PC Maturation
By R. D. Flavin


     I grinned while recently reading in a news article that the computer operating systems of the unlaunched USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) guided missile destroyer are LINUX-based, though I'm not exactly sure why.  Perhaps I stretched a connection between Conservatives using the Windows OS, Self-Indulgent Me-Marketing Independents consuming Apples, and Liberals running LINUX.  And Tom Bombadil and the Illuminati still boot up with UNIX...  I've used Windows since 1996 and mentally interchange the names/terms Windows and PC often.  Maybe it's as if by not admitting Macs are personal computers and PCs too, that somehow I'd be forever free of the costly iMarketing addiction.  Now, with Me-Maturing, I'm considering a switch to the LINUX OS with my next desktop and laptop personal computers.  I'm getting older and more weary of both pre-and-post Shutdown Conservatives and, also, Windows after the bad Hawaiian shirt betrayal of Windows 8.  PC maturation requires shifting to LINUX ahead of the coming Zombie Tea Party Apocalypse and Windows 9.  It's the politically correct thing to do.

     LINUX is “free and open source software” and specifically written and developed to allow individual programmers to easily adapt and customize their computer operating systems.  Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Mac OS are proprietary and “closed source” operating systems that significantly restrict programming changes by keeping secret and withholding their source code data (i.e., how the damned things are built and function).  Yeah, it's the natural and greedy extension of for-profit capitalism in which you may own the car, but someone else tells you where to buy gas and doesn't let you drive.  Such closed system antics are designed to bring the consumer back again and again ...and again, ad infinitum nauseam, for any change, added functionality, or upgrade.  Unlike an old car, however, compatibility with new features and system versions increasingly ceases and limits past purchases to something that lives in the garage.  Keeping up with Windows and Mac OS is a neverending investment as is the declared intention of the companies.  The “duh” is automatically renewed as some name William Henry "Bill" Gates III (aka "The Windows Guy") the richest cat on the couch.  Apple's Steve Jobs (aka "The Mac and iMarketing Dude") was a major player until his refusal to kowtow to Western medicine took his life.  The folks responsible for LINUX and its Ubuntu 13.10 OS give their product away free (online download only; CDs by snail-mail is cheap).  However, to be fair, I'd guess for their copies the US Navy paid many many millions for shipping and handling or insurance or something.

     As the acquisition of wealth is becoming increasingly difficult for me and mine, there's always the retreat satisfaction in merely collecting more data and getting wiser.  Data as wealth and currency has been explored in science fiction for years (e.g., Stephenson's Cryptonomicon) and has likely already been actualized to some extent.  We shouldn't have to choose between what we know and how much we owe, but it's here with the Internet and personal, public, social, and civic matters will surely get more complicated rather than simpler.  I really hope that 99.9% of science fiction is wrong about the future.

     The so-called “social media” of Facebook, Twitter, and their global ilk has matured from assisting the Arab Spring to becoming a superior slut-shaming platform with promises of being a goldmine for the NSA and other government agencies in the years ahead.  Smartphones have proliferated like wet and well fed gremlins after midnight and have frenzied the planet with various pictures of distressed cats and accompanying texts about the waiting habits of Starbuck's customers.  As NASA announced this week they've established download speeds of 622 megabits per second (20 mbps upload) with a probe currently circling the Moon, it seems the Heavens will soon be wired and we can look forward to angelic alien selfies (and pictures of distressed alien cats, of course).  The International Space Station doesn't have HBO or Showtime, but I think they can stream Netflix.  They've been tweeting from the ISS for a few years now and probably know to avoid watching Sandra and George in Gravity.  If Jesus does come back anytime soon I'm sure He'll be tweeting like @Pontifex, His Holiness Pope Francis.  And I'm pretty sure He's already got a Facebook page and has me accidentally unfriended.

     As a writer, I regard my PC as a wicked cool typewriter with benefits.  I got a deep chill when Apple began fading out optical drives in 2008.  Always being in the Cloud(s) requires access contracts, cash, and precludes offline work.  My futuristic typewriter that burns independent films on DVDs while playing some arcane Mike Oldfield tune through its speakers is too essential to be tablet-ized.  Smartwatches will inevitably cause mass-blindness and hasten the Zombie Tea Party Apocalypse.

     Maturation is another way of expressing the act of growing older and all the associated problems that limp along with it.  Physical and behavioral changes are a given, degeneration and dust-bunnies abound, and much like youthful fashion would look out of place on older adults, the tiny viewing screens and small touchpad keyboards of the new personal electronic devices are difficult to use for many mid-lifers and seniors.

     Yeah, back in da' day it was carpal tunnel syndrome that plagued office workers and a drug-dealer's beeper going off in mixed company.  Now, there's a daily neo-malady announced concerning smartphones, tablets, and e-readers.  Eyestrain is an ancient scribal tradition and is assumed with any such endeavor.  The issue of proprioception goes back to the '80s and being oblivious while wearing one's Sony Walkman and anti-texting laws are all the rage today as we tweet ourselves to ruin.  Poor posture gets a boost from Hemingway's standing while typing to avoid agitating his hemorrhoids.  Over-use and addiction are common with most trendy fads (and key to iMarketing).  Sparkly and bright patterns inducing epileptic seizures are colloquially passé and today we're warned that viewing either PC or screens two hours before bedtime may interfere with sleep.  Many youthful hipsters are already paraphrasing Chuck Heston and threatening death before being parted from their e-toys.

     PC maturation should be like tattoo removal and accommodate changing demographics and the bio-clock on the wall.  As Microsoft announces its shift from the Windows OS as its primary money-maker to other marketing schemes, I look forward to my new relationship with whatever company decides to sell inexpensive personal computers that come pre-loaded with LINUX Ubantu.  The tech-help lab in the basement of Harvard's Science Center was a third stocked with 'puters running Ubantu several years ago, as befits the whole “Liberal” usage.  That the South African Nguni Bantu term ubantu meaning “human kindness” is tagged to LINUX is ...how it goes.  I fully expect they'll name a trans-Neptune body “Goofy” one day.

'Booting to the curb,

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