Reluctant Transformation

All right, I admit it. The Mac is so much prettier and nicer than my PC that already I can tell that I’m going to use for just about everything from now on. Just five days in and I’ve configured everything to be able to access all my important documents via the Mac; I don’t have to use the PC for anything relating to the Web. I’m fighting off shuttling over an archive of my e-mails because I know if I start using the Mac for the e-mail, it’s pretty much all over; the PC will simply be a storage facility and a game machine. And I feel bad about it.

Not that the PC cares, of course. It’s just a hunk of circuits and metal. But, you know. We have a history. I wrote five books and countless Web entries and Uncle John Bathroom Reader articles on it. While other PCs have caused me no end of aggravation, this particular machine has never caused me any significant problems. It’s a good machine (a VPR Matrix, in case you’re looking for a PC; it’s the Best Buy house brand). It deserves better than benign neglect.

But even my body has decided the Mac is the way to go. Here’s how I knew I had a pronounced Mac affinity: The Mac and PC both use keyboard shortcuts, with the PC using the control button and the Mac using that wierd four-leaf clover/apple button. After just two days using the Mac, every time I used the PC keyboard I hit the four-leaf clover button rather than the control button. That’s after using PCs pretty much exclusively for the last decade. Two days. Tell me that’s not a sign.

Also, I bought an iPod.

I am deeply ambivalent about this. I don’t want to become a Mac zombie, one of the hooting monkey hordes who willingly overlooks the failings and shortcomings of the Mac plotform, and who would give Steve Jobs an organ — any organ! You name it! — in exchange from some “new” piece of technology that was created by some other company before Apple swooped down, Bauhaused the brains out of it, and slapped on a 30% premium for the “Machines for Living” makeover. The iPod is a perfect example of this; more than a year before the first generation of iPod, I owned a Creative Nomad Jukebox with a 5 GB hard drive and was amazing all my friends with this cool toy the size of a portable CD player — which ran on rechargable AA batteries. Then Steve Jobs pulled his “One more thing…” schtick and everyone ooohed and aaaahed for a product that in terms of technical specs was no better (and in some places notably worse) but was esthetically pressing the feeder bar of pleasure for the urban hipster.

I don’t want to distract from the things Apple has done right — I own an iPod now not for the esthetics but because the iTunes music store is just so damn simple to use, unlike nearly every other online music store out there — but let’s not kid ourselves. Apple doesn’t innovate. It lets the other poor schmuck innovate, and then jumps in after the early adopters have shaken down the technology, leaving Apple the luxury of selling this new technology to the artsy-fartsys, who are both emotionally invested in the Mac and would prefer not to sully themselves by hangin’ with the PC hordes. By all rights, Creative deserves to be the number one hard drive music player company in the world; their music players are as good as iPods even now. But deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

So. A Mac monkey: No. But arrrrrrrugggggggghhh, the Mac doesn’t make it easy to keep perspective. I mean, Christ. iChat — the Mac IM client — puts up cute little talk bubbles for your chat windows. When you’re typing (but haven’t yet sent) it puts up a cute little thought bubble. I don’t even want to bother with the PC chat client anymore. It’s not pretty and sexy and shiny and all. I feel like the guy who is with a perfectly smart, capable and generally attractive woman who all of a sudden meets a girl who looks like Catherine Zeta-Jones, knows that the sheer oxygen-depleting beauty of the woman will impair his judgement about her as surely as a blow to the head from a tire iron, but just doesn’t care. Just using the Mac makes me feel cooler and more handsome. Which I certainly am not. But when it comes to the esthetics of it, I guess I’m as much a sucker to Steve Jobs as the rest of them.

Be that as it may, do something for me. If I ever start mocking people for their non-Mac computer preferences, I hope you’ll do me the grand favor of staving in the back of my skull with a weighty pipe, because I don’t want to live like that. You’ll do that for me, right? Because, you know, I’d do it for you.