by Gina Sestak
Why are computers so expensive? After almost 40 years of dealing with computers, I think I know the answer.
I first worked with computers in 1969, tracking data cards for a summer job in college. See my November 4, 2006 post In the Lair of the Beast for details. You'd think by now I'd be an adept, wouldn't you? I mean, I did my undergraduate minor in Computer Science. I have worked with computers for decades. I have owned computers. I have written entire novels on computers. I have taken computers into my own home. I spend a good part of my job drafting documents and entering case notes on a computer. So why won't computers cooperate with me? Why do they have to be so frustrating?
I thought PCs were bad, but this semester I've had my first contact with the Mac and, let me tell you, it is even worse. For one things, instead of ranging across your desktop, patiently waiting to be clicked upon, Mac icons congregate at the bottom of the screen. When you click on one, it gets excited and jumps around for awhile before it opens. I know what it is thinking: "Aha! A chance to turn another user into a quivering mass of confusion!"
Perhaps I might like Macs if I'd been introduced a little more gradually. Macs might have been polite if properly approached. But no. I jumped right in.
I'm taking two courses at Pittsburgh Filmmakers this term, using Photoshop and Final Cut Express on Mac. These are two of the most impossible programs ever invented. Honest. Both courses require out of class projects in which students are required to edit photographs and digital footage into little one or two minute movies. Doesn't sound too onerous, does it? Kind of fun, maybe? Don't you be fooled. It is hell on earth! Things that, in a straightforward world, would take two seconds tops morph into hours of intensive concentration and, once you have done everything exactly as instructed, the *!$%# thing refuses to come out right! It tells you it can't contact a device. What device? It says the files that you've been working on all day now contain "0 Kb." Nada.
This is what I call the "wonder of technology." You wonder why things never work the way they should.
So, to go back to the question I posed in the beginning: Why are computers so expensive? Because if they were cheap we would smash the ~!*#% things!
What do you think?