Switching to Mac

I can’t remember how old I was when I used my first IBM PC clone. If I recall, it was a ‘luggable’ Panasonic with an orange plasma CGA screen. I played an ancient version of Ghostbusters, and Microsoft Flight Simulator, perhaps version 1 or 2. My whole world seemed to involve hacking config.sys and autoexec.bat to clear enough of the 640k memory to load games.

Time moved on, I gained an education, and continued hacking on PCs. I’ve developed and managed developers of Microsoft software. I spent quite a bit of time running Linux servers, but still on PC hardware. I spent more time than I’d care to remember hacking various config scripts and iptables commands in Vi.

Throughout this time, I’ve been completely aware of Apple. I remember playing Dark Castle on a friend’s Mac Classic. I remember distinctly when Steve Jobs announced the Intel switch. I think I blogged it in fact. It was at that point that I seriously considered a Mac as a genuine option for day-to-day work. I never went so far as to buy one for myself, but here I sit tonight, typing this on a 15″ MacBook Pro, kindly supplied by my new employer.

I’m not sure if I was expecting some sort of epihany, but here’s my conclusion after several days of using a Mac: It’s a computer. That’s it. A computer.

I like having a Unix-esque terminal. I like the industrial design and the interface design. I don’t like the tendency to end up with a cluttered mess of windows and running programs. I like VMWare Fusions “Unity” mode. I like the clean behaviour of sleep and shutdown versus Windows Vista. I LOVE the easy way that programs are installed and uninstalled.

There’s a lot to like. But there’s also random System Preferences windows that never appear until you close and re-open System Preferences. There’s also still crashy and flakey iTunes (or perhaps the iTunes mobile manager thingy) just like on Windows.

So yeah, just like any other computer, it runs, and it crashes, and it computes stuff. But it’s a hunk of aluminium and silicon that can cause rooms full of geeks to cheer, queues around the block, and incredible online fanatacism. That’s what makes it special.


  1. Hey I switched about 18 months ago Being a PC geek since my first 8mhz PC with twin 5 1/4″ floppies and no hard drive for 2k ! I was very pleased has taken me a long time to start to think different and I personally believe the biggest stumbling block for serious PC users is just the fact that we have been trained to think in a certain way so that is alot of the trouble for some people/ Often the newer you are to computers the easier it is for people. I switched because i was sick of trying to get a recording studio system together what with drivers. The Macbook Pro was so simple and it certainly just worked. Yes they are all computers but I think a big advantage Apple has is the hardware they control which makes things generally alot stabler.
    The more I have got to use the system the more I have enjoyed it especially ilife and general quality of software that there is a ton of high quality apps out there. Took me a bit to understand the way they chose to use window layouts and of course the way the window control buttons worked .
    Basically MS uses the idea of an app window should be full screen or not This leads to wasted space when a window is full screen. OSX says why take up the whole screen when there is wasted space on the edge forinstance of the wordprocessor screen Also the other idea is the red button doesn’t shut the program down but only that window or say document where as generally hit the X in a windows app and it will close the whole app down not just the document. This confused me till I had it explained that why would I want to close the app when I am at work and have finished with a document in say iWork. People dont notice the fact that their application is still running . You have to learn the command Q to quite the whole program. Again it is simply a different way of thinking. I dont think either is necessarily better or there should be only one way. I miss some bit of Windows but would never want to go back as there is too much that is in OSX that as you grow to use it you really appreciate it more and more.

  2. Firstly, welcome to the light.

    Leopard is not Unix-esque, it’s Unix full stop.

    Yes Mac’s do crash, and intel one’s more than their powerPC counter parts. I’ve had a Mac with OS X in the house since Mid 2004. Now I’ve got a few. The one thing that I feel sets the Mac apart from the competition is the simple fact that the hardware and software gets out of your way and allows you to get work done. While Microsoft has a lot of great ideas a lot of them are too clever for their own good. I hate nothing more than the machine getting something right for me that I had right in the first place.

    You might say a Mac is just a computer, but to me it’s a computer with a lot less frustration, I’ve lived in the Windows world (I’m a Microsoft developer), I’ve lived in the Linux world (I was a Linux developer in a previous life too), Now I live in the Mac world (The development tools are awesome!).

    I believe your OS choice comes down to a few things, Gamers and average users who don’t know better choose windows, people with a very high tolerance for pain choose linux (don’t give me the package manager speech, unless you can drag and drop install JUST LIKE WE DO ON MAC OS, your argument is moot), OSX is for those who value their time.

    You may disagree with me now, but use the Mac long enough and you’ll start to understand my point of view… If windows or linux was better I’d be using that, Mac OS is not without flaw, but it’s certainly got one’s I’m more happy to live with.

  3. Congratulations on your new (employers) “shiny thing”. I have a friend who recently bought a mac after years and years and years of Windows and Linux. the The big thing he found was that it took some time to trust OS/X because “everything just works” – silently. Plug in hardware, none of this “You OS has just found new hardware”, “Installing”, “Your new hardware is ready” (even if you plug a previously installed device into a different USB port), it just works. Spooky apparently.

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