X'ed Out

As a nascent nerd, two forces shaped my childhood: my Apple IIe and the Star Wars trilogy. Time and again, they converge: when George Lucas and company released the remastered trilogy in 1997, I was tapping away on an overhauled Performa. I saw the first preview for _Episode I: The Phantom Menace_ on my brand-new G3.

These two franchises - Star Wars movies and Apple computers - have more than coincidental timing in common. That preview I mentioned? Really exciting. But I _hated_ the movie. I sat through it, checking off all the reasons I ought to like it: Ewan MacGregor doing an uncanny Alec Guinness impersonation, lush digital worlds like Naboo and Coruscant, excellent light saber battles. Then I realized why I hated _The Phantom Menace_. I was sick of the hype about the technology behind the movie and, more importantly, not very impressed with the results from a viewer's perspective. I don't care how exciting it must be to digitally insert a character if the end result is JarJar Binks.

I have the same vaguely hostile feeling toward OS X. I realize that this amounts to heresy in some circles, but I just can't help it: I've seen OS X, I've read - and edited - reams of articles about it, and I am already sick unto death of references to lickable interfaces and brand-new APIs. The really sad thing is, I haven't even installed a developer's release of OS X. I'm harboring hostility toward a product that I haven't even used.

Part of it is due to simple overexposure: since the year began, I estimate I've read 100 articles about OS X. I don't anticipate seeing less press in the forthcoming months: As OS X moves into beta and application developers iron out the wrinkles in porting their product to a new operating system, I'm sure we'll all see articles announcing each development. It's the nature of technology coverage, and a valuable way to log information you may need later when trying to debug your system.

Information overload is another cause of my OS X hype burnout. After spending the last six years neck-deep in assorted programs and applications, I'm getting to the point where any new technology development had better have a demonstrable benefit before I'll open my arms - and hard drive - to it. Experience isn't the only limiting factor in my information overload: human biology and time also contribute. Owing to my pesky tendency to want to sleep, I'm still learning my way around OS 9.0.4, figuring out what glitches and crashes are my fault and which ones are due to system-software incompatibilities. Can I have a few minutes before commencing to learn a whole new OS? Better yet, can I have a nap?

I guess you could call my OS X burnout "The JarJar Effect." I understand that special effects have been moved into the realm of digital magic, but the clearest example of the technology thus far is JarJar Binks. And frankly, when I look at early OS X interfaces, with the icon bar at the bottom of the screen, I see a parallel: a good idea implemented poorly. Even if the rest of OS X works like a dream, I'm afraid that blasted icon _thing_ will turn me against the operating system, just as JarJar turned me against my beloved Star Wars movies.

The solution to my hype overdose should be to stop reading about OS X for a while. Believe me, if I could, I would, but keeping _au courant_ with Mac news is in my job description. I guess I'm just going to have to hope for the best - and avoid renting _The Phantom Menace_ around January 2001, when the final version of OS X is due out. I'd like to prevent further Apple-Star Wars coincidences.

1 2 Page 1
Shop Tech Products at Amazon