Hello, I’m a Mac

Hello, I’m a Mac.

I worked on my first PC in 1985.  An IBM PC-XT, 640kb RAM, 10MB hard disk and CGA Screen.
I’m writing this on my 3 month old Macbook Pro 13 in 2009. 

What a long strange trip it’s been.

I’m not going through the complete inventory of PCs that I’ve owned over the years, nor am I going to bore you with my technological palmares.  Computers, starting with PCs have been my career since those very early days.  Suffice it to say that I’ve been a PC for a very long time.

So what made me switch?  You might call it a convergence of events, or even a perfect storm.  But that would be dramatic.  Let’s just call it a series of random circumstances, and the desire to try something different

While my wife was always a PC user, she really was only familiar with Word, Quicken, and the specialty office applications she used at her job.  She used computers as a work tool, where I lived and breathed them.  When she wanted to go online she would sit down at our main desktop computer entered stuff into Quicken, check her gmail and get off, afraid to break anything. 

For the last 4 years, I’ve had a laptop in our living room.  Constantly switching between Windows XP/Vista/7 and Ubuntu, with a wide variety of browsers, apps and totally buggy crap-ware.  Suffice it to say that the living-room laptop wasn’t usable for anyone but me.  It was a constant work in progress.

This was our status quo.  But once my wife found Facebook and began to have an online social presence she decided that she needed a computer of her own.  She wanted to play with photo touch-up software, do not have to kick me off the desktop to surf.  Plus she wanted to do all that from the comfort of the living room.

While all this was going on, my employer began to explore using Macs in a corporate environment.  I was asked to help build a security standard for the platform, and I started to play with the platform.  On top of all that, I was planning to attend graduate school in the fall, and wanted a smaller, lighter laptop for class.  I considered an XP or Ubuntu netbook, but the available options in the netbook/smartbook market weren’t doing it for me.

I’d like to say that we spent a lot of time discussing our options; we spent hours pouring over the cost benefit ratios, or even comparing the TV commercials.  We just went to the Apple store, tossed down the plastic and grabbed two Macbooks.

Or I tried to.

While the Apple store had the lower end Macbook Pro 13 in stock, they didn’t have the 4GB model I wanted in the storeroom.  This actually turned out to be a bonus for us. I was able to buy my wife’s Mac with the free iPod touch option at the store, and then purchase my Mac with the education discount online.  Since I didn’t have an acceptance letter with me at the store, I wasn’t eligible to get the discount at the store.  But online, no one knows if you are a real student, so I got the discount online.  Score! (full disclosure:  I am attending classes starting in mid-September)

So what do I like?

•    Solid construction.  When snatch it up from my EZ-Chair, it doesn’t twist like I’m going to snap the screen like the wishbone from last year’s thanksgiving turkey.

•    It’s thin and light.  It’s not Macbook AIR nor netbook light, but I’m not giving up built-in DVD burner only to pay MORE for the privilege.  As a frequent bike-commuter, weight is everything, but there is a limit to what I’ll give up, or what I’ll pay.  Plus I still want the ability to run multiple apps, play with new apps inside VMs and don’t want to squint at a tiny screen

•    Freakishly huge touch pad.  A touch pad that does not misinterpret accidental thumb whacks.  And Multitouch, Wow.  Seriously, WOW.   I’ve started to despise my work laptop (Lenovo T61) simply because it lacks two finger scrolling.

•    Better design; magnetic power cord, backlit keyboard, auto-brightness controls for the screen, battery life indicator built into the frame.

But my favorite feature is the improved user experience.  Yep, it’s really that good.  Turn on the computer and within seconds its up and running.  I’ve added my fair share of startup goodies too (Skype, DropBox, Evernote, ClamXav Sentry).  Best of all, it just works.  No crashes, no blue screens, no misbehaved apps.  App installation was so easy; I actually had problems figuring it how the first time I tried.  Just drag the app into the Applications folder?  Really?  That’s it?  Who knew?

I know that I’m not taxing the Macbook.  I’m not doing anything that my old HP DV5000 could not do.  It’s just that the Mac does all the same tasks better, faster and with more elegance.

I’ve not gone 100% fanboy though.  Networking the Mac to my Vista-attached printer was a total hassle, resulting in hours of Google-Fu, visits to the Networking and printer dialogs, terminal window and CUPS interface.  I did managed to sort out the process, but did I really need to add a new icon to the printer dialog box to do so?

I’m enjoying the Macbook a lot.  I’m planning on giving it a lot more work in the fall when I start back to school.  I’m sure that it will meet the challenge.