Prepare To Be Assimilated

I've always been a little different. Maybe that's why I like Macs so much. When I say "a little different" I don't mean I invite folks over, kill one guest and dine on said victim a la Hannibal Lector. I mean, I don't drive a Camry. Sadly my "difference factor" may be eroding. In a year or so I could be driving a Camry, using copious amounts of mulch for my landscaping and booting up a Wintel.

My newfound fear is based on my TV viewing habits and a few unbidden thoughts passing through my head. Tonight I watched Survivor. I don't know why, but I found myself walking zombie-like into the bathroom, mashing as much toilet tissue as humanly possible into my ears (to stop my brain from dribbling out of the previously mentioned orifices) and turning the channel to CBS. However, when I watched Survivor I found it not so unenjoyable. The show passed the time, though I did have a feeling akin to the sensation I get when the other side of the highway is mired in a horrible snarl of traffic. I feel giddy as I zip along watching the drivers headed slowly in the opposite direction, stewing in their Camrys. I get this same feeling from using Macs as I hear of viruses, unstable programs and other sundry issues associated with the Windows world.

Yet I am not really using my Mac that differently than a Windows machine. Long ago I acquiesced and begin using Office for Mac. Sure, AppleWorks was nifty, but it didn't come bundled with my G4. And, heck, everyone else used Microsoft Office. The wide acceptance of Office was a push, but the robustness of Excel was a solid lower back shove. I actually use linear regression and few other nifty Excel features, so rather than buying a specific program for semi-advanced graphing, I figured Excel would do the trick. Of course this is the secret to bloatware: add a bunch of stuff only a few people use and call it better than the competition, even if the competition does the stuff everyone uses more efficiently. I am thinking of the Auto Summarize feature in Word. I guess someone might use said feature, but I have no idea who. Still, I find myself using Microsoft programs on my Mac. There is very little I do on my Mac I can't accomplish with the Microsoft programs that also run on Windows. Except for being different, which may or may not require a Mac.

I am afraid I may have stumbled upon a way to be different for a lot less money. Low end Mac started up Low end PC and, by golly, using a Pentium II would be pretty different. Apparently I could score one of these beauties for 75 cents give or take a few pennies. I could load up Windows 2000 and happily toil away doing most of the same stuff I do on my computer now and still be completely satisfied. At least that's the impression I get from the articles. I could still use Word and not use Auto Summarize and do some linear regression in Excel, all for pennies on the dollar. People would still look at me strangely when I told them what computer I used; of course they would assume I am near-destitute. So I could still get that different feeling and have a computer matched to my newly reduced I.Q. (I.Q. reduced thanks to the recent viewing of Survivor).

So I am planning on jettisoning my G4 and buying a really cheap Pentium Pro. I can still run SETI, Word and Excel. Of course I couldn't use iMovie or iTunes and, come to think of it, iDisk would be right out the window. I would also have to give up the cool GUI that Apple pioneered, system stability and most Ambrosia games. Plus the absolute lowest bidder would invariably make my components, so I can look forward to several hardware failures over the next few months. Perhaps instead of being assimilated into the computer world, I'll just buy a Camry, I suspect the sameness of a Camry would be less unpleasant than the sameness of a Wintel.

The author drives a 1991 GTI; he gets much less joy out of "being different" on the road than being different on his computer.