Next week, right away Monday in fact, I’ll be using a Windows PC for the first time in three years. This is sort of making me anxious.
I started life as we now know it—my existence on the internet—with a PC. I believe it was one that my dad built. It was massive. It was underpowered by its contemporaries, but adequate.
It ran on XP. It had a massive CRT monitor (ask your parents). It sounded like a cross between a drunk humming the theme to the A-Team and a small aircraft taking off. It was impressively beige.
That was nice and all, but then I graduated to a Dell by making it through an entire year of college. The Dell was a laptop—an Inspiron Something Or Other 2994ish—and it was faster, but slower than some of its contemporaries.
It ran on XP. It had a moderately decent LCD screen. It came with three different ways to control the cursor despite still needing a mouse. It was oppressively slate gray.
After school, I was able to buy my own machine and opted for a giant HP. It was an HP FT47885Whatever and was as fast as most of its contemporaries.
It ran on Windows Vista. It had an obscenely large “HD” screen. It came with fifty-some bloatware programs but none that could rip DVDs. It was whimsically plastic with some patterns.
Then I travelled with it.
After one trip hauling that ridiculous screen and offensive weight, I was immediately in the market for the computer I had convinced myself I didn’t want months earlier. The now-Intel-infused MacBook Pro 13” was mine soon after.
I had used Macs for school and for work and somehow blended my neurons to believe I didn’t want one of my own. After I got it, I fell in love. It was a machine put together in a way that made sense.
Only then did I realize the computers I had before it were all hacked together. HP and Dell put as much thought into the operating system and feel as my dad had put into his self-assembled production.
In retrospect, that makes that first computer all the more impressive. It also shows how pathetic the next two machines were. There are reasons other companies just ape Apple innovations. The machine I’m destined to work on in the very near future is one such aping.
Meant to be an “Ultrabook”—PC Magazine parlance for “MacBook Air Clone”—it’s a small, light knock-off. Dell has even seen fit to rip off the Apple trackpad in full, allowing for two finger taps and scrolling in the same “backward” direction.
I’m going to give it the old college try, using a machine that’s minced together and running a clunky OS should at least be entertaining. It’s not exactly traveling back in time to the dark ages, but it’s close.
Here’s to life in the not-so-recent past!
I forced it up to Windows 7 using my almost-obsolete student discount. Probably the best decision I had ever made to that point. ↩
For more and more people, as they use smart phones as their day-to-day device, this scrolling paradigm is becoming the natural way. We consider the direction of the scroll bar less and less, which is inverse to the page itself moving. With touchscreen laptops, the idea is even more perversely obvious. ↩