Justification of Computing Choices

2009-August-28

I was chatting with somebody the other day, and the conversation turned to today’s release of Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard.” He, and several of my other friends are very excited about the next release of Apple’s operating system for the Mac platform, and rightly so, everything I have seen and heard thus far indicates that it’s a great, solid release, that just continues to build upon the success Apple has had with the previous release, 10.5 “Leopard.”

The conversation turned to how I wouldn’t mind being able to partake in release-day glory of 10.6, as I have in the past for 10.3 and 10.5. (10.4 was admittedly a bit of a bore for me, not only was it unstable at first but it was the first version of Mac OS X that actually reduced performance when I installed it. The question this raised for the person with whom I was speaking of course, was “why don’t you have a Mac?”

On the surface, these questions seem pretty innocent. “Oh, if you want one, why don’t you get one?” or “Oh, you had a Mac before, why not now?” I’m not going to call into question the innocence of the person with whom I’m speaking, but what I will say is tha these questions quite frequently go far beyond just the question of “well, if you wanted to use a Mac, why don’t you?” Typically the result of such a question is a discussion that, if neither party gets tired of it, will last several hours, about the merits and disadvantages of various computing platform, and of course, that’s exactly what happened in this case.

The converstation started with the aforementioned question, and with my friend making the comment that he has been really enjoying the use of his Mac. I then remarked that I was excited for when my new OS, Windows 7, was going to come out, to which he replied, saying that Windows 7 was going to be an incredibly terrible product.

There are two parts of any computer, the hardware and the software, and at this point in the converstaion, my friend had started to talk about the software. Talking, quite out of his rear end, might I add, about how all sorts of people having been having this or that problem with Windows Vista, and how it was just such an awful product that should never have seen the light of day. But, of course, oddly enough, he seems to have liked Windows XP well enough.

The arguments here were that Windows 7 takes more screen space, and there were a few other things involving the overall stability and structure of the way Windows works. The issue here for me is that I simply don’t care. Windows is reliable on my hardware with my software using my peripherals, beyond the original hard disk issues I had with this machine, I’ve actually had fewer problems with my ThinkPads than with my Macs.

The other part is the hardware, and this is the real reason I have a ThinkPad. I mentioned that “the software works fine for me and the real reason I got it is the hardware.” and the reply was that I was just trying ot justify my use of a substandard product.

What? Substandard product? When. For about a thousand bucks less than the equivalent Mac, I got a rocking computer that I’m going to be using for three, four if not more years, as my main computer, and while it may become my secondary or mobile-only computer at some point, that’s still a really good long time.

The question I think I have, after spending all this time writing a post describing what happened and how I responded to it is whether or not I think it’s worth continuing to do it. I’ve been speaking to various people about my computational choices for awhile, and it seems that a recurring theme is always something approximately equivalent to “that doesn’t really make sense.”

An example of this is today when I was chatting with somebody about the docking station to my laptop, which was a very specific reason I chose a business class machine. I had said I wanted and use a docking station for the convenience and more than one person told me that the opinion I had about the convenience of a docking station was outright incorrect.

I’m sorry, but what? Is this your computer or mine?

And so, I suppose it’s just about time I considered stopping eliciting random advice. Advice I give is fundamentally flawed in that I know what my needs are, but not yourw – and advice I get is flawed for just about the same reason. It may just be time to consider not sharing this type of stuff with anybody I do not consider to be one of my friends.