Thursday, October 11, 2012



You may find it hard to believe, but I was quite good at poetry when at school. Then either prose or puberty struck – or possibly both - and I headed in another direction. Short stories might have been a reasonable compromise – elegant but not too demanding – but, instead madness struck when the moon was full, and I decided to write books instead; big, long things, full of high adventure, much action, and dead people, and exhausting for the computer involved; and I haven’t even mentioned the sex that goes with the story. One, alone, might have been enough; but book followed book after book.

My computer isn’t actually on the blink, as far as I know – one never quite knows where Windows is concerned - but it is more overwhelmed by life, so seems to be determined to vanish into Sturm Und Drang. I think it is upset because it is being asked to do too much. It bargained for my running a database and a word processor – which it will do quite adequately – but then found its owner was adding all kinds of things which just plain overloaded its modest two cores. And so it started to protest, and freeze, and scroll jerkily, and crash – to the great distress of this author.

I don’t multitask, as such. First of all, I’m skeptical of multitasking (and research supports that view) and, secondly, I am of the opinion that writing requires absolute focus. However, I do like to have my two main databases open, my browser available (with rather too many tabs open), Word functional, backup into the Cloud working away, indexing doing its thing, security keeping me safe – so, before I know, I have between five and ten heavyweight programs fully operational simultaneously – and my computer deeply upset. I monitor all this on Task Manager and on an invaluable utility called Cacheman which not only shows memory activity but the activity of each core – all in real time. It is not a pretty picture. One can practically feel my CPU’s exhaustion.

A friend of mine who uses a Windows PC at work, and a Mac at home, tells me that whereas PCs are optimized for speed, Unix based Macs, are superior for multi-tasking. That useful advice apart, what I can say is that virtually all my writer friends who use Macs have had very little trouble, whereas those who use PCs have experienced purgatory while still alive. Beyond that, I note that creative people – whether they be designers, movie makers, or artists, virtually all use Macs.

To be fair, Windows 7 improved the situation significantly and perhaps Windows 8 will be better still; but to me, my next move is clear. It is time to get a Mac with plenty of RAM and a powerful CPU. Mind you, I dread changing, because I’m used to Windows and quite like it (when it is stable), but since a Mac can now run Windows, it seems the logical way to go.

I’ll let you know how it works out.


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