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Joining the Cult

September 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

My trusty laptop died earlier this summer.  Well, it didn't really die so much as start wetting the bed and wandering around the house in 3-sizes-too-small Underoos while calling me "StackOverflow" and demanding that I make it a milkshake right bloody now because otherwise we won't get to the Copa in time to catch Benny Goodman.

And I didn't really kill it.  I just, sort of, lobotomized it.  But, like all responsible brain surgeons, I didn't bother to check to see whether I actually had backups of all the critical driver software before pulling the plug, er, reformatting the hard drive.  Which meant that getting it back up and running wasn't just a couple of hours of work.  Kinda hard to download replacement drivers when you don't have a working ethernet card.  

Lesson learned there, I want to promise you.

So for most of the summer I've been relying upon my netbook.  Now, I like my netbook well enough.  It's a swell little thing, and it does the job when I'm traveling.  Which was the whole point. 

But I've found it slightly too annoying to be a full-time platform for email and writing.  I can't stand only being able to read two or three sentences of an email at a time, and I like to be able to see most of a page when I'm writing.  (It's a kink.  I can work around it if I must, as I've been doing most of the summer.  But I don't like it.)   Also, it seems like every time I turn the bloody thing on and try to work it finds some critical downloads that absolutely must happen right bloody now.  Ah, Windows.  You know what's fun about you?  The way you don't give a tinker's cuss about what I'm trying to do or when I'm trying to do it.

The netbook is a great solution for me while I'm traveling.  In that situation, it serves my needs.  Otherwise, though, it's less than ideal.  (Which, incidentally, is why my email has piled up to truly dispiriting proportions.  If you've sent me a note and haven't heard back, please don't take it personally.   It's just that if there's one thing I dislike more than reading email one sentence at a time without seeing the whole message at once, it's writing email that way.  Yes, I am finicky, and yes, I know my quirks are illogical.) 

I got tired of downloading driver packages to the netbook and then transferring them over to the shambling zombie only to find they didn't work.  That got old.

The other problem was that even if I managed to resurrect the old laptop, it would still be creaky and long in the tooth.  Battery life had become a blink-and-you'll-miss-it proposition, even after I swapped out the old battery (thanks to dangerous overheating) and replaced it with a new and supposedly safer pack.  (Oh, Dell, you crazy firestarting nuts!)  And the machine wasn't top-of-the-line when I bought it six years ago.  To its credit, though, it served amazingly well since then.  I took it to Clarion, I've written a crapload of short stories on it, and even wrote a trilogy on it.  I'm a sentimental person, I suppose, and didn't want to throw all that history out the window.  (Yes, yes, I know.  See above re: illogical quirks.)

On the other hand, it would be nice if I could work the way I want to.  And in that regard I've finally reached my limit with Windows.  So I switched to a Mac this weekend.

And so far?  Really, really happy with it.  I don't know that I'm ready to become a Kool-Aid quaffing evangelist quite yet, but damn.  It's pretty, and—so far, at least—everything works the way it's supposed to.  I'd been considering the switch for a while, but put it off because I dreaded the labor of transferring all my backed up data and music to the new machine.  But even that went better than I'd hoped.

We'll see how the grand experiment unfolds.  But so far it's off to a solid start.  I wrote my usual allotment of pages on the new book after work today—just as I was doing before the old laptop had its... episode.  The transfer has gone so well that I'm already feeling far less trepidation about retiring the old laptop.   

And, in fact, while I was trying to figure out what to do with that thing, the solution quite literally fell into my hands.  At Bubonicon, a couple of weekends ago, a Linux evangelist friend of mine (Hi, Bob) tossed an Ubuntu install disk my way.  Which will be a terrific means of keeping the laptop useful.  I kept a RedHat partition on an older computer, back when I was in school.  (And it saved me from insanity when I couldn't take another 16 hour stint in the office.  So nice to be able to write appendices and generate figures from the comfort of my own home.  Especially after the new officemate showed up.  The one who liked to take his pants off and sleep on the floor.)

Update:  Well, okay.  In the interests of full disclosure, there has been one snag that I forgot to mention before posting last night.   Before leaving the Apple Store this weekend, I went online and checked to verify that my laser printer was compatible with the new Mac.  According to both Apple and Samsung it is (or, that is to say, it isn't included on the list of printer models specficially NOT compatible with OS X Lion).  Well... not so much.  At least, I haven't found a driver that works yet.  Which kind of blows.  I really love my printer and don't want to replace it.  It's only 7 or 8 years old.

Nevertheless, I'm still very happy with the switch.


Alex Brown September 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm
I can handle you turning into a Mac guy, just as long as you don't go all out and turn into this dude:
Steve Halter September 7, 2011 at 8:50 am
I'd say it was high time you replaced that old laptop. I'll be interested in how the mac usage goes for you. I've been thinking of getting one so I can do some iPhone tinkering but also for daily use--sounds like the transition is going smoothly.
Ian September 7, 2011 at 9:43 am
No corporate logo tattoos for me. I'm still new to the cult. Except for my ipod, which I've had for a while, this is my first foray into the apple orchard. So to speak. The laptop was doing pretty well until relatively recently. (Not counting the battery issues. Ouch.) I'm really pretty happy with the switch so far. But yeah, it was time to get something new. I also splurged for a 2 TB "Time Capsule" external hard drive/ wireless router while I was at it. The seamless wireless backups via Time Machine are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Amazingly great.
EEGiorgi September 7, 2011 at 9:47 am
Yay!! Welcome to the Mac fan club! Be ready to what comes next: iPod, iPad, Mac air, Mac applications, movies, photo sharing, ... Just kidding. Enjoy the Mac. :)
Ian September 7, 2011 at 9:54 am
I know, it's a slippery slope, isn't it? I already felt the temptation to dive in wholeheartedly after I discovered the sheer genius of iTunes, when the iPod completely changed how I listen to music. But I resisted the temptation to venture further. But now, I'm already looking at my netbook and thinking, "Gee. Things would be even easier if this ran the same operating system as my desktop machine..." But I think that temptation will go away just as soon as I see the next credit card bill :-)
Randi September 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm
... is covered with nice cool, green grass inviting you to roll down it to the verdant, tree spotted field at the bottom. It's nice down here and we have cookies! But as for the printer, I found that the husband's ancient hp laser jet on the household network printed from my Mac right out of the box using the "general" print driver already on the computer. So, give it a try, you might be surprised.
Ian September 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm
Delicious, delicious cookies. I'll have to find this "general" print driver of which you speak. Is that part of Lion? Where do I find it? I don't see anything like that popping up in the list of available options when I connect my printer. I'm all new and naive and stuff.
Randi September 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm
Uh, oh. Confession time. 90% of what I know about computers comes from randomly pushing buttons until the machine does something resembling what I want it to do. So while you ask really good, clarifying questions, I'm afraid I don't have an answer. K and I both thought that it was the computer's doing when I hit print and it worked, but maybe it was the ancient printer or the fact that we were using it over a network. Sorry to get your hopes up...
Ian September 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm
Sorry to get your hopes up... That's it, you're out of my will. Also, you owe me a hot dog!
Sara G. September 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm
You will never go back. Millions of zealots can't be wrong. Well, ok, they can. But in this case, they aren't.
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