Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why even consider a Mac? (Part 1)

There was a time not so long ago that I, with almost a religious zeal, professed against Macs even at the mere mention of one. They seemed to be all about form and very little about function. Steve Jobs was a sworn enemy of the open, capitalistic world of cheap "IBM compatibles" as they used to be called.

To be honest I think I had good reason for my zealotry back in the day. Things really were a lot different back then, and I'm sure my youthful arrogance didn't play into it one bit... ;). While I'm feeling a bit nostalgic I'll take a trip back to memory lane my sophomore year of high school.

I was a recent transfer student. I wanted to take a computer related course if the school offered one... Sure enough it did. An intro to programming if I remember right. After the very first class I had a negative experience. Prior to my transfer (from a small island in the Pacific where I spent my first 1.5 years of high school) I had self taught myself on a Packard Bell 386-16mhz. In addition to having maintained a computer bulletin board system for several years, I had also picked up BASIC on MSDOS and a flavor of C scripting due to my favorite terminal software, Telemate. I was in the process of learning Turbo Pascal which I considered a much more powerful and interesting language (especially compared to BASIC).

Much to my disappointment, the class was not only on BASIC, it was a stripped down version for the Apple (or Mac, I don't recall). I thought "why not give it a shot" and started coding the first assignment, which was to simulate 10 frames of a rudimentary bowling game. As I was grudgingly typing up my masterpiece the teacher walked by--either shocked or awed after beholding my work-- and loudly proclaimed that I was clearly a structured programmer, noticing that I was indenting my code in the c/pascal style. It probably went to my head a little bit, and not long after that I decided that I would rather pursue my own thing in Pascal than stoop down to BASIC again. In the back of my sub-conscience a seed may also have been planted- from then on, all things Apple were second rate, inferior, and possibly even subpar. I know it sounds like I was throwing out the baby with the bathwater but I was in high school and I knew everything!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand... I have since done a complete 180, and am now blogging about my new MacBook experiences-- even evangelizing them on the Internets. (As a side note, it is purely coincidental that I chose the 10th anniversary of a tragic event for my first few posts on the subject- I am neither that delusional or narcissistic, it just worked out that way).

So what was my reasoning after all these years? Well, the answer is complicated but it starts out pretty simple. It didn't happen overnight. It was more of a process. A somewhat subtle, but not too surprising process. It all started with the IPad.

Once again I must take you back to explain. Ever since high school, I managed to ignore just about everything Apple managed to come out with-- easily dismissing it as dumbed down technology for the masses. The introduction of the iPod only seemed to reinforce that perception. It was hard not to notice the commercials with the sillhouted characters gyrating to their "music" in ignorant bliss as the quintessential white earphone wire dangled. Whenever I saw the commercials or stopped in for a Starbucks and looked around I usually chuckled to myself and thought "IPods are the Opiates for the Unwashed". (Admittedly, I can't say my opinion on that has changed too much- I am still a Zune user after all).

But the iPad was different. Of course, I was initially a skeptic and even imagined yuppies walking around with a 10 inch "cell phone" glued to their ear while driving as the next big thing. Fast forward to the release date back in April of 2010. A few colleagues at work had gotten in on the madness and brought them into work. After seeing it in action I couldn't believe what I was looking at. I had been using a netbook at home to do some basic web surfing and it couldn't hold a candle to the beautiful screen of the iPad. And there were all those apps!! I knew it was love at first site and nothing else mattered, including my former lowly opinion of Apple. Armed with an inexplicable compulsion, it wasn't even a week later that I found myself hunting one down at Best Buy. (Back story on my first year of owning an IPad may be a future topic - I almost gave it up, it was a love/hate relationship for the first 6 months or so)

So what does this have to do with "going to the dark side"? Going from IPad to MacBook Pro is a big leap. Or is it?

Stay tuned for part 2...

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