so, a week ago, i got a new laptop. it’s windows. what a bizarre new world.
my first computer, at age 14ish, was a black-and-white macintosh se. we got it a few months before the first color macs came out and i remember discussing with my dad whether we should wait. we both agreed we shouldn’t lol. (such a great dad.) i think we got it at radio shack, and i distinctly remember holding the prodigy cd in my hand as the salesperson explained what a modem was. i loved prodigy - i joined a bunch of anne mccaffrey’s fandom groups and i would explore all the parts of the prodigy portal. i had no idea about usenet or anything beyond the prodigy world, but it was super exciting to dial-up, connect, and poke around here and there. oh! and i went tetris crazy. we had a king’s quest that was way too slow compared to our wonderful little nintendo, but tetris was so addictive and fun. i would dream at night in tetris sometimes.
then, starting college, i got my first laptop. it was a gateway with windows on it. i changed my cursor to a running dog and played too many hours of minesweeper on it while listening to italian dance music and r&b on my boombox. i would help people in my dorm with computer stuff sometimes and then i took a computer class at school in junior year that made me think, oh, i should have at least minored in computer science, ah well. i remember thinking that coding was just like learning another language and i was good at languages.
after moving to l.a., a friend gave me a really old donated desktop computer, a super junker so i could just practice putting together a computer and also have something since my laptop was like six+ years old at that point. it was windows though, maybe even windows nt?, and it was so clunky and the computer itself so old and glitchy. i set my wifi up with no password because i thought that access to the internet should be available to everyone. (i still do think that.) i learned how to write html on this windows machine and also the public computers at ucla’s yrl library many nights every week. i set up a geocities page, using the name ‘mellowtrouble’ for the first time. i had that machine less than a year, maybe only months.
right before i started the master’s program at ucla, i got my first mac laptop. i also got a newly released ipod with it. i think i could choose a printer or an ipod, something like that, and i went with the ipod. i remember explaining to co-workers and friends how it worked. people were pretty dubious about it, which is funny now. i still have it in bolivia, it weighs a ton, and it’s thick and shiny with glass. but it works still! i went to town with it and the laptop, setting up itunes and then cursing itunes, but using firefox and discovering youtube and so on. i learned xml and css on this computer and became webmaster for some library groups and orgs at school.
i moved back to maryland in 2006 and for christmas, i got computer #5, my third laptop and another mac. this time it was black and i remember it was my christmas present. that christmas my mom decided it would be fun to hide all the gifts, like a mash-up of christmas and easter. we were not amused. my dad just came up at some point and said, hey, look over there. i was thrilled. less than a year later he would be diagnosed with brain cancer and that same laptop would play his favorite songs at his funeral. i used a windows machine at the library but it was still super clunky and annoying, so i happily came home to my laptop every day. i posted a lot here about fiber stuff and links i found interesting. i handcoded this website for a while and then tried various cms, like textpattern.
since i’m rambling, i might as well also say: my dad was not very good with computers! he was insistent that us kids learn how to use them as he was sure it was an important skill, but he himself would get frustrated often. he would ask me to write out exactly what did he need to do to check his email, login to various sites, and so on. i remember being a little kid and visiting him at his work in the early 80s they all had these green-screened computers on their desks and my dad seemed perfectly comfortable with them. he told me they were not computers, but rather dummies that just reflected what the main computer had on it, but you could press various buttons to bring up more information and so on. anyhow, things changed quickly and maybe he found it difficult to keep up, or maybe his cancer, which we think now he probably denied for a while, made it more difficult, i don’t know. i can easily imagine if he had somehow survived - though less than 5% of people survive more than 3 years and most die within a year - if he had, he would have loved an ipad. he always said his dream was to sit on a beach with a laptop, cellphone, and a good internet connection, and work from there. it sounded far-fetched back then, but i’ve done it myself, thinking of him every time.
once our second girl was born, i got a new macbook air. it was wonderful. our internet speeds were atrocious and infuriating at times, but that was not the laptop’s fault lol. i’ve traveled with it in buses and planes, dropped it many many times, stepped on it once, and generally abused it. this past year, i started teaching english online so i have been pushing it the limits, using all 8gb of ram many hours every day. at some point, my computer broke down and i had to reinstall mac os. it worked but i found i wasn’t able to save anything to my desktop and if i tried, the finder would freak out and beachball for a long time. then the fans started to be on 24/7. then they went completely quiet, which was ominous. then, two weeks ago, the screen started to flicker and my video would freeze up in the middle of teaching.
this is becoming a very long story, but basically, i quickly became convinced i should try a windows machine. i didn’t want a desktop, since we travel every year - though who knows what will happen with coronavirus now - and i needed a fast laptop. the way i teach, i need to have enough ram and processor to be able to run the fairly bulky proprietary teaching company software, the streaming software (i use obs, it is awesome), and google slides which has all the props and rewards, all at the same time. i needed a processor with at least a 2.0ghz clock speed. the air doesn’t reach that and the pro could, but at an impossible price tag. basically, i needed a gaming computer. so, that’s what i got: an asus zephyrus g14. i upped the ram but otherwise it is a wonderful laptop. so many gaming computers are super bulky and heavy, especially compared to the macs. this one had a 14 inch screen which is lovely compared to my air with its 11 inch screen but is still light and easily portable. it runs hot, but there are ways to work around that, and it’s a small complaint. laptops shouldn’t be on your laps anyhow.
as for the windows software? muuuuch better than i remember. smoother, prettier to look at, with lots of options to tweak and customize. i love that there are so many apps available to me now, too. oh, and i love not being tied to iphoto, itunes, iwhatever, and being reminded that pages or garage band or whatever even exists. i had to set up some additional security software but otherwise, it’s been a smooth transition so far.
at some point, i’ll buy a new ipad, maybe even a mac desktop, but another mac laptop? it’s hard to imagine right now. computer #7 is all that i hoped and more. so, seven computers in thirty years. the older i get, the easier it is to see patterns in life, consistencies and interests. it’s important to remember what remains and persists and, if they are good things, follow them for more.