Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Mac Experiment, Continued: The Cult of Mac is Trying to Convert Me. . .

No, nobody knocked on my door. They didn't stick a pamphlet in my door, or hang a tract on my gate. But the Apple Cult is working its magic on me. It's a slow creep, and it's taken 2-1/2 years, but I have to say, I'm at least partially in their thrall this week.

Last week was a different story--as I related here at the time--when my second (admittedly used) Macintosh laptop experienced a useability problem. My first try at the iUniverse was a PowerBook G4 that was insufferably and unusably slow. My second was a decent MacBook Pro (first generation), that had a video card meltdown. I was essentially the victim of an unrealized, and too late recall. And so, my little experiment in dabbling in the OS X side of things--while keeping my PC/Windows 7 main system--had experienced its second major roadblock.

The first time, I got my used Mac at 5+ years old, and for $300. The second time, I sold the old (plus some other computer equipment), and paid $650ish for an almost 4 year old system, almost breaking even overall price-wise. The third time, I was faced with a $550 repair, and instead bought a third Mac in less than 3 years for $860. This one is 3-3/4 years old refurb, and when you do the math of what it would have cost to fix the old one, plus the $200 I sold the broken one for, I actually came close to breaking even again, and got a newer/better computer.

How much better? Oh-so-much better! I didn't know what I did not know, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld. While my first-gen MacBook Pro was plenty useable before its "little problem," it wasn't a) as pretty as this newer one, nor b) as all-around better. I love the keyboard. I love the screen. I love the way the aluminum case looks. It is faster at almost everything. Setting it up right out of the box--and I'm a PC guy used to tweaking and fiddling for hours--was nearly effortless. Though I'm only moderately familiar with where and how to set up Mac stuff, I got all of my info entered and done within minutes. But that's not all.

My software isn't this obscure, but it seems
as unlikely to work on a Mac.
This system came with "Parallels" and Windows 7 installed and ready to go. I use a particular kind of software for my sign graphics business that is PC only. It couldn't possibly work on my Mac, right? Not even with emulation software. Wrong! It runs, and runs perfectly. I was able to copy all of my system files to a USB thumb drive, copy them over and set them up in no time. I was only hindered by the download time for the software, and that was only because I didn't feel like moving from one end of the house to the end my wireless router is in.

Next, I went back to my PC, to get my (very cumbersome, very unintuitive) iOmega Cloud Drive to communicate with the Mac. This is not a PC problem but an iOmega problem (which is now apparently Lenovo EMC's problem, since they've changed hands). Still, once I got the info sent to the Mac, it was smooth sailing. Bada-bing, bada-boom. And the icing on the cake? When I went to set up the MacBook Pro to my wireless all-in-one Lexmark printer? No joke, done in 10 seconds flat.

So now--as long as I'm thinking ahead and take the special USB fob my graphics software needs--I can travel with my MacBook Pro to anywhere in the world, access my files from my home cloud drive, and through Windows 7 work on any of my projects for either of my jobs! I'll never be free from work again! Yay?

Okay, I don't love my Mac this much. . .
Bottom line, this was the easiest setup of any computer ever in my career as "guru." How long until I'm as proficient on the Mac side as I am on the PC side? Soon, I hope. But it's the hardware side that worries me. While it's fair to say that all laptops are a challenge if something goes wrong with the hardware, I'm finding that Macs don't age particularly gracefully, and that Apple kind of washes their hands of them at a fairly young age (the hipster "genius" with the lensless glasses at the Apple Store barely disguised his contempt for my 5-year-old ailing Mac).  So it's not all unicorns and rainbows. Still, I'm impressed, and I have a smile on my face when I use my new(ish) Mac!

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