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By Arnold Alamon

Wrapped in Grey

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ABOUT a decade ago, the debate between two operating systems, the Mac OSX and Windows ensued. Both camps acted as i

f it was the final battle upon which the fate of the world hanged. One can almost imagine two groups of geeks threshing it out in an epic confrontation on the battlefields of the world wide web, emblazoned on their wallpaper like shields the recognizable Windows and Apple emblems. This battle continues to this day but there are new players such as the game-changer that is Android on the tablet/smartphone hybrid platform. But it is interesting how the original two camps actually represent divergent approaches to the melding of man and machine.

Windows was the operating system that everybody knew and was dominant by sheer power of distribution reach and prevalence. It had more programs that can run on it including that all-important key generation software that was all the rage in the first years of peer-to-peer sharing.

But virus infections, if you can call it that, as well as the registry system getting messed up causing boot failures resulting to the appearance of the dreaded blue screen of death kept in check the optimism people had about the digital future. For someone losing many hours of work because of an unexplainable anomaly that only that strange being manning the engines down at MS-DOS sector knows about, Windows felt more like the dystopia of Terminator II.

I took to the Apple camp and became a fanboy largely because of the hassle-free experience that characterized my relationship with a second-hand Powerbook G4 12 inch which was already well on its third year of service with its’ former owner when I acquired it. This workhorse remained productive to me for another seven years with only a screen replacement and hard drive upgrade as modifications until it finally conked out just a few months ago this year. I had the chance to open this small but heavy and reliable beast when I did a DIY hard drive upgrade and was amazed at the solidness of the build. It even had copper tubing acting as air coolant at the heart of the logic board.

I edited digital videos straight to the machine via firewire, wrote my graduate thesis, and enlarged my mp3 collection and other types of things you collect from the internet. It was virtually running 24/7 since it was downloading during my idle time and I have since been convinced about this technique to ensure the longevity of electronics. If you keep it running, it will almost last forever. When a friend of mine had her macbook air busted because of mildew build up inside, in my mind it was because she wasn’t using it enough.

Something must be said about the OSX as an operating system too. The thing with Windows is that you are forced to submit to the language of the computer to make yourself and the machine productive. Indicative of this is the way it forces you to handle folders and files for instance. If there are traces of obsessive compulsiveness in your persona, then windows and the hierarchy of folders and the associated files neatly kept where they should belong might soothe you for they reflect the orderly mind that you have.

But for wild and crazy thinkers like me, keeping folders and filenames well-arranged take up too much time and mental power to be bothered with. Enter the powerful spotlight or search function at the heart of the OSX file system. Here, you just enter a keyword, a concept in your paper perhaps, an address in a contact information buried deep in a word document, then voila – the mac operating system will automatically call out the files according to type and date when it was last modified. You can keep all your files in a folder called documents and just archive whole projects when they are done with into neat folders. But when a project is still in the process, it will allow you to make a mess on your computer without reprimand.

But the greatest feature of the Mac and represents the intuitive nature of the man and machine interface that the guys in Cupertino have perfected is that they have made the annoying process of boot up unnecessary. For a writer, teacher, and somebody basically dealing with ideas, a gem of a thought arrive and leave at the most unexpected time.

A brilliant idea may occur in the middle of cooking breakfast, all you have to do is open the lid and begin working. If work frustrates and angers you, close the lid and everything gets saved. When you have it worked out in your mind a few hours later, you just open the lid again and resume that train of thought without having to deal with a boot up sequence.

Yes, I love the Mac. I know that now even more because I just finished this column on a Dell running this cumbersome OS called Windows 8. Now, how do you turn this darn thing off?

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 04, 2013.


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