This is the second post in an as-yet-untitled series. I’m thinking of titling the series either “Tales of Petty Angst” or “Letting the Little Things Win”. (The first post in this series was “Who steals an Umbrella?“)
Today’s woeful tale is of my semi-beloved PowerBook, which fully let me down tonight when its hard disk went south. It now sounds like a coffee grinder. I’m in the process of wasting the next few hours of my life installing Mac OS X Tiger on my portable FireWire drive so I can boot the PowerBook and then (hopefully) grab my data off the soon-to-permanently-expire disk.
After all this I’ll have the privilege of blowing a couple hundred dollars on a new startup disk. Some additional dough will be required to have it installed, of course, because I checked into the installation process and I’m not going near it.
All of which reminds me how hot the thing has been running lately. Has it always run this hot? I don’t remember. Apparently, though, we’re all supposed to accept that laptop computers run hot. (Actually, we’re supposed to call them notebook computers now–we don’t call them laptops precisely because we don’t want to encourage people to scorch their laps). We might even consider being happy about this; it’s a small price to pay for faster and faster processors, right?
When I got my first Mac in 1993 I was firmly in love with computers. (Or Macs, at least.) This unconditional love evolved into a love-hate relationship following my foray into Windows use in the latter part of the ’90’s. (I gave up on the Mac for several years when it seemed like the old Mac OS would never be replaced. OS X brought me back a few years ago.)
As I experienced continual frustration with my computers I found myself more and more wanting to offload the processing complexity and software to the network. For a while this seemed imminent, but then the tech crash happened. Nirvana didn’t seem so near any more and I got tired of stressing about computers. The relative stability of Windows 2000 and XP also lulled me.
I got plain sick of Windows after a while and then started having feelings for Macs again when OS X matured a bit. I like Macs more than Windows again, but ultimately both of them disappoint me in the same ways.
I just don’t have the patience for all the overhead any more. Years ago I would have known my Mac inside out; tonight I had to reference a book to figure out how to boot my PowerBook from the install DVD. It used to be I would have spent an afternoon searching out software updates; now I get annoyed when the computer automatically prompts me to install them. At this point I have better things to do with my life than spend a bunch of time on the care and feeding of my computer. It should just work when I need it.
A lot of the time I don’t need even half the power of my computer. I expect most folks don’t. I love the promise of my computer, but I hate the reality of living with it.
Will hosted applications that “outsource” the complexity to Web companies like Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft fix all this? They’ve been doing this for a while on things like email and calendaring, of course. The next generation services are getting nearer and nearer. Will these services make our software and hardware-heavy Macs and PCs unnecessary? I don’t know, but I do know I’m ready for something simpler.