Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thinking Different

I've loved and hated computers for years. Usually the love of computers wins out. But the hate surfaces from time to time.

First computer I ever dealt with ... hands on ... was at Brunswick Junior College. One of those dial-in terminals with the large black telephone and an acoustic coupler. If you don't know what an acoustic coupler is, you're new to computers.

Anyway, a friend was going to school over at Brunswick, and I'd ride over there on occasion, since I had days off after working nights. He showed me the computer terminal room, which he was enjoying because of the computer classes he was taking.

I fell in love with the computer right away.

Those old terminals, which dialed in to the computers in Athens (UGA), didn't have a screen. Paper output only. Looked like a teletype machine. Sort of like this one.

When I enrolled in school there and took my first computer classes, I thought I was in heaven. I knew I had to get me a computer. Once I had a few million dollars.

Of course, not long after that, computers showed up in stores. And they were years ahead of the old teletype terminals I had used just a couple of years earlier.

I bought a Radio Shack Color Computer 2, an Adam, a TRS-80 Model 4, and an MC-10. I never had a Commodore 64, though. I saw one and just didn't like it. But, in the small computer geek circle I hung around, I was the first one to venture into the land of MS-DOS. I bought a Tandy 1000, which ran MS-DOS 2.11. Later, I upgraded to DOS 3.2, then DOS 4, but removed that after just a little bit. I upgraded it to DOS 5, then DOS 6.

Along the way, I tried out this little thing called Windows. Version 2.03.

I got into putting together my own computers from parts, and eventually upgraded to Windows 3.0. Later, 3.1, then Windows 95 and Windows 98.

Bought a Gateway desktop with Windows ME, and got rid of that piece of crap operating system almost as soon as Windows XP came out. I later bought a Dell desktop, Gateway laptops, Dell notebooks ... for me, for the Wife, for Number One Son, and for the Little Princess.

The whole time, I was still having a love-hate relationship with computers. At times, I was amazed and thrilled at all the things one could do with a computer.

At the same time, I was quite frustrated with lots of the things I'd run into with computers. Like the Blue Screen Of Death.

Oh, sure, I don't think I've had a BSOD since I dumped Windows ME. But still, there'd be lockups and crashes and such.

And viruses.

I got my first virus back in the days of DOS 4. Stoned. That's when I learned to have an anti-virus program on my computer.

I had McAfee (before they were bought out), Microsoft AntiVirus, IBM AntiVirus, Norton AntiVirus (before they were bought out) ... I tried several. And was happy with most of them.

Well, okay, "happy" is a little strong. I had accepted that I needed security software. And those packages worked rather well.

But it frustrated me that I had to add security software to my operating system. However, that was the reality of having a computer that ran a Microsoft operating system. And that's what I had.

After a while, I decided to try to find a different platform to try. And I tried Linux.

Linux didn't work just right. Well, not with my hardware. I really liked Linux, but there were some issues with the video card in my laptop. And there's not a lot of quality help with issues.

So, I was stuck with a Microsoft operating system.

Vulnerable to all kinds of security threats. Running slow. Frightening upgrades. Software crashes. Hardware crashes. Hard-to-use software. Hardware folks blaming the software folks while the software folks blame the hardware folks.

And on and on.

Linux was supposed to take me away from all that. But it didn't work with my hardware.

So, I was stuck in Windows world.

Until ... this week ... I did the unthinkable.

I bought a Mac.


  1. Acoustic couplers. Ah, the bad old days ... ever program via IBM cards? -- FORTRAN -- do loops ... what a crappy time it was.

  2. Never did the cards. On the old terminals at BJC, we typed in the program code, then saved it to paper tape.

    Good times.

  3. I was fond of my Amiga, personally.

    Mac has some some serious advantages but some serious disadvantages as well. For the most part though, the MS/Mac battle is really one of brand loyalty.

    Linux, ultimately, is the way to go. You just have to be choosy with the hardware you buy.

    A friend of mine wrote an interesting bit on his history with computing here that's really funny. He sums it up better than I do.

    Best of luck with the Mac.

  4. I used to wear a t shirt with a dos prompt that said anti environmentalist.

    Sorry linux did not work. You should try Ubuntu. It rocks.

  5. GLORY HALLELUJAH! OK Basil, send me an email with the rundown, I will help you as much as I can from out here...
    ...until I can get my a** relocated to that there part of the country.

  6. BWH: I did try Ubuntu after giving SuSE a try. SuSE had some issues. Ubuntu had only one issue: my graphics card. If not for the incompatibility, I would agree that Ubuntu Linux rocks.

    Macker: I'm still getting my feet wet, and am going slow, trying to not overthink things. I'll let you know how it goes.

  7. After a history similar to yours, I got a Macbook Pro in the past year myself. I LOVE IT! I'm running Windows XP via Bootcamp and Parallels. I get the best software of both worlds and I love the Apple hardware. You should download NeoOffice for your MS Office docs and WinClone to back up your Bootcamp partition.

    Btw, I started on an Atari 400 and 800.

  8. Oh God ... Tandy (shudder) ... DOS! (shaking) ... them was the good ol' days. Why is it that people I know that are puter smarties have so many problems with Gatesville products? (shrug) I'm just a user ... not a diddler into the underbelly and workings of stuff. As long as it does what I want it to do - I'm happy.

    Good Luck! Second blogger I know that went Mac (, she even went to far as to (gasp) upgrade her pod to an iphone!

  9. Scott Allan: I'm installed XP Pro via Parallels on my Macbook (no, not a Macbook Pro) ... just in case there's a Windows app that I need. So far, the only reason I've found to use XP is to use IE 6 or 7 for viewing Web sites that require IE 6 or 7 ... or to verify how this little blog looks under that browser.

    Jo: Yeah, us tinkerers are like that. Like you, though, I think it's most important that it just work. And there are many, many things that Microsoft does right. Security isn't one of them, in my mind. It's real big in my mind, and was 40% of the reason behind the change. Ease of use was about 50% ... for me and the Wife combined. The other 10% was mostly curiosity.

  10. The first computer I bought for home use was a used Mac from my ex-brother-in-law. I'd have to let it roll down the hill, then jump in and pop to clutch to start it, but it was good enough to get on the internet. We did check out the Apple store at the mall this weekend. They've got lots of cool stuff these days. Might just have to go the Mac route when our HP dies.


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