Home Tech Apple Anniversary: My Mac experience is eleven years old

Anniversary: My Mac experience is eleven years old

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I do own an eleven-year-old Mac, a G4 PowerBook, which sits on a shelf as a reminder of the day I forsook Windows. Every year on June 16 I dust it off and open the lid in a sort of homage to the sea change in my computing life. You hear many people saying things like this. But you seldom hear of anyone boasting of having left Apple to go back to Windows.

Before I was freed from the business-orientated Windows world I had had no opportunity to try a Mac. And I wasn’t all that interested, truth be told. Until, that is, a friend bought a Mac mini which was then selling for £299 (in 2005). He told me how he had connected an old monitor and keyboard and was in business with the Apple system within minutes.

 A port in any storm: Can we even remember what they are all for?
A port in any storm: Can we even remember what they are all for?

I decided I had little to lose. I could try it and, if I didn’t like it, return it to the glittering Apple Store in Regent Street. First, though, I had to go and buy the little computer. I was immediately captivated by the enthusiasm and general ambiance of the Apple Store.

It was worlds away from the cluttered and rather dingy general computing emporia in Tottenham Court Road that had been my habitual haunts.

I had never set foot in an Apple Store before and I was half convinced I’d like using a Mac even before I got to the Mac mini display.

Quick decision

After returning home with the mini in its little box  it took me precisely 24 hours to decided that the Mac operating system was going to be a big part of my future. Paradoxically, the friend who had persuaded me to try the mini took the opposite view. He returned his Mac and went back to Windows.

Not me. In fact, I was so enthusiastic that the following Saturday I pitched up back at the Apple Store to buy the G4 PowerBook to complement the desktop mini set up. And it wasn’t long before I was buying an Apple keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Using the Apple system removed a lot of stress from my computing life. No need for virus protection (I still don’t have it, despite dire warnings), no unexplained crashes, no repeated calls to reinstall the OS. In every way I preferred the Mac experience.

There was just one problem at the beginning—the absence from the Mac system of many of my favourite Windows programs. For several years I had to use emulators to run mission-critical systems, including my personal accounts program. It wasn’t until three years ago, eight years after moving to Mac, that I was finally able to ditch the emulator and concentrate entirely on Mac.

 I used to think this 15in PowerBook G4 was the epitome of traveller
I used to think this 15in PowerBook G4 was the epitome of traveller’s bliss. It now seems enormous (it is) and heavy (it is, all of 2.56kg)

Now, if anything, things have gone in the opposite direction. There is nothing (to my knowledge) that cannot be done on a Mac. The software market, bolstered by the admirable App Store, is vibrant and capable of meeting the needs of most consumers.

Committed

Today, exactly eleven years since I bought that first Mac mini, I am wholly committed to both the newly-minted MacOS, successor to OS X, as well as to iOS, with a doff of the cap to tvOS along the way. I held off buying the original iPhone but entered the market with the second version and have stuck with the iPhone ever since. Now I have a small iPad Pro to add to the collection. 

The greatest joy of the Apple eco-system is its uniformity, its seamless synchronisation of data and its relative security. There are new and growing threats out there (many of them coming directly as a result of the success of Apple in the past decade) but I feel more confident than I would if I were still using Windows.

Apple is often criticised for its nanny attitude in its efforts to protect consumers. Computer literate users sometimes rile at this over-protection but, for the vast majority of users, they do need to be protected from themselves if not from the wider world. Apple makes well-intentioned decisions on security which, by and large, are for the general good.

 Ten years is a long time in computing: Compare the 2015 MacBook with the 2005 PowerBook. Weight Watchers would be proud.
Ten years is a long time in computing: Compare the 2015 MacBook with the 2005 PowerBook. Weight Watchers would be proud.

Of course, Macs, iPhones and iPads aren’t without their occasional problems. Only last week I was describing how I had had to reset the PRAM on my iMac to get over an annoying problem. But, most of the time, things go well and I am able to get on with my work without worrying too much about the tools. And I know that if I have a real problem a Genius Bar is not too far away.

All this—the hardware, the operating systems, the security and the excellent after-sales service, makes Apple users feel as though they are part of a large club. I get the same feeling with Leica, for instance, but not with other camera manufacturers.

Macfilos

When I moved to Apple in 2005 I started to take a much greater interest in the tech world. I read blogs endlessly, listened to podcasts and generally educated myself in the world of Mac computing. It was a steep learning curve after a life with Windows. But three years after buying the Mac mini I was confident enough to start this blog, adopting the title—Macfilos—that seemed appropriate at the time.

Since then, while I have not lost my enthusiasm for the computing side of things, photography has rather taken over the blog. The London Mac User Group, which regularly reprints Macfilos articles, complain that these days I don’t write enough about Apple. So this little spot of reminiscence, on my first Mac’s 11th birthday, will go some way to keep them happy.

