MARCH 13, 2020


I put the finishing touches on my new (used) iMac today.

I purchased it off of eBay last week. A 2017 model, it was being sold in a bit of a strange way which I think made it sit on the site for longer than usual. Even though it's in perfectly fine condition the previous owner had opened it up to install more RAM and — unsure if he put the adhesive back on correctly (spoiler: he did not) — he left two giant pieces of duck tape on the top of the screen.

I think that kept it from selling, but it did not deter me.

When it arrived I put it upright on my desk, pulled the duck tape off, and watched the screen began to separate itself from the metal surrounding it. I messaged the seller on eBay, got a little money out of it, and went on Amazon to not only purchase the adhesive (a whopping $8) but a 1TB SSD to replace the old hard drive that was clearly now the bottleneck for the entire computer. A win win, with the hardest part of the process (removing the screen) already done for me!

That all came in today, so I…

1) Took the screen off
2) Put the hard drive in
3) Applied the adhesive strips
4) Sealed it up

Perfect working order! An almost-new computer that feels new to me. My first Mac in a few years.

When I purchased my MacBook Pro in 2016 I thought that would be the last Mac I ever bought. Over the years I had become enamored with the iPad Pro, and used it for most of my digital interactions. And yet over time my feelings for the device have dulled…or rather the device has as it's begun the work of appealing to more and more people and doing more and more things.

One of my favorite parts about the iPad was the way that it felt singular in nature, pulling me into whatever I was doing by filling the screen and making me literally use my hands to interact with the work. Now there is split screen and slide over and multiple windows and apparently a trackpad coming. I am not necessarily unhappy with the iPad as it exists in some future where they figure it all out, but I'm definitely unhappy with it today.

And as I've gone through the work of moving backwards, buying mechanical keyboards and thinking about physical media and checking dozens of books out from the LA library, it felt like an appropriate time to purchase a Mac.

Setting up this iMac in itself makes me nostalgic. How many times have I set up a brand new computer, installing all of my favorite apps, logging into the sites I love, applying tweaks to the dock and menu bar and so on? It seems like I've done it a lot, but it still takes me back to the first time I ever did it in high school.

The first computer that I ever cared about was a Powerbook G4, a computer that my mother bought me while I was in high school. Thinking back, I'm not quite sure how she afforded it, or why she decided that it was time for me to get my own computer. Up until that point I had been fine to share a computer with her, some weird PC by Compaq or Dell or whomever. At that time we purchased a computer at the store in a similar way as to how one might purchase a light fixture at Home Depot, looking at the options and trying to understand which one was right and then picking and hoping for the best.

I'm not sure exactly what I needed that Powerbook for. This was before people took notes on computers in classrooms, everyone was perfectly content with paper notebooks, but I brought my Powerbook anyways and typed away.

Today, when I installed VLC, I remembered that computer.

When I installed Transmission (shhh, don't snitch), I remembered that computer.

I am now 15 years forward in time from that experience and yet it is so familiar, so similar, so filled with the same interactions which I've filled the last decade and a half with.

If one of the things I love about the iPad is the way it lets me focus, one of the things I love about Macs is the way that everything feels so expansive. That feeling is even more present with this giant iMac screen glowing powerfully right in front of my face.

It feels appropriate not only to go back to MacOS, the operating system of the first computer I ever loved, but to lean into the expansive side of technology as I go backwards.