Miner Thoughts
My Mac Magazine #30, Oct. ’97

For those of you who don’t know, I do all of my computin’ on a Performa 550 that was manufactured in October of 1994. I bought it on New Years Day 1995, and its been a regular member of the Miner clan ever since. And although this inanimate member of the family was never formally given a name, it has informally come to be known as “the computer.”

Recently I’ve been thinking I might have been better off buying a Wintel PC instead of this lowly 68030 Mac I have sitting in front of me. Not because I’m unhappy with this machine, mind you; on the contrary, “the computer” does everything I need it to do and does it well. But had I purchased, let’s say, a 386 PC on that cold and wintry first day of 1995 instead of this Macintosh, I most likely would have been forced to upgrade to the much faster Pentium or even a Pentium II machine by now, keeping me on the cutting edge of this ever changing computer technology.


Because had I bought a 386 PC and not this Macintosh, I’m sure the PC would have either broke down mechanically or softwareally confused itself to death running Windows and I’d be using it as a door stop or paperweight by now. In which case I’d have been forced to either give up computin’ or upgrade to the latest and greatest Pentium machine that all my PC friends seem to have.

But Nooooooo…, not me! I go out and purchase a low-end Macintosh (cuz I didn’t know nothing ’bout computers at the time!) that refuses to die no matter how much I abuse it. A machine, I am convinced, that will still be computing flawlessly, (albeit slowly) long after paleontologists dig up the fossilized pink furry remains of the Energizer Bunny and his drum.

Ya see, I can’t bring myself to “Keep up with the Jones'” when my Model-T runs just as good as their Cadillac; slower maybe, but still getting me from point A to point B without breaking down. Also, had I bought a PC instead of a Mac, I wouldn’t feel so guilty every time I think about replacing it. As I found out, PC users don’t bond with their computers like us Mac fools do.

Case in point:

I was talking to one of my PC friends who just went out and bought a Pentium powered computer recently. I asked her:

“What happened to the 386 you bought a couple years ago?”

She replied:

“Oh, that old thing! I couldn’t get it to run any of the new software they’re coming out with, plus it was making a funny noise every time I booted, so I threw it away.”

Can you believe it? She just tossed it out with no feelings of remorse or even a hint of guilt. She spoke as though her computer were only a machine, a tool to be cast away when it no longer lived up to her demands. What the hell’s up with that? Strange and heartless people, those PC users!

Sure, it would be nice to have all that megahertzal speed and mastodonal memory that comes in today’s computers, but for myself I need justification to ameliorate to one of the big boy Power Macs from my measly little Performa 550 with its itsy-bitsy 68030 processor running at the ridiculously low clock speed of 33MHz.

I mean, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that it’s time to upgrade to one of those fancy, high speed Power Macs, I cannot for the life of me justify the expense or even the need beyond telling myself; “It sure would be neat to have one!”, which really doesn’t qualify as justification, that is unless you have a couple thousand dollars laying around that you don’t know what to do with. In which case, “It sure would be neat to have one,” is more than enough justification. However, that isn’t the case with me, so I have to come up with more substantial reasoning as to why I absolutely, positively, have to have a Power Mac.

I’ve tried telling myself that I need to upgrade for my business, but then, (when I think about it) there isn’t any kind of spreadsheet or record keeping that I could do on a Power Mac that I can’t do on “the computer.”

I tried convincing myself that since I write a column for the illustrious and world famous My Mac Magazine, I should have a nice big fat Power Mac to write on, but in reality I could be writing this stuff with a crayon and sending it to Tim via the U.S. Postal Service. He could then transcribe my musings onto his Power Mac, (or have his secretary do it) and you would still get my two cents worth of gibberish every month. Instead of “Miner Thoughts”, it would be called “The Crayola Chronicles.”

Now if I were Mike Gorman, the gifted cartoonist that does the My Mac cover art every month and a good deal of the artwork at My Mac Online’s Web site, I’d have ample justification to own a whole bunch of those megahertz that one gets in a PowerPC machine. But this is what Mike does for a living. He needs a computer full of memory and megahertzs’. I don’t think I do, although, “It sure would be neat to have one.”

Take Tim Robertson -please! He began publishing this rag on a teenie-weenie Performa 410 with only 4 megs of memory and a 40 megabyte hard drive. As the magazine got bigger and bigger, Tim’s hard drive began to shrink rapidly as he found himself compressing more and more of his personal stuff to make room for the magazine stuff that was pouring in. Not only was he running out of space to put his stuff, he was finding out that his machine just didn’t have the poop to keep up with his own ever increasing demands to make My Mac the premier electronic cyberspace fish wrap it has become. So Tim went out and jumped into the Power Mac fracas and came away with a Performa 6300. Now I don’t know if this was Tim’s only reason to upgrade to a Power Mac, but as far as I’m concerned, he had plenty of justification to do so. Just think, if Tim were still using his Performa 410, My Mac might only be a 4 or 5 page newsletter instead of the full blown magazine it is today.

I thought I had finally found my justification to upgrade to PowerPC when I got a letter from Apple Computer the other day reminding me that when I bought my Performa 550 I may have been wrongly led to believe that it could be upgraded to a Power Mac easily and inexpensively. And although it can be upgraded, it is neither easy nor inexpensive. So, out of the goodness of Apple’s heart, and with a little nudging from the Attorney General’s office, Apple has decided to give me a good deal on an upgrade. A sort of good faith gesture on their part, I guess.

They say they’ll send me all the parts I need to Power up my 550. Plus give me a coupon that will pay for the cost to have an Apple Authorized Techie do the installation. And all they want from me is $599.00. Wait, there’s more! For all my pain and suffering, they’ll throw in an extra 4 megs of RAM. Wow! Thank you Apple for lying to me and then providing me with more than enough justification to upgrade. If I’m ever going to do it, now’s the time, right?

Well… maybe, but is this what I really want, an old body with new guts? What if I decide two weeks after I do the upgrade that my monitor is too small? (This is a one-piece machine remember.) I’d be screwed and stuck with a Power Mac that has a too-small monitor. That would really irritate me. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty. Maybe this isn’t the justification I’ve been looking for. Oh man, what should I do? What should I do?

Sorry, I don’t mean to bore you with my indecision and inability to make a choice on something as simple as upgrading a stupid computer. After all, this ain’t a life or death choice I have to make here, is it? Of course it ain’t. So after thinking about it for the time it took me to proofread this weak column of mine, I’ve come to a decision.

I’ll continue to use my weaky-squeaky Performa 550 until it no longer does what I need it to do. I’ll procrastinate (I’m good at that) about ameliorating until I can no longer keep this Macintosh of mine together with bailing wire and spit, or until I die of old age, whichever comes first.

Yep! That’s what I’m gonna do.

Hey! Thanks for helping me finally make up my mind. I couldn’t have done it without ya!

Pete Miner (pete@mymac.com)

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