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The Brave New Mac World

By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2002

THEY are following me in a white van, I think.

THEY are following me in a white van, I think.

Fellow Mac users.

Soon, they'll swoop down on a sidewalk and I will vanish into the Ethernet, only to be spit out in an Apple commercial with a vacant smile.

I will hurl curses: Dell, Dell, Dell.

Not that I'm sold on PCs.

I LOATHE ALL computers equally. Evidently, they feel the same way about me.

I pondered that Monday on the seventh floor of the Times building in downtown Tampa, after I waited too long to recharge my Ipaq, a pocket PC. Battery depleted. Phone numbers gone.

A colleague held up his paper address book and flashed a smile.

BACKUP? No backup. My Ipaq won't talk to my Mac, at least not without seeing more money. Nor will the version of Windows on my office PC.

At home, the 4-year-old Mac disses me.

Over the weeks, its hard drive had wailed intermittently like screaming fireworks before falling into a guttural death rattle.

A NEW HARD drive, installed, would be $200, I learned. A new operating system, $130. Mac-Ipaq communication software, $50.

That's when I remembered the $599 Dell commercial.

I sat there like Dr. Kevorkian and unplugged the Mac.

MAC ADDICTS do not sit idly while a member of the family contemplates defection.

They knew I had been talking to outsiders. They gathered around me and spoke of Apple's new operating system. They sent me notes about compatibility.

I FELT somehow at fault over the Mac's demise. Eventually, all computers fail in my presence. Only last week, roughly 40 co-workers on my floor alone lost touch with the mother ship. Verizon took the blame -- a cut cable -- but I wondered. I fled to an extra desk in Pinellas, only to find a dead monitor.

SUNDAY, I visited the computer store, just to browse, mesmerized by book-thin displays and shiny new processors.

I turned a corner.

There it sat on the shelf, a 40-gig hard drive for $99.

It came with instructions, a good thing since I could no longer sign on to the Internet for advice.

THE MAC is back, for now.

Just watch me sling these terms around: Jumper pins. Bus speed.

I visited the MacAddict Retox Center on the Internet to remind myself why I bought a Mac.

OK, for now I'm just pretending to still be a Mac person.

They are, after all, watching.

- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or

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