Hurray! Natasha, one of last year’s best contributors to the DON’T PANIC blog, is back! She’s got some great stuff which I’ll be posting soon, but here’s a gem of an article that she wrote this past summer. It’s about adventure, technology, and skunks–a killer combination of all things awesome. The article is entitled “Mac That.” Enjoy!
Aaaaaah. . . I’m in my back yard, surrounded by flowers, birds, and my neighbours’ cats, listening to the cars go by and taking in the beauty of wireless internet. Yes, that’s right. I finally joined the rest of the world and bought a laptop with my first big writing cheque. My original plan was to use it for, well, writing. Internet access would just be a distraction, right? I could go back to my monster PC if I needed to connect with anyone else’s brain. This new gadget would be pure and untainted by the world of spam and emoticons. Right?
Well, that lasted about a day. Funny story, really. A year ago I upgraded my music publishing software, only to find that it would require me to upgrade my sound card. After much careful research, I did so, only to find that it required me to upgrade my operating system. If I did that, I’d lose a bunch of pre-installed software on my computer that wouldn’t be compatible with a newer system. What to do?
At this point, people told me, “Don’t bother. Just get a Mac.” But I callously took the cheap road and instead bought a second hard drive. I popped open the case, panicked, and called a friend, who didn’t panic, but made a lot of disapproving noises as he tried to coax the new drive into the unwilling tower. We attempted a partition. It was a bad idea. Friend Number Two agreed. He wrestled valiantly with my PC for several dozen hours, and then returned, looking defeated and a little bedraggled. Oh, dear. I was going to have to take it to a Pro.
At this point, people told me, “Don’t bother. Just get a Mac.”
“But I’m a student!” I gasped. “I can’t do that!” And I once again took the cheap road. Paid to have it fixed, only to find that doing so required a near-obliteration of my original drive. All that software? Gone. All my files? Photos? Dreams and aspirations? Scattered in pieces here and there in what I would now label, “Some Fragments of Some of My Documents.”
Oh, glory. Friend Number Two came to my rescue. He had done a back-up of all my documents before attempting the partition. He copied it back onto my bedraggled hard drive, and I labeled it “Relief.” Perfect. Sweet, sweet relief.
I reinstalled all of my drivers. Twice. I bought an external hard drive and started doing my own backups. I hooked up my new sound card, and got all excited. I fired up the music software that had started it all and. . . NOTHING. No sound. Turns out I’d need new speakers.
At this point, people told me, “Don’t bother. Just get a Mac.” Once again, I callously took the cheap road. No, I didn’t buy speakers. That would be silly. I dug through my dad’s box of spare cables and found almost what I wanted. I went to that wondrous place that I still insist on calling Radio Shack, and bought an $8.00 adaptor. I hooked up a set of old computer speakers I’d been harbouring in my basement. There. Sound. Sometimes. If I cooed and petted the various components of my Personal Frankenstein just so, and was careful not to offend it.
At this point, I said to myself, “I should just get a Mac.” I peered into my whimpering bank account. “Tuition,” it said. Okay then.
A few weeks later, I had a job interview. “Are you familiar with Mac?” they asked. “We’re Mac people here.”
“I have an iPhone,” I said meekly. Apparently that doesn’t count.
Well, I got a better job, whipped out my credit card, and waited for the charming delivery man to appear at my door. I opened the box, popped in my music software, and screamed.
The operating system on my Mac was too new for the application. I’d have to update the software that started it all. To do that, I’d have to use that pesky little thing called the Internet.
So, the next day I trooped off to the store and bought myself a wireless router, and now here I am, in my back yard, typing away and stopping at regular intervals to check my e-mail, just because I can.
No, wait. I have misled you. I am no longer in my back yard. About seven paragraphs ago a gigantic skunk waddled past me and stopped about two feet away, poking around in my garden and waving its gigantic tail. I froze. It froze. I froze some more. Stalemate.
I grabbed my delicately shimmering MacBook, bolted back into my house, closed all my windows, took a number of very deep breaths, and eventually stopped shaking. And now here I sit, typing sheepishly on my living room couch, a mere ten feet from my old, longsuffering Frankenstein – which, for all its faults, has never once put my life, or my scent, in danger.
Portability may be glorious, but there is something to be said for just staying put.
– Natasha Regehr