Today I Crossed My Silicon Rubicon

I’ve lived almost all of my life in the age of the personal computer (PC).  None of the devices I’ve ever purchased were Apple products.  I cut my teeth on my friends’ Atari 800XLs and Commodore 64s when I wasn’t using my own TI99/4A.  Other friends had the TRS-80, the Coleco Adam, the Commodore VIC-20, the Atari 400/800, and the Timex-Sinclair 1000 (if memory serves on the designators for those quasi-rare devices).  I don’t think anyone in my circle owned an Apple product, although I remember the launch of the Apple II and considered purchasing the IIe until I heard the price quoted. 

Subsequent systems I owned that were not PC-variety after the TI99/4A included an Atari 130XE, and. . . well, that was it.  In 1990 my family bought a Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) x8088 system and it was all PC from that point on.  In 1994 I made the leap to a Windows 3.1 x486 with a math co-processor which I upgraded in 1997 to a Windows 95 Pentium II (and later (much later, like in 2009) tried unsuccessfully to upgrade to an AMD K6).  Shortly after purchasing that tabletop computer as a -486, later in 1994 I realized that there were such things as “Laptops.”  Also, carrying my PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and associated cords to and from work was a bit ridiculous.  Therefore in the final months of 1994 one of my first credit card charges was a Windows 3.11 x386SX laptop.  I figured in the time I saved tearing down, carting, and setting up my PC I was able to do a better job writing term papers and credited my first-ever 4.0 GPA to the laptop. 

After college and with a couple years of earnings under my belt, or in my bank account, I bought within two months’ time a Compaq Presario 1200 laptop with Windows Millenium Edition (ME) and a custom-built tower with Windows 98, both Pentium IIIs.  I took the laptop with me to Korea due to space/weight limitations; during that tour I upgraded the OS to Windows XP.  By the time I returned from that tour, the old tower Pentium III didn’t really cut it anymore and worse, the Compaq laptop with its AMD processor routinely overheated and crashed.  So within another few months I had the tower upgraded to Pentium IV and had replaced the Compaq with a Dell Inspiron 9100, both with Windows XP.  Both of those systems have been upgraded or replaced, both the hardware and the operating systems (OS) (each upgrade or replacement was always with a Windows product).  Since then I added a Windows OS Netbook to the mix as well.  The Pentium IV system now has Kubuntu 8.10 or so installed on it but since I never figured out how to put a wireless card driver on it it’s never seen the Internet (although I’m looking forward to plugging it in manually someday).  In other words, my daily use systems since 1990 have always been PC+Microsoft equipment.  I’m comfortable with [most of] them; I always have been, and probably always will be. 

As I meant to mention in a previous post I never yet posted, my unstated opinion of the Apple corporation solidified into something tangible after I listened to Steve Jobs’ biography on an audiobook a relative gave me for Christmas.  I ended the reading (or the ‘Listening’) with this new understanding of the PC industry:  There was something of a continuum involved from, let’s call it Linux to Apple.  Starting from PC+Linux, you have do-it-yourself hardware and a do-it-yourself operating system and programs, and you must know pretty much everything in order to do anything.  You spend a lot of time gaining experience and understanding.  It’s the “More time” end of the continuum.  Between Linux and Apple lies PC+Windows.  You can do almost as much of it yourself as you like with both hardware, OS, and software; you can spend a lot of time and get to know what you’re doing in order to make it all work better.  Or you can buy “Default” hardware and OS settings and take what you get; however “Default” only really worked starting with Windows 95 and later Windows 98 (and went back to not working very well with Millenium Edition but Windows XP remains a great OS to this day in my opinion).  And finally at the opposite end of the continuum lies the Apple product line in which the customer/end-user gets what Steve Jobs wanted you to have and was customizeable only in the programs/applications you ran on his companies’ (his) systems and you voided the warranty if you so much looked counterclockwise at the lock-bolts; the “Less time” side of the continuum.  I’ve always idealized the Linux side of the line and shunned the Apple side of the line; however since none of my jobs have been deep into the inner workings of what the corporate world calls information technology (IT), I’ve never really spent the time required to learn proficiency with Linux and have settled into the Windows grove mostly because that’s what we’ve used at work since I started working.   

Lately though I’ve been flying general aviation with a bunch of folks who always take their iPads flying with them.  They’ve used a small range of ‘Apps’ (Lord help me but it’s tough to not scream at the universe “It’s not an APP it’s a PROGRAM! Someone PROGRAMMED the computer to run that ‘Application’. . . and I digress again). . . a small range of Apps by which they can use plug-in GPS to keep track of the airplane while the airplane is superimposed on a Sectional chart, an instrument approach procedure, an instrument Low chart, and goodness only knows what else (I think one fellow said there was an App that would superimpose the plane onto Google Earth, but that was more than a couple Holiday beverages ago).  I know one guy who uses (I think) a Samsung tablet, everyone else uses an iPad.

So, that did it.  I entered the world of the tablet computer today, as a loved one gave me an iPad Mini as an early Christmas gift.  I’m now the owner of an Apple product.  I plan to put it to good use in the cockpit, and have it double as the e-Reader I’ve never really wanted but figured someone would eventually give me for Christmas someday.  I hear it’s useful for browsing the Internet, too.  Time will tell if I think it’s better than my Netbook for crunching out wordy projects.  I’m not expecting much from it in the way of spreadsheets or slideshow creation.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised?

A nagging feeling in the back of my brain is telling me I need to get that old Pentium IV with Kubuntu fired up and connected in order to restore a modicum of computer karma in my household.

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One Response to Today I Crossed My Silicon Rubicon

  1. Cindy Melton says:

    Similar to Timbuktu Pro, pcAnywhere is software that installs on the users computers, and lets a user control another computer of the same or different operating system, including running applications.

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