21st May, 2004

The Tale of the Unloved iMac

We call him Future Stereo. He may well be inanimate, but I’m concerned about his well being. Disillusioned by being asked to do nothing more than play MP3s all day, the little fella is showing signs of trauma. The story of Little iMac and his marginalization is a sad one. It’s a cathartic thing for me to tell this tale, but is anyone listening to the stereo?

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Future Stereo is nothing more than a 15” iMac (known as little). It’s wired up to an old Sony separates set via an expensive-looking cable tough enough to strengthen a suspension bridge, with some gold-plated bits on each end. A bit of KungTunes software FTPs to the (in progress) Agenzia site with details of the current track. Each Agenzian has iHam on iRye on his personal machine allowing remote controlling of the play lists. Future Stereo itself is running iTunes 4.5 with a catalogue of some 3,500 songs.

The iMac at the heart of this boys-own operation was originally purchased as a server. Former Agenzian Pocket Lee (there is a larger Agenzian Big Lee) made reasonable use of it for some time. Well, he read CNN and BBC news all day, but at least that required full use of Safari. Later, Little iMac was repositioned between two other Agenzians, ready for it’s promotion to Supreme Emporor.

Time passed, and little iMac’s head began to drop. Eventually, Little iMac began to realise that it had all been a lie, and there was no role as server. He’d perk up when required for the menial task of running I.E Mac in Classic mode for that extra bit of browser testing, but this work was purely freelance, and Little iMac soon became officially unemployed.

By this point, Little iMac’s sulk was so advanced that his screen reflected the objects on the desk below. He was moved to a small table all of his own, and forgotten about. There’d been talk of getting shot of the hundreds of CDs dotted around the office, and running everything through iTunes. Workload denied us the chance to set everything up, until one afternoon when the ISP went home early and workflow was postponed. On this day, Little iMac became Future Stereo.

Oh, how Little iMac’s head shot up. CD after CD was imported into the little fella like some kind of electronic blood transfusion, until finally there was enough there to officially switch from 1980s separates to 2000s MP3 audio flexibility. Over the weeks more and more tracks were imported until Little iMac was busting at the seams with musical nourishment. The little chap was happy again - feeling loved. We talked to him like some kind of paralysed pet, eager to celebrate the pivotal daily role he played. As months went by, his head stayed up, but I noticed today a measure of sorrow so tangible that I nearly hugged him. Seems we’ve been taking Little iMac for granted.

So, I’m worried about him. Is it a crime that this beautiful machine - capable of running fifty applications at once - has one singular task to perform all day, every day? Are we looking at a new decadence in office furniture? If he’s as smart as I think he is, he’ll be suffering. He’s a Mac trapped inside an out-dated, dusty black cube.

I’d been tempted to remove all drivers, libraries and applications from Future Stereo. These extraneous elements serve only to take up valuable mp3 space. Hell, the Applications folder is something like 3 gigs - Photoshop CS is equivalent to five new albums. But removing all of those would be like stealing a kidney or removing the spleen. I can’t do it to the wee scamp - he deserves better. Like all vital organs, the hard drive doesn’t last forever. By nearing maximum capacity, Little iMac is crying for help. “Don’t take me for granted. I’m a Mac!” he shouts. He’s right.

Now, I’m not sure why I needed to share this with you. I suppose there are inherent metaphors about the business focus of Apple. I see a definite correlation between Little iMac and human emotions and body decay. I’m sure I’m trying to explore the over-indulgence of using a valuable asset as a record player. I’m absolutely certain that I shouldn’t be worrying about this on a Friday night.

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