Thomas Hawk Buys a Mac

Digital DJ

Well I’ve been hiding a secret for the past two weeks. It’s something that I’ve felt conflicted and unsure of, something that I’ve felt ashamed of and proud of at the same time. Something that I’ve been trying to sort out before I actually wrote about it. Most people will probably say, “yeah, big deal.” But for me it kind of is a big deal. I haven’t told very many people. I showed Robert Scoble last week but have been kind of hiding it otherwise.

A little over two weeks ago I walked into the Apple store in Palo Alto and bought myself a new MacBook Pro. Yes, the new sexy Intel dual core MacBook Pro. And I went home and after not using a Mac for over 15 years, put my Dell PC notebook literally in the bookshelf and have been using this new Mac as my primary computer for the past 2 weeks.

And what do I have to say about the experience after two weeks? My God! This is f***ing amazing! For the past 15 years I’ve pretty much been a diehard Microsoft PC guy. I’ve mocked the religious zealotry of the cult of Macintosh. I’ve derided the senseless brainwashing that Steve Jobs seems so elegant at.

And then I just did it, I went out and bought one. Maybe it’s a self destructive bent that I’ve got. Maybe it’s the need to explore something new. The move made me think about marriage. Was I simply trading in my trusty old wife of 15 years for the sleek slender new 19 year old model? Was I somehow doing this as a fashion statement? But the answer was no.

I was very frustrated with my Dell PC for a number of reasons. When I would edit photos on it and then upload them the color would be all wrong. I couldn’t disable tap to click. I tried to buy an EVDO card for it and it wouldn’t work. (I tried three EVDO cards actually and had to return them all).

The Dell had this habit that I hated. It would go to sleep and then I’d open the lid to use it and press the power button to activate it. Nothing would happen. A full minute would go by, still nothing. So I’d think that maybe it didn’t know that I pushed the power button and would push it again. Then it would come on only to immediately begin shutting itself down because I’d pressed the power button twice. There would be no way to stop it and so I’d have to wait until it fully rebooted to start using it. Applications would hang. It wouldn’t work on my network right. It would tell me that I had a wifi signal but wouldn’t connect without a reboot. I was constantly needing to install drivers and uninstall drivers. So many things.

And all along the way it was my 18 year old tech mentor Kristopher Tate, who kept saying, dude, just get a Mac. Just get a Mac. They just work.

And so I did. And I have to say that he’s right. It just works. It took about 48 hours of getting used to but once my little introductory awkward phase was over it just works so much better. It springs to life immediately when I open it. The new EVDO card I got works perfectly. It’s fast. The picture quality is very accurate. I can easily work in both Bridge and Photoshop at the same time on it while still having Firefox and Thunderbird and Skype and iTunes and jUploadr all open at the same time.

I did have a few hiccups along the way. It wasn’t easy to get it to work with my Windows network at home, but having Kristopher around as tech support has been a fantastic safety net. Every time I need to figure out how to do something he shows me. He helped me transfer all my old email from my old Dell notebook, settings and bookmarks, etc. over.

And then there’s the design of the thing. I never in a million years would have thought that the design of a laptop would ever matter to me at all. It’s not about the aesthetics of a machine. It’s what it does for you right? Well, maybe. But this machine is damn sexy. I love the way that the keyboard is lit at night so that I can work in the dark. I love that glassy screen. There is something about the feel of the polished aluminum as I hold, no caress, the thing in my hands. It types perfectly. I love how I can use two fingers on the touch pad to move my screen down. I love how it has a hidden built in microphone and a small little video camera in the screen so that I can do video phone stuff through Skype super easily. I love how the little power supply has a magnet built into it and just kind of plugs itself in. And yes, I even love that glowing little Apple logo on the back of the case that I’ve scoffed at in the past at the various conferences and tech meetups that I’ve gone to.

