Saturday, September 23, 2006

Forced conversion

Tomorrow is a red letter day. After 15 years I am set to abandon the ranks of Apple Mac users and install a PC at home.

This is not a decision I have taken willingly. It is a kind of forced conversion. My working life has been in publishing (not quite as grand as it sounds) and has always involved working on Macs. So it seemed sensible to have a Mac at home as well. And over time, part of my indentity has become entwined with being a Mac user – a sense of belonging to a select band, creative and with intellectual aspiratations. PCs by contrast seem humdrum, dull and dour.

As a Roman Catholic, I found Umberto Eco's description of Macs as Catholic computers and MS Dos (as it was in those days) as Protestant rather appealing. (According to Eco, Windows was a kind of Anglican compromise.)

I can remember an article in the Belfast-based political magazine Fortnight, which sought to apply Eco's theory to the province's political parties. A ring round identified that both the UUP and DUP used PCs, while Sinn Fein used Macs. The SDLP, perhaps in a show of conciliation, used PCs. But the clincher was that the cross-sectarian Alliance Party used both PCs and Macs.

For a long time, having a Mac at home was not a problem and when dealing with 'proper' commercial printers it was sometimes an advantage. But it has become increasingly difficult to sustain. My employers now use PCs and I keep getting key commands wrong at home and at work. All my Lib Dem colleagues use PCs and so does Watford Council. Although sharing documents across the platforms has become much easier, it is still frequently a source of irritation, when people can't open documents I have sent them.

I never got round to upgrading to OSX, partly because Apple created it in such way that installing it meant replacing almost all software. Some bits of software aren't upgraded for OS9 and others not at all for the Mac. This iMac is now five years old and has become sluggish. It's time to replace it and buying another Mac (it would be my fourth) simply doesn't make sense.

So, tomorrow the Mac is going, to be replaced by a PC that will be more efficient but less fun. Sitting in my tiny room, working on my Apple Mac I have felt a bit like the occupant of a priest hole, keeping up a recusant tradtion. Tomorrow I conform to the Establishment. I feel a bit of a heretic. Henceforward, logging on will involve the kind of disappointment involved in setting out to attend Mass and finding only a prayer meeting.

More prosaicly, I have never known changing computers to work smoothly. Don't be surprised if there is another hiatus in this blog.


Barrie Wood said...

Don't switch to a pee-cee ! I did and I know my next computer will be a Mac running OS x 10.5 !

And, if you need Windoze you can run it on a Mac either via 'Boot Camp' or Parallels Desktop.

Win XP is so ugly, unresponsive and less intuitive than a modern Mac. Pull back before it's too late !

Tristan said...

As said, you can get the new Intel Macs to run windows as well as MacOS.

That said, a PC will probably be cheaper unless you want top of the range...

My advice is always use what's best for the job (for me that's Linux at work - its the platform our servers run so its easier to develop for them and a Mac at home. I have an old Windows laptop for the occasions I need it, but that's mostly running EARS...)