A PC guy trapped in an iMac workplace

There are Yellow Dog Democrats. There are Coke People and those who would rather die of dehydration than let anything other than a Pepsi pass their lips. Heck, there are even New Orleans Saints fans. Me, I'm a PC man.

Which is why I was less than thrilled to find a shiny new computer on my desk at work Monday morning that was not of the PC persuasion, as did all of us here in the newsroom. Rather, it was the kind that runs on an operating system that will never be accused of monopolizing the market.

They were iMacs, the sworn enemy of people like myself who prefer a PC running Windows even if it does mean we just bought Bill Gates another small country.

But there they were. And this being a newspaper, we were expected to put out an edition Tuesday morning with them despite the fact that, after four hours of training, most of us were as clueless as a cactus at a Tupperware party.

But we persevered and, after much cursing and cajoling and caressing it, but mostly cursing, the new system came to life like some monster on a slab, and most likely with the same result.

Immediately the memos went out that any accessorizing, downloading of images from Helga's House of Huguenots, listening to ball games on the Internet or doing anything with the new computers other than writing news stories would be punishable by death. There were even rumors that the computer people had programmed a sequence of key stroke combinations to instantly kill any abusers. Apparently, termination means just that.

But, in spite of the fact that I've already had to unplug my new machine and plug it back in because it froze up, probably while trying to process a word, I was willing to give these too-cute little iMacs a chance. But begrudgingly.

After all, they look like colored plastic versions of those old tabletop jukeboxes you used to see at diners. The other day, while it was having a particularly hard time processing the word "the," I was tempted to look for a slot to drop a quarter into. I still am, assuming quarters are electrically conductive.

And they don't give the option of setting up your alert sounds like a PC. With the Macs, it's one sound and that's it. If you choose a "wild eep" you get a wild eep whether the computer is altering you to a finished task or a complete meltdown.

I like my PC which I can program to tell me what's wrong. That way when it says, "download complete," I know it doesn't really mean "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! YOU MUST BE TWO MILES AWAY TO REACH THE SAFE ZONE!"

Then there was the fight with the iMac's CD player. I was told it was OK to play CDs on my new machine, it apparently being able to handle that task. But the first time I tried to eject a CD, nothing happened except a lot of whirring and rattling and cursing. Finally, on one attempt, the CD poked out of the slot just enough to tease me into lunging for it before it retracted like a frightened turtle.

After several attempts like this I enlisted the help of a colleague.

"You hit the eject button and I'll hold my hand over the slot and grab it," was the plan.

It worked except that the computer wasn't going to give up that easily. In a true test of man vs. machine, it appeared the machine was going to win as it kept trying to pull the CD back inside. Eventually I managed to jerk it out, nearly falling backward myself in the process.

Then there's this proclivity for Macintosh users to program in "shortcuts," a key or combination of keys that, when hit, causes something to happen. We PC users figure that's what a computer mouse is for and, besides, we have better things to store in our heads than a million shortcut codes.

But it lends credence to the rumor about the termination sequence programmed into our new computers to kill the user.

I guess I'd better type in my usual closing now. Let's see ... Marty ... ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal

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