Thoughts on Thoughts

Tuesday February 06, 2007
I am in the market for a new computer, and it will almost certainly be a Mac.

Last week, I discovered that, with Vista, Microsoft has finally crossed the line between "pragmatic compromise" and "dangerous decision".  I have never been really comfortable with having a Windows machine that required "activation", but it's been worth it mainly for access to certain bits of software which are hard to get elsewhere.  I generally buy new computers with Windows installed to get the discount and avoid the hassles.  (Sure, Linux seems like a pain compared to Windows when setting up new hardware, but have you ever tried to get Windows bootstrapped?  From scratch?)  The new "premium content protection" garbage in Vista is such a terrible disaster waiting to happen that both the moral and practical ramifications of buying new Windows hardware have finally become overriding.

The first option I considered was System 76.  I desperately want to sing their praises, but the only experiences I've heard of with their laptops so far were decidedly ... lackluster.  Their service is apparently excellent though, and I will continue to consider them for future hardware purchases (the idea of not having to screw around with that one last fiddly device driver in my Linux setup is certainly appealing).

While I use, and will indefinitely continue to use, Linux for my day-to-day computing and development needs, having more than one major OS around is extremely handy to run the occasional bit of proprietary software.  Going over the pros and cons of Mac vs. Generic Windows hardware...

  1. I already know a few people who use Macs.
  2. Apple has already done right by me in the recent past, as the only company to contribute both software and hardware to the Twisted project.
  3. The MacBook is actually a fairly cost-effective way to get a reasonable Core 2 Duo setup.
  1. No Half Life games.
  2. Only one button on the trackpad.
As you can probably tell, I was already leaning in the "Get a mac" direction.  I still lacked a sense of real urgency or desire to get the new machine.

Then, today, I saw the latest from Jobs: Thoughts on Music.  In it, he lucidly declares the emperor naked and asks if maybe he would like to put on some clothes.  In a nutshell, he says DRM is obnoxious, ineffective, and extremely expensive.  Most importantly, he claims that Apple would prefer to support a DRM-free music store.

I could, of course, interpret this cynically as a publicity stunt, since there seems to be about zero chance that the big four music publishers will get their heads out of their asses before they're all bankrupt, but it wasn't offered as a sound byte or a press release.  It's in a sort of essay format and I get the impression that he is really trying to convince the reader that this is what he thinks is best, and he hopes it will happen.  Heck, if there anyone who can make it happen it's probably Jobs.

(I think I'll get the black one.)