I used a Mac back in college and used them exclusively from 1985 or so until 1991. My past memories of the Mac are of the Mac Plus and the SE/30. With my first Mac I literally had to swap floppy discs back and forth out of the drive between the OS disc and the application disc because it had no hard drive. And then I went to work for a bank in 1991 and the Mac was definitely gonski there. I did ask for a Mac and they just laughed.

I figured that since I had to use a PC at work, I’d better use one at home too in order to best master the beast. And it has been a beast for me. As tech saavy as I like to think of myself as I’ve had so many problems with my PCs over the years. If using a PC is being outside working digging ditches all day long in the hot sun, using my new Mac is like hanging out at the spa.

I’m not really giving up on my PCs yet. I still do have four of them at home and two at work. But I imagine that I’ll be spending 85% or more of my computing time on this slender sexy new MacBook Pro in the future. I was going to buy a new CableCARD capable Vista machine in January but I’ll probably hold off on that a bit. I may still end up buying one but will probably do it later if I do. We’ll see.

Call me a convert. Call me a traitor. Call me a heretic. Or call me a fanboy. Welcome me to the club or say it ain’t so Joe, but all I can say is that Kristopher is right. It just works. And it feels so great while it does that. It’s the best I’ve felt about using a computer in a long, long time.

Update: Thanks all for the comments and thanks to the diggers who dugg this story to digg’s front page and to Apple Computer for putting it on A week later I’m still totally digging my Mac. Even more than ever. Here’s one other thing that I absolutely *love*. I love how no matter where you type on a Mac it spell checks everything for you. If I’m posting on my blog, if I’m leaving a comment on someone else’s blog, if I’m writing an email, if I’m doing anything with text it just constantly spell checks. And it doesn’t do it in a distracting way. No pop ups or spell checks or menus, etc. Just a thin red line under the word that is unknown and a simple right click to add the word to your personal dictionary or fix the spelling. That really rocks.

By the way, the Mac in the photo above is not mine. That’s just one that I took a photo of at the Web 2.2 party last month at Fluid. But it does show how very cool they do look.

217 Replies to “Thomas Hawk Buys a Mac”

  1. Have been using Macs since 1984 and the original 128K toaster Mac (which still works, BTW). Before that was the Lisa (still have 2 of them, but haven’t fired them up in years). Before that was the //gs, //c, //e, ][+, ][, and the original Apple 1 (all *still* in working condition, except the A1, which was sadly broken in a move). Started my career with the DEC PDP-11/23 back in 1976 (!) and have written software in everything from Fortran to Lisp to C/C++ to Assembler to Python. Have designed several embedded systems using ARM/x86/PowerPC/68K. Have written RTOS kernels and Windows device drivers.

    Of all the years I’ve spent in, on, and around computers, I must say that you will never separate me from my Macs. You can have everything else!

  2. Some quick points regarding SPSS:

    * The compatibility of stat software on Intel-based is a *big deal* for researchers and academics (in both the physical and social sciences), and it’s a big deal for many businesses that do data mining, quality control evaluation, and internal & external survey work. Many folks, in diverse settings, rely as much on their stat program as they do their word processor.

    * Justifiably or not, SPSS is one of the best known and more wildly used statistical packages. I agree with an earlier poster–it’s overpriced for what it delivers, and there are plenty of more attractive alternatives–but it’s what a lot of people learned stats on, and it’s understandable that they aren’t going to look favorably on having to change.

    * While you can’t get a guarantee on this from SPSS, many folks (myself included) are using the newest version of Windows SPSS (v15) under Parallels Windows XP emulation on an Intel Mac, and it seems to be working just fine.

    * I hope SPSS gets on the ball with this soon. My university uses SPSS in its student computer labs, and so I have to use it when I teach research methods, even though it’s not what I typically use for my own data analysis. Running it under Parallels emulation works, but it’s an annoying workaround.

    * For folks who have been using SPSS, this incompatibility issue might be a nice time to investigate other stat options that you hadn’t tinkered with or considered before. The SPSS hassle led me to try out JMP, which has great support on the Mac and is a pleasure to use in comparison to SPSS. (There are also plenty of more powerful options than JMP–R, SAS, and matlab come to mind–I just figured that the average SPSS user isn’t a statistician, and so they’ll want more hand holding and guidance than those packages provide).

