I've never really considered myself a tech guy. I get very little pleasure from the knowing the inner-workings of my computer and I don't put much importance on having the latest, fastest, or most impressive gadgets. For me technology is a means to an end, whether that end is better photographs, word processing, quicker access to information, or the ability to communicate more easily with the people that I care about.
As my interest in photography, and the subsequent editing that all good digital photography involves, has grown over the last couple of years, my computer's ability to handle images has become more and more important to me. So when the time came to buy a new notebook, I chose to venture into the previously unfamiliar territory of Apple. While no doubt there are exceptions, Macs seem to be far and away the preferred option for photographers, graphic designers, artists, or anyone dealing extensively with images on a computer.
However, the company and many of their customers also struck me as insufferably self-congratulatory. Apple products of the past several years have been designed to look svelte and iconic, placing high value on simplicity and clean lines. While few would argue against the statement that Apple makes a nice-looking machine, the previously mentioned more visually-oriented users don't let anyone forget it as they bop around the usual hipster hang-outs, fully accessorized with American Apparel hoodies and white Apple earbuds. There is nothing wrong with having an attractive, functional computer or portable music player, but it's odd to me that doing so would become part of a person's identity to the extent that they would affix a little white Apple sticker to their car.
I also hesitated to buy an Apple product based on previous, if limited, experience. The times that I had been stuck using a Mac in the computer lab at college or checked e-mail on a friend's iBook, I always found myself totally lost amidst the “intuitive” operating system — Wait, how do I change the printing preferences? Where did my file just save to?
But I made up my mind to take the plunge, and in January of 2008 I scraped together my small amount of savings and Christmas money and purchased a black MacBook. So far I've been happy that I did, for the most part. After a few weeks, I had the hang of OS X. It isn't more intuitive than MS Windows — it's just different. It certainly looks nicer, and there are things I've grown to love such as the Exposé feature and the greater resistance to viruses and malware.
I can also say that the OS at least feels more solid and stable than the PCs that I've used in the past. I haven't lost huge bodies of work because of a program crash and I've almost never had the system freeze up. This is significant for me, because I just want my computer to do what it's supposed to do without a lot of extra effort. It's enough work to become and expert on whatever task that I'm trying to perform on my machine without first having to become an expert about the machine itself and its operating system.
Next time: The cracks begin to show … and venturing into 3G territory …