I have moved on, as is natural, but my Macs, iPhone and iPad are an integral part of my workflow and are essential for my photographic peace of mind. I am still interested and knowledgeable about developments in the world of technology but no longer have the white hot zeal of the newly converted. 

I should perhaps add a rider to this eulogy of the Mac system before the complaints start rolling in. My bad experiences with Windows ended in June 2005 and, since then, my less-than-positive views of the Microsoft operating systems have been preserved in aspic. They are no doubt now unfair. I can fully believe that things in the Windows world have kept pace with Mac developments and that owning a Windows computer or a Surface notebook these days is a far cry from when I had my last real Microsoft experiences. None of this is to suggest that Windows users are somehow missing out. It’s just that I found my spiritual home with Apple and have had no reason to question my decision.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Neither system is particularly logical Mike, since they are both alpha numeric systems, based on unix… The IBM operating systems barring DOS/OS2 (Microsoft) are much more logical since they are numerically based systems.

    The critical issue though is that IBM elected to continue in traditional vein and concentrate on business users who can afford the much higher prices and therefore maintain their traditional higher profit margins. They are still a massive company, still on the same track and us mere mortals want access to information and the internet, just like the corporations, so those two companies will have to do…

    As you effectively point out, with your purchase of another iPad, we don’t even have to know anything about computing anyway now, these objects are universally intuitive, just point and tap and everything is there.

    Anyway, I too am a Mac fan, my transition began in earnest in 2007, though I had tried a couple of Mac Mini’s and like your friend, returned them… My first had Tiger OSX 4.

    But since we are discussing anniversaries…

    Did you know…

    …That today, June 16th 2016, is 801 years and 1 day since the sealing of the Magna Carta?

    I believe that is the day that the French instilled our ‘British values" into our collective psyche’s. 😉

  2. As Napoleon knows, today is also Bloomsday, the 112th anniversary of day on which the events of James Joyce’s Ulysses took place. It is named after the main character in the novel, Leopold Bloom, and is celebrated in Dublin, where the fictional events took place, and around the world.

    Enough of this culture stuff ! Personally, I regard computers as just tools. Yes, ICT and, particularly, the smartphone have revolutionised the lives of millions as well as making business work in a much better way but I find it difficult to get enthusiastic about the things themselves. The real genius was in seeing what these things could do to change our lives and in making them do it. Also, the competition between Apple and Microsoft has been good for consumers but there seems to be a ‘natural order’ out there which dictates that once a certain level of market share has been achieved companies will start to dictate to the market and its customers. Hence, my affection for the companies themselves is quite circumscribed. As a former telecoms/ICT/competition regulator I know of which I speak. The main value is what the machines can do. All that being said, I went over to the Apple side about 6 or 7 years ago and I am typing this on my brand new iMac with Retina screen, which makes my photos look much better.

    I feel the same way about Leica. While I enthusiastically collect old Leicas, for the wonderful machines that they are, and I use modern Leicas for my current photography, I have a fairly neutral feeling about the company itself. I don’t abandon my critical faculties when assessing the company and its output. I always want them to do better and I am sure that Leica and, indeed, Apple and Microsoft management think the same way.

    William

  3. I had no predisposition to favor one system over the other; in fact, I am one to resist change…..no matter what aspect of life change threatens. At home, and at work, PC was the order of the day from the time Kilobyte was in more common usage than Megabyte when talking about memory space. I am just past my first year of Mac usage for all of my personal computing needs. The other day, related to the fact that a previous owner had not updated a newly purchased ten year old DSLR camera to the latest firmware- and also related to the fact that the manufacturers of said new/old DSLR had not updated the firmware download to accommodate current operating systems- I was forced to dust off my old Windows machine and use it to download and complete the update. I will now make sure that I keep that old machine for that purpose……and that purpose only.

    I agree that a computer should be regarded as a tool. But then, I have lost wrenches that I could not have cared less about, and then I have lost wrenches that I still miss today.

  4. Mike ,you have been overly generous to Microsoft in your final para.Windows has not improved.Windows 10 sets new standards for user unfriendliness.
    My wife has Windows 10 on her laptop and every time she calls the help desk- that’s me- my heart sinks. I find it almost incomprehensible. Like you as soon as I was free of the work Windows environment I switched to Apple and have not looked back.

  5. My experience, too, with the exception of the last OS upgrade which switches on "Photos" the my default programme, whereas I think i-Photo is much better for jpeg work. I know, I know – "get raw" they all say……. But I am more interested in composition with minor adjustments than extensive PP. So now I force quit Photos which leaves my iPhoto the freedom to take over the latest import. Hope I can export it to my planned new iMac later this year.

    • That is one annoying habit. I particularly hate the invitation to download to Photos every time I put in a new SD card (device). You have to unlink every device one by one. To some extent, Apple is falling into the trap of dumbing down. But, I suppose, this is what creates the appeal to the vast majority of users.

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