Some of you may be wondering why I switched to Mac. It’s about time I told you why, but first I need to be fair and state something for the record.
Ode To the PC World
I owe a lot to my PC. I learned what I know about computers through the PC world. I’m very grateful to PCs being all that they are. Were it not for PCs I wouldn’t have gained the skills I have. Surely I’m not alone in this. Millions of people the world over got there starts on PCs. I am grateful for PCs, and to the Microsoft Corporation in particular. Why? Because they made PCs easier to use through Windows, as well as making them more affordable to the general public. I believe very much that if it wasn’t for Bill Gates and Microsoft the personal computer world wouldn’t be where it is. Microsoft helped make PCs affordable and more accessible for the average person. When other operating systems and applications were waaaay too expensive and poorly made, Microsoft came on the scene and offered apps people could afford. But even more importantly, they made apps people could use. Occasionally, I hear some old timer on a podcast pining for the days of OfficeWriter, WordStar, or OfficeMate. No thank you. The only word processor app to even come close was Word Perfect, and in the end even it couldn’t. And when it comes to spreadsheets, Excel needs no explanation. It’s very good at what it does (and I’m being modest).
I am not one who believes that Microsoft is the great monster that wants to swallow up the computer world and make all things Microsoft. Yeah, I know when others have come up with great ideas Microsoft simply bought them out, but are other companies totally innocent of the same practice? I don’t think so, and I think most honest people would agree. For keeping the price of PCs and apps low enough for average folks, I tip my hat to the folks at Redmond. I’m grateful. But something different happened after Christmas.
Christmas Quiche With Apple As Dessert
Not too long after Christmas, my wife, Da Minx, and I went over Erik the Red and his other half, Cool Business Lady’s (CBL) home for dinner. It was pretty much a pre-planned (IT) geek fest for Erik and myself. Sure, there was good food and good wine to be had, but everyone pretty much knew the boys wanted to play with the toys. I mentioned earlier that I wanted Erik to show me why he preferred Apple computer products, and he was more than happy to oblige.
When Da Minx and I walked into their place and I turned the corner and I laid my eyes on his 30 inch monitor, known as The Beast, I knew it would be a fun evening. The Beast is connected to his PowerMac dual core G5, with 4Gb of RAM. It’s a nice piece of machinery, though Erik has his sights set on a MacPro. Folks, the picture quality on The Beast was enough to just make you smile. I kid you not. But I contained myself like gentleman and waited for dinner (Erik the Red makes a mean quiche!) and dessert to end.
The conversation was good and the background music was nice and relaxing, as Erik and CBL tend to make it, before we finally grabbed our wine glasses and headed toward “The Beast”, Erik’s MacBook, and a Mac Mini. While I was impressed at the sight of The Beast’s graphics capabilities, I pretty much wanted to see what was “under the hood” so to speak. It didn’t take long.
I’m one of those people who gets a kick out of the “little things”, so when Erik grabbed his Mighty Mouse and started moving his cursor from the screen of The Beast to his MacBook I immediately had a Scooby Doo moment. I wondered how he was able to do that. He told me it was a nice little piece of third-party software called Teleport that took advantage of the some of the many in-built capabilities that comes in Macs. That got my attention, because the other administrators and I have the same sort of set-up using two monitors on our PCs at work, but in order for us to have it, we had to buy new, more powerful graphics cards, and install the software and drivers that came with them. I’m talking 15-30 minutes per PC.
Erik then hit a couple of keys and using VirtueDesktop, a nice little piece of open source work, switched to another desktop, which caused another “Huh!” Now, while this was nothing new (Da Minx and I have the same capability on our PC here at home), it was the way his Mac did it. It was smooth, natural looking, and easy on the eyes. It’s one thing to hear about the video power of a Mac, it’s another watching it happen before your eyes. Again, I’m sure you can get this with a PC… if you’re willing to pay extra for a low-drag high-speed graphics card, then install software and drivers. He was using the hardware, and a free (what a wonderful word) third-party software created to take advantage of what was specifically in a Mac. Nevertheless, out of everything he showed me, one thing in particular was the hook for me.
It was when he started using Parallels Desktop for Mac that really got me going. It was strange but cool seeing XP boot up in a separate window on the Mac OS X desktop, but when he:
1) opened Microsoft Word and saved a document to the desktop in XP
2) dragged the document from the XP desktop to the Mac OS X desktop
3) then opened and started editing it using Microsoft Word for Mac
I was pretty much toast. I was tempted to go for it before then, but knowing that I could continue to use my Windows based apps like word and Nokia’s PC Suite for way cool Nokia E70 (iPhone my eye! Check the specs on this puppy) that I sync with Outlook, I was sold.
But Macs Are Expensive
I’ve heard people complain that Macs are pretty expensive. I guess that sort of depends on how one looks at things. Considering all a Mac can do out of the box, and how well it does it, by the time you put together a decent PC equally capable, is there really such a huge difference? The way I see it, in the end, you end up with a powerful personal computer that not only looks good, but performs extremely well, offering more stability than Windows-based PCs. Most people would, in the end, consider this a good investment, and logical one at that.
Finally, out of all my years of computer using experience, my Mac has brought me the most satisfaction. I didn’t see that coming. I thought finding apps for it would be difficult. Actually, it’s been hard sorting through all of the free stuff out there! That came as quite the surprise. If you would’ve asked me if my switching to a Mac was possible a couple of years ago, I would probably have said no. But now I know better. That’s the honest truth. If you don’t believe it I dare you to walk into an Apple store and see what they can do. 😉