By Joe Moore
I consider myself to be tech savvy—maybe more so than the average PC user. I believe I have geek genes. My wife has Levi jeans. She is always calling me into her office to say that there's something wrong with her PC and could I fix it. It’s usually the result of pilot error.
I wasn’t born with a geek gene. I believe I got it while in close proximity to someone who was born with it: my son. I remember when he passed it on to me. Many years ago, he came home from school one day with a Radio Shack TRS-80. He had traded a friend an old CB radio for it. The TRS used a TV for a monitor and had a paltry 16k of RAM. No hard drive. Storage was on an external 5.25” floppy disk or an audio cassette tape. Within a week, I got my hands on a basic word processing module and was using the computer more than my son. I wrote lots of stories with it as I dreamed of becoming a novelist.
Being an official geek at that point, I soon grew tired of the TRS-80 and moved up to the highly advanced Commodore 64. Same external storage but a whopping 64k of RAM. Now we were getting somewhere. I found a better word processor program and kept writing more stuff. My first novel was years away, but I was on a roll.
Somewhere along the line, I learned how to use an Apple Macintosh. Built-in floppy storage and a massive 128k of RAM. I could feel the power.
Then I purchased a dedicated word processing device made by Magnavox called a VideoWriter. It was a computer, printer and monitor built into one unit. I wrote my first book using it--an action adventure novel set in Cuba and South Florida.
My first real, bigboy computer was a 286 made by Emerson. It had 4MB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive. Today, you can find toys in a McDonalds Happy Meal with more memory than my Emerson.
Next came a Micron which I used for many years followed by my trusty Dell 8100 which lasted 7 years. Along the way, I replaced its RAM, hard drives, fans, optical drives--just about everything but the motherboard.
Which brings us to my latest: a new Dell XPS 630. It's considered an extreme gaming machine. I don't play PC video games but I do a lot of graphics design and my old Dell just couldn't keep up with the heavy lifting needed for the newest CS3 versions of PhotoShop and InDesign. My new machine has an Intel Quad-core processor, 4 Gig of RAM, 6 fans, and a terabyte of storage. When I turn it on, it’s like the scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where the city power grid dims.
Does having geek genes help me write better novels? Probably not. But when you're a geek, it doesn't really matter. All that does matter is staying on the "bleeding edge" of technology.
So whatever happed to my son who gave me the geek gene? He went on to become a federal agent for the Department of Defense. His specialty: computer forensics.
Which do you have: geek genes or Levi jeans? What was your journey like along the techno highway to get to your current computer? And the most important question of all: Are you a MAC or a PC?