January 07, 2008

My PC is 45% better than my Mac....

So I bought a Macbook recently.

"Big deal" you say.

Well, actually, it is a big deal. For me anyway. You see I'm a dyed-in-the-wool PC guy. I've had them for years, built them out of bits and pieces and generally screwed around with them to my hearts content.

But I'm also Microsoft agnostic - which is why I run Open Office instead of Microsoft Office, etc. etc. etc. So I actually don't like the bloated, overly complicated, resource heavy operating systems that our good friends from Redmond regularly throw out. However, I'm also a bit of a skinflint, which means I'm willing to take the pain of struggling through the 'Morass of Microsoft' rather than paying those extra bucks for the shiny new Steve Jobs offspring, the Mac. I coveted the Mac from afar though

Until now.

I recently had the opportunity to purchase a new laptop. Normally I would have gone with a cheaper model that gave me what I wanted. But this was one I was buying for my business so it had two things going for it 1) It had to be respectable enough to be seen in front of clients 2) I could offset the cost against tax.

So, with some trepidation I heading down to the nearest Apple store (almost 30 miles away) and wandered in.

It was packed. Dozens and dozens of people wondering around, playing with iPods, iPhones, Macbooks, G-whatevers. Very cool. But could I find anyone who was helping? No I could not. I checked the 'sales desk' at the front only to find there wasn't one! Very wierd. Then I realised that some of the folks actually playing on the machines were sales assistants. They wore geek clothes like lots of the other people in the store and hardly stood out at all. Very wierd.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I bought a Macbook. White, 2Ghz. Very pretty. Very cool. I also bought Parallels because I had a need to run some key Windows only business software (Provision).

Then I got it home and started playing with it.

And it's really really cool. It has instant wi-fi detection to identify and attach to unsecured wireless networks (However this isn't much good as I'm not wireless enabled yet and still have my old PC attached on my broadband connection). It also has this cool browser called Safari (But as I'm not conected to the internet - see previous point- it's not much good) and a great little chat app called iChat which is fabulous for contacting friends if you're attached to the internet (which I am not). It came preloaded with Microsft Office for Mac, which I have removed because it's Microsoft, and Pages (which is the Mac version). It also came with Photo Booth which takes pictures using the in-built camera and allows you to manipulate them with effects such as 'squeeze' and 'stretch (My sisters three kids got a great kick out of that when I took it up home at Christmas).

However, whilst it looks good and the interface is awesome, I just can't use it.

It would be better, of course, if I connected it to the internet, but until I get wireless (or a router that supports more than one connection cable) I'm stuck. I can't use any of the software supplied because - frankly - whilst it looks good and works briliantly, when am I ever going to need an application that makes my head look like a Tefal man? (That's an esoteric reference for those Brits who watched television in the early 80's..).

The fact of the matter is that in order to make my Mac useful I need to either make it connected or add a Windows environment to it. And though it pains me to have to take that step, I installed Parallels, added my XP environment over it and installed my work software. It went flawlessly.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Mac. It looks cool, clean, stylish and sleek, It's UI is awesome, but it's just an 'expensive' toy at the moment. Maybe when I get my place wireless enabled it will become more useful. But at the moment it looks like my PC is 45% more useful than my Mac.