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.