In times of hardship, it’s important that we, the people, step up and do our civic duty. That’s why, in light of the harsh economic conditions we all face today, I implore everyone to spend more money on computers. LOTS more money. With hardware vendors reporting the worst holiday season of all time, they desperately need you to buy more components and build new PCs. And so-called “budget” machines won’t cut the mustard. You need to buy $1,000 CPUs and multiple $500 videocards. Think 6GB of RAM is enough? Think again. Now, all this PC construction will undoubtedly require tough sacrifices in other areas: Your kids may not get to go to “college.” You may need to cut back on your “food” budget. You may need to turn off non-essential services like “water” and “garbage collection.” Just remember that baloney and ramen taste better when you have a rig that can run Crysis at 2560x1600 with everything turned all the way up. Yes, power user, some things are worth tough sacrifices.
In the spirit of trying new and exciting things in the year ahead, this month I decided to upend my column-writing strategy: Instead of writing about whatever’s stuck in my craw, I asked the folks following my Twitter stream to tell me what I should write about—a contest of sorts. The responses of my fellow Twitterinos ranged from mildly kooky to wildly off-topic, and while there’s absolutely no way to write about everything suggested, I’m going to give it the ol’ Maximum PC try. Here we go.
The first respondent, @terryrobinson, wanted to know, “What’s next after we win the battle against DRM and GNU becomes the standard software license?” Well, while I love your optimism, Terry, I think it’s much too early to dream of a post-DRM world. We’ve made good progress against DRM in music, but there’s a long road in front of us with respect to movie and game content. And no one’s even talking about electronic books, like the Kindle and its proprietary locked format. So while I’m sure we’ll one day live in a magical Internet wonderland filled with open content, free software, and unicorns, for now at least, it remains a long way off.
Fellow Rock Band aficionado @strngwys wanted a column about how excited I am to unleash my inner Eddie Vedder when Ten is released this spring. No column required, stranger, just three words: REALLY, REALLY EXCITED.
I just returned from a special theater screening of War Games—quite possibly the only good film Hollywood has ever produced about computers, computer nerds, or hacker culture. Shockingly, the movie, which was first released in 1983, holds up quite well, despite the use of archaic hardware (acoustic couplers and vocoder boxes), a laughable sentient military supercomputer, and an occasional lapse into typical Hollywood lingo.
The abundance of 8-inch floppy discs also gave people in the theater a laugh, as did the fact that characters were practically chain-smoking throughout the entire movie. But none of the showing’s pervasive air of yestertech could take away from the fact that War Games remains awesome.
I’ve written about Apple’s OS X many times before, and it’s no secret that I’ve long been impressed with Apple’s operating systems. This month, I reviewed the MacBook Air, which gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with Apple’s latest OS, Leopard, and I had an epiphany: Windows users are in the same exact position that Mac users were in 1999.