Today at work a batch of new upgrades for my aging PowerMac G4 arrived.
Bliss. 400 MHz of aging 1999-era processor replaced with a 1.2 GHz G4 from Powerlogix. 512 MB of memory, a DVD burner and a small video card upgrade. Suddenly I've got a machine that boots almost as soon as you turn it on, as opposed to making a quick coffee run in between the two events.
Let's hear it for the Mac architecture, which not only makes a Mac last longer than a comparable PC but -- in this case, anyway -- allows a comparatively cheap upgrade process to bring an old machine almost up to par with recent new computers. Sorry, Mr. Jobs, but we just couldn't afford a whole brand new computer. Public payroll, dontchaknow.
I was a Mac person through and out of college, my first machine being the underpowered, overpriced Performa 600 (a slightly crippled Macintosh IIvx for the home market). Even back then, I waffled between a Mac and PC -- because I wanted to play computer games AND wanted the software I was familiar with. And Macs Simply Worked.
After I finished grad school, however, the Performa 600 had long overstayed its usefulness. I STILL wanted to play computer games -- even worse than before, because PC gaming technology had just turned a serious corner. So I began my love-hate relationship with the PC. Pound for pound, PCs are more computer than Macs. Because they're commodity hardware, they're much cheaper. And because they're ubiquitous, there are a lot more software and hardware options. Obviously, there's no comparison in the gaming realm.
But even in 2003 Windows PCs still don't play all that well with odd configurations of hardware and software, while Macs Just Work. The OS is more elegant, and (in general) the software that I use on both machines seems to work better on the Mac.
We "needed" and could briefly afford a laptop early this year, so I chose an iBook. Despite the small screen and single button trackpad, it almost felt like home again.
Now that my office Mac has new life in it, I suddenly think I'll be spending more working hours on it than the comparably-sped IBM ThinkPad I've been using as my primary machine. Suddenly, I'm using Mac OS X without any compromises. No slow processor. No laptop screen.
During a lull at a going away party for one of my dearest friends, she did a quick poll of the room: Mac or PC? After a little while, I had to admit that I was "bi." This got a good laugh from the room. I have to admit, though: my orientation is shifting a bit again.
Shannon willing, next time we have to replace a home machine, there'll be an Apple in the den. 'Cause once you've had Mac, you never go back.