Going Mac (and not going back)

A little over a month ago, an anonymous donor gave me $1,000 and said, “This is to buy your Mac.” Now, I’m not genius; but when that kind of thing happens, I don’t question it. I obediently went to the Apple store and bought a 13″ Macbook Pro.

I had $1,000 to invest; and I spent another $200 to get a couple of upgrades (like going to 4GB of RAM), so I could not go much bigger. But for a guy who carries his computer on his back on a bicycle, the 13″ is just fine.

A few weeks ago, my friend Greg (an ubergeek in disguise) bought the 15″ and it is pretty cool, but too big for me. I’m glad I went with the 13″.

Some of you may remember my review of the Acer Aspire One – still an amazing little machine – as well as my adventures with an old Mac G4 desktop I bought for $50. After a month of pretty heavy use, I am finally ready to review the macbook pro.

So, what is there to like about a Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6)? A lot. The OS works intuitively; and contrary to what a lot of Windows users say, you have a lot of control over just about everything. There has not been a system setting I have not been able to adjust – from monitor tint to how the RAM SODIMMS are accessed.

Because it is built on the Unix architecture (unlike Mac OS X 9 and previous incarnations), it is powerful and robust. It also has no legacy issues that Windows seems to have in spades.

I found the keystrokes easy to learn and the unique features like all the trackpad gestures to be very useful. There is no wasted gadgetry, as one finds on some Windows laptops. Everything is designed to work; and it does.

That said, are there any downsides to the Mac conversion? Yes. My Outlook email databases (which goes back to 2004) does not import into Apple Mail; and there seems to be no easy way to get things over. Likewise, Office for Mac 2004 is a behemoth and I do not care for it. But, I installed Neo Office, an open source office suite based on openoffice.org, and I am very pleased with it. It is not as robust as MS Office, but does the job.

There is also no simple, open-source graphics program like Paint.net. I’ve given Inkscape a whirl, but I did not really care for it. Next, I am going to try GIMP.

So what to do about my issues? I installed VMWare Fusion and put Windows XP on as a virtual machine. I installed all the stuff I like to use on that virtual machine; and problem solved. Since Fusion allows you to run Windows XP native to Mac OS X, you don’t even notice that it is a Windows program most of the time.

In short, Apple makes an amazing machine; and Microsoft would be wise to learn some lessons from them. They won’t; and most people will continue to be afraid of Mac; but Mac OS X is by far a superior platform to Windows.

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