I've always been a staunch PC user. I started on an Apple IIe back in grade school and was force-fed Apple/Mac through school, into high school. However, because my father worked almost exclusively with PCs at work, we didn't have any Apple computers in the home...only PC. So early on I really learned the intricacies of both operating systems and really came to like DOS and Windows better and the Apple "System" (the OS was just called System 7 back then). I felt I more easily had detailed control over the DOS systems with the command prompt, and that I was locked out of all the lower-level parts of the Apple OS, which frustrated me.
Well, since I became pretty much an exclusive PC user about 16 years ago I've made it a point to give Apple a chance every few years. Since I have the extreme fortune of working at a tech company I can pretty much request a new laptop every couple years and not expect to be turned down. (I can't express how grateful I am for this privilege in life considering what a luxury it is...anyway...) So every 4 or 5 years I request the latest and greatest Mac system instead of a PC and force myself to use only that system for 30 days. My previous experiences have never been good. The longest I used one system was in 2002 when I got a Mac PowerPC tower that had tons of RAM and all the latest hardware. That lasted for all of 10 days. (No need to go into too much detail, but the system was slow, UI terrible, mouse and keyboard a joke, not much software support, etc. etc.)
Well, I'm surprised to say that the tides have finally turned. I recently got a MacBook Pro and it's really starting to grow on me. What's changed? Partially Mac and partially me:
- It seems that the software support for the Apple OS has finally gotten reasonably close to the Windows OS. I can now run pretty much all the software I want and all the files I transferred from my PC work, which has never been the case before, regardless of what the old 'switch' ads used to say.
- The OS is responsive and fast. Applications launch pretty fast and I don't feel like I'm being held back like with previous Mac experiences.
- The UI is still pretty inflexible and poorly designed to me, especially the windowing behaviors and the file system app called the "Finder". The Finder is extremely cumbersome and doesn't manage new windows, dragging and dropping files, or deeply nested folders well at all, and the application windows suck because they can generally only be re-sized from the bottom-right corner when I often want to re-size them from the sides and top. However, some improvements have been made to the scroll bar preferences and other minor annoyances, so the flaws have become tolerable.
- Windows changed me. I've been slowly weened away from the command prompt by Windows 2000 and XP so that I've become comfortable with never seeing it on the Mac now. (Ironically they now have a great Unix command prompt, only after I've finally stopped using command prompts for the most part.)
- The gesture touch-pad is pretty useful once you get used to it.
To be clear, there are a still a couple things I hate about this laptop, which may prevent me from permanently adopting it as my main system:
- The casing, while beautiful to look at, is not design with ergonomics in mind at all. The lip of the casing below the keyboard is a sharp 90 degree titanium-metal angle, which cuts into the underside of my wrists viciously whenever I type and rest my hands on the keyboard. (As I type now I have lines pressed into my wrists that look like suicide attempts...foreshadowing of ultimate Mac experience?) When it's closed the casing is all smooth and slippery, and since the laptop weighs over 6 pounds I'm constantly afraid I'm going to slip and drop it. It's as if they didn't care at all for human comfort when designing the casing, only how cool it would look.
- Proprietary input/output jacks. This kills me! I want to hook up a monitor to the laptop, but will it accept a standard VGA or DVI cable? NOOOOO! You need a separate 'dongle' to plug any display into this thing. Does it come with the dongle?! NOOOOO! You have to order it separately. It is the same dongle for last years MacBook as this one?! NOOOOO! I have buy a new one for every laptop...WTF? Is this some sick scheme to extort money from hapless fanatics? Some breakthrough new plug development I've never heard of? Come on...
- iCrap. The iSoftware suite that comes on the Mac is all crap, there's no nicer way to put it. It's not intuitive or easy to use. None if it functions how I would want apps of those types to function. I won't even go into it in detail...needless to say, it's a good thing that 3rd-party software developers are consistently publishing their apps to Mac now or else I would have gone back to PC already.
So, I may need to investigate some kind of keyboard padding or something to be able to really adopt this thing...in the end though I'm not as opposed to using the Mac for serious work and play anymore. To be clear, I'm no where near being a Mac fanatic and waiting in lines for new Apple products. And I'll definitely still use my PC every day for the base tasks like Exchange-based email, but so far I've done most of my work on the Mac for the past couple weeks and haven't been driven away in frustration...so I guess we can be friends now, Mac. :)
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