Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tales of the Laptop

Yesterday, I decided to vacate my usual not-so-comfortable seat at the flat and brought all of my things to the Pacific Coffee Company in Vivo City in order to work. I find that it's easier for me to focus in a place that's not my room - there's no bed, no stack of DVDs or novels that are just begging to be read (not for school obviously), no television set that reminds me that American Idol is on Wednesday and Thursdays, and that Heroes follows soon thereafter. And besides, with a Monday morning breakthrough on my Cultural Studies presentation, I figured I deserved a cup of non-instant coffee as a treat.

So there I was, seated in a cosy corner in the cafe, the curved expanse of glass overlooking Sentosa and the sunset. I had a hazelnut latte by my side, Leandro in front of me...and why are people glancing in my direction as they make their way towards the counter?

I look down. I was dressed comfortably, sure, but it's decent. My underwear isn't showing. There are no holes in my skirt. No holes in my top. My jacket is faded, sure, but still serviceable. And I'm pretty sure I brushed my teeth and cleaned my ears before leaving the flat.

And then it dawned on me. They were looking at Leandro.

This isn't the first time my chrome-colored baby has drawn stares. And despite his state of ever-increasing disrepair - the spatter pattern on the top because of a freak sudden shower while the bedroom window was open, and the thin rime of dust across the keys despite daily cleaning - a Mac PowerBook G4 isn't just any kind of computer. Granted, the model has been phased out to make way for the newer, shinier MacBook and MacBook Pro (which has me lusting after them despite the fact that Leandro isn't even a year old yet) but hey. He's a tight, powerful machine that can slice, dice, julienne, and even make a funky Waldorf salad if I asked him too. And I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface in terms of what Leandro can do. I don't really use GarageBand, for one; nor iVideo or the Adobe Creative Suite. I always promise myself I'll start learning how to use Photoshop CS2 before the next version comes along, but somehow, things get in the way.

Anyway. I digress.

But it's just funny how, in a little less than a year, I'm one of those people who has made the loyalty jump from a PC to a Mac. Of course I'm more used to Microsoft software, having been a user since Windows 98. I'm used to keyboard shortcuts, simple hardware and software troubleshooting and, when all else fails, the hearty thumping of a stubborn CPU. But the Mac reminds you what you've been missing when it comes to everything else. The aesthetics and the design is secondary, though it's definitely a perk - there's nothing like a pretty screen to make you want to use your computer all the time. But the fact that rarely does viruses and spyware invade a Mac (if at all) is one of the sheer delights I've experienced with my baby. As well as the fact that it's quick enough to handle multiple programs, which means that I don't have to restart as often as I used to do on a PC - and this is just a laptop, mind you. Longer battery life, clearer graphics, portability...the list goes on and on.

But I think Apple has done an amazing thing in building the brand as a lifestyle, as opposed to the staid, safe computer-programmer type image of Microsoft. And it just blows my mind how, in just a few years' time, Apple has managed to market itself as a way of life, of representing something that a significant portion of the market aspires to be. I mean, just look at the way the iPod has revolutionized the way we listen to music, or the way the iBook and the MacBook has become a status symbol - it's not just a machine, it's a machine that works as close to perfection as one can expect. And with the introduction of AppleTV and the iPhone, the multimedia experience of owning the various components under the same brand is sure to change the way we experience digital media.

Of course, this entire lifestyle comes with a rather hefty price tag - which makes it all the more attractive and enviable: after all, when promoting a lifestyle, we'd rather have the real Louis Vuitton bag than the cheap reproductions sold along the stalls at Quiapo, right? But it's not just a matter of branding - the Apple delivers content, not just form. I mean, there's not much difference between a Guess? original pair of jeans and a reproduction at first glance, but wait a couple of years and you'll see what I mean. My first pair of Guess? jeans was purchased by my dad (the amazing promoter of the quality lifestyle) when I was 19. I still have it, and despite a few spots of wear and tear, it still fits like a second skin. It's the same with Apple, I suppose - the longevity factor that justifies the initial purchase.

Still, of course, I know the day will come when my baby decides to grow up and I'll have to get a new computer. But I'm hoping that it's still a few years down the line: maybe when I'm rich enough to afford a new one, or my dad has a sudden change of heart and gets me a new MacBook (or whatever model will be out by then) because he loves me that much, haha. But still, if I can afford it by then, I'm pretty sure I'm sticking to a Mac.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to polish my baby. The next round of customers are coming in, and he has to look his best.

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