The personal computer, in my estimation, is a sneaky device. I don't mean sneaky like it's at home messing with the thermostat or ordering mismatched socks from the Home Shopping Channel — I mean that it finds new and innovative ways to take over your life at every turn.
The PC used to be sold as a replacement to the typewriter. But I always preferred Courier font, so I was never able to get on board the Arial replacement train.
Then it became a communication device, with the advent of email and the Internet. In principle, I still think that these are fantabulous inventions and handy as hell. But now the machine is a DVD player. A jukebox. A dictionary. A teacher. Telephone. Scrapbook. Film developer. Food processor, toaster oven, daquiri blender, etc.
To be anthropomorphic about it: the bloody machine seems to think that it can be all things to all people. That's the source of my deep worry. I really don't think that it's a good idea to allow the PC to take a central role in how one interacts with the people, places, and things that accidentally collide to create a life. If anything, I think that we should be relegating gadgets to as submissive a role as possible in modern life, with an eye toward one day re-declaring our independence from the Industrial Revolution, v. 2.0.
Crazy stuff, I know. It makes my role as a programmer all the more odd, but I'm okay with it.
The fact of the matter is that I'm particularly bad at using the PC for little other than the Internet-based programming that I do. This is why I sternly maintain, in the face of enormous pressures from the Windows users of the universe, that I'm not a computer guy — I'm just a programmer.
Got a Windows question? Call Bill.