Friday, May 30, 2008

Mac year

I realized a few days ago that it's been one year since I began using a MacBook at home, having switched over at work several months earlier when I was up for a new computer. And now that I'm writing this post, I realize that my OS X experience has been in many ways a matter of what's missing. No long wait for the computer to start up and shut down. No registry to tinker with. No defragmenting of the hard drive. No Internet Explorer, an unwelcome browser that cannot be uninstalled. No Microsoft Office (I like iWork, thank you). No hours lost trying to get a wireless card to work. And no Vista, which I resolved long ago not to buy.

My XP computer was a pretty spiffy machine: with unnecessary services turned off and all sorts of registry tweaks, it was reliable and responsive (once it started up). But it cannot compare to my MacBook. If I'm writing in a text-editor and want to check a document's spelling, I just hit Shift-⌘-;. If I want to delete a file, ⌘-Delete. If I want to save an image from a DVD, I open VLC and use the snapshot feature. If I want to do almost anything, from opening applications (on the Mac, they're applications, not programs) to moving files to resizing images, Quicksilver makes tasks amazingly simple. Working on a Mac is sometimes so simple that it can at first be baffling. I remember how long it took me to realize how little is involved in installing most applications: dragging the application's icon to the Applications folder. That's it.

I started out on an Apple //c in 1985, and in retrospect, I regret ever moving away from Apple hardware. I could have been one of those people with a closet full of old Macs by now! Instead I bought into the false mythology that Macs were for people in design and that one had to use a PC to do serious writing. And now, when I talk about how great it is to be working on a Mac, I'm surprised by how many people assume that files created on a Windows machine — any files — cannot be opened on a Mac.

My year has not been entirely Windows-free: the classrooms I teach in are equipped with machines running XP. Every time I turn one on and wait for it to warm up (yes, like an old television), I'm reminded how happy I am working on a Mac. Every time I connect my USB memory stick to a classroom computer and wait for "new hardware" to be "installed" (say what?), I'm reminded how happy I am working on a Mac. Every time I put a disc in the tray and wait for the machine to grind away, I'm reminded how happy I am working on a Mac.

And yesterday morning I realized for the first time that I'm finally, really, out of it, Windows-wise: when I started up the Windows version of VLC to play a DVD, I clicked on the wrong dialog button. In OS X dialog boxes, Play, Save, and so on appear to the right; Cancel, to the left. In Windows, it's the other way around. I clicked Cancel, saw that nothing was happening, realized my mistake, and started over. I'm glad that I clicked Cancel on Windows last year.

comments: 3

Geo-B said...

Within the last month, I've bought 2 MacBooks and and iMac and have been just totally amazed how I have taken them out of the box, plugged them in, and bam, they're working, plugged in, hooked up. Plus Leopard and time Machine rock!

Anonymous said...

I've used a Mac at home for years but am still stuck with Windows XP at work. Obviously (since I chose to buy them) I much prefer the Macs. And so many applications these days produce files that can be used on either platform that it has become really easy to be a Mac user in a Windows-dominated world.

Jason said...

My Mac experiences have been equally good. And, luckily, I was able to get a Mac at work a few short months after I made the switch at home! I wonder how much time I have saved simply from not having to start up the old Dell every morning at work?