Anyone who has ever spent more than 5 consecutive minutes using a Windows PC knows well the hourglass, that ubiquitous symbol that the cursor morphs into when the system is processing and cannot take further input. Users of PCs loaded with various other operating systems know the hourglass, too (a buncha different flavors of UNIX, for example), though they encounter it far less often. Annoying when it lingers on-screen for more than just a second or two, the hourglass does offer a sensical message, that being that some time will need to pass before you cursor changes back to an arrow and your system is usable once again.
The Apple Mac operating system — though UNIX-based — does not display an hourglass in place of the cursor when it needs time to catch up with the user. No, what OSX offers is a spinning beachball (or, as perceived by some, a pinwheel), which is a lot more fun than a staid old hourglass! Beachballs are found…at the beach! Thus, a delay in system reponsiveness is to be regarded not as a period of necessary waiting but as an opportunity for colorful fun! Beach = fun! And therein lies a clear view into the mindset of Apple versus all of the other schmoes out there looking to drive your personal computing experience.
|Windows, UNIX flavors:
|“Yeah, we know this is taking up some of your valuable time.”
|“It isn’t our fault if you cannot see the fun in this delay.”
Goofy grins and ability to have fun aside, when I inched my way back to an Apple computer in March of 2008 I did not see many beachballs. Sure, they would pop into view from time to time, but they were colorful (hourglasses, at that time at least, came only in black and white) and just when you found yourself noticing them they were gone. “How pleasant.”, I found myself thinking. “Not at all what I am used to!”
At the start AppleKory was only intended to serve an educational purpose, a means to keep myself “in the know” both with regard to the ongoing Apple phenomenon and the UNIX reality. My entire cyber-life at the time was well-configured to my Windows PC — work, communications, personal education, entertainment, social media — and I had it all tuned up fine and purring like a well-fed cat. (I am talking about a Windows system, of course, so mixed in with any purring was a good measure of hissing and scratching and the occasional bite, too. At least, though, it wasn’t a dog.) That first night, though, I realized that my cute, sweet, responsive, tightly-built, and so pretty new MacBook was going to do more than just tutor me in the ways of Apple and UNIX. No, she — yes, I was already referring to AppleKory as a ‘she’ — would soon be insinuating herself into and taking on cyber-life duties.
Within days I had tweaked and configured AppleKory to run at my left elbow, my new Gal Friday, alongside the big-ass monitor that presents my Windows PC. I started her on smaller tasks, such as music and video downloading. Within days I had handed AppleKory the entirety of my media-related tasks, and by the time we celebrated our one-week anniversary I had entrusted her with my entire digital music and movie library. All too soon I was mirroring all of my Windows system data on AppleKory — can never have too many backups, right? — and when I realized that I was looking for OSX ways to do all of my Windows things (not to mention, making plans to install VMWare Fusion on AppleKory so I could run a Windows virtual machine on her) I knew my relationship with my PC would soon come to a melancholy-ish end.
Time passed. I found ways to keep AppleKory and my PC working together — Synergy helped keep us a mostly-happy and functioning threesome for more than a year — but the arrangement always had a whiff of the “temporary” to it, and it certainly didn’t help that AppleKory via VMWare Fusion actually ran Windows faster and more efficiently than my PC.
Inevitably, a day of reckoning came, and on this one I woke up with a mind to disconnect my PC from the monitor and see what the world would look like with AppleKory connected to the monitor instead. She was perfectly capable of pushing multiple screen outputs to multiple displays, after all, and the number of applications I used for which there was no like or better OS X equivalent had dwindled to one.
The word is given. Warp speed. And very soon after my MiLly (mother-in-law) had a “new” PC connected to her hanging-in-there monitor.
Back to beachballs for just a moment. Another place they are often found is at concerts, getting batted around by fed-up and frustrated ticketholders waiting for the anticipated act to take the stage. A diversion, and not so much fun.
Note: In last week’s A Peck? Nay, a Bushel! I concluded saying that the next time out I would serve up “the shattering conclusion of my quasi trilogy”, but like such other classics as Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy”, Adams’ HG2G, and the “Alien” franchise (one man’s “classic”…) my rambling tale will continue through (at least) a fourth installment. And at no extra charge!