I think it happens to every Geek at some point. For me, it happened in a Best Buy in July 2005. I was walking around with my best friend, Steve looking over the selection of computers, thinking of getting a new one. The computer I currently had was an old trusty built-for-me PC I got for Christmas in 2000. I realized I needed a new computer two years prior to that, as I lugged my huge unit and ever larger 17in monitor into my college dorm on move in day. With much embarrassment I hooked up my cream colored components as my roommate's boyfriend set up her sleek flat screen monitor and light slim cpu with wireless keyboard and mouse. I wanted a new computer badly, but I could never afford a new one and asking my parents was out of the question. Regardless, I loved my computer, because it was an extremely generous gift and it was faithful and ran well. I even named it Pen^2, after the penguin in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Never the less, with that embarrassment and the fresh memory of the damn computer crashing that morning in my mind, I began to seriously think it was time for an upgrade.
Then, I saw it. I was drawn to it, like the proverbial mosquito to the zapper. It was so cute, and tiny, a perfect little package of computer in a sleek snowy white casing with brushed steel trim. 6 inches by 6 inches and 2 inches high. The Mac Mini. It was perfect, and the price was perfect. I didn't care that it didn't come with a monitor or keyboard and mouse. I suddenly felt ready to break the ties of Windows and throw myself into the warm arms of a unix kernel. Of course, I didn't know how to use OSX, nor did I have any clue what programs would be comparable with my old windows programs. I called my Mac friend, Nick to ask him a few questions about the OS, while pacing around the computer section. As he explained the benefits, my excitement rose. I snapped my phone shut and made my decision. Mini was going home with me. It felt great as I swiped my debit card to pay for my new baby (and a wireless mouse and keyboard set!) all boxed up in a sweet little package. I felt cool and very savvy buying a Mac. I was suddenly in the elite group of people who used widgets and special programs, so indie and different.
My elation lasted a very short period of time. It's easy to say the nightmare started soon after that, but retrospective can be slightly blinding, you know? I did love the computer, despite the problems and disappointments, but really, it did turn out to be alot of problems. Some of them were my fault. The morning after I got the computer, I was purging the HD from all the silly little things they put on there, freeing up space. Somehow, I don't know how.....I deleted a file sent it to the bin and restarted the computer. There was a black screen. And then a sad mac. I paniced. What the hell was my beautiful new mac doing being sad!?! How does a computer end up being sad? A few frantic and tearful phone calls later, plus one drive back to Best Buy, I was placing new Mac #2 on my desk (the people at Best Buy were really quite nice, I got a new computer, with no charge).
Finally, I was settled in to set up the internet network with the help of my friend Jer. No one told me how hard it would be to network a Microsoft PC and a Mac. It was nearly a two day affair, and it was so hard to get things working right. But I had internet and I had my World of Warcraft. And that was it. World of Warcraft was the only game I could find in a store for my computer and much to my dismay they tended to be really expensive online. I still find it hard to believe the hoops I jumped through to convert my school papers from a funny little Mac word processing program into something Windows could recognize, so I could print them out at school. Which was pretty insane to me, considering how many files I corrupted, and how many important papers I had to convert this way (including my thesis, I shudder to think of what could have happened to my 30 page masterpeice).
My Mac and my fondness for the cool image I had faded away as the system seemed to deteriorate after a short period of time. It started to badly overhead and no matter what I did seemed to help. I tried a chill mat, sticking it half way out the window sill in January, and sticking it in the freezer (What? I don't cook, not like it was full or anything at the time). I was pretty devistated, I was out a computer and really unhappy. Compared to the 4 pretty good years I got out of my old PC, I was miffed at the 2 years I got out of my Mac. Pifft. My Mac. I think back on it, and to be truthful one of the few good things I got out of it was introduction to iTunes (before I used WinAmp, haha, I know....). I enjoyed using the OSX and liked the feel, and ease of use, but it just didn't work for me. When I looked again to look at a new computer, I had already made my choice for a PC. At this point, Macs had thier own huge stylish display, instead of one little Mini tucked away on a shelf. Everything seemed more expensive this time around too, and the display with GarageBand and instruments kinds of overwhelmed me in it's uselessness for what I needed. What I wanted - a computer that was portable, reliable, able to play my video games, and play nice with other computers and networks. I ended up getting a very affordable Compaq laptop, which has given no troubles (so far) and was about $200.00 less.
Now, I am able to play all my old video games that I missed playing on a mac. Vista, while really obnoxious at times, is not as bad as I thought and really I quite like it. iTunes works just same, if not better this time around. I am not sure if my not bad, but so-so expirence was because the particular Mac I bought or because maybe, Mac just isn't for me. So what, I am not one of the cool kids with thier pretty white lap tops. I have a Compaq, a decidedly uncool brand, but one that works for me. After graduation, looks don't seem to matter to me anymore. Performace, affordability and compatability are what I care about. So I pull on my wool coat and become one of the Microsoft sheep, with my shiny black laptop adorned in Iron Man stickers, nostaligically playing Deus Ex. And you know what? I'm okay with that.