Quick -- give me more speed

by Leonard Cachola

I caught myself doing it again.

Looking for the business section of the paper has become a daily habit of mine. However, I'm not looking at the latest mutual fund interest rates or stock quotes. Instead, I'm trying to satisfy my insatiable appetite.

I'm not sure when it started. Perhaps it was back in the days when I had a Commodore 128. Slow as it was, that ancient machine got the job done for more than five years. It would take 15 minutes just to get to the start-up screen, but I had plenty of time to kill back then.

Maybe it was back when I was collecting comic books. Back then, I was obsessed with getting the best. Be it the best artist's work, the best writer's, or the latest "hot" work, I wanted it. It didn't really matter if I actually liked it, just that someone out there said it was the best.

Then there's my car. Back when I was shopping for my SE-R, I was hitting the library doing research on cars and flipping through used-car ads almost every day. Then, I ran across promotional material touting the SE-R as one of Car and Driver's Ten Best. One week later, it was mine.

That same year, I got my first PC. Since I was already at the library, it wasn't a stretch to look at computers, too. However, the amount of new vocabulary was staggering. What I didn't realize then was the computer industry is a fluid one, where changes occur industrywide every two to three months, and any piece of equipment purchased is obsolete the second you shell out the big bucks.

That first PC got me through two years. I had a 486/33 at the time I originally purchased Fractal Design Painter 2.0, a painting program which mimics natural media such as charcoals and oils. I found the program a joy to work with, especially since I couldn't afford the real stuff.

When Fractal Design moved to 3.0 a year later, I obliged, but suddenly found my computer lacked the power to keep up with the software. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I had a credit card and a will to use it. That's when it started -- that never-ending appetite for speed.

There's a TV commercial that comes to mind whenever I flip through the business pages in search of the latest prices on new computer equipment. It features a man running around in circles saying: "I buy drugs, so I can work more, so I can buy more drugs ..."

For the most part, I've been able to keep my appetite in check. Others haven't been so lucky, running up thousands worth of debt in keeping up with the ever-changing computer industry.

What is so crazy about the computer industry is its fluid nature, which fuels the addiction of hardware freaks everywhere. Getting the best in computers means it's already second best, thus die-hard hardware freaks will never be satisfied. For now, I'll settle for second-best, thank you.

Cachola is a senior English major who has fooled himself into thinking he's satisfied.

Visit The Daily Cougar