On Computer Use
Pardon me while I wax poetic.........
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This message has been checked for and seems to be Y2K
*** On with the show ***
I don't know why I'm writing this message (essay?). It
serves very little purpose except to allow me to express my
personal thoughts and feelings on this subject. And maybe
to shed a little light on the subject for those who may not
understand the debate. If it starts to bore you or, heaven forbid,
annoy you please feel free to ignore the rest of it and move on
to the next and probably more important messages in this
As Apple2 users we have developed a certain relationship
our computer. It is more than just a machine which processes
data. In many ways, it is a member of our family, or a close and
dear friend. Yes, it is just a machine and yet it is so much more.
Part of this relationship is based upon knowledge of how
computer works. We have learned through the years how to
change it's personality, how to improve it's performance. We
have acquired many ways to increase our enjoyment of it's use
and a large variety of possible uses. Mine for instance can be
anything from a number cruncher up to and including a great
time waster and excellent adventure companion on dangerous
For some of us, this relationship is stronger than the
have with other machines in our lives, such as our automobile,
which for many, plays a dominant role in our lives. Not even
the television, another of our greatest inventions, can claim a
relationship such as this. Arguably, this does not happen to all
who use the computer, but it is a major reason for the amazing
success of a device, which many experts decried as pointless.
Many of us have an insatiable urge for any knowledge we
find and any improvements we can make to enhance our Apple2
and thus our relationship with it, without changing the essence
of the computer.
During the declining years of Apple2 dominance, I ventured
the PC world searching for a possible replacement, fearing that
my relationship would have to end. Needless to say, this was
unnecessary, thank goodness, but it was also a fruitless search.
That is until I came across Linux. While the relationship is not
the same, it is very close. Once again I can change the way my
computer and I interact. I am not limited to an impersonal and
impartial machine. An appliance, developed by someone else,
to be used by everyone else, in exactly the same way, no matter
what application I am using. I believe this is part of the reason
I never cared much for the Macintosh. It's a great appliance and
very useful in it's intended functions, but it has no individuality.
One Mac is pretty much the same as another. The same can be
said for a Windows machine. They too have no personality, it is
simply a tool, used to perform specific functions. I suppose the
same could be said for Linux, and once it develops to the point
where it becomes a mass market product, probably will. But
currently Linux still has that aura of individuality and the need for
personal customization with the machine on which it resides.
Perhaps I place too much importance on the role of my
computers in my life. After all, they are just machines, a tool to
improve our lives. They are not people. In fact they aren't even
capable of independent thought. Yet, other than my family, friends
and religious beliefs I have found nothing which I can enjoy so
thoroughly and spend so much time doing so. I can think of no
other tool I use with which I have developed such a relationship.
Not even my car, which I rely on daily, to help reduce the burden
of a variety of necessary tasks.
I am not a computer user. I have no real need for the
and could live my life without them. Yet I think my life would be
somehow, lessened. I am glad I'm not just a computer user. I
think I would be bored to tears if I could only use the machine
for data manipulation and record keeping. I can't imagine what
my life would have been like without it. Not knowing the joy
of completing an RPG. The looks of personal pride on my son's
face when he performed some complex task or broadened his
mind with the great educational software we've used over the
years. I cherish the memories of all the time my family shared
while playing, learning or just working on our Apple.
I consider myself a hacker, but not in the current sense
word. I like to tinker with my computers. I like to change them
and try to improve them and the things they do. With the Apple2
this was almost a requirement. You needed to have a basic
understanding of how things functioned. You needed to know
what could happen if you used it recklessly or failed to pay close
attention to what you were doing. For the most part, it could not
be taken for granted or treated as a simple tool, unlike today's
computers and their GUI software systems. This does not mean
that I dislike the advances in the technology, quite the contrary.
I just prefer to have some individuality in the tools I use.
Linux also requires some knowledge of the system. It requires
certain effort on the user's part to make the most effective use of
it's power. It also requires extra effort to deal with the multi-user
security benefits built into Linux or any of the *nix clones.
For those who are just computer users, Linux is not the
OS and never will be. Simple GUI systems perform all the
functions they need with relative ease. Someone else has taken
all the work out of using their computer and they can perform
the jobs which need to be done with a minimum of effort or even
thought. While this is a benefit in the business market, it may
not be a benefit to the home user. At home we have no one to
rely on should we get in a jam. There is no I.S. department to
call when things don't work and many times this simplicity tends
to interfere with our other uses of the computer. There are many
of these, not the least of which is gaming and education.
For those, like me who want to push their system past
standard limitations, Linux is the perfect OS. Because of
Linux, I can run a great GS emulator and access HFS disk
partitions and if necessary, I can run emulators for the
Macintosh or x86 platforms. If I need the real Windows, I
can easily select it at boot time and share my MS partitions
with my Linux apps.
With a good installation package, Linux might gain a lot
more popularity but until it becomes more 'single user' friendly
it's not likely to replace Windows as the leading user OS. It's
too bad that Linux will have to be lobotomized before it can
become a legitimate threat to Microsoft.