Many of the folks I know in technology are Mac fans, some more rabid than others. My exposure to Macs goes way back to college, when I was a mere user fulfilling classroom assignments on labs filled with Mac Classics. Actually – even earlier than that. I typeset a high school yearbook on a Mac Classic using PageMaker. Some years after college, I was asked to return there as an IT staff member. I worked with a lot of Mac folks, and supported a heavily Apple environment.
Even so, I have always been a Windows guy. My first computer (if we overlook the Commodore 64) was MS-DOS based, and the main reason I was supporting that Apple-oriented college was because they needed someone with Microsoft experience to support the Windows applications that kept sneaking in past the Cupertino guards. I worked for a great network engineer who taught me a lot about fiber optics, Ethernet and routing AppleTalk, while I built a huge Windows NT server that replaced several smaller Apple-based servers. I ran Windows NT 4.0 Workstation to make my stuff happen. And I was pretty much alone in that row of workstations…lots of Macs, and then me.
My work with Macs faded as jobs changed, and I settled into a Windows-oriented life. The 286 became a 386. The 386 became a 486. And then a Pentium. Etc. Windows 3.11 & NT4 Workstation morphed into Windows 95 and beyond…and I really lost track of the Mac world.
And then came the iPod. When I became the owner of a 160GB iPod Classic (a gift from my wife who an extraordinary track record of getting me great gifts), I was smitten by the interface, and it’s close relationship to iTunes. The iPod just worked. iTunes was the best music manager I’d ever used, and I’d tried many.
After that came an iPhone 3G for my wife. She was very happy with it, and what little playing with it I did impressed me as well. A while after that, my company switched over from BlackBerry to iPhones, and so I ended up with an iPhone 4 of my own, and have since upgraded my wife’s iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4. My iPhone easily the best mobile phone I’ve ever had.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been using Windows 7. I thought perhaps Microsoft had gotten it right this time. I quite like the Windows 7 interface. It’s slick. Intuitive. Engaging. But Windows 7 has the same problems Windows has had for years. Hardware can still kill the whole thing. Over time, the system gets slower and slower for no easily remedied reason. The system doesn’t do well after sleeping or hibernating. Docking and undocking can upset the system. Boot times end up somewhere between ridiculous and maddening. So despite my enjoyment of the Windows 7 interface, the bloom is off of the rose. I’m looking for an alternative.
I visited my local Apple store today, because I wanted to get a hands-on look at a couple of models that have captured my attention. The first is the 27″ iMac. I’m a sucker for high pixel counts and a great screen, and that 27″ model, while huge, was absolutely glorious.
The second machine I was interested in was the 13″ MacBook Air. This is my idea of what to use when I’m on the road or couch surfing. I’ve had an interest in the iPad for a long time, but the fact of the matter is that I create as often as I consume. While the iPad is arguably the perfect consumption device, it’s not a tool I can type on while it sits in my lap. The MacBook Air seems to be a good possible fit. It’s somewhere between and iPad and a MacBook Pro. The form factor is excellent, and the screen rather better than I expected. The MBA is thin and light. There’s no Ethernet port, and there’s no optical drive, but for what I want to do with it, those aren’t things I’ll miss.
Next steps? Read reviews, and come up with a funding plan. The downside of joining the cult of Mac is that the price of admission isn’t cheap.