Thursday, November 06, 2008

Frivolous longing

I have access to FOUR Intel-based machines in my home office. One is running an old version of Red Hat, which acts as my sandbox and the proxy server for my son's Internet traffic. One is a very nice laptop for work. Another is a laptop that I bought a year and a half ago, which is sluggish mostly for want of memory (512Mb currently). And finally, one is a four year old desktop barely running XP, which seems incapable of installing any patches and pops up random errors which only a reboot can clear.

I primarily use the sluggish laptop, and failover to the old XP desktop when the laptop really gets on my nerves. About a month ago, both machines were acting up at the same time (this happens periodically). That's when I decided that I had had it with Windows.

I have had a home computer for nearly two decades. In the beginning, I typically spent about $3k on a home system. It usually caused me little frustration and often times provided me with both utility and entertainment. Over the years, as the Microsoft operating system has become more complex and feature rich, it has also become more frustrating to work with. A beefy machine purchased in January is usually gunked up and quirky by June. Part of the issue is the Internet threatscape forces us to run firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam, and other anti-performance software to stave off disaster. (Can you say data and financial loss?)

Back in college and graduate school, I was exposed to some of the early MacIntosh computers. They were fun and functional. Recently, I've been exposed to these systems again at work, since about a quarter of our staff use them. It used to be that Mac users had limited choices in software, which was one of the reasons I wasn't interested in them. The other reason that people avoid Macs is price. On the surface, they seem much more expensive than the mass produced wide variety of Windows systems. Well, maybe you get what you pay for.

I decided on that fateful day, a month ago, that my next system was going to be a Mac, AND that I would have one by March at the latest. I also decided that I was going to join the iPod nation. I have had several other MP3 players, which I have liked well enough. However, the amount of free content available as podCasts was the final temptation. (Besides, if I'm going Mac, I might was well go all the way.)

Once I made the decision, the desire began to haunt me. I am nearly salivating in anticipation of this acquisition. I plan to get the beefiest, most tricked-out, iMac that Apple sells. Even though I'll get an educational discount through work, I'll still be spending about $3k. In a way, that seems right. I used to enjoy my home computer that I paid $3k for.

I look forward to coming home and sitting down to a computer that JUST WORKS.

As for the laptop and the XP desktop? My son has expressed an interest in the laptop. We will either shove some more memory in it, or (more likely) load Ubuntu on it. The XP desktop is on borrowed time. A few weeks ago, the hard disk made that telltale clicking sound on boot up. It hasn't done it since, but I know that it's just a matter of time.

There were rumors that Apple was about to put out a slightly improved iMac line in the next week (a pre-holiday refresh). However, I just read that there will be no refreshes to the line before the end of the year. So, I'll probably be ordering it soon. It'd be great to have it by Thanksgiving weekend, since I'll have a lot of time to play with it and get it going.

Materialistic longing is so gauche. But, I really really really want to have fun with a computer again.

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