stevengharms.com

Sententiae viri ex temporibus duobus

I Love My Apple All the Time

I love my Apple, pretty much all the time.

When I was a sophomore in college I made my first own computer purchase: Apple PowerBook 190cs. It had this rich color screen that was bright and it was only moderately back-breakingly heavy. It kept a charge about a good two hours and ran all the basic MS productivity apps. What wasn’t to like?

It was on this system that I dialed into the University of Texas VAXen and Unices. I wrote history papers and fancied writing a novel or two (didn’t really pan out). I took that computer with me overseas and taught it to suckle at the teat of 240volt - it never complained.

Upon returning I came back to an Austin that was chanting the name of Dell - I tried it out the x86 side of the street. I enjoyed my rich polygons and Quake - but within 8 months of frustration with Windows sucking I returned to my heart and soul roots - I became a Linux guy.

It started innocently enough, Red Hat 6, compiling, tarring, detarring, trashing crappy winzip for gzip, learning pipelining and Perl. I set up tools to help me find that computer in the sea of the Internet, I was blissed.

I came out to Silicon Valley at the heigh of the party. No one used Windows - everyone was on SPARC stations laughing as MyDoom variants brought weeping marketing bozos to our feet begging, hoping, and praying someone would patch that crappy OS they had foisted upon them.

Then came project CD burn or DVD burn. And man Linux just didn’t have it. The fonts were ugly too (i know this has changed, yes I’ve seen Ubuntu, and yes I recall the Veronica Mars dialog on the matter).

I love the power of unix, but i wanted fonts, and backgrounds, and easy multimedia burns, and that begat my flirtation with the iMac iLamp.

Furthermore, when in San Francisco don’t bring your PC. No one there uses PCs. It’s a town of art and beauty. Don’t call it ‘Frisco either.

The iLamp was beautiful and elegant, the screen rich and bright. The OS was smooth and rock solid. I had the best of both worlds: Mac beauty, Unix Power, and no interference from an annoying OS.

Ultimately the iMac flirtation led to the Powerbook of Joy so smooth and aluminum, so quiet, so beautiful. It’s smooth like Zen gardens or the Japanese countryside. It is hot on the legs (best used on a desk).

I went with my girlfriend recently to buy a replacement for her HP which unceremoniously lost its hard drive. As I walked through the local Fry’s i noticed that all PCs looked very cheap. As Will Shipley of Delicious Monster noted, and I’m paraphrasing here, “PC users don’t care about beauty or extras, they only care about suffering as little as possible as cheaply as possible. They made that stance abundantly clear when they settled for the Windows experience. ”

I looked at the options. All of them had flimsy plastic cases that had “Multimedia control panels” (aka an LCD with 4 buttons for manipulating your music CD) smacked onto the edge. It was uneven, not a nice neat rectangle, but this oblong turd of plastic that had no sense of symmetry or balance. They all have these really annoying super-glassy looking monitors. I want my monitor to look like a matte piece of fine paper - not like my dentist’s aquarium. My poor girlfriend had been using my laptop for the last few days and in those days her tastes for taste had re-awakened, she had taken a bite of the Apple of knowledge and couldn’t really stomach the taste of the sloppy production of the commodity PC industry.

We headed, PC-less, back to the front and passed down the Apple aisle. With its white and silver the row looked like “2001”, it visually promised what the future was supposed to deliver (Right Elroy?).

When I was living in Holland I was struck by an idea: Whenever they built something that had a function, the form was not a total afterthought. Essentially it was: “If we’re going to build it, why not make it beautiful?” For those who look to the bottom line to explain why not, you’ll never get it, and that’s OK. For the rest of us, there’s Apple, de Kooning, and fountain pens.

Comments