Well, last weekend was certainly one of the more stressful I've had in a while. Early Thursday afternoon, it became readily apparent that my crappy HP computer was about to die for the third time in the less than one year I've owned it. As I said several podcasts ago, this is the exact situation for which I bought my Mini, because I knew damn well that my PC was going to die exactly when I needed to use it for an FT page the next day. Sure enough, my paranoia was vindicated; my purchase of the Mini was completely justified.
How did it go? Well, I got the pages up, I discovered that graphics software on the Mac isn't exactly wonderful. Besides being slow (in places you wouldn't really expect) because it has to run the PowerPC code in emulation on the Intel Mini, the hotkeys are just different enough to be disorienting. Furthermore, not being able to quickly navigate the menus by keyboard - like I'm used to on Windows - made otherwise simple tasks take much longer. Much complaining and general grouchiness on Skype ensued.
Saturday rolled around, and I made the mistake of going to the Shuttle website and noting that very small PCs are now fairly reasonably priced. I began to wonder if perhaps I wouldn't have been better off with one of those. It wasn't until late that night that I realized I could just install Boot Camp if I couldn't possibly live without Windows.
By Monday - when the loud, yet seemingly functional replacement HDD for my PC arrived - I'd started to become resigned to the prospect of being stuck on the Mini for a long time to come. I'd pushed past my urge to run down to the campus bookstore to pick up a copy of XP for Boot Camp, and I was beginning to adjust. I was definitely less productive because of the emulation and hotkey issues, but at least I knew I could get pages done start to finish, so I could work on the Mini for an extended period if necessary. When I did get the PC back up, I actually began to miss the simplicity of OSX vis a vis XP, and the absence of a need on OSX to install three dozen apps to get things done.
One thing I definitely missed was my PC games. With nothing particularly exciting around on the consoles and my lame RSS reader not being so good at the whole "reading RSS" thing, I found myself climbing the walls from boredom. Once I finally had the PC back up, I reinstalled some of the games...and then didn't play them. My desire to jump on and play at all hours had dwindled. I've still barely touched them. Part of it is the inexplicable performance drop in CoV compared to pre-crash, which I have neither the time, the patience, nor the interest to get to the bottom of.
It's something I've said in the past to others, and I'll say it again here: I love PC games, but I fucking hate playing them on the PC. It's really a shit platform for gaming. When you aren't playing catch-up to keep your hardware up to date to run recent games, your games are deciding arbitrarily to not work as well as they did a week ago on the same hardware (or simply not at all), or some overzealous assbag developer installs Starforce or some such crap on your PC and fucks it over in a different way. I wholeheartedly welcome the upcomingMMORPGs that will be released on the Xbox 360. Even if they're more of the same old generic fantasy dreck, at least I know they'll run properly.
I've talked in the past about the advantages of having things like boomarks online, so that you don't have to move them all over when you switch PCs. This little hop over to the Mini for the weekend drove that point home even more. If I could arrange it so that all I needed was a really good web browser and I could do everything online, that would be just about ideal. But in my wisdom, I picked two hobbies that are more or less entirely tied to Windows: gaming and graphics. (Cue flames from Mac and Linux people.)
For games, there are alternatives. For graphics, not so much. Even Artragestill hasn't been compiled for Intel Macs yet, even though Apple no longer even sells PowerPC Macs. After I finish Falcon Twin, I could easily see myself moving to the Mini as my main computer, but if I wanted to continue to do graphics (which I probably would), that would be difficult.
Thinking back to just needing a browser for everything, maybe I should just limit myself to browser-based games or, God forbid, MUDs. At least I could run those on anything, even freaking Ubuntu. A decent MOG with some nice 2D art running on HTML/AJAX would be pretty interesting.