  3. Old Mac user here. I’ve been on Mac’s since 1993. Every once in a while I’m forced into a Windows situation and I recoil in horror and frustration. I just don’t understand the devotion to Windows myself but that’s their business. If you don’t have the money to buy a new mac & you want one, buy a used mac off ebay. They’re very cheap and they usually always work. It will be a good way to introduce yourself to a Mac without having to spend a ton of $$$, then if you fall in love later, you can invest in a shiny new one. That being said I just want to add a couple of simple things that may help switchers.

    The key to making a Mac hum is keyboard shortcuts. Drag & drop features also are important to learn. Mac’s are so simple it’s really hard for a long time PC user to gear down to the ease of their use. I’ve read some of the posts complaining about right clicking and copying, pasting. They’re making it too difficult. To copy something to somewhere else, just drag the darn thing and let er rip! It copies itself onto whatever you drop it on. Simple as that. Apple C, V, X cut, paste, cut copy are some of the apple commands and the secret to controlling your mac, added with the ease of dragging things anywhere you want them. Drag icons to the dock of apps you use frequently. Don’t use it and it’s on the dock? Drag it to the trash. It’s all just so simple. The keyboard commands are listed on the right by the contextual menus, so you can learn what they are. Once you learn the commands, you’re going to fly. One poster above complained of minimizing windows to find a lost window, you can minimize all the windows at once and clearly see the one you’re looking for in Tiger, or toggle them to the front with apple ~. These complaints are just unfamiliarity with the commands & procedure. Once learned you’ll love your Mac.

    I like these computers not only because the quality of the screens is so much better to look at, but because I administer a little network and our employees don’t tear them up. One other issue I noticed someone was complaining about, the resolution was making his items too small on the screen, well then change it! It’s under the little blue apple>system preferences>displays . You can do that. It’s very easy. We’ve had a tech to our company 5 times in the 14 years I’ve worked here, and only once was it for a broken computer. The other times were for upgrading ram and cleaning dust off the insides. When we install a new network we give the old computers to kids or charity because they are always still working, they’re just outdated.

    If you do buy a Mac, be sure to always install the software updates, as they also help keep your Mac in good working order. There’s a few Mac maintenance tips you can use to keep your OS running smooth. We’ve had very few problems with Tiger OS 10.4. The updates usually address known issues and I think most of the issues with Tiger are pretty much tweaked, as far as I can tell. There is a glitch in Safari that freezes when printing. A work around is to use keyboard commands instead of the mouse when printing in Safari, but I don’t know of a fix. I thought it was in the last update but it wasn’t.

  4. Well, it was with great sadness that I parted ways with my Macbook this week.. My son now has it. At my great moment of look and despair, I purchased another Mac. This was a refurb from Apple. I got the Aluminum skinned, 20 in Imac. Oh wow! And I thought I loved my old Macbook! Cie La Vie Macbook- I love my new Imac!

  5. Hey dude πŸ™‚ I’m also own MacBook Pro. It’s 2009 17″ glossy version. I was working with PC’s since 1994 and when I saw an iMac in reality and spent about 10minutes with a Mac OS X I knew I was gonna buy one in the future. The design is one great advantage of Apple’s products, no doubt but the most important is the software for me. Easy, fast, clean, just works and regarding notebooks I can add that it works for a very long time on a battery.
    I was so amazed with Mac’s that I made at least 5 of my friends to buy a Mac before I actually did it πŸ˜€ It’s so fun to watch them as they discover that new better world. None of them would back to PC.
    Now I got my second MacBook Pro 17″, I also have 2 iPods and iPhone 3G and I can tell that I won’t ever turn my back from Apple. It’s just pure pleasure to use a Mac. I encourage everyone to try one of Apple’s computers. You won’t regret it.
    Take care!

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