As I age gracefully, or not, I find that I am challenged to learn new things and develop new skills. This is the very beginning of the saga of me and my new Mac. The thrill of learning how to cope with a single mouse button.
I've been a tech since before they were called that. Back in the day we were called strange. Not geeks, not nerds. Just strange. That's exactly what we were.
We thought differently, we were heroes in chess, and we passed Trig without thinking too hard.
We owned slide rules and could use them. A protractor didn't scare us. We could even count to 10 in binary faster than you can in decimal. 30 in hex? Child's play!
In college, I learned how to keypunch. If you are under 40 that word means nothing to you. If you are over 40, I advise you to just shut up. Your contemporaries don't know that you're a dinosaur. Or maybe they do and are humoring you. You don't want to know, regardless.
Having been around since the command line- and even before it--I developed some knowledge and some habits. One of those habits was UNIX.
Back in the day, I could awk, sed, and grep my tail off. I could vi my way to happiness, and if I wanted to know where I was, a simple -ls would tell me. Life was good.
Then along came CP/M. Affectionately nicknamed "Captain Manager"; CP/M gave me a simple file structure that I understood as easily as one understands multiple floors. But Captain Manager had a rival. Her name was MS DOS.
Ms. Dos was exacting and demanding. She changed my vocabulary. I could no longer awk, sed and grep the way I used to. Ms. Dos took over the computational landscape.
I survived. I even developed a GUI.
Fast forward through the rough times. Computing was introduced to business and business said, "What???" We tried to teach the non-inherently geeky how to use the toys and we were rewarded with, "Do what???" So we tried again.
Today, business doesn't trust us and doesn't talk to us. Our users hate us until we fix them and then they love us until something goes wrong. We go home each night. Many of us develop. Even some of us have lives.
Facing another paradigm shift
Then Microsoft, that demanding demi-god that we all try so hard to love, came out this with a new operating system in 2007 called Windows Vista. No matter how hard I try, I can't recall when the word Vista was associated with a brick. Maybe I need to try harder.
Given that we were in for another paradigm shift, I made a decision at the end of 2006 to BUY SOME TIME! So I did. I asked for a nice shiny HP to take over for my keyless Dell laptop. It ran Windows XP.
I loved that HP. Until it died at the age of 10 months. When I contacted HP, it denied ever making the computer.
Enter again my keyless Dell- a USB keyboard and I was back to dear old XP. Still I continued to dream of better days.
I haunted Consumer Reports and TechRepublic. I knew that Vista would remain a scenic postcard that I would not buy. I had played with Linux but found it wanting. My computational needs could only be met with something bigger, faster, stronger. I wanted the six million dollar man of computers. But... Steve Jobs?
I figured it like this- I was going to have to learn something new, no matter what I did. I would have to change my workflow regardless of what I finally chose. I had played with OS X some, enough to know that it was sexy and flirtatious, enough to know it could hold my interest and enough to know that it could keep me warm at night... if I fell asleep on the keyboard.
It's that fabulous GUI interface (you know, the one that Vista didn't steal) that hooked me. That, and the UNIX under the hood. I could go back to the awk, sed, and grep glory days of my younger years. Yes! I could be young again!
So, after much pondering (it's something old people do before forking out lots of cash) for a great many days (Okay, minutes) I decided that my next computing environment would be a Mac.
Revelations and a shiny MacBook Pro
Having made the momentous decision, I then had to ponder again. Would my step-son be sufficiently jealous? Would the significant one notice the alien in his Windows environment? I decided those questions were superfluous. I decided to think about other things like whirled peas and global thermographics... you know, important stuff.
The day finally came when I could actually get to my local MicroCenter store. I had 30 freshly ironed $100 bills folded neatly in my wallet, and a Brinks driver (a.k.a. the significant one) in case anything went awry. I walked into the store and went directly to the Apple Center.
We were met by some of the most stunning technology available. I walked up to the 17" MacBook Pro and caressed its brushed silver finish. Then I convinced the significant one that this was the right thing by opening the Terminal. I do believe he was converted to the sacred Mac at that moment. We looked at the smaller versions, but my heart was set. We looked at some of the other cool toys, but I was a woman on a mission. I wanted my Mac.
The sales guy came up and asked if we had any questions. I pointed at my precious Mac and said, "I want that one." The sales guy thought I was kidding. And then the light dawned on him, and he figured out that I don't kid about hardware.
Minutes later he had my new baby in his hand. I couldn't wait to hold it, to touch its beautiful brushed silver case, and to caress its gleaming and responsive keys.
We went to the checkout and I handed over those freshly pressed bills- all 30 of them. I got around $14 in change too!
The significant guy carried my baby out to the truck but not carefully enough. You have to understand, I was a new mommy at that moment. He could not have BREATHED carefully enough!
When we got home, I plugged my baby in, let her charge and I turned her on.
That's when the party started. The saga will continue in future blogs.