Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Windows Tablet User Tries Out a Mac. Why?

Despite my love of all things Penabled, the last computer I bought was a MacBook. I pulled the trigger a heartbreaking 16 days before the last refresh, so my specs are as follows:

* 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
* 2GB of RAM (I ordered it with 1GB and maxed it out to 2GB the following week; yes, the current MacBook maxes out at 4GB, and that's what's so heartbreaking)
* 120GB hard drive

Of course, being a fan of the light and ultra-portable, I went with the 13.3-inch. Not being a fan of having the most common thing around, I splurged and bought a black one. I supposed I needn't have worried about looking like everyone else, though, because my Mac-using co-workers all have metal-clad MacBook Pros, which means a cheaper, white MacBook wouldn't have been in any danger of conforming.

Why did I get a Mac? One of the reasons is that I'm stagnating at work, and I wanted some experience that would allow me to grow as an IT professional. My current job doesn't really allow me that. I image a machine here, run a batch file there, blah, blah blah, maybe get to take apart a PC or laptop from a heretofore unmolested series, and, oh, yeah, we do have access to all sorts of CBTs. True, the stuff I get to see under NDA temporarily transports me from the tech support doldrums, and, sure, I supplement my usual activities with BSD and Linux play at home, but who wouldn't want more after a while? So yeah, I'm hoping some Mac skills will help me find a new challenge; at the very least, it's provided me with some challenges to get it integrated into my workflow while I plod through Microsoft critical updates, laptop and PC motherboard replacements and owsupp.dll renaming day in and day out.

Another reason I got a Mac is because I was forcing myself to wait a full year before buying a new Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC), and I was having trouble waiting that long. I had no such strictures against buying a Mac, and I'd wanted to investigate OS X for years. My beige G3 wasn't cooperating at all, as its hard drive had given up the ghost before I could even use it, and I didn't want to bother with X Post Facto, anyway. The only reason I hadn't replaced the G3 sooner was that I was spending my limited funds on phones, tablets and UMPCs. In late October, I still had eight months to go on my latest phone's contract, I didn't want another full-sized tablet, and, while I was saving for a new UMPC, I didn't see anything that was being offered in that world that was a match for my needs. UMPC makers are using slower processors than last year's, and though my time with the Fujitsu U810 (link to product on Amazon) allowed me to understand that the A110s can do the job, I really do not want to go backwards again (my Asus R2H has a 900MHz Celeron processor). It's just against my principles. Also, with the exception of Asus and Fujitsu, manufacturers are shunning the "hard touch" screens that allow for an excellent writing experience. Writing on the offerings by Samsung and the like means being very careful not to brush a digit or palm against the screen, or you will almost certainly experience vectoring. The soft-touch digitizers are great for those folks who want the screen to be responsive to fingertips; those users generally are interested in launching non-inking apps and interacting in ways that do not require the precision of a pen-like apparatus. I, however, use my pen or stylus to write, write, and write some more, and I want accurate, smooth input and the ability to rest my palm on the device, since that is how I learned to write on paper decades ago.

Also behind my decision to buy a Mac is my compulsion to collect computers and operating systems. I have too many computers; I try to control my inventory by allowing myself only one of each brand, and by insisting that I not run the same OS on more than one machine (Microsoft is making this difficult; I'm going to have to switch one of my tablety devices back to XP TPCE, and I have a desktop that's slated to get Vista, but I may cheat and allow a distinction between Business and Ultimate). My collection lacked a Mac that could do what modern Macs do. Since the G3 is substandard, well, I needed to acquire a Mac that could handle OS X well. Don't ask me about the other three ancient Macs in my house. I'm going to get rid of them, honest! As soon as I find them...Do I have to get rid of the PowerBook Duo 250? That's practically a historic artifact! Next on my list is one of those pretty SGI machines...but I digress.

I'd hoped I'd have room on this post to delve into the last reason I bought a Mac, which is the mantra that it just works. Since this has gotten quite long, I'll have to discuss my experiences with the workings and not workings later. I do want to talk about the things the Mac does to aggravate me, and the things it does to please me. I'll tell you this much, though, it's a computer, too, not manna from heaven, but if you've been reading up on the Blue Screen of Death, firewall and keyboard and battery life issues with Leopard, you already know that. Me? I haven't dared update to Leopard, but I got it the week after it was released, thanks to the free upgrade policy (I did have to pay $10, ostensibly for the media, since the shipping was free); I'll give it a try when my R2H comes back from Asus (of course, I have to send it to them, first!), but I'm not going to risk rendering both of my newest mobile devices unusable at the same time.

Technorati tags: Apple, OS X, MacBook