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The Myth Of Coolness

Summary: Why all those people up in Chicago are annoying the heck out of Microsoft and every other upgrade-fueled company in the world.

When an industry columnist is stuck for something to write about, he or she will often decide to wax lyrical about how PCs are so unlike [insert common household appliance here], and inevitably point out that while you can still use your old TV from 1985, you definitely can't use your old PC from the same era. I remember quite fondly the day mine pointed out to me that it was now obsolete and was going to shut down. Then, making me feel like I was Mr. Phelps from Mission: Impossible, it self destructed shortly after popping out a coupon that'd let me take 10% off my next PC.

I'm still waiting for OS/2 to give me that coupon for 10% off Windows NT, but so far I think the mechanism must be jammed. It's to my benefit that the same jammed mechanism must also be the one that starts the operating system's uninstall process and wipes it all the way off my hard drive. I say benefit because I haven't been a good boy and installed Windows 98 on another partition yet, so I'd have nothing to boot to. This will be a problem when the Hip Patrol visits my house to make sure I'm "With It".

But I'm still getting ready. I've been practicing how to sneer and flick a lock of my hair whenever I say "You just don't get it" to anyone still using such a backward, arcane and hopelessly obsolete platform. I have a feeling that if I were in Chicago this weekend instead of stuck back here in New York, I'd be in epileptic spasms already as I oozed my righteousness to everyone present. I would be so up to date and current with the latest technology as I showed them that it only took 5 seconds between each key-press in Microsoft Word, as I formatted a floppy in the background, instead of the 6 they so untruthfully claim.

I too can be just as "in the loop" as that teenage punk on IRC, letting him crash my machine with a Denial-Of-Service attack that wrecks the Windows TCP/IP stack. He'll know that I'm no slacker, he'll know I have my WebTV and my Active Desktop. I too shall click on "Start" when I want to shut-down and it's my screen that's now blue instead of my operating system's vendor.

But I'm not going to be upgrading just yet, because after spending my disposable income on a RAM upgrade to handle the demands of the New Technology I didn't have enough to buy the New Technology (the 10%-off coupon wouldn't have helped either... hey where is that dang thing?) And besides the fact that OS/2 is now five times faster and can run every component of Lotus Smartsuite at once without any noticeable disk activity, that isn't going to stop me at all. Next paycheck, next paycheck I tell ya.

The other day I happened to notice a lawyer who was still using an old 286 with 640K of RAM and a copy of Wordperfect 4.2 hooked up to a dot matrix printer. Loaded onto its 20 megabyte hard drive were a bunch of stock legal documents that he just loaded up and ran a Search-And-Replace on to customize for whoever the plaintiff and defendant were in the case. I wept for him right there and then, because if only he had a $2,500 Pentium II he could also print in the background while talking to clients on the phone. Why didn't he get his coupon? That machine was supposed to have ceased functioning in 1989!

I must admit that OS/2 has been doing an unnaturally good job of keeping up. My new 4-button scrolling mouse works perfectly (all four buttons are functional under OS/2 too, not just two or three), my Voice modem has been going for a year, Zip drive for 3, and those bums at IBM just made drivers for the USB port on my new motherboard. This is annoying, how will I justify upgrading now? I want to type URLs into my desktop shell! I want to load WinAMP skins! I want nifty GUI gadgets that pamper my vanity!

Every television commercial tells me that I must rush out and change toothpaste brands right now, that my coffee isn't good enough, that my vacuum cleaner doesn't have enough horsepower, and how white my shirts can be if only I'd try the new and improved version with extra Whoosh (tm). I'm a mess, and the supermarket loves me, but I'm current and I'm With It and I'm respectable to people I don't know.

You see I'm a new age guy, I know that progress doesn't come from leaving working solutions alone, and I know that every company should set aside millions of dollars every year to make their computers better at doing things that they don't use them for. I know that I can't use the platform that I enjoy using, because if I do, I might not be able to run a program that I don't use!

And so I sit with smug self satisfaction that all those people attending Warpstock are not as cool as me, not as hip as me and not as cutting edge as me. Because while they can do everything I would ever do if I actually did own a copy of Windows 98 or NT, they can't make a web page part of their desktop background. And that's what it's all about.

If only I could get that flippin' coupon.

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Are you as cool as me? I bet you're not. Talk about it in our interactive forum and chat with other poor sods who "just don't understand." I'll be embarrassing you all by posting some of the best responses right here on this page.

Copyright © 1998 - Falcon Networking ISSN 1203-5696
October 16, 1998