Bratty Redhead

the sarcasm is free!

I Am Not a Fangirl

[[posterous-content:tDmkxmhdJkvcIbHmytmJ]]In the beginning, there was no Apple…
I have an uneven history of geekiness.  Most of my geek comes from my dad.  When I was little, sometimes my parents would let me sit up late on the weekends and play Dungeons and Dragons with them and their friends.  My dad was a bona fide war gamer.  He even played them by mail, with maps hanging up on the wall, using sticky putty to hang counters on them.  We didn’t have a lot of money, but I remember pong and the first computer I played on was a TRS80.  I played Zork, a little.  My dad took me to wargame conventions sometimes. There were no apple products in the house.

Still no Apple…
Left to my own devices, I was mostly just a bookworm and music junkie.  I knew computers because they were always around at home, but I never programmed for fun.  I made money in college tutoring computer subjects and took a few “computer classes,” because that was the only way to get an email address at my tiny college.  But I didn’t take them seriously.  I was a Medieval Lit major and only interested in computers for email, browsing and word processing. I used a unix terminal long before I mastered DOS or even saw an apple up close.

Who the hell is Apple?
As an undergrad I took a job doing tech support because it beat the hell out of working in the library, both fun-wise and money-wise.  Seriously, ever mended a book binding or filed the catalog cards that come with new books?  Helping the clueless figure things out won for me every time and tech support usually means Microsoft systems.  So still no apple.

Isn’t Apple going to die a horrible corporate death?
What I’m trying to say is, I never even saw a Commodore or an Apple PC until I was an adult.  I never had any reason for interest in Apple products.  For years to me they were just a company about to go broke.  All my experience was Microsoft-based.  Then the internet boom happened and I left the Lit studies behind. 

Oh look, an iP….
I never wanted a Mac. I eventually bought a 4th gen iPod and really liked it. I’d never really clicked with any mobile music devices.  But I loved the iPod and used it extensively for running.

I was skeptical about smartphones and I didn’t buy one at all until the iPhone 3GS. At first I didn’t care for it as I was used to my Blackberry that I had for work.  The transition from keyboard to touchscreen was rough.  I still don’t care for chat clients that much although I’m a proficient typist now. It really grew on me and I eventually became quite attached to it.

When the 3GS caught a dunking last year, I picked up the iPhone 4 and only gave that up because ATT didn’t work at all in my urban Minneapolis neighborhood.  Since I needed a new phone and service, I took the opportunity to test drive an Android phone and, while it has a few good things, I’ll gladly give it up for an iPhone5.  iOS 5 brought the pulldown notifications which I looooved on the android.  And while the phone still doesn’t have a blinky light, I’m so attached to my social software these days that I almost don’t need one any more.  That may not be a good thing….

Something I’ve never been able to get used to on my android are the keyboards.  They do a few cool things I wish for on iOS(holding down the key for the shift character), but in general I mistype on them constantly and it never seems to figure out the trends.  I always feel like iOS is reading my mind when I type.

Me likely teh Shuffle….
Eventually, I discovered the Shuffle, when it first came in the small square.  I’ve gone through 3 of them as I firmly believe they are the best music player for running ever invented.  Apple got this so right.  It’s tiny, clips on to my sports bra strap and has an easy-to-identify pause button and fast forward button.  It shuffles my playlist too. This is all I want in a running player.  Anything else complicates tactile navigation.  I skipped the funny rectangle shuffle - it made things complicated.

It’s a little irritating that it costs so much for the memory it come with, but it really approaches perfection for me.  So I pay for it.

Still, who needed a Mac?  Not I.
Despite all of this, I never wanted a Mac.  Among other things, I had some experience with linux touchpad drivers and some older Mac touchpad drivers and they made me want to headdesk myself bloody.  I had years of Windows experience. I knew how to fix it and I understood its quirks.  I liked it.  There was no Mac software for certain things I love (hello Quicken) and they aren’t really made for games.  And their single mouse buttons gave me the creeps.  Little did I know…

I always thought of Macs the way I do Volkswagen: Nice, but overpriced for what you’re getting.  I’ve always liked a high screen resolution on my laptops and Macs could never give me that.  My 11” Sony had a 1366x800 screen resolution which I loved.  My 13” had 1600x1024 (or something like that).  It was awesome and lightweight to boot.  I could even snag a unix-like command line with Cygwin. It did everything I needed it to do.

Until I started programming….
2 years ago, when I started in on Chef and Ruby, needing Rubygems and all the other disparate parts that come with managing laptop development environments, it all fell apart.  I’ve heard rumors that it’s possible to get ruby environments running with Cygwin.  As a matter of fact, I know you can because a couple of the Thoughtworks consultants forced to use client-supplied Windows laptops made it work.  But it was painful.  And I wanted no part of it. 

