Mario Villalobos

To Tweak or Not to Tweak (Part 1)

I spend a lot of time in front of technological devices. I’m always on my MacBook Air and iPhone 6 and iPad Air, and when I’m at work, I’m using Windows 8.1 Pro on a variety of different devices. It’s safe to assume I’ve formed an opinion on what I like and don’t like about these devices. For the most part, I love all of Apple’s devices and dislike most devices running Windows 8, but I don’t dislike Windows 8 in general. It’s actually a pretty good OS. There are things the Mac simply does better than Windows, and it’s these things that have forever converted me to the Mac.

I used to be a Windows user. My first exposure to Windows was Windows 95 sometime in the mid to late 90s. I was in awe of it. I remember opening WordPad (or whatever the equivalent was back then), and typing (typing!!) into it and changing the font and making it big and pretty and different and then printing it out on our dot matrix printer and simply being like, cool! Then Windows 98 came out, gave us some access to the web — 56k modem, anyone? — and that’s when I began to learn more of the details about how Windows worked. I mastered the Control Panel, keyboard shortcuts, how to hack the registry, stuff like that, so by the time Windows XP came out, I was proficient enough in it that I taught teachers at my school how to use it. I remember spending so much of my time trying to figure out how to tweak the system to squeeze out as much performance as I could. I remember wanting to play Tony Hawk on the highest settings but failing because it wouldn’t run at a high FPS smoothly enough. That frustrated me, but I grew used to it.

Then I bought my own computer when I was in college, and it came with Windows Vista. This was my own computer, a Dell Dimension 5100. It was awesome. I could play semi-modern games at pretty high settings, and I remember pirating as much software as I could, stuff like Final Draft 7 for my screenwriting, Office for my school assignments, Adobe’s Creative Suite for my never fulfilled aspirations of creating digital art, and countless other programs, like AV software, video games, and computer utilities. God, how I spent so much of my time researching software that could take care and optimize my machine. Disk Defragmenters and disk cleanup utilities and software to increase Wifi speed and software that tried to hide all my illicit downloading. I spent more time on my computer than doing homework. When Windows 7 came out, I was knee deep in shit’s creek, and I hated it.

I hated maintaining my computer. I hated downloading software because it did something cool and provided an illusion of productivity. I hated filling up my hard drive with music and movies and comics that I would never consume (even though I spent one full year systematically consuming everything I downloaded in the previous 5-7 years). I was a slave to my computer and I knew it but I couldn’t do anything about it. I was dependent on it. My life revolved around it. During college, I discovered RSS feeds, and for the next 8 or so years, I would spend most of my time on the computer consuming these feeds. I would try to quit them every 8-12 months, but I would always come back to them. I would cut them back and just have a few feeds in the hopes that the extra free time would make me do something more productive, but it never stuck. I’m in the middle of that right now. I quit RSS feeds a few months ago now, but I think it’s going to stick this time, and a big reason why is Apple’s ecosystem of devices.

Here’s a first for this blog: stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of this weirdly geeky post, where I talk about my first (and only) Mac, and why I think it’s the better device.