Tools of the trade: The laptop wars

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Mac or PC? PC or Mac? Linux, anyone?

Thanks to my father, who is a computer scientist, it’s always been relatively easy for me to keep up with technology. (Though as I well learned in those early days, a computer scientist does not always hold the answer to the question of why your computer crashed.)

By the time I was in middle school, we had a PowerBook I’d use to write papers; when I went off to college in the late nineties, it was a Dell. At the time, I wasn’t terrifically aware of Apple’s “Think Different” positioning, and I certainly never would have put myself into a partisan bucket based on Mac vs. PC. It wasn’t until my junior year that I began to suspect I wasn’t a Mac fan, thanks to a programming assignment that left our small team howling through a million help lines for assistance. Things are different now, but in 1999 it was impossible to access the guts of a Mac, and therefore seemingly impossible to write programs for one.

And then, in the subsequent decade, the idea that “Macs are for creatives, while PCs are for stodgy businesspeople” congealed, at least in Brooklyn, with a snooty vehemence that was awfully unappealing. My sense is that that’s changed, too, or at the very least relaxed a bit, but I’m out of touch with the tastemakers.

On the other hand, I relaxed a bit myself, and bought myself a MacBook last year when my Toshiba died. And while it’s surprised me how many interface and workflow details I found cumbersome at first — why not distinguish between backspace and delete? — I’ve since learned my way around and am enjoying it just fine.

Which, given that I have difficulty doing sustained longhand composition, is pretty fortunate, because it might otherwise have been a very expensive mistake.

One thought on “Tools of the trade: The laptop wars

  1. Two months ago, after nearly three decades as a PC user, I bought a MacBook Air. The switch was seamless and, like Leah, I am enjoying my new computer very much.

    Things sure have come a long way since my college days when an electric typewriter with a correction ribbon was a state-of-the-art machine!

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