greygirlbeast: (apple)
[personal profile] greygirlbeast
The first computer I ever used wasn't an Apple. This was June 1986, and the computer was something or another manufactured by the Kaypro Corporation. Looked like it had been yanked from a control panel on the Nostromo, that eighty-column, nine-inch green phosphor screen, 64 KB of RAM, the 2.5 MHz Zilog Z80 microprocessor, and so on and so forth. Drives for 91 kb 5¼ inch floppy disks. Remember those? Floppy disks? Anyway, I'd moved to Boulder, Colorado to go to school, and I was typing a paper for a conference—the umpteenth draft, dabbed with liquid paper—and James Kirkland (the first friend I made at UC; he was finishing his PhD) walked in and was like, "Jesus, you're still using an electric typewriter? You've gotta be kidding me. Come over here. Let me show you something." So, he introduced me to the Kaypro (in its all metal chassis) and a horrid, deafening little Okidata dot matrix printer. And it was a weird sort of love at first sight. I was using a computer. Just like on, you know, fucking Star Trek. I was fucking Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, writing about extinct marine reptiles! It was fucking cool.

Then, later that same year, I met the Apple IIe, with it's large screen and amber letters. It didn't look half so science-fiction, but was some how less annoying to work with. And then, in 1987, I met the Mac SE with its big grey screen, and diskettes, and a MOUSE (!!), and it was all modular and sexy and friendly and intuitive, and I fell instantly, utterly in love. It the thing broke, even I could usually get it up and running again. The computer lab became a glorious place to be. I made up excuses just to be there. Need someone to input all your data on the relative dimensions of the ammonite phragmocone, with possible relevance to sexual dimorphism? Sure, I'll do it free, and, besides, it's a chance to skip an organic chem lecture.

But it wasn't until 1993, back in Birmingham, Ala. that I got a special Apple student loan to buy my own machine, an Apple Color Classic. Of my very own. That I could take home! And here was that lovely 10″ Sony Trinitron color monitor, 512×384 pixel resolution, and sure, it only had 4 megs of memory, but later I was able to bump that up to 10 megs. I named her Pandora. And everything from "Persephone" to "Apokatastasis" on that lovely machine. I used AOL and Usenet and played SimEarth. I took it to Athens, Ga with me (1994), then back to Birmingham (1997), then to Atlanta (2001) and right back to Birmingham the same year.

But while I was in Atlanta, in October 2001, I bought a reconditioned Mac iBook, and slowly transitioned from Pandora to that machine, which I named Victoria Regina. I used this laptop until April 2007, when I took part of the advance from my shitty little Beowulf tie-in "novel" and bought the iMac I've been using ever since. She's named Arwen, and memory is measured in gigs, and there's over two hundred thousand colors on her huge LCD screen. That's only three Macs in twenty-five years, with virtually no crashes or trips to the service guys or anything. So don't tell me Macs aren't wonderful machines. Don't tell me they don't work for shit. Because I have the experience to know otherwise, a quarter century of it.

Oh, and I've also had two iPods (Moya and, then, Inara) I'd still be on my first, but it had a run in with an unfortunate very powerful magnet on the trip to Oregon a year ago). Pandora needs work on her screen, and Victoria still runs just fine, and I expect to be using Arwen for many years to come. The only reason I don't have an iPad or iPhone is that I cannot present afford either on my freelancers income.

And yesterday Steve Jobs died. It's messed with my head in ways I can't articulate. He was my Tesla. Something like that. He spawned wonders that changed the world, for better or worse. To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, who I hope won't mind being quoted: [Jobs took] those thing that Apple had -- the weird idea that you'd want to have a sort of electronic Rolodex you'd carry around, that you can take notes on, that would schedule your appointments, the idea that you'd want to be able to talk to your computer and have it do things, the idea that a computer didn't sit on your desk, but that it belonged in your pocket, the idea that you could read a book on your computer and it could have sound and it could have video -- he took those things and he made them work.

It is very safe to say I never would have had a writing career without Apple. I can't even begin to fathom the Microsoft boxes and their unintuitive Windows interface (a creation stolen from Jobs and Wozniak by that ferret Bill Gates, then mutated into something nightmarish). I never would have had the patience to learn to use PCs, and my style of writing, I fear, isn't conducive to typewriters. Am I member of the so-called "Cult of Apple"? Maybe. I really don't care. But I would have liked to see Jobs get a little more time, and I am grateful for his work. It's safe to say I'm going to be mourning the loss of him for a while.

----

I can't tell you what I worked on yesterday, or what I'll work on today. But it's a crazy-lot of work, and it's going to be awesome beyond belief. Oh, and Sirenia Digest #70 went out late last night.

