I realized this post was starting to get rather long and Pournelle-esque as I was writing it and thought briefly of breaking it up into several posts. But I figured it would be easier to ignore and skip the inanity of the whole thing if it was just another entry. So, here…
Last week, Cisco let it be known that he was ready to give up his Mac Mini in exchange for a Windows PC. It’s what his friends have, it’s what his school runs, and, well, he’s seven.
Still, going from OS X to Windows? Giving up the slick ‘stack-of-six-CDs’ form factor for a mini-tower’s worth of eyesore? Apple to MS? The boy needed some serious talking-to. Two days I geared up for it, simplifying my reasoning to elementary school level. But in so doing, I completely defeated my own arguments. And, well, he’s seven.
So I spent the weekend putting together a decent XP-class P4 out of my previous two rigs. An upper-end core solo from right before the duos took over, a couple of gigs of RAM, an 80 gig drive for the OS and a 320 for his growing collection of, uh, ripped media, etc.
Now, I’m pretty handy with XP. I managed and was the technical lead in two projects that migrated whole critical networks of hundreds of workstations over to the platform from NT. I designed the Active Directory configuration for the severs and developed tightly locked down, closely managed workstation configurations for a variety of user types and requirements. I took full advantage and squeezed every bit of functionality I could from global/local policies, user profiles, and everything the Zero Admin initiatives could give me to come up with a solid, reliable, and relatively secure XP-based workstation build.
So no bot-net-bait on this home network. This little guy’s machine will be locked up tight as a drum. But after a relatively blissful year on the OS X security bubble (which is fast approaching critical mass as the Mac market share does the same — inevitably attracting the ne’er do wells and popping this lickable aqua-themed bubble) and all that vaunted XP experience, I still can’t help but feel like I’m handing the kid a loaded gun. Or a thermolyte explosive charge with remote detonators scattered all over the Internet.
I’m not an Apple elitist by any means — I run Vista on my primary desktop mostly by choice, and I’m learning to love my media-serving, torrent-leeching ‘buntu box — but this has got me asking, how responsible is this?
And, more importantly, is there a special circle in hell for those who give XP boxes to their kids?
My Section Chief sent an SMS from New York saying he’d snagged a couple of MacBook Airs — and that I had dibs on one of them if I was interested. Yeah, coolest boss ever (keeping up with him is a pain in the wallet, but he’s still way cool).
He wasn’t due to arrive for a few days so I had time to think it over. And think I really had to, considering the BlakBook was all of three months old and still had that “little bit of plastic bag with a hint of lindenberry followed by a rush of Styrofoam” smell new Macs are known for.
After agonizing over it, as I do all things shiny, gadgety, and oh-so-slightly unnecessary, I pretty much decided I needed it (as I do all things shiny, gadgety, and oh-so-slightly unnecessary). But only if he brought home one of the more affordable 1.6GHz lower-end models (which in my heart of hearts, I knew was more likely).
Imagine my surprise and heartache when the day arrived and he pulled out a 1.8GHz sliver of absolute gorgeous with a 64GB solid-state drive. Imagine the surprise yet? What about the heartache? Here’s something to help you along: it costs over a grand more than the model I had decided I was going to take. Dammit, dammit.
So I call home to share this, my tale of woe and utter suck. But instead of commiserating, my wife goes, “Cool! Even better! Now you really have to get it!”
Most. Awesome. Wife. Ever.
And, yeah, the MacBook Air packs some awesome too.
A year, a month, maybe even a week from now, when someone puts together a top ten list of blog posting trends they regret participating in or contributing in any way to, this type of inane, self-indulgent, gadget whoring, flickr-tinkering-driven post will undoubtedly be among the top rated. Until then, though (heck, maybe even then), I’m happy to jump on the meme. Besides, I’ve run out of people to show this stuff off to at the office and one needs to gush on occasion.
So, my go gear: