Mac’in it up with a fruity new computer

macbook-aluminum-425wI’ve officially joined the club. You know, that pretentious group that hangs out in cafes with their white Apple-logo lit, doing little other than subliminally pointing to the branding and winking.

Those that are quick to tell you how amazing a Mac is, and how super better it compares to a PC, while barely having any concept of what runs either machine.

The people who aspire for a hybrid, drink coffee named and sized in languages they only pretend to understand.

Yes – I’ve bought a MacBook.

And I FUCKING LOVE IT! Can I get a venti® Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte to go – my Prius is running.

Not since college have I routinely used a Mac (my college’s journalism department was Mac-only on pain of death). Other than messing around a bit with them here and there, and doing a decent job of making my PC act like one, this will be the most extensively and intimately I’ve used one.

So far I’m really diggin’ it. Being that I spend most of my time online for work, I generally dislike the interface laptops offer. Bulky lap warmers with poor non-mouse interaction and itty bitty monitors (my desktop setup uses a 22″ monitor paired with a 19″ for an extended desktop).

My MacBook is proving to dispel some of my apprehensions. It’s small – only 13″ – but solid feeling (it’s one of the new aluminum models), and it’s been on my lap for an hour now and hasn’t significantly warmed me up yet.

I thought the small screen was going to be a problem, but OSX’s Spaces sorted me out. A couple shortcut keys later and I’m sliding through screen after screen of applications with no fuss and no muss (what’s muss?).

The thing that has impressed me most about the system is that it tends to operate “like it should” a lot more than a PC does. I love my PC, but the bitch requires some discipline. The MacBook’s more like the good child that does her homework and stays chaste until she’s 25.

Everything from connecting the power supply to connecting to my wireless network just flowed beautifully. Having worked on PCs for so long, it’s easy to dismiss the exclusive nature of working on a PC (and fixing the errors that creep up) as just part of using a computer (like knowing how to change a flat or the oil in your car). But in my now time-restrained world, having technology that just works, and works well, I can see a definite advantage to that.

The decision to buy a MacBook came late last year while I was attending the China 2.0 tour in Shanghai.

I had left my 15.3″ lapmoster at home, as I didn’t want to be lugging around a big PC as we went from office to office for tours. However, when we sat down at our first stop and everyone pulled out a sleek little MacBook and began tweeting away – I was sold.

Coupling this Macenvy with the fact that I was growing tired of using online emulation tools to test Web design layouts on Mac browsers, and that I had given my old laptop to Maggie when I got my Dell last May, I knew it was time to take the plunge.

I had planned to wait until sometime mid-2009 to get one in Hong Kong, but in December my good friend Gin informed me that her school was becoming a “Mac school” and so was offering teachers (and friends of teachers) the opportunity to get a MacBook at the educational discount price.

The discounted price worked out to be only a couple hundred kuai more expensive than HK (at the local Mac store it would be a few thousand RMB more), and that the school offered a payment plan sealed the deal.

Having ordered it last month, poor Gin has had to endure me calling her several times a week with desperate “is it in yet?” questions. Finally she managed to get her hands on it yesterday – apparently having to fight some of the kindergarten teachers for it, as the full order hadn’t arrived.

The biggest difference I’ve felt thus far is that I’ve not yet had a chance to build my understanding of the Mac’s file structure. I was raised on MS-DOS, and so when Windows gave it a pretty top layer, it was a natural evolution in my mind, and I still clearly understood where things were.

But with the Mac, I’m starting at the top. I’m looking at the slick desktop and vaguely know that perhaps I should start with something called ‘Finder” – what I assume is the more practically-named cousin to Windows’ Explorer.

Once I get that sorted – it’ll be time for me to figure out how I can sync it with the plethora of data I have on my PC.

16 Responses

  1. Congrats on the new Mac! It takes a little tweaking to get things set up just so (or at least it did for me), but once you’ve got that done, you won’t be able to remember how you ever put up with Windows.

    Regarding the file structure: if you’re familiar with Unix, then the Mac file structure should be a piece of cake: the “Home” folder is really just /~user, since OS X is basically just the world’s best Unix/BSD distribution.

  2. Good move. A friend of mine recently took the plunge and asked me to recommend him some great software for his Mac. I put together the full list of software I use (link below), but a few to start with would be:

    Text Mate

    Recent Additions: Skitch, DropBox, and Flow

    Full list:

  3. I just can’t believe you were doing all this web stuff on a PC!! Well done!

    Please let me be the first to welcome you into the Church of Macintology. We’ll get those instructions for the secret handshake out to you once the background check clears. The tattoo is entirely optional.


  4. Cheers guys. I do think I’m going to have to get a mouse though – this trackpad thing is annoying (not strictly a Mac annoyance. Hated it on my PC laptop too).

    Re: The web stuff – there’s absolutely no difference between doing the design stuff on a PC or a Mac. Adobe products are Adobe products. 🙂

    I’m in for the tat.

  5. Sweet! It’s true that they “Just work” painlessly and smoothly. But now my white plastic MacBook is envious of all that aluminium-y loveliness!

  6. I am so envious of you right now. I mean (and you know this better than anybody Ryan) I know next to nothing about computers, aside from processing photos, I am a neophyte.

    Still, I want one … and the tattoo.

    Oh, and could I please have the Java Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee?

  7. Instead of huge 15″ laptop monsters or a way expensive macbook, i really like my Samsung NC10 10″ netbook. Super portable and with XP instead of Vista, it fast enough for anything.

  8. I’m glad it’s working out so well for you… now I want one too! Those IBM things the school gave us would be better used as boat anchors. I don’t think Ric’ll let me buy one, though he’s all over the fancy coffee and hybrid so maybe it’s just a matter of time.

  9. I still remember sitting with you at Bookworm and you giving me the brief anti-Mac spiel you have laid out above. Glad you switched over. If you can, learn Quicksilver. Hands down the best app ever created on a Mac or a PC.

  10. Also starting in MS-DOS world, Windows was always a confusion… Stick a copy of Linux on a VM and play around with it, fun.

    I must also point out that I also have a mac. I wear it on rainy days and stick my EEE in the inside pocket.

  11. I’m 2 months late to this, but Congrats on getting a Mac. Suggest get the Apple Care as well if you haven’t already, and hopefully never need to use it.
    Apple support in China is fcking abysmal.

    How are you enjoying the touchpad? My own experience with it is I didn’t like it at all, compared to the previous ones.

    Unix underneath is nice to have – if like me you are a cli kind of person, install Fink, Quicksilver was recommended above too, thats a given!, pretty much the only thing I miss from windows is View, List…
    For website stuff, Coda isn’t bad at all.

  12. Now a couple months in – still very much loving the Mac. It’s quickly becoming my “multimedia” computer, storing all my un-work related images/videos/etc.

    @Lawrence: I’m still diggin’ the touchpad. It’s lightyears ahead of anything else I’ve seen (that’s not a mouse – mouse still wins for sheer use-to-it factor).

    I, fortunately, got the Apple Care with the purchase of the computer and the school I got it through is now an Apple service centre (as they’re now an Apple school) so if I have any problems, I suppose I can go through them.

    Still not installed Quicksilver – will do that later today.

    Thanks to everyone for all the excellent advice here and at the CNET Asia: The Tech Dynasty post I wrote on it as well.

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