Let’s Talk Desktops

As you likely know this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mac. I was inspired by Apple’s story and it got me thinking about desktops. At work I use a Macbook Pro and love it for the most part. However, at home I am platform agnostic. I mean my household runs the gamut of computer operating systems: two Windows 8.1 PCs, an ailing Macbook running Lion, a Mac mini running Mavericks and of course, my beloved Raspberry PI running Raspbian. There is even a decommissioned Mac mini (2006 model) waiting for a new pet project. Among them all, we have iPhones and a first generation iPad. But for me, the real work gets done on desktops–big keyboards and big screens. I am not a fan of laptops because I end up turning them into desktops by “anchoring” them with my own keyboard, mouse and monitors.  I am simply enamoured with desktops. I must be a dinosaur. Even my parents have replaced their Macbook with an iPad. But from my perspective the functionality of a full class desktop just isn’t on par with those mobile devices. The experience is somehow lost in the translation. For one thing, I never seem to get the swipe gesture just right on my iPhone. My fingers fumble to find the desired pixel-point position on those tiny screens. My other beef with the mobile devices is the shallow, limited nature of those prolific apps. Apps have given software a bad name. We have come to know them as mostly useless, something you install and forget about and later delete to make more room for newer apps.

None of that happens on my trusty desktop where the preferred method of interaction is purely key-based. The keyboard is king. I need all of those keys and I need to feel each and every one of them. Tactile feedback is so important to muscle memory. There is a reason why there are special little underscore marks on the G and J keys of your keyboard. It tells your fingers that they are in the home row position, ready to reach any other keys without a single glance. But desktops are more than just full sized keyboards or big monitors. These are the Frankenstein machines of the computing world. A device that you can get inside and make your own. Ever since I was a kid, I was always taking things apart and that desire has never completely left me. I have a need to get inside to figure out how it all works. If you don’t like your video performance, then augment that overworked integrated GPU with a mammoth video card. Don’t like that no-name mouse that came with your PC? Then buy a super-sensitive Razer mouse. But the customization doesn’t end there. There is no limit to what you can rig up to your desktop and that sort of customization is getting harder and harder to do with Macs. Adding a spare hard drive to my Mac Mini would void my warranty and require me to remove virtually every component from the machine. There are no such barriers on my monster rig.

My Monster Rig!

My Monster Rig!

Inside the Machine

It’s beautiful inside too!

Do you have a PC running in a dark corner of your basement? Perhaps you gave up the shackles of the desktop and now use a laptop. Maybe you use a mobile phone to do it all. Whatever the case, I would love to know what you are using at home for your everyday computing needs. I have created a special poll for this purpose. In addition to the poll, please feel free to leave a comment and share with me what you like or dislike about desktops.

[socialpoll id=”2186921″] 

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Desktops

  1. Peady

    My poor old MacBook! It’s not like I can move it around like a laptop. Heck! I can barely risk gazing upon it and having the screen go black! I guess we are both anchored. 😉

    I am ever so grateful for my iThing!

    Meanwhile, it comforts me to know, that if ever there’s a fixable issue you are on my team!

    I laughed out loud at “platform agnostic”. Hah! So true!

    Great post!

    1. kyooty

      I just this December stopped using a desktop in my livingroom. One of our boys uses a desktop, another uses a laptop and the youngest begs for use of a laptop. All items are dumpster divers.

  2. kyooty

    but Where is the Wooden housing for your fans? Why is the cover still on? doesn’t it need to be tweaked repeatedly. Is there not a tape back up system? And where for the love of all that is holy and good are the collector items like the Vic 20’s and Commadore 64’s.

    Also my oldest wants a Raspberry PI! this is the most requested gift item asked for when giftable events come up.

    I’m only married into this tech world.

    1. Paul Post author

      No wooden covers for my fans and I never leave covers off my cases. Too worried it will invite unauthorized tampering. 😉 As far as the 8-bit machines go, I cleaned out my collection years ago and kept my one prized C-64. I keep it up on my bookshelf, but would like to mount it to the wall. I don’t have a power supply for it anymore but I may try to get a replacement brick so I can take it out from time to time.

      For me, the Raspberry PI is the logical, modern replacement for the C-64. The PI embodies everything that I love about the C-64, but is superior in many ways. After all, it was designed to teach today’s kids about computer concepts and programming, and so it would make a great gift for anyone interested in learning more about this vast field.

      Thanks for your comments!


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