A word on switching to Macs from a former Windows geek

John's iMac looks a lot like this

Ah, simplicity.

I had my first computer in the house when I was 6 years old. I remember DOS. I remember Windows 3.1 and that cool skiing game. I remember how if you veered off course too far a monster would run up and eat you. I remember playing Wolfenstein 3D and Doom with my mom. She would walk around, and I’d keep my finger on the Fire key. We’d kill nazis and hellspawn together. It was cute.

And it was all Windows. I don’t think I had any real experience with Macs until high school when I took an introductory graphic arts class in a lab filled with ugly-ass turqoise iMacs. By then I was quite a clever lad (read: nerd) and knew how to put together basic websites and troubleshoot most common computer problems. I knew how many bytes were in a megabyte. I knew how to get the computer to boot in safe mode. All that shit.

Through the years I learned more stuff as I needed it, to the point where I knew not only how to fix most problems with my computer, but how to avoid them to begin with. I wasn’t one of those people who’s computer would run slower than a stoned sloth after owning it for only two years.

So I thought I was smart, and that fixing Windows often ridiculous issues was “challenging” and fun.

Horseshit.

By now I had plenty of experience with Macs, using them often at work and in school. I thought their simplicity of design was a weakness, and that only computer noobs needed everything so blatantly spelled out for them.

That was, like, really stupid.

I had always heard that artists use Macs. Anybody who opens Photoshop on a regular basis, or works in video or graphic design has that bitten apple somewhere on their desk. Nobody could really ever tell me why, and to date I haven’t really heard a satisfying answer. Most of the technical issues that people bring up are outdated details that Windows has certainly caught up on now in 2010. So I never bought the argument that I needed a Mac because I was an artist. I don’t think you should either.

But I finally did buy a Mac because I wanted to get experience editing video on Final Cut Pro, which is a Mac-only software and it’s one of those things that if you know how to do pretty well, you can make some sweet bank without even really leaving your house. I am a major advocate of anything that does not require me to wear pants.

Now for the past two months or so, I’ve had a shiny and sexy brand new iMac sitting on my desk. I got the small one, the 21 inch, but it still dominates my desktop and is plenty large enough for my purposes. And you know what’s happened in those two months? I’ve been more productive than I ever have been on a computer. And this is why I think you should make the switch.

The best thing Macs have going for them is the best thing your microwave has going for it: it just. fucking. works. always. And the reason it just works is because of fantastic, brilliant, excellent, stellar, state of the art design. There are few things in the world designed better than Apple products, and I’m talking inside and out.

Using my iMac is an experience much like driving a car. After a while, you don’t even think about it anymore. The computer just disappears and you focus only on what you want to do. It becomes more an extension of yourself than a machine you’re controlling. It’s just one modern-looking object sitting on my desk with a power cord. Like a fucking iron. There’s no tower humming under the desk. There’s no glowing obnoxious blue LED telling me the computer is on like I’m a moron. It’s just there, and it works, and it doesn’t even make a sound. The keyboard and mouse are connected by bluetooth. No wires in the way. All the ports are on the back, neatly arranged and out of view. And when you leave it alone for a while, the screen dims and eventually goes off. The thing goes to sleep like a cute little baby on a long car ride.

Inside is just as good. The OS is brilliantly simple. When I first got the Mac, I assumed that it’s iLife programs wouldn’t be sufficient for my superior elitist geek lifestyle, but I was wrong. I use the included Mail client every day. It’s got everything I need. I use iTunes. I burned my submission to the Aspen Shortsfest on iDVD, and when I’m feeling stressed out there’s no better therapy than toying around in GarageBand and seeing what I can come up with.

You know how I’m typing this right now? I’m laying on my bed across from my desk, with my feet up on the computer chair and the wireless keyboard on my lap. I can see the screen because by just holding the control key and scrolling up on the mouse, the OS can zoom into anything on the screen. No dumbass program needs to be running in the background. It’s just something the OS does and when you’re trying to show text to someone across the room, it’s such a brilliant simple feature that you wonder why it wasn’t implemented into every computer a decade or two ago.

So I wanted to write this because I figured you may be in the position that I was a few months ago. Always “Mac-curious” but writing them off as childish computers that are beneath your supreme Windows mind. Listen. A Mac will improve your digital life by just getting the fuck out of your way and letting you get to work. Every single day. It’s designed 100% with getting shit done in mind, and that’s what you want out of a computer. And it’s a joy to use to boot because everything is so damn simple and obvious. Even if there’s an option or feature that you’ve never had to access before, you can make a wild guess at where it is and probably be right. That’s called intuitive design, and it’s something Microsoft is only recently starting to pin down.

Later tonight I’ll probably be on Facebook, as I usually am. That’ll take up about half of my screen, and on the other half I may have youtube or some other movie playing, because I have plenty of screen space and resolution for both. iTunes will be running, all the time, even if I can’t see it because I closed the window. The computer will never slow down, even though it’s been on for over a week. When I go to bed I’ll just get out of my chair and leave the computer exactly as it was. In a few minutes the screen will dim, and later shut off completely. The iMac will reduce its energy consumption (which is low to begin with) so as to make a pretty negligable difference in my energy bill. My little baby iMac will have its precious little iMac dreams and do whatever the hell it does with the RAM and the hard drive so that everything runs smooth as silk when I sit back down the next morning.

So I’m telling you. Get a Mac and get to work. You won’t regret it.

(And don’t let your urge to break Justin Long’s face with a shovel deter you from switching. I’m now a Mac, but that urge is still strong as ever.)

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