Late, I read Thomas Ligotti's "Conversations in a Dead Language" (1989), which I'd managed somehow never to read, and which I found oddly disappointing. I all but worship Ligotti, and hardly expected the disappointment. Most of the tale is fine, and I loved the twins in their gender-reversed wedding attire, but then the whole thing is spoiled by a silly "horror" story ending.

And now I gotta so. Many, many words before I can rest. Oh, there are typos in this, I'm sure. Spooky, she'll help me fix them later.

Goodbye, Mr. Jobs,
Aunt Beast

Date: 2011-10-06 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kylecassidy.livejournal.com
I still have my original Macintosh Plus. It is my dedicated Sim City machine. i've had a game that's been running (off and on) since 1992. Every once in a while Godzilla tears the place apart, or I get hung in effigy, but they've survived.

Date: 2011-10-06 07:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Gods, I loved the early Sim games.

Date: 2011-10-06 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robyn-ma.livejournal.com
You must treat your Macs better than I do. Mine seem to crap out after four years.

Then again, they probably get cancer from all the second-hand smoke.

In short, I accept that it's not them, it's me.

Date: 2011-10-06 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

You must treat your Macs better than I do.

With kid gloves, as I treat all electronics.
Edited Date: 2011-10-06 08:21 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-10-06 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unknownbinaries.livejournal.com
...Drives for 91 kB 5¼ inch floppy disks. Remember those? Floppy disks?

I've still got one floating around in the vain hope/fear I will run into a viable drive and be able to get my first typed stories off of them.

I can't say I'm a fan of the current Mac incarnations, but as a fiddly-bits, build-it-my-damned-self kind of geek, I do have a high respect for where they came from.

Date: 2011-10-06 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I can't say I'm a fan of the current Mac incarnations, but as a fiddly-bits, build-it-my-damned-self kind of geek, I do have a high respect for where they came from.

I miss not being able to do fixes myself, but it's seemed like a fair enough tradeoff.

Date: 2011-10-06 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
Three macs in twenty-five years is impressive. I like the fact you name them, too.

One admission: I've deliberately avoided buying Beowulf because of the shitty time you had of it.

Yeah, I agree with you about "Conversations". A pity, because up until that tacked-on, pointless haunting it's a fine introspective piece of work. It's as if TL couldn't come up with anything else. I've just bought Conspiracy Against the Human Race, and I'm wary of it so far.

Date: 2011-10-06 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I like the fact you name them, too.

I always thought that, like ships, Macs should have names. For reasons that seem obvious to me.

One admission: I've deliberately avoided buying Beowulf because of the shitty time you had of it.

All I can say in its favor is the gig paid well, and the book was at least better than the movie.

Yeah, I agree with you about "Conversations". A pity, because up until that tacked-on, pointless haunting it's a fine introspective piece of work. It's as if TL couldn't come up with anything else.

Pretty much.

I've just bought Conspiracy Against the Human Race, and I'm wary of it so far.

It's...daunting.

Date: 2011-10-06 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] egologic.livejournal.com
http://www.theonion.com/articles/last-american-who-knew-what-the-fuck-he-was-doing,26268/

Date: 2011-10-06 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sfmarty.livejournal.com
The newspqaper today had a portrait of Jobs with the caption, "He saw the future"

I miss him already.

Date: 2011-10-06 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

"He saw the future"

And, for better or worse, made a good bit of it. This future, at least.

Date: 2011-10-06 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
Oh, and a good SD this month!

Date: 2011-10-06 08:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-10-06 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pisceanblue.livejournal.com
It's interesting how our lives have been so shaped by Steve, even those who don't use Apple products. The first computer I did use was an Apple IIe (in 1983) and I wrote my undergrad thesis (a collection of short stories) in 1987 on a MacPlus. I even got the chance to use a NeXTcube in 1993, though I've never really utilized anything developed after he returned to Apple. It's difficult to comprehend a world without him and yet he made certain his vision would continue, it can never be contained.

Date: 2011-10-06 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

It's difficult to comprehend a world without him and yet he made certain his vision would continue, it can never be contained.

Which is about the best that can be said for any of us, once we're gone.

Date: 2011-10-06 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insanitybook.livejournal.com
I can understand where you're coming from in regard to Steve Jobs. As an artist, Apple products have been so important to what I create and produce. I know that both time and the Apple company will march on, but it's sort of like when your best friend's father dies.

Side note: the fact that you named your iBook Victoria (my first name) makes me smile.

Date: 2011-10-06 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I know that both time and the Apple company will march on, but it's sort of like when your best friend's father dies.

Well put.

the fact that you named your iBook Victoria (my first name) makes me smile.

That was during my infatuation with all things Victorian.

