I want to want a Mac

A while ago I made a post about how I wanted to want a Mac. Unbeknownst to me, that post got linked on some Mac news site and within minutes of posting I got clobbered by Mac zealots because I didn’t full out want a Mac and pointed out what I think are some weaknesses of it.

Like many people my age, my first computer was an Apple IIc. I purchased it for about $600 at American electronics (Crazy TV Lenny) in Appleton, WI. I had the box of 5 1/4″ floppy discs I’d carry around at school and pirated all sorts of software for it. The Apple IIc and my dot matrix printer served me well through college. When I graduated, I purchased a Mac LC (the pizza box ones) and got a modem and an account to CompuServe. This also served me well.

When I moved up to the Twin Cities, I saw that the action was in the PC world. You could make money programming for Windows 3.11, so I sold my Mac and purchased a 486. There was a lot of action going on at this time. The first Pentiums were coming out. Windows 95 was in beta (Chicago). People were starting to use NT as a server platform.

Microsoft was actually doing stuff. They were coming out with lots of new applications, doing new things. I don’t regret moving to Windows. Hell, I had a company which was solidly Microsoft centric. I was a big Microsoft fan.

Once I got out of the consulting biz, I ran Stomped and we had a website that hosted stuff with a lot of traffic. I didn’t do anything with the servers. The guys that ran it were really knowledgeable UNIX admins and we used FreeBSD for our servers. It was pretty eye opening. There was no way that NT could support that sort of load on the same equipment. In fact, in the sever room where our stuff was located, there was another very high profile website that had a farm of NT servers. We had one rack (half really). They had an entire row of machines. The cost of our setup was a fraction of theirs, but we could probably handle a load big without much difficulty. (our servers were much cheaper too).

Microsoft has done nothing of note in the last 5 years. Maybe .NET. But even then, php is becoming a much more universal medium for doing web application development than .NET. Microsoft has jumped the shark. Does anyone really want or need Vista?

This by itself doesn’t mean anything for a person who wants to buy a personal computer. The fortunes of a company don’t really matter in your day to day computer use. If you read the post I made back in March, I list the things which are holding me back from buying a Mac. I think I am near the point where I no longer want to want a Mac, but actually want a Mac. There are several things which have brought about this switch:

  • Software doesn’t matter that much anymore. The vast majority of things I do on my computer are done on a browser, and it really doesn’t matter what the OS is.
  • What software I do use is for the most part available on Mac or there is an equivalent. In particular: World of Warcraft, Trillian, iTunes (duh), Thunderbird, Firefox, Open Office.
  • There are other applications on Mac that I haven’t used, but may be more willing to try if I had a Mac. In particular video editing.
  • Maybe its bandwagon jumping, but there is buzz with Apple right now. I’m not sure how that factors into my decision calculus, but it’s in there somewhere. I was actually interested in watching Steve Jobs keynote from Macworld. I could care less about the Bill Gates rehashed vision of the computing future.
  • Intel based computers. This is big. Even if they don’t support it out of the box, I can’t help but think that a week after they’re on the street, someone will come up with a way to dual boot Windows (or Linux). If I absolutely need to run Windows, I could.

So as of this minute, I’d say the dual core MacBooks are the leader in the “what computer am I going to take around the world” competition. I’ll wait for them to actually come out and try to get more information, but if I had to pull the trigger and order a laptop now, that would be my pick.

The issue of menu bars being on the top of each window is still sort of a sticking point, but I guess I could learn to live with it.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

2 replies on “I want to want a Mac”

I use one at work occasionally with a two-button mouse. This small improvement seems to change the machine in my eyes from a box of legos into a computing workstation.

Ditto on the two-button mouse. I think that could be the single biggest issue in your “switch” to a MacBook. In fact, in general I think that muscle memory is the big factor in how much people enjoy moving to another platform. On Windows you are used to using the Ctrl key for everything, but on the Mac it’s the “Command” key — the fact that they are in slightly different places on the keyboard can make a big difference. As someone who uses both Mac and Windows, I always hit the wrong keys the first 15-20 times when I switch from one to the other (there are apps that will change the Mac to use the ctrl key, but I wouldn’t suggest going there). I would definitely get yourself a decent bluetooth mouse you can use.

The menus at the top really isn’t a big thing — you get used to it. Not being able to alt-tab to every window (you use command-tab to switch applications, then command-~ to switch windows within an application) took me a lot of getting used to (though, there is something called Witch [or something like that] that will change the behavior to be every window, but again I wouldn’t suggest making such a low-level change — if you are going to do it, just do it).

I’d make a list of every application you use and get suggestions from Mac people about which replacement to use.

Comments are closed.