16 November 2008

19 Years

The deed, as they say, is finally done—my Dell XPS of Sh*t has died. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to back everything up recently—and the technical know-how to yank the hard drive out of the old Dell box once the failure was complete, so I can still get to my files.

I did the math: it was 19 years ago that I left Macintosh computers, long enough ago that that's what people still called them. At the time, no longer living at home and suddenly realizing I needed a computer of my own, I had a decision to make, and I chose a PC. It was an economic decision as much as anything else: then, as now, Mac’s are more expensive.

Meanwhile, my beloved little Fujitsu Lifebook P5020, which has served me well and (mostly) faithfully for about five rugged years … is also dying. It has a tiny hard drive at 30GB, and enough processing power for basic tasks, but multiple open programs really slows it down. Plus, it has taken to showing its inner blue screen a few times too often to be counted on in a pinch.

So: I’ve done it. I have bought a new MacBook, and a day later it’s already easy to see why people have remained so passionate about these computers for so long. It’s visually bright and crisp, and it’s easy to use and set-up so far—and it isn’t Windows Vista, which I have used and which is unappealing, with its built-in nuisances and nags.
I did not arrive here easily. Some of the hurdles from 19 years ago remain, like the higher cost of a Mac. And the migration issues are not perfect (if minimal). I have been a Windows user for so long that I also worry about how quickly my brain will adapt to the changes—and how well I will be able to adapt to switching between a Mac at home and a PC at work on a daily basis.

Frankly, I feel bad for Fujitsu. I did my research, and there is a lovely looking replacement model for my current laptop. But Fujitsu does not offer computers with Windows XP pre-installed any more; neither does Sony, which has an equally nice Vaio, or a few other companies with machines I might also have considered. If some PC maker offered a nice-looking machine with Windows XP pre-installed, I might not have gone down this route. At the least, I might have delayed it for another purchase cycle, though of course XP is itself an 8-year-old technology.

I do not feel bad for Dell. I think the promise of cheap computing is, or at least was, amazing. But I am now also convinced that you get what you pay for. In my case, that was two computers with two consecutive motherboard failures—and a support network that was responsive only when I took extreme action. I don’t have the energy for that again.

And if Fujitsu and Dell have complaints? Both companies should blame Microsoft. I have seen Windows Vista, I have used Windows Vista, and the sooner I never have to see or use it again ... the better.
So, here I am. Migrating my data. Working on finding the right mix-n-match programs for the Mac to meet my needs. Slowly figuring how to set the preferences as I want them, and organizing my information as I’ll need it. And looking forward to a learning challenge that I expect will only be positive. The consumer confidence issues are real, but I’m considering this computer an investment in my future, and hoping it’s a more satisfying experience than Michael Kinsley’s coffee maker confusion, or than my past history with Dell.


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