Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Day Without Windows

The day has finally arrived.  I am free from Microsoft.

This has been a goal of mine for some time, dating back to the days when Microsoft Word was the most important tool a writer could imagine having.  Those heady days were few in number, though.  I can't have tried to use MS Word for more than a few minutes before I became puzzled, frustrated or downright annoyed, and those same feelings--plus a few more--have been present as I've been forced to use MS product after product, on machine after machine.  Well, finally, I am off that merry-go-round.

I am writing this in my blog, of course, which is a Google product that I've used since the beginning of my online journal.  Back then, as I gradually decided which web services I thought would be useful to me, at one point it occurred to me that I could either select a variety of services that were hosted or backed by various entities--like Yahoo and AOL and MSN--or I could go with just one entity, Google, and hope that they would roll out those various services.  The analogy is often made with the Matrix, but yes indeed, I chose the blue pill (or was it the red one?) and went with Google.  My feeling was that someone has to run the world, and Google is a good candidate.  I gave them my email, my photos, and my blogs.  If they've shared them with the NSA, I don't mind.  My whole point was to make a public persona for myself, an online identity that one could recognize.  My image and my thoughts are on public display and I like that.  If I didn't I wouldn't be here.

So I chose Google, and this turns out to have been a good choice, at least from my perspective.  The most recent step has been to get a Chromebook and throw away my horrible pc at last.  I hated that awful machine so much.  It was noisy and hot, it collected dust and took forever to boot up.  Even then it crashed so often I could never rely on it.  Long ago I took my photos off the hard drive and put them on a portable drive.  Then I put them all in the cloud.  I'm still not sure how my photos in G+ (formerly Picassa) and those in Drive will sync up, but at some point I will have all my photos in one place, on the web, where I can see them and share them with my friends and family.  To do this, I don't need my massive pc, just this light little computer.  It's a lot like a book, in a way, but more so than the Macbook ever was, because it is in fact light and easy to use.

Easy to use doesn't really describe it, because in fact, it's just a browser.  Everything is done through the browser, or a couple of special tools, like the file selection window or the photo viewer.  It's fast because it doesn't have to boot up, and there's no hard drive to whine and heat up.  The machine is light enough to carry around and it sits on my lap without weighing a ton or burning my balls, but it's also nice and stable on a desktop.

But this is not meant to be an ad for Chromebook.  It is meant as a declaration of freedom, as in freedom from Microsoft.  Gone are the days of cursing MS engineers, and dreaming of meeting one in a dingy bar so I could rouse my fellow patrons to drag him out into the alley and beat him within an inch of his life with a useless pc.  Not unlike the printer-bashing scene from the Office, this is a fantasy shared by millions of people who've looked at their screen in disbelief, wondering what the hell just happened and how do I fix the mess I didn't even create?

Mysterious updates and missing data, long boot up times and repeated crashes, all these are things of the past.  Today I am free, free at last.

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