Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dead? I Don't Think So

I wrote a one hundred thousand word novel on my phone.

Seriously? No. Of course not. Can't be done.

Now, I realize that as soon as I wrote that sentence, someone will have already written a two hundred thousand word book on their phone, and will soon be appearing on Ellen, the View or some other TV show. All in the effort to drag out the familiar, "The Desktop is Dead!" song.

Just as the previous generation wondered out loud, "Why would anyone need a computer?", some people of my generation wonder how anything meaningful can be done with just a phone or a tablet. Granted, many parent-aged people are living just fine with checking their mail, downloading apps and watching movies on an eleven inch screen. Even more are enjoying turning their barely reasonble photographs into Polaroid-like shitty ones with Instagram. But, some of us have work to do, and like the familiar feel of sitting down at the same location
"Slaves!" the modern hipsters cry, (are they still called hipsters? I don't know, I'm... well... not old, really, but...). "I can take my devices anywhere! Be connected wherever I go! Stay in touch, see the world and have lots more fun than you because I'm not chained to a desk!"

Bite me.

I do lots of creative-type stuff. When I'm not editing video, I'm working on a novel. When I'm drained of that, I work up sketches and color models in Photoshop for paintings. I might be building a website, or doing maintenance for those I've built for clients. I just wouldn't like doing any of that while constantly turning from the sun, trying to avoid eye-contact at Starbucks or going back inside, again, for any of the hundreds of reasons that crop up each day.

Years ago, I began my design career at IBM. Hence, I have PCs all over my house. I have three in my office, along with two laptops, (one of them is a MacAir, which is nice, but the software is too expensive and doesn't do anything more than the PC versions... sorry). The only time I use the laptops is when I have to go out and pitch a client, or I go on vacation. Both of these scenarios are rare.

So, when Microsoft released Windows 8, declaring, yet again, that the desktop is dead, I get a little perturbed. I don't need Windows 8, (truthfully, I was fine with NT, thanks very much). I don't need more cost for less functionality. I just want to sit at my computer and create. Oh, the Metro look is okay, I guess. But, what does it do that I can't do now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But, the companies that control stuff like this are going to move us all, kicking and screaming, into a world of watching more and doing less, until we all look like the people on the spaceship in Wall-E.

There are many good, solid reasons for desktops to be the staple of the workflow. Most have them have been written about in depth, to the point of being sick of hearing about it.

But, few things make me happier than the click of the keys as I type. I'm a terrible typist, by the way. My wife calls me Schroeder, because I keep my head down, staring at the keys as I hunt for the next one. I never learned to type because someone once told me that if I learned to type, then that's what I would end up doing all day. Gah! I said at the time. Not me! And now, if I don't find time write via keyboard each day, I just don't feel whole.

So... No, I say. You can't have my desktop. I'll buy into your e-readers, your smart phones and streaming entertainment. I'll pay my monthly fees and consume like a good little puppet. As long as I can boot up my machine at night, when the house is quiet, and get a few thousand words down, I'll be happy.

But, if you come for my desktop, beware! Beware my impotent rage! I may be so pissed off that I'll... I'll... I'll blog about it!

Yeah, that'll show 'em!