John Topley’s Weblog

Life With A Mac

Hello! It’s John here. John Conners to be precise (from John’s Adventures fame). Way back in March John (Topley) wrote an article on my site titled ‘The Case For The Mac‘. At the time I was a lifelong Windows user (well, since Windows 3.1) and for as long as I’d known him John had been trying to persuade me to buy a Mac. As you can see from John’s eloquently written article, he made a very good case. Fast forward to April (only a few weeks later) and I wrote about the fact that I’d finally caved in and bought a Mac - a Macbook to be precise. At the time I was smitten since I’d just bought the thing and was overcome by the amazing styling and classy touches.

So here I am five months so later and I thought it was about time I wrote about my experiences being a proper Mac user. And what better place to do that than the blog of the man who made it all happen?

John Conners and his Mac

First of all, in true John Conners style, I went all out. I gave my Windows laptop to my wife, blitzed my desktop PC at home and that left me with only my Macbook to do my web surfing, emailing, Windows software development (more about that later) and any other computer related activities. And you know what? I’ve never looked back!

Moving from Windows to Mac OS X was a little tricky at first. I had to work out where everything was and what all the keyboard shortcuts were, but in no time I was moving around like a pro. I didn’t find myself missing the overly cluttered Windows taskbar and Start button one bit. I love being able to SSH onto my web server rather than going through a Windows app. I love the look and feel of Mac OS X, it seems to be much less cluttered than Windows and it makes intelligent choices about what you’re trying to do rather than badgering you with endless wizards filled with stupid questions. Being able to see all the windows for a current application at the same time (via F10) or all applications (F9) has now become second-nature and when I’m on a PC I really miss it. There are a hundred other things I could cite but in short, once I got used to the different operating system I started to love it and any time spent on a PC felt incredibly frustrating, as though it was trying to get in my way.

My wife’s less-than-perfect experience of her Vista laptop randomly restarting itself for ‘critical’ updates and it frequently failing to connect to our wi-fi unless I restarted the networking was in contrast to my stress-free life with my Mac where everything just works. In only a few weeks I had turned into one of these “you should buy a Mac” people just like John - evangelising Macs at every opportunity. (So far I’ve managed to get one friend to buy one - result!).

Having been constrained to the more business-oriented Windows machines I was suddenly free to be creative. I could take a bunch of photos from a holiday, turn them into a slide-show, put them on a DVD that my father’s DVD player could play. I could write and sing my own score without it sounding terrible (GarageBand has some effects that make even the worst singing voice sound reasonable), I could edit video clips and put them as a chapter on the DVD and do a host of other cool things. I could create and order an surprisingly high quality photobook (in fact our wedding photo album was made in iPhoto and looks fantastic). It’s possible to do all these things on a Windows box but you’d have to track down and buy the software, it would either cost a fortune or integrate poorly - whereas it all comes as standard on a Mac and works seamlessly together while actually making it fun to do so. I shudder to use marketingspeak but I really felt “empowered” for the first time in my computing life. And I still do.

I’ve bought a couple of books on the subject of writing software for the Mac. It’s a completely different language and toolkit to what I’ve used before but it seems sensibly organised and I’m enjoying learning something new - along with the user interface design guidelines which are quite different to the Windows ones. I’ve always been keen to try and create usable software and I feel that Mac software takes usability to a higher level.

As I mentioned before I still do my Windows development (plug: John’s Background Switcher) on the Mac using VMWare Fusion. Since my Macbook uses an Intel processor, Windows runs almost as quickly inside Mac OS X as it would do on its own. I have no problems at all using Visual Studio inside my Mac (which is still the best development tool I’ve ever used) and it means I get the best of both worlds.

I have an office in my house that I used to use whenever I went on-line. However now I just fire up my Mac while sitting on the sofa in the lounge and do what I need to do. From pressing the power button to firing up a browser takes less than 30 seconds - compared to several minutes on my wife’s Windows laptop (a couple minutes more if it won’t connect to the wi-fi). I think it’s fair to say that I love my Mac. From its beautiful curves to its sleek shape to the feel and sound of the keyboard. I know it’s wrong to feel love for an inanimate object but I do. I’d never say something like that about a Windows machine and I’d never go back to having one as my primary machine.

So thanks John. You showed me the light and turned me into an even bigger Mac fanboy than you! :)


There are 4 comments on this post. Comments are closed.

  • avatar John Topley
    04 October 2007 at 20:36

    Naturally I'm pleased to hear that it's worked out for you John and that you're enjoying your Mac as much as I am! I would have hated to have spent all that time going on about it to you only for you to have been disappointed.

    One of the problems with getting a Mac is that when you finally do come to realise how much better it is than the Windows you've been used to, you naturally want those around you to experience the same thing. You've had a kind of revelation and now you want to set your friends free too. Which is why I think people talk about smug Apple users and deliberately rebel against that, which is something I almost admire were it not for the fact that they're patently kidding themselves by thinking that their £299 Dell running Windows Vista is in any way comparable to say, an Apple MacBook. It is a form of zealotry really, but you know what - you and I have both discovered that they really are better!

    Incidentally, have I mentioned to you how great Ruby on Rails is...? ;-)

  • avatar John Conners
    04 October 2007 at 21:17

    Well I understand your frustration all too well now! And I'm telling you, I'll have a look at Ruby on Rails when I get a chance... ;-)

  • avatar WD
    05 October 2007 at 19:10

    First off nice article.

    If you have not tried Quicksilver yet give it a try and you'll wonder how you ever used a Mac without it. It also free.

    Here's a link to the talk the creator of Quicksilver gave at Google. It show some of the things Quicksilver can do.

  • avatar John Topley
    08 October 2007 at 07:32

    Don't worry WD, I've been extolling to John the virtues of Quicksilver too!

I shudder to use marketingspeak but I really felt “empowered” for the first time in my computing life. And I still do.


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