In yet another leap of faith yesterday, I bought yet another new computer. Sometimes the completely illogical decision is the one that needs to be made. Of course, there are never ways to tell in advance whether a leap-of-faith decision is totally idiotic or absolutely correct.
I have worked up to this by attempting to reduce fatigue: going to bed as early as possible (sometimes not very) and taking time within every day to read something escapist, in this case three fantasies by Robin McKinley: Chalice, and the two related titles The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword:
When facing a decision of this magnitude, it's good to refresh the mental palate. There's nothing like monstrous dragons and not-entirely-human foes that require magic to be defeated to make my real-life challenges seem less momentous and disconcerting. (I've been meeting freelance deadlines, too. They don't have the same bracing effect.)
I now have a MacBook. It is not, contrary to friends' advice, a MacBook Pro, which several people have told me is the minimum I really need in order to do what I want (that being, for the most part, editing, designing, and publishing books). Nor is it a desktop Mac with a big monitor, which is what I think is likely to be the best tool for the job. I'm told that this MacBook will, however, run the programs I need to run, even if not optimally, and my leap of faith did not extend to the number of dollars required to get one of the other solutions into play.
Although it appears that I'll be able to get the upcoming publication that has been plagued by computer problems off to the printer in the foreseeable future from the PC system (too late to start over on that one, and I think I've got workarounds that are sidestepping the file corruption), the past year-plus (nearly two years, but I try not to think of that) of hardware and software glitches has nearly driven me out of business. My choices are to quit . . . or to be brave, jump into a parallel universe (without benefit of seeing what's really in there), and keep going.
Let's just say that quitting is very difficult for me to do. I'll go do something else for a while, but if the task I wanted to accomplish was something I want to get done, I will return to it. Hopefully with new ideas, crazy or not.
Balancing the unknown and unpredictable with a some reliable activity, I have completed a pair of fingerless gloves, made from the yarn that LynnH over at Colorjoy! kindly sent me:
I've shoved up my sweater sleeves so you can see the fingerless gloves better. The pattern is from the new Luxury One-Skein Wonders, by Judith Durant. The design is "Silk-Merino Fingerless Gloves" by Andra Asars, although the original was designed for superfine yarn and I modified for worsted-weight (I worked on smaller-than-usual needles, cast on 52 stitches, and finished the thumb area when it contained 22 stitches; I also lengthened both cuff and finger areas).
Changing operating systems is not trivial. It requires a whole different way of thinking. I will also need to change layout software, at least until I can afford to acquire what I'm currently accustomed to, because Adobe does not currently permit cross-platform upgrades, which means I'd need to start over by purchasing a new, complete edition of the Adobe Creative Suite (I have already purchased two of the earlier versions, which are running on my and my daughter's PCs). Not an option right now.
However, I do have two alternatives that will not require additional major investment. QuarkXPress permits cross-platform upgrades, and Scribus (open source layout program) appears to have evolved since I last examined it. More research and testing required, plus a learning curve in that direction.
I'll also need to see how many of the fonts I've acquired will run on Mac as well as PC. I've been purchasing only OpenType (Type 1 flavor) fonts for the past couple of years, so all the new stuff should be fine. However, some reliable oldies will need to be replaced, or I'll simply need to do without them.
I think the Mac may be much easier to use in many ways than the PCs. However, my brain is accustomed to thinking about certain tasks in specific ways—to install a program, you do this; to uninstall one, you do that—and even my excursions into Linux have only been partially successful because I haven't taken the time to do the background training that's necessary to become fluent and versatile in a new system. I've been with the PC line of computers since CP/M (my first computer was a Kaypro II, with 64K RAM . . . not a typo). At the time, Apples only had 40-character displays and the PCs offered 80-character lines. I moved on through MS-DOS and versions of Windows from 3.x up to XP, with one brief excursion into the Apple IIc. Parallel universes indeed. Give me a C:> prompt and I will probably remember what to do with it.
I feel like I'm starting again from scratch. For example, I know this machine runs Mac OS X. I have even been able to find the place within the system data that tells me it's version 10.5.5. However, when you start working on figuring out what resources there are for learning how to navigate Mac's OS X operating system, everybody's talking about big cats: tigers, panthers, leopards, and the like. I finally figured out that what I have here is a leopard. Whew. That makes everything completely clear. Right?
The best news is that the library OWNS the book I was looking for, called Switching to the Mac, by David Pogue (oops, that was a tiger version; easiest to find), and it OWNS the Leopard (newest) edition, and the book was CHECKED IN at the very branch where I was located when I was doing this research.
It's already apparent (in the first 24 hours) that people who use a computer for normal tasks would find it very easy to get up and running very quickly on a Mac. However if, like me, you want to do the equivalent of brewing tea for a hundred people in what amounts to a single mug, you'll need a different approach.
Oddly, the Linux-like qualities of the operating system that I have so far encountered are comforting. For example, many changes require me to enter the machine's basic password.
I do keep trying to hit CTRL-S to save things (looks like CMD-S may be similar) and I was a little more accustomed than I thought to being able to delete either forward or backward from the cursor, depending on which PC key I chose (delete or backspace). The Mac does not seem to have that capability (confirmed by a friend). Although I think there's a way you can make the machine do that.
Right now, I'm seeking the basic truths of life: How does a Mac organize itself, and therefore me? And if Windows crashes and there is no sound, do you still have to reboot?