Abandon Your CPU’s, Ye Who Enter the 21st Century

My G4 iBook is starting to show it’s age, and the Upgrade Conundrum rears it’s head. Do I get more memory shoved into it, to keep it going for a year, maybe less? Do I just get a whole new Mac laptop?

Then I read this on screenwriter, comic-writer, and generally good-to-read John Rogers’ blog: Kung Fu Monkey.

That is, more writing as I’m doing now on my damn liquid sex Asus Eeepc, with scripts and documents composed with online/open source programs, and less reliance on gadgetry and tech-clutter. At the risk of sounding filthily pretentious, I’d like to see if it’s possible to just be a floating… information node rather than a discrete bit of walking data and chips. For what it’s worth I’ve written the previous two issues of Blue Beetle on Google Docs. Can I run a TV show on such software? Write scripts, or a novel? I don’t know. Let’s find out.

This got me thinking about my own computing. In particular, the notion of hardware and software as tools.Often the fanciest, newest laptop or computer rig has a certain panache or cool, wherein we want it for the potential of it’s ability. We may never edit a feature film, but we want the machine that could do it. The look of the machine, the fashion of owning it, these are powerful market forces. (I’d wager that half of Apple’s sales are from people wanting to be part of the Mac crowd, rather than anything else.)

That Asus Eeepc John mentions is a laptop for about $300 bucks Canadian, plus tax. It’s really built for web-surfing on-the-go, and probably some text-editing. It’s not a powerful machine. But it is a well designed tool. I’ve started to think that for the same money I would spend on one Mac laptop, I could probably get this little machine, built for writing on the go (my primary use) and websurfing(my primary vice), as well as a Mac Mini at home. I’d have all the processing power I need on my desk, and only the what I needed on the go: the ability to be wired and to write digitally.

I’m not trying to convince you to buy the same products as me. I’m bringing it up to suggest that this kind of fracturing of computing power is exactly the direction our world is going towards. With phones that are becoming mini-computers anyway, and with the internet boiling out of every coffeeshop, using computers is starting to become more about how you interact with your own personal network.

As computers begin to morph into all of these different forms of phone, camera, or PDA, it’s less about having that one powerful machine, and more about having the right tool for the job.

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One thought on “Abandon Your CPU’s, Ye Who Enter the 21st Century

  1. Jason,

    if the ram upgrade will give you another year for under $100 then that’s a no-brainer. I have been using the same Blueberry iBook G3 300 as my primary writing platform since 1996. The 800×600 screen, 300mhz processor and 3Gb HD sound wimpy by today’s standards, but the system is very whippy for writing. This assumes the laptop is not your primary computing platform. I keep the iBook as a secondary computer for writing only and flip stuff up to my main computer if I need to send stuff to someone.

    A newer computer gives you better forward compatibility with external sources (email, surfing, third-party media) and may become increasingly necessary for dealing with the outside world. Seems weird that we need 2.0ghz Core2Duo’s to get email and compose text documents, tho…

    – atto

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