For several years I have wanted a Mac, probably ever since I attended an Image Manipulation class at the Art Institute of Portland in 1999. This is when I was first exposed to the Mac OS. After that quarter was completed, I was offered an internship at a local animation and Web design company by the CEO, who was also my instructor at the time. They were a Mac shop (I think they had one Windows PC in the building that no one used) and I was put to work on a dual-monitor machine running OS 7 or 8 (I can’t remember which). There were only a few people who worked for the company at that time, and we’d go back and forth on which operating system was better and why, with me taking the side of Windows. I guess it was during this five month period that I started to realize that the Mac OS was growing on me. The operating system seemed, in a word, more elegant that Windows, and I soon wanted to get my hands on a Mac.
I left the Art Institute about a year or so later and decided that with the dot com boom dying (or already being dead by that point), it was in my best interests to accept a position with my employer working in the programming and administration of their call center systems. It was still “tech” work, even if it wasn’t Web development, and I saw others losing their Web jobs left and right. The world I was entering was entirely Windows, and there were not Macs anywhere in the company, let alone on my desk. Since I didn’t have the money to purchase my own, in addition to a Windows PC, I decided to stick with the PC I had and forgot about the Mac. Every now and then someone would tell me that they had one, and I’d say mockingly, “Yeah, isn’t that a cute little OS”, but I was secretly jealous.
Over the last couple years I’ve kept up with the literature, more or less, and still found that, from what I was reading, the Mac OS was a more stable, easier to use operating system. Then came OS X. When I heard that it was based on Unix, I thought, “Now here’s something that’s going to be hard to deny for any Windows user – stability”. One of the major arguments that Windows users make is that the Mac OS is prone to crashes. Well, so was Windows, as we all knew very well. With Unix in the background, the Mac OS just got a major stability boost, not to mention the long list of free applications that would now be made available for Mac users that even the Windows users couldn’t run. That settled the other argument for me made by Windows users – lack of software. Besides, how many spreadsheet applications do you need?
Someone I know told me he was getting an iBook a few months ago and I was forced, once again, to look upon my Windows machine and long for a more friendly and powerful operating system. Everything that I’ve heard over the years told me that the Mac hardware was superior to the hardware offered by the major PC manufacturers (Dell, Compaq, etc.), but the price always put me off. I’ve owned more than one PC from time to time, but any secondary PCs I’ve owned have been less powerful models or machines that I scraped together from spare parts. Buying a Mac was out of the question, because I already had a PC and it did what I wanted it to do, even if I had to deal with the issues that came along with it.
Even though I have a fairly new Dell that’s got a good amount of processing power and has had three additional hard drives added to it since I purchased it, I decided about a week ago to take a trip to the Apple Store close to where I live, and get an iBook. I wanted the 12-inch model, mainly because it would allow me to get to know the operating system again, without spending a great deal of money up-front. I got there and considered spending the extra $300 on the 14-inch model, but took a look at the 12-inch and imagined myself using it – I wanted something small that I could take anywhere and something that would fit on my desk at home next to my PC, and I didn’t think that the smaller model would cause me to go too blind, so I stuck with my first choice. I walked out of the store that night with my iBook and literally spent all night with it, until about 6 AM the following morning.
A few days later, I came home from work and booted the iBook. I noticed that a single pixel, close to the middle of the screen, had died. I had only had it for about five days at this point, so I called the store where I purchased it and asked them what they could do for me. The person who helped me was extremely nice and said that while Apple didn’t typically replace notebooks with only one dead pixel, they would replace this one, since I had only had it for a few days, I ran back to the store and got my replacement as soon as I got off the phone with her. No problems since. I decided to try to install the Mac OS from the restore disk that came with the iBook, being that I was starting over (I didn’t have them save anything on the hard disk because I had all the install disks for the applications I had installed and didn’t really have any files that I needed). I had heard how easy it was to install the OS, so I tried it out. Now, I’ve installed Windows 2000 Server and XP on several machines over the years, about once every six months, to keep things fresh. I usually block a day off to do this on a weekend so that I have time to get everything installed (OS, apps, updates, etc). I can say, without question, that the Mac OS is about as simple as it comes when you are talking about a fresh OS install. Windows is easy, yes, but the Mac OS is even easier, and takes less time too. I had everything done, including all the apps re-installed, in a couple hours or so.
Since then, I’ve spent the last few days trying out software. I’ve found that just about everything I have on my PC is available for my new Mac. The only things I haven’t gotten yet are something like Microsoft’s Visio and Project, but I’m looking at a few apps that are similar. MS Office is available for the Mac, and so is the Macromedia Studio MX. I wanted to install ColdFusion developer edition on it for Web testing, but I noticed that it doesn’t exist for the Mac. However, it does exist for Unix/Linux, so I’m going to try that out. I can tell that it needs a RAM upgrade, and I have one planned in the near future. It handles the tasks I throw at it, but I need it to move a bit faster, and I think a RAM upgrade will do the trick.
So far, I’m very happy with my choice. I’m still reading literature on the Mac OS and Apple hardware and poking around with it to become as proficient as I have become with Windows over the years, but I’ve noticed the learning curve is not as steep. I also can’t wait to get into AppleScript, which I’ve wanted in Windows for years now, or something like it at least, but have never seen (and no, the Windows Script Host is not the same). I created this blog because I wanted to share my experiences with new users to the Mac OS, especially former PC users. I still intend on keeping my Windows PC, but upgrades to it over the next year might have to wait as I dive further into the Mac world. This Web site will be updated frequently and I am hoping to include a few of my own reviews of various hardware and software products available for Mac. I will also be adding a forum to this Web site that you, the user, will be able to use to talk to other users, read tutorials, and share information.