Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Now We Are Six

My 15" PowerBook G4 laptop is six years old.  In computer years, that's a geezer. For you Mac people out there, it pre-dates the Intel machines, so I can't upgrade to the Snow Leopard OS. Thus, I can't upgrade to Adobe Creative Suite 5, even though it's here waiting for me (I'm stuck on Suite 1). And this laptop is wicked slowwww nowadays. It's loading pages like it's 1999. And the disk is nearly full, so I have to watch how many photos I download. I can only open two images in Photoshop at a time. Because of the OS, I can't use FireFox anymore. (I never liked it anyway, but one of the cats, Snalbert, prefers it.)

And now the video cable is going, so every morning it has "seizures" of strange pinky colors and fuzzy, vibrating patterns, until it warms up. Here's a clear, accurately colored view of my laptop's rendition of this morning. The site was actually green for the holiday — not a blurry, faded magenta mess.

Later my window deteriorated to an old-fashioned, late-night-TV snowstorm:

Lightly smacking the machine can encourage it to settle down and behave. Or I just go away and let it warm up. I can usually "erase" the mess onscreen by grabbing a window and dragging it around. That will also fix the cursor, which swells to a gray block the size of a dime. It's fun.

At least the hardware looks okay: no dead pixels; even its aluminum case doesn't seem dated compared to newer models. I'm glad they've kept this sleek design; how I loathed those frosted plastic iBooks that looked like space-age toilet seats. Remember?

Some of my keys are eroding to reveal the darker plastic beneath: just "e," "o," "a," "c," and "n".  Maybe I type the word "ocean" too frequently, or "canoe," but I think it's Snalbert's fault; the messages he types in Cat have a lot of vowels. And the keys I use most are the space bar and Delete (for my millions of typos, since I never learned to type), and they are in perfect condition.

For crying out loud, get a new laptop, you are thinking to yourself. Okay! I want one! I'm ready to shell out thousands of bucks for a new baby, with an annoyingly different OS, which will drive me crazy for at least two weeks to the point where I am continuously cursing in frustration and longing for the pleasure of throwing it out the window.

Yes, I'm actually ready to go through that; it's my little tradition, and I eventually work through it and adapt. (Whether my husband, whom I married for his 24/7 Apple tech support, is equally enthusiastic is another story. )

But I can't buy one — yet — in good conscience. The current line of Macbook Pros are almost a year old and their processors are considered way out of date. Since I cling to computers for too many years (my last one was almost coughing up blood, too) it makes sense to get the newest, fastest model when I am finally ready. It might also make sense to buy a year-old "leftover" if it is suddenly selling for hundreds of dollars less than it cost the day before.

The new models are expected to have significant improvements in power, disk space, and speed, and have been the subject of hotly debated international rumors, hoaxes, fantasies, and predictions all across the Web for months. The reason for the chaos is Apple's Sphinx-like code of silence about hardware upgrades. Like thousands of desperados everywhere, I began visiting the buying guide in December; now it's bookmarked so I can check for news several times a day. It reported last week that new models might be announced no later than yesterday. Yeah, well. Now everyone seems to be betting on April — if not any minute now. There are the pre-iPad-release theorists and the post-iPad believers.

I suppose I should take some comfort in knowing that I am in the company of thousands, if not millions, of gullible, fevered Mac users who are desperate to throw carefully hoarded wads of cash at Apple in spite of their policy of torturing us.

It still beats having a PC.

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