I’m a PC (Kinda)

I have been thinking about how to write this post for a long time. It amounts to the reasons why I choose and use the computers/gadgets that I do.

I have been messing around with computers since I was 11 when my parents got me an Acorn Electron for Christmas nearly a quarter of a century ago, so I have tried a lot of things out in that time. I have been a total Mac fanboy, Linux fanboy and also a Microsoft fanboy over the years.  I have concluded that I am actually a PC after all, although that is only a PC, not necessarily a Windows or Linux exclusive user.

I am a Windows Developer by trade, so it kind of means I have to use it on a daily basis. Unlike most people I actually despise having to use XP, and am probably one of the few people that actually thought Vista was pretty good. These days I am a Windows 7 convert and it is on my netbook and media server.

If I could do my work on Linux then I would, and I have done in the past, it is the getting it all working and setup that is fun and what I find interesting. It is also on my netbook, and I am planning on doing my Android development work in Ubuntu instead of Windows.

That is not to say I don’t like Mac’s and if anyone of my family or friends asked me what they should buy I would push them down the Apple route. For a certain kind of person they “just work” and that makes my life easier from a support side of things, and it makes the users happier. I would say the same for iPhones. I have both an old iPhone 3G and a newer HTC Desire running Android, and for the average user the iPhone is the clear winner. The interface is easy and simple to use, and the whole experience from the look of the phone to using it is just superior to anything Android can offer.

I bought my first iMac 6-7 years ago, it was one of the dome-based models with the movable screen, one of the prettiest computers I have ever seen. I loved it and it still has pride of place in the kitchen of our house back in the UK. From that point on it was all Apple for me, iPod, iBook, PowerBook, Time Capsule. I was the complete Apple Fanboy. Things changed however, when the first iPhone came out. Right from the Keynote where it was announced I had the “hump” with Apple. They spent 2 hours going on about a phone, OK it was the phone that changed the way we think of smartphones, but there was nothing about any of their other product lines, and basically it has been the same at every Keynote address since, it is iPhone, iPad or iOS. 

There is also the fact that the original iPhone was not as good as it could have been, in exactly the same way as the iPad isn’t. They left features off, maybe for legitimate reasons, but the fact it keeps happening has got to be more than co-incidence, or if it isn’t then it is just incompetence to not know people want some of these features that ‘mysteriously’ turn up on future versions. I have become tired with the circus-masterness of how Steve Jobs introduces all the new features and devices, as if they have never been thought of. I just feel manipulated.

What is almost as annoying as the way the company acts, is the way the Fanboys do! I guess it comes with the territory, to be a Fanboy you have to drink the Coolaid and go to the church of Apple and preach the “One True Way”. There is never a chance of having an honest open discussion with one of them about what the pro’s and con’s are of owning different devices, as there are never any con’s in their eyes. It is all very sad and frustrating.

In my backlash against this I became a Microsoft Fanboy, I moved my email to Hotmail, put Windows on everything, asked for a Zune for Christmas, the whole 9 yards! This was when I realised that there isn’t just one company that can supply everything you need to have the “Digital Nirvana” I am looking for, you have to pick and choose and find what works best. So I moved my email to Gmail, started using my iPod again for music and enjoyed using Windows 7 as my main OS.

I like to think that now I have done my rehab after being an Apple/Microsoft Addict that I am actually pretty objective when it comes to looking at what devices to use and and what gadgets I would like. I try to identify what my needs are, and then find the best tool for the job that I can afford, sometimes that is an Apple device, for example I am getting an Apple TV to replace my Windows Media PC (only so it can run Boxee, not for the actual Apple software I better point out), mobile casual gaming iPhone or iPod Touch wins out and will get taken on holiday’s. For storage, backup, server needs then Windows Home Server cannot be beaten in my opinion. 

For my own personal computing needs I love my Acer Aspire netbook, one of the originals with the 8.9″ screen. The form-factor is perfect for me, it fits in my tiny-rucksack, works brilliantly on holiday being so small, and with a nice big HDD in there it can have all of my music, photos etc. basically my whole digital identity in one place (as well as backed up to the WHS and also using iDrive it is in the cloud). Living on a little island in the Caribbean that is in the firing line for 6 months of the year with Hurricane Season it is great to know I can pick up this tiny machine and everything is on there, and at a push I could probably work from it.

I have a Kindle as I love reading, although this was a tough call, I also like the Sony eReader that my wife has as it has excellent battery life and you can fit a light over the screen easily. Both things you can’t do on the Kindle. However, it is difficult to get books in the Caribbean on the Sony eBook Store, but the Kindle will allow you to buy them wirelessly on the device. As we don’t travel all that much so I am always near a power source for the charging and thus we also don’t go on planes too often where I might need a light, the Kindle won out. This has definitely proved to be the right choice as with the Kindle app on Android, iPhone, PC it means I can always read no matter where I am.

I am also pretty big on Audible, which now I have some newer audio devices will play their enhanced format sound great. With training for events like Marathons, I have a lot of time to kill out on my own, and whilst music is OK now and again, it is nice to have something like a book to listen to which takes your mind off the fact you have another 2 hours or another 15 miles to go before you can stop for a rest.

When choosing a new device or gadget I always want to see how to fiddle with it, nothing stays in its original condition long. Phones get rooted and flashed with new Rom’s. Computers get bits upgraded and all manner or OS’s installed on them. That is what I find interesting about owning gadgets and tech in general. What can you make it do?

I generally find I get bored very quickly if I just leave something in its original state. Which probably explains why I don’t just use Apple stuff exclusively, they are not designed to be messed with very much!

As I said earlier my general philosophy is to just try and find devices that best fill the need I have, I have no qualms about buying from any particular manufacturer or another, if the device does the job better than anything else then that is the one I will try and get hold of.

This leads to the conclusion, that for now at least, I am a PC (running either Windows or Linux) and proud of it!