The Candy Apple
Just Because We Can Do a Thing, Does Not Mean We Should Do a Thing
I signed up to review a piece of software this month. Usually I pick the card games and the easy puzzle games, leaving the more complicated stuff to the more adventurous staffers. I downloaded the game and cranked it up. The music was nice, but the game took forever to load. Once it did, the menu items and graphics were fuzzy (wayyyyy low-resolution), and when I put the cursor over the window to click anything, it left shadow images of an exaggerated cursor. I trashed everything and started over, but the result was the same. Finally, I went to the developer’s Web site and checked the requirements for the game.
Turns out I needed an OpenGL video card, whatever that is. I wrote to tell the ATPM bosses I wouldn’t be reviewing that game, which is no big deal except for the developer (sorry folks!), but we have tons of stuff submitted for review that we don’t look at. Not for any particular reason either. We have lives and real jobs, and not everything gets reviewed. For you developers, it doesn’t mean we don’t love you. We do. Keep developing.
This not having a particular video card has got me to pondering, with the prodding of the staff. I have a seven-year-old computer. How is life for me with a G3 tower and no modern bells and whistles?
I’ll tell you up front, it’s great. If I wanted something newer and fancier, I’d get it. But it seems silly to me to buy something just because it’s there, when what I have works well enough. I was dragged kicking and screaming into OS X, and only so I could use the iTunes Music Store.
I know some of you will leap to tell me what I’m missing: “Oh, everything is so much faster with a new machine!” “Your files are better organized!” “The whatever-it-is will keep track of that for you!”
Here’s the deal. I don’t want anything to be faster. I am not making stock trades that depend on split-second timing. I am reading a message board and posting replies to other people’s comments. If I could post faster, I would say stuff I might regret. I am reading news stories; it won’t make so much difference to me if they load in 0.2 seconds instead of 2 seconds. I have to stand up and stretch, anyway.
I don’t know what better organized would look like. I make folders; I put a few photos and written things in them. I understand why folks who use their Macs to create big projects would need tools to help with that. My projects are an occasional piece for this e-zine, an occasional exam for the courses I teach, and that book I wrote a couple of years ago and haven’t gotten published (so yeah, there are also some letters to publishers in there). But everything has a folder, and when I’m done with it, it goes in the Done folder. Every year or so I clean it out. This does not have to be a big deal.
As for the software or OS keeping track of something for me, as long as the virus protection software does its thing, that’s all I want. I grudgingly update a few things when the OS says I should, but I got along fine without it for years and am a little suspicious of it now.
It’s Time For the Philosophy Part
When publisher Michael Tsai asked me how it is, using an older machine and not doing some of the contemporary stuff, I realized I had been being a certain way. I had been being someone to whom it did not occur that I might buy a newer machine, or a newer OS, or a video card. I had probably considered some of those options and rejected them. But that was part of the person I had been being.
What we tend to forget is that just because we have been being a particular way, doesn’t mean we have to keep being that way. We can be some other way. I understood that intellectually years ago, but had forgotten to live it until a recent experience with The Landmark Forum. I am not specifically endorsing the program; it’s not a great experience for everyone, but for many it provides some language to reshape the way you think about things. If you want. After doing the program, I remembered I could be any way I wanted and did not have to stay stuck in a path because of inertia. Inertia is powerful: sometimes it means we stay at rest because we’re already at rest.
I considered my not having bought a new computer in so long and decided it was not a blanket resistance to change, or anything childish. I have decided to stay where I am because there is no good reason to change. One day the tower will die or the apartment will catch fire (or something like that) and I’ll have to buy a new computer. It is likely to be a 15″ PowerBook, or I may splurge and go for a 17″. But that is $2,000 I could spend on something else right now.
It’s like trading in your car. The Honda people keep sending me stuff saying they want to buy back my car, so I’ll buy another new one of theirs. And one day, my next car will probably be a Honda hybrid. But that day is far away. The way you win with cars: pay cash if you can or pay off the loan quickly, then drive it until it dies. If I buy a new one every couple of years, it is just renting. My car is seven years old, like the computer, and has 49,000 miles on it. I may still be driving it when I retire. I may never get that hybrid.
I have made the choice to rent housing, for now, but one day I will own the place I live in. I will not buy a new house every couple of years, when a newer, nicer one becomes available. I will pick something I like that works well and keep it. That’s what I did with the car and the G3. The G3 has an extra 40 GB drive on it, plenty of room for the little storage we need. The cable connection is speedy enough; we’re watching movies on the TV and not the computer. The $30 speakers are fine for what we need. It would be foolish, and even irresponsible, to buy something new.
I am not saying any of you should stop buying fancy new products. It’s your money—and your work. But this is what works for me, and if you’re in the same place, stay where you are. It’s peaceful here.
Also in This Series
- On Temptation · July 2010
- Beyond Pen Pals · July 2007
- Just Because We Can Do a Thing, Does Not Mean We Should Do a Thing · March 2006
- Google Tells Big Brother to Take a Hike · February 2006
- Wikipedia Is Not the Lovefest We Thought · January 2006
- Star Trek Gadgets Have Arrived · December 2005
- The Silver Screen Keeps Shrinking · October 2005
- It’s Just Business · July 2005
- Age Has Its Advantages · June 2005
- Complete Archive