Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tech Talk

Those who are allergic to such things can skip down to the knitting content. Meanwhile I want to say a few words about the Battle of the Operating Systems. In my close group of friends we have a number of opinions on the best OS. One Mac-Head insists hers is best and congratulated another who recently switched from PC to Mac. Another uses Mac because it’s reputedly simpler for the beginner and the rest of us are PC with me being the longest-time user of same. I’ve had a computer since 1982 (Commodore 64!) and got my first PC a couple of years later complete with a runtime version of Windows. I’ve been a PC Gal ever since though I have used a Mac on occasions. The differences to me as a user are slight. But then I have my in-house IT guy, T-Man, who pretty much has been able to resolve any issues that come up. And speaking of T, recently he has gone from Mac to PC. Hmmm…

So which is best? Dunno. I go with PC for two main reasons: they’re cheaper (more bang for the buck) and I have software that I use on a regular basis that has no Mac equivalent. Even if it did, who wants to replace a bunch of programs that you’ve already paid for? The legacy software and hardware issues would be my biggest reason to stay with PC. However if all you need are the programs that came with your OS or free stuff you can pick up online, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much. Guess it depends on how you use a computer. Email and web-surfing? Word processing and spreadsheets? Photo storage and editing? Art and design? For me it’s all of the above. On the other hand, I rarely if ever play games and am totally uninterested in the popular ones. (Some form of Solitaire is enough to keep me amused.) But T likes to fly virtual airplanes and we watch TV and DVDs on his computer. YMMV as they say.

Now that I’ve had her for a few months I’m totally surprised at how much I’ve been using my little laptop, Bluet. It’s her portability that I love. Sitting in bed under the warm covers reading email has become my morning ritual. My poor big computer, Damselfly, is lonely upstairs. However when I do get around to using the big one, I remember why I have a 17” screen. Ah, lovely virtual real estate to wander around on! Not nearly so much scrolling going on. But I digress.

The upshot is you go with whatever works for you and you learn how to deal with it. (Or not, as the case may be!) My best advice is to learn as much as you can about how to use your computer efficiently. Take a course or two if necessary. And make sure you know someone with the skills to help you if you get stuck. That actually might be the key to your Mac vs. PC choice. What OS does the family (or neighbourhood) geek use? Don’t forget to ask their advice and ply them with cookies or knit them hats or whatever it takes to get in their good graces! If you don’t have one of these then be prepared to pay for help, possibly through the company that you purchased your computer from.

I know I’m probably nuts, but I can’t imagine getting along without my computer and the internet. I can do the most antique crafts with extremely low-tech equipment. (Spin yarn with a bent wire? Check. Weave bands with a deck of cards and a couple of clamps? Check. Grow my own veggies from seeds? Check.) But I do 99% of my designing and notes and a lot of research on the computer. I communicate mostly by email and rarely make phone calls. I don’t even want to calculate how many hours I spend staring at pixels. Not that I can’t function without it. It’s just the way I prefer to work and over the years it has changed how I work and even what I work on.

OK. Enough already. Some knitting and gardening content now! I finished the second pair of Stargazer’s Frankensocks and I’ll post the details when I can get a photo. They are currently drying (or attempting to dry) on the bathroom counter. It’s pouring rain out and dark like it can only get in December so nothing dries very fast around here. They say we are going to get some cold weather by the weekend which should be interesting. I picked some baby salad greens from the greenhouse and the last of my broccoli yesterday. Not bad for this time of year. I found the trick to getting greens like arugula, mizuna, winter-hardy lettuce and the like to survive is to plant them early enough to grow to a reasonable size before it gets too cold and dark. Then keep picking the outer leaves regularly, water lightly (not too damp or mould happens) and give very occasional feedings of fish fertilizer (not too much or the new growth is too tender). With luck most of the plants should last until spring. Unless we have lots of really cold weather. If we do, I might be tempted to run a bit of heat in the greenhouse, such as my seedling mat which is like a waterproof heating pad, just to take the edge off. It would have to get down to -10C and stay there for several days first before I would be concerned though. So far we’ve barely had light frost. But that could change any time. Especially now that I just planted the last of my fall rye seeds where the broccoli used to be. Tempting fate probably.

Now to finish the charting for my fingerless mitts to match the Earthly Beret. And I’m not using a pencil and graph paper to do it either! Of course you knew that.

1 comment:

Susan Harvey said...

quote: Not that I can’t function without it.

First comes Da-nile...
Like a true tech junkie!

:) Susan