I ad-hoc’d my way through for a while by using a Linux VM.  That worked ok, but it wasn’t really flexible enough for me.  Also, I ran into funky problems like some gems/tools worked on some Linux distros but not others.  But one thing almost everything in the ENTIRE WORLD works on is Mac OSX.  BECAUSE ALL THE DEVELOPERS ARE USING IT! And so all the Ruby and Python tools in the world work on OSX as well as common Linux distros (read: Ubuntu)

I eventually discovered that I really wanted a Mac because I was so tired of devoting countless cycles to shoe-horning (yak shaving) things into a workable state on my windows laptop when I knew it would all just work on a Mac.  So I waited for the new Macbook Air to surface last July and grabbed one.  I’ve had it for 8 months and am pretty used to it now.  It doesn’t have the screen real estate that my last 13” had, but I’ve come to really love the touchpad and gestures.  I also love hot key empowerment and being able to type at a comfortable command line.  I love that, when I don’t know wtf the OS is doing, I can drop to a command line and figure it out.  I love that OSX comes with awesome built in tools like iPhoto and the VPN client.

I still have days when I’m all key smashy omgwtf-fu mac, but they are rare.

And then there was iPad….
I’ve never felt the need for a tablet.  I’m not on the road that much these days.  My laptop is fairly mobile.  I have tiny hands. No seriously, I shop for winter gloves in the boys section because all the women’s size small gloves are TOO BIG.  WTF are my tiny hands going to do with a tablet? 

It turns out, strain to reach the letters in the middle of the keyboard.

My recent experiences with different phones made me think I could ready for a tablet.  I’d canceled my iPhone contract and was going to sell it.  But I found myself continuing to read on the iPhone and use it for things at home via wifi.  I read a lot at night in bed in the dark. The new Samsung was too bright even with the brightness all the way down and the battery needed to be saved for when I actually needed to use the phone. I eventually got a light filter app whose sole duty is to dim the backlight even more.

5 months later, I’m still using the iPhone.  I figured I might find some use for a tablet and maybe sell the iPhone.  Plus, I love the iPhone keyboards and the way iOS seems to read my mind when it’s autocorrecting (most of the time).  I’ve never connected well with the Android keyboards, even with auxiliary apps like SwiftKey.

I now have a new iPad.  It’s really big.  I can’t really reach the letters in the center of the keyboard with my thumbs although it’s nice to type on when flat.  It’s also really slippery and hard to use in bed.  My case will come tomorrow.  This will hopefully keep it from sliding out of my hands and give me some texture to hang on to.

I like that Tweetdeck will sync across all my devices.  I like that I can now read PDFs without pain on a mobile device.  I don’t like that everyone seems to think that Retina means everything should stay the same size and look nicer.  I want smaller stuff.  SHRINK ALL THE THINGS APPLE!

The iPad is not yet earning its keep.  I’m on the extended work from home plan so it’s doing light duty at the moment.  I am reserving judgement; although it’s possible that, if you buy the rumored 7 inch iPad later this year, I might trade you.

And the paraphernalia…
I picked up a stand for my Macbook and a bluetooth keyboard.  And then the Airport Express.  I researched wireless print servers and couldn’t find a decent one for much less than the Airport.  And the Airport will stream my iTunes too.

And the iTunes...
Yeah I forgot to mention iTunes.  I’ve been using it for years, even though it sucked up massive resources on my Windows boxes.  It’s the easiest, most intuitive music manager I’ve ever met.  And it manages my i-devices.  I asked Android owners before I bought my phone, “how do you manage your phone?” They just looked at me like I was crazy.  I still can’t figure out if I’ve been conditioned by Apple, but I really like having the iTunes interface to manage my phone, etc.

and then there was the iTunes Store…
I loathe the iTunes store.  There’s no way to filter searches.  There’s no way to make it show you what you want.  You get only what it wants you to see. 

So I don’t know, am I a fangirl? 
I’ve always thought Apple owners came across rather smug. But then I kind of fell down the slippery slope of Apple product ownership.  I don’t feel smug.

I still won’t buy iTunes content except for a few things here and there.  I won’t buy the Apple TV.  I have a Roku that streams everything I need and for less money. 

I don’t care to be locked into one content provider, which is why I refused to buy a Kindle.  Also, I love me my backlight.  Ironically I like a smartphone/tablet for reading because it allows me to have apps for all content providers.  In general I tend to use Amazon, but I refuse to be required to use them through the mishap of buying one of their devices.  If Apple ever started restricting other content provider apps, I would have to take a serious look at my hardware collection.

I still have a Windows desktop.  My Quicken is there.  My (tiny) gaming collection is there.  Calibre is there.  Other large footprint software is there.  I haven’t rid myself of my 13” Sony yet although I only open it when I need to look for something.  It’s my only mobile HDMI-out device at the moment.  Apple devices don’t play Flash and that’s what Amazon is streaming in at the moment.

I’m a big fan of their hardware.  I love all my Apple stuff.  But I’m still comfortable with Windows and have nothing against it as a user (although Windows Server Administration makes me want to cut off my fingers).  I wouldn’t urge someone else to get an Apple device.  I might or might not gush about it, depending on what it was.  I kind of wish Apple had designed my treadmill. But then, I probably couldn’t have afforded it.

To an outsider, I probably look like a fangirl. But if another company made something as awesome to use as an Apple product, I’m sure I’d buy it.  My foray into that arena though was my Samsung Galaxy S2 which has just not been as lovable as I’d hoped.

I’ve been all “I don’t need Apple stuff” my whole life. But I kinda like it, it’s reliable and it’s all so very comfortable to use.  So while I may not gush, I might be a bit of a closet fangirl.  It’s possible….