Thursday, October 6, 2011

Picture #203: "Best toy ever. Thanks, Steve."

I was a PC guy.

I'd used both PC's and Apples growing up. I remember playing Temple of Asphai on my dad's Apple IIe when I was a kid, and I remember when my mother brought home that first boxy Macintosh home from her university to write her thesis; Lode Runner, good times... good, frustrating times.

But after college, I'd pretty much had it in my head that PC's and Windows were the place for me.

"What do you MEAN there's no second mouse button?"
"What do you MEAN there's no eject button?"
"Why can't I...etc?"

Macintoshes, to my mind, were idiot boxes, for people who were afraid of hidden files and MS DOS. And once web browsing became part and parcel of having a home computer, there was no question - let's face it, Macs SUCKED at web browsing pre-Intel chip. I could never understand why they loaded pages so slowly. There was nothing an Apple could do that a PC couldn't do better.

Then Steve Jobs came back on board at Apple. Gone were the ugly tan boxes and, in their place, something... intriguing. And EXPENSIVE. So no way, Jobs, I'll stick to my functional, fast and cheap PCs. Occasionally, there'd be a bit of Mac functionality, aesthetics or software that I admired, but for the most part there was nothing a Mac could do that I couldn't find for PC. For a while, anyway.

Slowly, Macs began becoming more and more robust, and I found myself struggling to emulate in Windows what I could get automatically with Mac OS; Adobe Premiere did pretty much what Final Cut did, and with Audacity and about a dozen other freeware downloads I could approximate GarageBand... but not really. But it was fine, because Macs, despite their much vaunted benchmark testing, still felt slow - they still sucked at web browsing. But there was... yearning.

Then three things happened. Apple dispensed with the PPC chips and switched to Intel. Microsoft released Vista. And finally, my workhorse of a laptop, the Dell Inspiron, finally died. But even then, I still bought another PC.

My new Dell arrived, powerful, stacked, shiny, bulky, covered with packaging. And it SUCKED. I would plug this thing in while it was running and it would, inexplicably, shut down. Vista was awful, stopping me every 5 seconds to ask me a question about what I was doing, like an over-protective, religious-crackpot parent. After 10 days of this nonsense, I was done. I sent it back, and bought my first Macbook Pro. Which was promptly stolen 6 months later. But then I bought another, which I'm typing on right now.

Sure there have been problems. These late-2008 models have notoriously awful batteries (I'm on my third one now, down to 20-minutes of life, if I'm lucky), and Apple's customer service blow-off of "water damage" is one of the biggest scams in the computer industry. I've had workers at the Genius Bar actually break my computer while opening it up and then try to blame it on said water damage.

"What's that? It rained in an adjacent state? Clearly your computer has been exposed to moisture, which cancels out the Apple Care warranty."

But those morons aren't what Apple's about. Those are the kind of idiots that Steve Jobs ignored, chose to never work for, chose to walk away from, to do his own thing. There are going to be people and problems like those at every company and field, in every walk of life - the rat race, the status quo, the conventional wisdom.

And then there are the Steve Jobs of the world, who, in the words of his own ad campaign, choose to "Think different," and drag the rest, kicking and screaming, into the future.

So thanks for the lesson, Steve. I'll work on it. Rest in peace.

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