I got this message from the contact section of the blog, I thought it would be interesting to talk about.
You’ve done a lot of great editorial’s on your blog. I wanted to know a bit
more on a topic that you might be able to help me with. Apple Computers. I am
one of the growing population that is looking longingly at OS X and 12″
powerbooks and I’m considering switching over (at least for a new laptop while
I still have my home WinXP desktop). You comment on your Apple a lot and I
wanted to know…well, just about anything you have to tell. I am not really a
gamer, most of what I do is music so I’m guessing iTunes would become my new
best friend. As for the rest, what is so special about your Powerbook, what is
so special about OS X, switch because…, Don’t switch because…, etc. Besides
all that, I am really dying for a 12″ powerbook but I thought about testing the
waters with an eMac or one of the (supposed) new iMacs in September. Thoughts,
sugguestions? I know you have a lot of work and a head full of content already
(I also wouldn’t want you to get in trouble with your employer). However, if
you find time to write my dream article, it would be awesome! With the iPod’s,
etc. there are a LOT of people that are thinking the same things as me, but not
a lot of helpful content. Thanks!
Well, that’s a pretty interesting question. I think the first thing to realize is that I’m not a switcher. To me, switching means substituting one thing for another. However I never replaced anything when I went to Apple, i merely added to my current collection of computers. I love computers, software and technology and I’m always interested in learning and using anything new or great that’s out there. There’s so much awesome stuff that’s happening out there that it would be kind of lame to just pay attention to what one company was producing.
My current computer setup includes a few kick ass development machines at work (mmmm RAMalicious), the PowerBook I love, a toshiba laptop for futzing around on, and a Shuttle HTPC machine that I run XP Media Center and/or a Linux distro on.
Back when Apple announced OSX my curiosity was piqued. I’d never really been interested in apple before because I found their software frustratingly buggy. Back when NT4 came out I gladly dropped the entire Win9x line and never looked back. I’m not much of a PC gamer; rather I find consoles much more gratifying in their simplicity and ItJustWorks philosophy. Greybeards might have lamented the execution of the OS(9) they loved, but for me it was necessary for Apple to even enter my awareness. Suddenly I was intrigued. An OS built on top of a solid foundation that could compete on technical merits with the NT and unices that I was accustomed to. On top of that, it came with a rather nice window manager that not only looked good but was very easy to use. I saw the disappointment at the “beta” level quality of 10.0 and i decided to wait a bit. When 10.1 came out it was a good time for me to get a laptop and i settled on an nice 12 inch white iBook. Apple’s desktops have never really appealed to me. They always seem limited overly limited in areas such as speed, extensibility, price. However, their laptops have always been another matter altogether. The iBook was attractive to me for many reasons, but at the time it was specifically the battery life, integrated wireless, and a lot of another nice things in a small attractive package at a really nice price.
It was a decision that I was very happy with. Not only did the laptop serve all my needs, including regular consumer oriented things and also development tasks, but I also saw great progress and innovation made by apple in the OS and the applications. iLife is one of my favorite integrated packages of all time. I can barely use any other music player, it manages 10k+ images for me, and it’s been a lot of fun creating and burning some movies for my family as well. Mail.app is just a perfect small, light email client. It manages multiple accounts with ease, has the best spam filter I’ve ever used (it’s probably mis-categorized one email in the last year), and searches instantaneously. To me Apple excels in getting the fundamentals right. They can’t necessarily do a lot at first, but what they can do they do well. On top of that, if they don’t’ do something that users are clamoring for you’ll usually see it in the next release. I like this model of software development and I’d like to see it come up in other places. They also move forward at a pretty steady pace, instead of punctuated releases every few years. You can argue whether or not that’s good from a business standpoint, but from a user standpoint, it just excites me because there is always new great stuff coming out every few months, and I consistently feel that things are improving across the board.
On top of that I found that software development was a lot easier OOB than on a windows machine. I have a lot more experience with shells like bash, and having that available on the machine without any fuss was so nice. I also am a fan of package management tools as they take away of a lot of the tedium of getting programs on your machine. The Fink project brought that kind of flexible and powerful system to OSX. I really appreciate being able to do something as simple as “fink install ncftp“ and know that it will be ready in a few minutes. I also love that you get X11 support for free. I’ve always felt that the ones available for windows were just kind of kludgey. You can get all of this on windows, but I’ve never been too comfortable with it. I’ve tried SFU and I’m never feeling like all is well. Even though the commands are there, I find that they tend to break in unexpected ways. I don’t have the time to track down and work around these issues, I’d prefer that they just work.
When I got here my iBook was starting to feel its age. One area where Apple doesn’t seem to do so well in is scaling to their lower end hardware. I was using panther and finding that some things were just crawling. I started looking around to see what I would get for my next laptop. There were a lot of interesting PCs out there, but I was somewhat discouraged due to the lack of development of XP and my distrust of linux with laptop hardware (remember ItJustWorks). One of my friends had gotten one of the new 15 inch PowerBooks and I was in love. Except for the fact that the battery life was decimated (you really feel the difference between 6 hours and 2), it was just a much better experience. A really nice screen, 802.11g wireless, nice big hard drive, etc. etc. I’m also really looking forward to Tiger now. One of my friends sent me more information on Spotlight and it’s exciting me even more!
Finally, I have to say that it’s nice to be using an OS that I feel safer under than with Windows. A lot of what Apple did with their OS would map directly onto core tenets in Trustworthy Computing, things that I don’t feel consumer Windows users will see until XP SP2 is released (years after we announced TWC and years after OSX has already been demonstrating its value). I think that in that regard they’ve been incredibly responsible and they deserve kudos. I feel pretty safe on windows, and I’m usually very responsible. I run behind a firewall, get updates, and run a virus scanner. But even still, there is a lot of exposed surface that I would prefer to be sealed.
Anyways, if there’s anything else you want to know feel free to ask!!
Oh, and as to real reason why i got a mac… well, Ellen Feiss told me to of course.