Bye Bye Beautiful

It has been a long time since the last post, too long, and something significant has changed. I originally had planned to do a comparison of the dynamic features of Groovy and Objective-C and had also already tested a few things and written some paragraphs. But then, all of a sudden, work happened and I had to sacrifice many sundays – the time I usually spent for projects like this – in addition to the usual office hours (and a few more on top of that). This eventually led to one big change that certainly wasn’t easy: I sold my iMac. There went the only platform that really supports Objective-C which rendered the initial idea useless. I’m now solely on Windows (8.1), and guess what…

No, I’m not hating it. Actually, now that I’ve worked with it and seen and tested the ideas Microsoft had in mind, I really get them. I am even intrigued by the Surface family of products. How did that happen? Well, my employer supported my idea of working from home a few days of each week and this raised the question of which hardware I was going to use. Of course, the initial thought was using a Mac, maybe switch to a MacBook. I could take that MacBook to work every day to have it all with me (and be someone “special”) or simply use an external hard drive and have all work related data on it which commutes with me between work and home.

As much as I liked the idea of a MacBook I thought about the more affordable approach first. The easy choice would have been a USB hard drive, something both the Mac and the PC support. Unfortunately my iMac only offered USB 2 and that just wouldn’t be fast enough in a productive environment. Even for backups this is painfully slow. Thunderbolt was the only viable option from a performance perspective but boy, those things are expensive as hell. The more I thought about it, the more I counted out the iMac. Allright, a new MacBook then. Which one? One with at least 16 Gigs of RAM as it needed to have enough resources for several Java processes clogging up memory and a virtual machine (our main platform is Windows after all). But this not only means that I needed the RAM but also plenty of CPU Power and this basically only left the 15″ MacBook Pro Retina as an option. This piece of hardware configuratio sells for around 3000 Euros. Swallow that! And to add insult to injury I would still have needed external storage or pay even more for 1TB of SSD space – 500€ to be exact.

I really appreciate the industrial design and build quality and I think the price of the basic configuration is reasonably fair but boy, 3000€ is a lot! Considering the fact that you can buy a new car for around 7000€ this is a ton of money for a computer. In addition, cars usually last way longer than computers. So, bite the bullet or not? I have spent hours trying to find a good deal but none could cover the fact that it would certainly be an expensive endeavour.

Why was I so invested you may think? I would have been the one paying for it. I have a computer at work and I can use it as many times as I want during the week (an argument I can totally understand) which makes this in part be a private thing (remember the “special” a few lines up?).

The resolution to this was to actually use the powerful computer I already had, being my gaming machine. It only needed a hard drive, some RAM and a second monitor and then it would be good to go. Now that this computer was not only being used for gaming but also productivity it turned the iMac into a beautiful piece of wasted money. Why would I need two computers that are set up to do the same thing? And that is how I ended up on Windows 8 and finally changed my mind about it. But not only that. With the demise of Windows XP – about time – my mother needed a new computer as well (the hardware already ready to die) and you may have already guessed that I chose a Windows 8 machine.

Apart from the fact that there are actually affordable computers in the Windows device eco system that are larger than just 8″ – 10″, I surely thought that explaining the Modern UI is easier to grasp by someone that is as foreign to computers as Ferraris are to resource efficiency compared to any classic desktop out there. And it turns out that I was right. This was also my first real encounter with this kind of computing and it showed me, how life on a Windows tablet could be. My mother only had to learn which Tile to punch in order to start an app and push the Windows key to get out of it. No more window management, no more explaining how the taskbar works, no more phone calls to ask where the browser has gone after opening the mail-application.

I always liked the idea and concept behind the tiles and what Microsoft introduced with Windows Phone 7. This deviation from the “classic” mobile OSes really interested me. An app’s screen wouldn’t stop on the right border of the screen and only expand downwards but also show different aspects of the content horizontally. However, at that time iOS was much more mature and the hardware much more appealing. That was my choice then. Right now I’m actually not sure if I would make that decision again. Nokia’s devices provide good quality as well and they also offer a wider choice of devices and as a result from that: price range. The only thing Apple still has in its favor is actually the iPhone’s camera. Not even the 40-something megapixel monster Nokia sells produces as nice images as the iPhone. But that is only my personal preference.

So here I am, without a Mac and happy with Windows 8 and thinking about replacing the iPad with a Surface Pro. Have I had nothing but laughter about the idea of a full blown desktop OS on a tablet so have I eventually changed my mind and could really make use of the mixture of a tablet with support for non-tablet functionality. I’m a developer after all and this itch the iPad cannot scratch. Sometimes I’m watching a video tutorial and would like to try what I see at the same time. No way on the iPad. And booting that big machine of a workstation is out of the question as well, I’m sitting in front of one of these all day already.

To sum it all up: Bye Bye Beautiful and Hello Reason (and maybe to become beautiful as well)

I had something completely different in mind but somehow I digressed into how I was wrong about Windows 8. Until next time, or maybe one after that, we’ll see. There’s one more thing to write about and it would fit nicely with this topic.

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