I got my first PC in something like 1991. It had Windows 3.1 on it and I promptly managed to cause problems for myself by deleting File Manager. For those of you who are too young (or too old) to remember Win 3.1, deleting File Manager then would be like getting rid of Windows Explorer and My Computer today and unless you have a really good grasp of DOS commands you essentially can’t access the inner workings of your computer. Deleting File Manager caused rather a problem and one which I felt obliged to solve on my own, since I’d been stupid enough to create it. Thus began a lengthy love-hate relationship with Microsoft, Windows and PCs in general. From that rather inauspicious beginning I learned about reformatting and partitioning drives, rolling back drivers, and PCI cards, PCI-Express cards, PCMCIA cards, CF, SD, EIDE, SATA, DDR, SDRAM… I’ve learned that dust is the biggest enemy of the common PC and that memory modules which have been secure in your motherboard for years can suddenly, simply, become insecure. Motherboards, by the way, come in different shapes and sizes and you’d better know whether you have an ATX or a BTX or a micro-ATX form factor if you want to get a new case. Fans die, and when they do your processor will probably follow soon thereafter. Hard drives die too, typically with little warning and never, ever right after you’ve backed up all your data. Those little beeps when your PC starts are a secret code telling you which part is going to die next, something I had to figure out once in order to get my PC working again though I can’t for the life of me now remember what was wrong. Anyway, I’ve put a lot of time, money, aggravation and even occasionally enjoyment into my PCs over the last 20 years – fixing my PC became a hated hobby, something at which I was quite adept but which brought less and less pleasure.
Two weeks ago I started having problems with my current PC. Beeps here, failures to shut down there, error messages about memory locations, the occasional reluctance to boot – all those telltale signs that I was going to be spending a lot of time figuring out what was wrong and learning some new way to fix it. I sighed. I shouldn’t have to fix my computer every couple of months. I was tired of having to fix it every few months. I started thinking about how nice it would be to just turn on my computer and have it work. Shari’s computer does that. It turns on, it works, it turns off. No blue screens, no “oh shit” moments, it just works. I talked about the memory error messages I’d received with my computer guru buddy Brandon. Oh, says he, you need to stress test your memory modules to ensure that the voltage tolerance is correctly set for the combination of memory and processor. You should have tested your memory modules before you used them. Are you sure you have the right kind? Or some such bullshit, at which time I thought to myself, “THAT is exactly what I mean.” I don’t want to have to spend all that time just so it’ll turn on. I just want it to work.
And so, I bought a Mac. a MacBook Pro, to be precise. It flew over the Pacific to Anchorage today and in fact was probably on one of the flights whose contrails I watched floating in the sky above me this afternoon. I think it has to go to Tennessee next, and then it will be flown back to Anchorage and then back half-way across the Pacific to get here. I don’t care how little sense that makes. I just keep telling myself that when it finally gets here, it’s going to work when I turn it on and I won’t have to fix it.