But I’ll report that I was recently given a Windows 8 laptop, and an Android ‘Jelly Bean’ tablet. Much to my embarrassment, I am finding both barely operatable.
Whilst I’ve been under the pain and delight of OS X and iOS, Windows went through several transformations, and is now barely recognizable from the last time we’ve met (XP, if you believe). Meanwhile, Android is for me completely new (I went directly from Simbian to iOS) and equally alien.
As a wide-eyed Computer Science student, I was put off by the design philosophy of OS X and iOS : the ‘my way or the highway’ appearance, the monastic simplicity, the detachment between ends and means achieved through an extreme cloaking of the mechanisms. The system reeked of coercion and… insincerity.
Now, as an overworked Engineering professor, the same dreaded features became desirable. I no longer want to choose one from 50 color schemes for my window manager, or worse, design my own color scheme. I want, out of the box, one beautiful color scheme that works. I know : it is kinda sad, and totally against the hacker ethos. But nowadays, the investment of the scarce time I have for hacking is decided very judiciously.
Once upon a time, the Rube Goldberg design of Windows and Android would make my delight for weeks — no checkmark would go unexplored, no deep dialog box would remain unopened. It was a given that I would have to reinstall the system from scratch a few times, for I would “customize” (i.e., torture) it to the point of hopelessness.
I wouldn’t mind the updates. I wouldn’t mind the nagging confirmations. I wouldn’t mind having to reinstall the system from scratch to get rid of all ‘free !’ useless/noxious third-party bundled software. I wouldn’t mind the inconsistent GUI design. I wouldn’t mind that the system, fresh out of the box, would let a driver do a “fatal exception”, or an essential application “execute an illegal operation” — either demanding hours of troubleshooting.
All that mattered was that once everything was sorted out — days or weeks later — I would get a system customized and optimized to my exacting tastes. A system that kept no secrets from me. A system of my own.
Nowadays, I want to easily unwrap a beautiful package — at each step feeling that my gestures follow a rhythm etched in the very fabric of the continuum — and have the hardware satisfyingly fall in the void of my hands, heavily filling the negative space between my fingers, caressing my skin with the touch of finely crafted rich materials. The software comes alive with a barely conscious command. A few discrete questions and the device and I are one, its assimilation into my collective accomplished, my diffusion into its anatomy complete and unnoticed.
For this privilege, I am willing to go as far (the horror !) as actually buying an Apple product.
There must be a 12-steps program for that.