Friday, May 27, 2005

My Computer

You may know that I'm a mac user. Why would I do that? Am I an elitist that likes to do something different so I can feel better about myself? Maybe, but that's not why I use a mac. Come to think of it, I've been using Linux and/or OS X for just as much time as I've used Windows.

I got my first real computer in 1997, an Acer Aspire clocking in at a beefy 120Mhz with 16MB of memory. It had a cool charcoal grey monitor and matching phone that came with it. My father bought it for me at a big box store, seemingly out of the blue. Thanks to a combination of my relative lack of funds, my great appreciation for anything new, and the direct ethernet connections to the dorm, the computer and I became friends quickly. My father had sent me off to college with a paperweight of a computer, I believe it was a 386, but I only turned it on a few times during my freshman year. The sticky-keyboard lab computers worked out much better.

Surprise... this computer ran Windows 95. Up until this point there was no compelling reason to use a computer. The ethernet connectivity, which had just completed the installation phase at the end of my freshman year, was just starting to gain popularity. I had even played around with the "Information Superhighway" a bit at the library... but I remember being confused on how you get anywhere. The search engine didn't make any sense to me, and neither did all the h's tt's p's www's :'s and /'s.

The remainder of my term at Mason was filled with Windows 98 reinstalls, Napster, Winamp, Netscape, emulators, and overclocking - not necessarily in that order.

For graduation I got my pimp-daddy 400Mhz PentiumII, with 128MB of memory and a Diamond Viper 550 video card and a 10GB maxtor hard drive. I put it together with parts from a local computer shop. Oh that's right - I got the Microsoft "wheel mouse" too... revolutionary.

The next year I worked at Freddie Mac and played around with Windows 2000 betas at home. I started taking MCSE tests and eventually started looking for a real tech job. About this time my old Acer got an install of Red Hat 6.2 from a boxed set that my dad actually purchased.

I landed a job at an email application service provider, where I was supposed to set up my laptop dual-boot, Windows and Linux. I eventually started running Mandrake at home as my primary OS. This was about the time that OS X 10.0 came out. That dock thing was pretty wack - but nothing too compelling.

Then came the G4 iMac. The prices for Apple were starting to come down, and with a pimp-daddy built in LCD and all that OS X 10.1 sweetness and eyecandy, this lampshade-like computer had piqued my interest. After finding out that dual-monitors was not supported on the iMac I began looking at PowerMacs on eBay - finally settling in on a used Quicksilver 800Mhz G4 tower. Ahhh yes. This thing had low memory, a simple CD-Rom drive, and a small hard drive but after the first few weeks I had multiple network cards, a CD Burner/DVD combo drive, and a huge hard drive.

My goal with the mac was to have the beauty of OS X that Windows lacks with the power of a UNIX operating sytem with fun included utilities like BASH, perl, BIND, and Apache. I hoped that it would one-up my shakey Linux desktop. Well, its been a few years now - but my hope for OS X being the operating system of the future is fading. Windows is sorta stale and finished - nothing innovative, entertaining, or fun coming from that OS (unless you are entertained be learning how to run Spybot Seek & Destroy or playing with expensive proprietary bloatware). GNU/Linux is the always-two-years-away operating system of the future, but at least my hopes are still strong. It all comes down to fun in computing. Pragmatism and fun can be mutually exclusive sometimes.

My bad. Windows rocks.