The content of this post doesn’t really have much to do with the title, but I do think that those who see the computer as an “appliance” are a tad off the mark in terms of where they’re setting their expectations.
Anyway, yesterday I took my iMac to the only Apple authorized repair company in a 200 mile radius (Spokane does have its disadvantages… I really miss the Kenwood Apple Store in Cincinnati!) to get its SuperDrive repaired/replaced, because it’s not reading media anymore. After spending an entire summer Mac-less (or effectively Mac-less, as going from a PowerMac G5 with Leopard to an eMac G4 with Tiger was such a usability downgrade that I essentially never used the loaner machine I’d been given by the shop I consigned the G5 through), I was very hesitant to do what I did, but it needed to be done, and waiting would have simply increased the separation time.
So, I am now once again relying on the Dell attached to our TV for my primary computing needs. Despite ironically being the Vista apologist in our household (Oscy hates it with an undying passion), I have sort of had my fill of the OS, and decided after messing with the beta over the weekend to install Window 7 on the TV Dell as the sole OS. While I did get a fairly decent impression of what the OS is like through fiddling with it in VirtualBox on the iMac, I was even more impressed with the OS’s behavior on bare metal hardware. The fact that it’s behaviorally similar to OS X in how it handles applications now probably helps my impression of the system, though it’s still different enough to be distinct from OS X in frustratingly subtle ways… it’s like running Firefox 3 on a Mac; it looks the same, and for the most part acts the same, but the niggling differences trip you up now and again.
Amusingly, despite a couple of graphical tears that only occurred while I was running the Windows Experience Index tests and the fact that in the default Explorer view, the user folder a) doesn’t appear until I’ve directly accessed a location like Downloads from elsewhere in the shell, and b) when it does appear, duplicate entries for each folder I enter show up in the sidebar, the OS seems remarkably stable. I’ve only had one real issue so far, and that’s Google Chrome not installing properly the first time because Windows Firewall blocked it from downloading itself, but even Logitech’s janky mouse configuration utility for Vista installed and ran after a reboot (and a couple of “this software isn’t designed for your OS” warnings from the installer itself).
(On a related note, I ask you, who designs a mouse with a middle button that by default toggle the scroll wheel’s smooth/clicky scroll behavior rather than doing something useful like, I dunno, middle-clicking? Or perhaps, since the answer to that question is obviously, “Logitech”, who at Logitech could possibly have thought that this would be a good and/or useful design feature?)
Anyway, I actually think I’d like to upgrade the TV box to Windows 7 when it comes out, and I seem to be well on my way to convincing my Vista-hating wife to do the same on her box. This amuses me to a certain degree, but also speaks to the quality and finish that Microsoft seems dedicated to delivering in this release of their OS. Hardware and software compatibility aside, Vista has been and continues to be a real performance dog on the Vista-compatible hardware that we have, especially for my wife, whose idea of a normal browser session consists of at least 100 tabs in a single window (so arguably, she’s putting the hardware to considerable use). I’d be interested to see what a week’s worth of Oscy-level usage would do to the Windows 7 installation, especially with all the GUI bells and whistles left on.
On a further note, I’m planning an apartment-wide re-architecturing of the networking setup we’ve got going, in an effort to actually make the folders we set up for sharing visible (and more importantly, accessible) by every machine in the house. Networking is supposed to be drop-dead simple for PC-to-PC and Mac-to-Mac operations, but unfortunately we live in a bi-curious household, OS-wise, and Leopard-to-Vista / Vista-to-Leopard sharing is just downright atrocious (don’t even get me started on printer sharing…).
Ultimately, the best solution I can come up with that will most likely guarantee universal access to shared files across all machines is to create accounts for each of us on every machine, and ensure that each share we create can be accessed by both accounts. If I had the money, I’d probably standardize around some sort of server with a 3-computer domain setup so I didn’t have to go through so much manual effort, but I don’t, so janky workgroup file sharing it is.
Also on the subject of networking, I’m hoping/expecting to upgrade the two Dell boxes to have wireless networking capabilities, since we’re planning on moving into a considerably larger apartment and I don’t want to have LAN cable strewn all over the floors to hook everything together. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly a cheap prospect, and I expect it to run at least $150 to $200 for the cards and router before all is said and done. Grr… stupid money.