The trend continues to this day. Whenever I turn on my Windows PC these days, I find that I’m constantly pressing F9. Mac users will recognize this as the key sequence for Expose — It’s a one of the most amazing things ever, a visual way to navigate through all of your open windows that’s pretty hard to describe with words. Invariably, I’ll end up cursing at the computer for not doing what I want it to, or forcing me to jump through stupid hoops in order to get a certain game to run. Maybe I’ll need to upgrade my video driver, or downgrade it. Or I’ll need to disable the antivirus software, or scan the system for spyware, or (my favorite) edit the registry to prevent all sorts of stupid stubs from starting up on reboot and filling my taskbar (e.g. RealPlayer, Quicktime, Java Updater, Macromedia Flash Updater, some crappy useless tool that came with my sound card, some other crappy useless tool that came with my video card). But, that’s enough of that rant. Suffice it to say, I’m much happier when I’m back in Mac-land.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely up to the “challenge” of getting my Windows PC (or linux, with it’s own counterpart listing of frustrations) working and doing what I want to do. Actually, it’s not much of a challenge at all — I’m no moron after all. When I need/want a challenge, I can boot into Linux and play around. My mail/web/fileserver at home still runs Linux, of course. But, you see, somewhere along the line, something changed in me. After working on computers for 8 hours a day and making a career out of it, I no longer got any thrill or satisfaction out of getting my computer to do something for me. I no longer felt the need to “play around” with my computer all the time. Now, I can relax, knowing that the struggle has already been won. The computer is not there to put obstacles between me and my objectives, or to force me to conform to its way of doing things. It is a tool, at my service. It increases my productivity and opens up new possibilities — Finally!.