My World According to Apple January 4, 2012Posted by markswill in Media, Navel Gazing, Uncategorized.
If you’re computer-phobic, abhor digi-jargon and have zero interest in the different declensions of Intel processors, then maybe stop reading here. Ditto if you’re a committed geek to whom over-clocking and CPU architecture are meat and drink. Because I fall somewhere in between… but nearer the former than the latter, obviously.
Unfortunately however, I rather urgently need a new computer. And my inadequate grasp of what’s new and necessary to maintain the minimum standards of technological capability that my life demands, means that I’m panicking. I know, I know, I know – given my regular tirades against the digital enslavement we’ve quietly acquiesced to this past decade, and especially my brief interlude bereft of both my internet connection and mobile phone, I should bravely respond to the fast dwindling efficiency of my battered old laptop by abandoning such devices for good. But no. I am instead grudgingly acknowledging that most people only want to communicate with me by email, and that some of them are actually essential to what I grandiosely call my employment… never mind my reliance on Google as the encyclopedia of the airwaves. So I am once again at the computer crossroads, wondering whether to continue down Macintosh Boulevard or turn left along PC Pathway.
It’s an intersection I’ve stood at every five years or so since I acquired my first computer – a Ferranti Advance 86 – in 1985. Having recently launched my own magazine outfit, Advanced Publishing, my choice seemed literally appropriate, if not willfully cute, but the Ferranti was a hopeless mistake to someone so utterly un-nerdy. After a month of mounting frustration, which occasionally included smacking it smartly on its casing, rather as my dad did our first t.v. set when it went on the blink, I got rid of it and bought a Macintosh Plus. Which I loved, and on which I literally ran the company for a few years. As such, it and I were even featured in MacUser magazine, both vindicating my choice and initiating an enduring smugness over my addiction to Apples.
Sure, everyone knows that Macs are more user-friendly than PCs, but watching the BBC’s morbidly fascinating Steve Jobs documentary recently I discovered that Bill Gates’ had actually beaten him to the punch with an icon-based design. Except that the Microsoft version is really just a memory-hungry lash-up that prods an antediluvian MS-DOS system, whereas Mac’s OS was designed to be seamlessly icon-driven from the get-go.
So far, so commonly known, but it wasn’t until 2003 when my iBook’s broke down and had to be driven to the nearest dealer some 50 bloody miles away in Tewkesbury, that I learnt how clunky Windows really is. At the time I lived with a gal who very kindly let me use her PC for the ten days it took for the diffident-bordering-on-rude kids – and they were of course kids – to repair my Mac, and fortunately Karen was away most of that time running her company in London (exclusively on PCs, of course) so she couldn’t witness me swearing at, crashing and constantly re-booting her PC… I may’ve hit it a couple of times, too. The reason, obvious to die-hard Maccas, was that Windows isn’t intuitive in the way that the Mac OS is, and one has to go through various alien rigmaroles to get it to do anything. And of course having a crap short-term memory, I instantly fortgot those rigmaroles.
However, and it’s a big ‘however’, the price you pay for the superior and more stable Mac set-up is, well, over twice the price of a PC. No wonder Apple, at $346billion, has a value higher than the GDP of many developed countries, because a MacBook Pro with a 15” screen has an RRP of £1549, whilst a Dell Latitude PC laptop with, as far as I can work out, roughly the same stable of gee-gaws, costs £649. Go do the math.
My current machine is the Pro’s immediate predecessor, a PowerBook G4 which thanks to something called its PowerPC processor isn’t up to an increasing amount of software, in particular BBC’s iPlayer, which means I can no longer catch up with CBeebies, boo-hoo. Being perennially budget-conscious, or skint if you want to put it that way, I’m therefore having to seriously consider a PC-based laptop and learning a whole new way of digital life. Or buying secondhand… just like my current machine, bought in 2006 from an Australian publishing company that was going bankrupt. Needless to say this involved many late night screaming contests with an IT manager in Sydney who couldn’t understand why its casing was damaged in transit and its screen bisected by a thin orange stripe. Secondhand? Never again, then.
As miserable fate would have it, I also need a new mobile phone if I’m going to keep up with the techno-groovers. Because after my last one cracked under the pressure (quite literally, screen-wise), I bought another by then obsolete Motorola Razr on eBay last year, and now that’s knackered, too. Yes, I’d like a nice, sprauncey iPhone like all my posh pals, thus making Apple richer still since they cost lots more than the Android-based smartphones that ape them, but I’m scared witless of trying to ‘migrate’ (see how hip I am to the jargon?) the vital address and diary data from my Palm Pilot digital organiser (circa 2003) which is also worn out… but long since obsolete.
Yes of course I’ve trawled the web forums trying to glean how to bung my Palm data onto an HTC Wildfire or Samsung Galaxy, but you’ve got to be an über-geek to understand the process, much less actually execute it, although it does seem to be rather easier with an iPhone. So it looks as if not only are we all prisoners of technology, but those of us who’re idiot technophobes are also in permanent hock to Apple.
Please make a comment/ease my pain, read previous blogs, subscribe to get ’em regularly or check out my website via the right-hand panel