nothing ever works quite the way you think it will

No, this photo wasn’t taken this weekend. It was taken during the big ice storm that swept through this region in January ’98. This morning, as I look out the window into the backyard, I see green grass and falling rain. It looks like we’ll have a green Christmas — which is actually fine by me. So, why am I reminded of the ice-covered picnic table?

I’ve just spent the past day or so configuring two laptop computers. Last night, I came across the icicle table in the older of the two laptops. It brought back some memories of the ice storm, so I thought it would make a good photo to head up this piece.

It’s interesting how these computers work, isn’t it? They’re rather like little time vaults. You have all sorts of memories stored up in them — photos, emails, bits of writing, data, and other odds and ends. I actually have several time vaults here — various incarnations of Macs dating back to an ancient 512 that I used when I was editing two agricultural journals in the 1980s. Looking back, it’s amazing to think of what could be crunched out of one of those little machines using an early version of PageMaker. The 512 now sits in a box in the studio building, abandoned c. 1993, when I bought a Mac Performa to use for writing and illustrating teaching manuals. I also hammered out many an essay on it while working on a graduate degree. What a workhorse of a machine it was. From there, I moved on to an iMac around 2002, when I got heavily into photography and working with video. A Mac laptop was added a year ago for when I’m on the road, although, I must say that it’s become my everyday computer. Every one of these machines is an archive of what I was doing at a certain point in my life. To switch one of them on is almost akin to stepping into a time machine and zipping back ten or twenty years.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing this weekend — revisiting old time vaults as I configure a new laptop for myself, and reconfigure my current one to give to my Mom who has been wanting a reliable, easy to use laptop. This one has certainly served me well and should be a great fit for the task. But that leaves me attempting to move a big chunk of my life from one computer into its successor. However, as somewhat expected, nothing ever works quite the way you think it will. The new laptop doesn’t run Classic 9 O/S, so older programs and their accompanying files won’t work. I did know this beforehand, but decided that I would go ahead with the transition and try to find a way to deal with the problem as, at some time, I’d eventually have to. That’s what I’m doing this weekend — dealing with the problem. It’s going okay, but is rather tedious and there have been a few annoying little surprises (I’ll spare you the details). I suppose I should have anticipated that things would not go entirely smoothly when the fellow delivering the new laptop backed his truck out the lane and ran over our rural mailbox — an inauspicious entrance for the new arrival. However, I think things are gonna work out alright – in time.

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5 Responses to “nothing ever works quite the way you think it will”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    We’re mac users here too, but have always also had a PC to play with as well. Working on computers gobbles up more time than just about anything else. When I worked at the university, I was first-line tech support for the Press Center, where I advised students who produced the campus print media. We had 15 macs in varying conditions and ages. I was troubleshooting a lot of the time. Students can really make a mess of things. Macs are much more forgiving than PCs. That’s why we love them. Good luck with your project.

    That picnic table is fantastic. Really a spectacular photo. That must have been an amazing storm.

  2. Ruth Says:

    My Mac Performa 580 I got in 1995 sits beside me, and I use it every day for my patient data base,my accounts and a few other favourite programs. It is like a family member. I have a PC laptop for my workplace templates and internet, but it is far more prone to problems. It is green and warm here in SW Ontario. Have a peaceful weekend and best wishes for the season.

  3. David Says:

    Put the table up at one end so it sits at a 45 deg angle for the winter and the snow and ice will not be so pretty, but the table will last longer.
    Mac at home, PC at work until free from same.

  4. pablo Says:

    I got my first Mac about two years ago, and I’ll never go back to a PC.

  5. burning silo Says:

    robin – That must have been some task to do tech support at the Press Center. It’s true – people can really mess up computers when they don’t quite know what they’re doing. I’ve worked with PCs quite a bit in the workplace and it’s horrendous what can happen when someone starts messing around with one. Sometimes it’s difficult to get it back to square one. That’s where the macs have a big advantage. It’s usually easy to see the problem and sort things out quickly.

    Ruth – I’m often surprised to find old macs being used in odd places, and not just in media production. What’s interesting to me is that even the older models can still be very productive. A lot of the software running in macs was very ahead of its time.

    David – Yes, that old picnic table. It’s actually more of a yard sculpture now. My Dad made it a very long time ago and it’s probably not sturdy enough to sit on anymore, but for sentimental reasons, we’ve kept it as a “permanent installation” in the yard. In summer, it sports quite an interesting array of Powder Horn and British Soldier lichens. (-:

    pablo – I’ve used both computers in work over the past 20-odd years and have always been amazed that more people didn’t just get a Mac a long time ago. When I think of how much my Dad (a dyed-in-the-wool PC user) used to struggle with certain hassles while doing CAD stuff, I always wish he had just used a Mac. Shortly before he died, he tried messing around on one of my Macs one night and was totally blown away by what it could do.