Date: 2011-10-06 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insanitybook.livejournal.com
That was during my infatuation with all things Victorian.

Yeah, I think everyone goes through that face. I think that's how steampunk was born.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I think that's how steampunk was born.

William Gibson said it best: "Steampunk is what happened when goths discovered brown."

Date: 2011-10-07 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insanitybook.livejournal.com
I just quoted that last night!

Date: 2011-10-06 09:20 pm (UTC)
blackestdarkness: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blackestdarkness
I've owned 3 Macs over the years (Performa 6200, Strawberry iMac, and an iBook Clamshell) but currently use a PC at home. At work we use Macs and I hope to own one again someday. They are so damned pricey.

Date: 2011-10-06 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

They are so damned pricey.

Depends. Yes, they can be. But so can many other machines. The Asus laptop I got for gaming earlier this year was pretty pricey.
Edited Date: 2011-10-06 09:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-10-06 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spank-an-elf.livejournal.com
What a wonderful post.

I was puttering around in the living room when I heard the news about Jobs. I burst into tears. Quite a weird reaction. My poor MacBook's silent despair probably jolted my mind.

Depending on finances, since my first computer back in 1987, I've gone between PCs and Macs. You might pay less for a PC, but they wonk out far more than a Mac.




Date: 2011-10-07 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I burst into tears.

I felt bad because I didn't.

You might pay less for a PC, but they wonk out far more than a Mac.

Which, of course, means PCs can cost you a lot more.

Date: 2011-10-06 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jdack.livejournal.com
I don't own a Mac any more for financial reasons, but the original white Macbook is my favorite of the computers I've owned. My dad has it now.

Growing up as a computer nerd in the late 80's and 90's I used Apple machines all through school, and later sometimes work. If I ever have the funds again, my next laptop will be a Mac.

His passing has affected me far, far more than I would have expected. As a blogger said, "iSad."

Jobs had a major hand in creating the things that shaped my entire geek life.
The dude actually succeeded in making a dent in the universe.

(unrelated: My company still relies on Okidata dot matrix printers. And I have to fix them.)

Date: 2011-10-07 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Jobs had a major hand in creating the things that shaped my entire geek life.
The dude actually succeeded in making a dent in the universe.


Well, in human civilization on Earth, at least. We scale it up to the whole universe, the dent becomes...well, it vanishes.

My company still relies on Okidata dot matrix printers.

Wow.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corucia.livejournal.com

The first computer I used was a TRS-80, for a BASIC programming course in high school around 1981. My college roommate bought an original Macintosh, and I typed a lot of term papers on that, with printouts on the dot-matrix Apple printer. My first computer was bought used from my wife's grad lab - an SE with an external 40 MB hard drive that served as a pedestal for the computer. I've bought or used most iterations of Apple laptops. I've had to use Windows occasionally; it's an inferior product. The Linux variants require too much hand-holding; when I'm doing work I don't want to have even a passing thought about the tools I'm using. As you've pointed out, with proper care Apple products last much longer than the industry average. These days, they even cost the same as similarly-equipped Windows boxes, so the cost argument is moot. Apple is responsible, directly or indirectly, for a huge amount of the tech that most of us now take for granted. And Steve Jobs was responsible for Apple (Pixar too). We won't see his like again, much to our detriment.

His Stanford commencement address from 2005 is amazing, and well worth a listen.

The last time I felt this sad over the death of someone I'd never met was when Will Eisner died.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

s you've pointed out, with proper care Apple products last much longer than the industry average. These days, they even cost the same as similarly-equipped Windows boxes, so the cost argument is moot.

Yes! Frankly, the PCs vs. Macs nonsense has always felt like some sort of weird nerd version of blue-collar workers versus those lazy artists to me.

His Stanford commencement address from 2005 is amazing, and well worth a listen.

Actually, I intend to post it here tonight.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:02 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The first computer I ever used wasn't an Apple.

Ditto. My father had built it, I don't know what out of; it had a black screen and green letters and it printed screechingly on two-tone striped paper with those ticker-tape borders. But I learned to type on a Mac, when I was eight. I wrote painfully by hand, as minimally as I could manage. I typed the hell out of everything. I've never owned anything else.

It is very safe to say I never would have had a writing career without Apple.

I keep hearing versions of this story: universally from writers whose work I'd miss. I'm glad there was someone in the world who thought the way they needed to write.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

My father had built it, I don't know what out of

That is so cool. You and Spooky got such cool dads.

I keep hearing versions of this story:

I felt sort of dumb saying it. But I know it actually is true.

Date: 2011-10-07 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fornikate.livejournal.com
the first computer i ever used was a TANDY and i made a ASCII unicorn.

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