I need a notebook computer. In the continuing effort to avoid writing my thesis, I started researching them yesterday. I don’t know anything about Apples, but I’ve been telling myself for a long time that I need to become familiar with them. Lots of people seem to like them. My only experience with them was pure and utter frustration. I used one at a Kinko’s copy center once. I couldn’t even manage to scan a photograph on it. It kept sending the file somewhere into never-never land, and unable to locate anything familiar in terms of file directory structures, I was just as lost as my scanned file.

I tend to think of computers the way I think of toasters or microwave ovens. Brand loyalty seems to be utterly ridiculous. The main question is can it do what you want to do, and do you have to argue with it to get it done. I’m used to regular file structures, having started on machines with command-line interfaces. I hate cute. Macs have always seemed cute. But having owned a Compaq notebook in the past, there were lots of things I didn’t like. Mostly, I dislike the fragility of the little boxes. I’m a klutz.

The 12” Powerbooks sure are sexy. Not cutesy. Not nearly so dork-like as other Macs. They look pretty sturdy. They are closer to my price range than most of the PC competition. But the tales of overheating scare me. I don’t use much except mainstream Adobe and Microsoft applications, so software isn’t a big problem—except buying it twice, because I’m not retiring my desktop. Educational discounts help a lot with that.

But still I’m frightened. I want to use the tool, not spend forever getting acclimated to a foreign environment. The claims of how “easy” it is scare me. I’m okay with complicated. I can deal with that. But “easy” is downright frightening. However, it is hard to argue with the value that these boxes seem to represent. Besides, I’ve got to get over my MacFear sometime.

3 thoughts on “MacFear”

  1. As I long-time Apple user, I didn’t find it all difficult to make the transition to Windows when I went to work at H&R Block.
    I doubt it would be any more difficult to make the transition from the other side, though there are many things I can do on a Mac that I still can’t do on a Windows machine. Of course, it wasn’t necessary to do them for everyday activities, either.

  2. Well, if you like the command line, Macs have a real one these days: the default shell is bash, and tcshell and a couple of others are built in. I haven’t heard tales of 12″ ‘books overheating. I’ve got one, and before 10.3 they’d make your bare leg sweat if you worked that way. Some people did complain and Apple changed the set point on the thermostat so the fan comes on sooner. I preferred it the other way.
    “Easy” is a hard thing to pin down. I make my living writing win32 software, and there are some things that are easier in Windows, some easier in OS X. But X is just more fluid and more reliable, and there’s a feeling that interface chioices (even wrong ones) were made for a considered reason. The head of the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft says that at Apple, the first questions are “Why did you choose that color? or “Why is that button there?,” whereas at Microsoft almost all the atention is on the underlying protocols.
    And BSD Unix is just a more robust foundation than either win32 or the old MacOS.

  3. I think there was a problem with the screens on the 15″ powerbooks (here in the UK anyway), but I would imagine it’s been sorted on new machines.
    I’m a mac devotee. Despite the fact that everything at work is MS based. When I bought my first computer, seven or so years ago, it was a mac. B muttered and growled about what a useless waste of space it was, incompatible with the real world etc etc. I smiled serenely and bided (bode?) my time.
    It was the unix (and the design) that finally did for him. He bought a powerbook about a year ago and on Saturday I overheard him, in the computer aisle of a large store, crooning contentedly that switching to mac was the best thing he’d ever done. I made no comment but my serene smile became positively Cheshire cattian.

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