After two decades in the PC paradigm, I’m going Mac.
I’ve been in the Windows world, with brief diversions into Linux, since before Windows existed: my first PC ran MS-DOS and I pasted on Windows 3.1 around 1994. Excluding ipoddery, my total time at a Mac keyboard totals perhaps ten minutes. At times, I’ve been anti-Apple; the silly fanboi culture that surrounds the childlike logo still puts me off.
Yet my order’s in processing and a maxed-out Macbook’s arriving early August. I find myself reading, with interest, articles headlined The Real Reason Macs Before 2011 Can’t Use Airplay Mirroring in Mountain Lion. (No, I haven’t a clue what it means either.)
The reason’s simple: that screen.
I’m a resolution junkie. On a series of 15″ laptops I’ve run 1600 x 1200 since 2003; since 2008 I’ve had 1920 x 1200 on a solid Dell workhorse that’s given the highest ROI of any machine I’ve ever owned (over four years of essentially all-day, every day use: thousands of hours and millions of words of copy put together in offices, universities, airports and coffee shops. I frequently have three full A4 pages lined up across Word; people squint over my shoulder and ask if I can actually read it. (Yes, I can; I’m a copywriter with the pixel-perfect eyesight of a young art director.)
Onscreen real estate is productive – which means profitable. Within reason (my reasoning I mean – I’m already beyond sensible limits) 2880 x 1800 will let me scan and dive into eight full A4 pages of text, even editing it right there at that res without having to play around.
Other choices come into play. In a world of Clouds and SaaS and Wifi there’s no real problem using a Mac these days even when most of your clients use PCs; I spend most of my time in Office and Outlook, which at present are actually a version ahead in the Mac world. And I’ve got a lot of obsolete software on my Dell I need to wean myself off; some applications are over ten years old.
I’m carrying baggage I don’t need. And if there’s one thing in life I hate, it’s baggage.
While another factor is Windows 8. I’ve seen it and it works great as a phone/pad operating system, but I’m less sure about its usefulness on my workaday laptop. Interfaces that look great in films or presentations (Tom Cruise waving his arms around in Minority Report) don’t work in real life; nobody wants to spend eight hours at a desk expending physical energy instead of intellectual, and Windows 8 is designed for touch, not typing.
The Mac will let me start afresh, a whole new perspective on space, time … perhaps even life itself. (I’ve heard that on a Mac you don’t need to “install” applications; you just drag them into a folder called… Applications. It can’t be that simple, surely?)
For this reason, I’ve decided to go the whole hog and use my new Mac as a Mac. (My original plan was to install Windows and use it as a PC: no real change in my working life but I gain beautiful new screen. Several reviewers state the best Windows laptop these days is… a MacBook.) But the only two hurdles – three if you count learning Mac stuff in the first place – seem leapable.
First, my ten-plus years of Outlook data (I live my entire life in Outlook; every day’s scheduled in two-hour increments and I’ve got colour codings for every client and activity) can be exported (I think). Might need to draw on some expertise from the Mac community – there’s probably more than one way to lug a 16GB .pst file into Mac Outlook 2011 – but I can’t believe such a thing isn’t doable.)
Second, the strong encryption I use (my hard disk’s scrambled at preboot level and the Pentagon couldn’t get in when the power’s off) has Mac equivalents hitting the market soon. (TrueCrypt, freeware that’s been well tested with the bonus of being open source, doesn’t yet encrypt beneath the boot on Mac OS, but it will soon – and it does everything else my PC crypto does, with much the same choices of hashing algorithms.) With the upcoming Mac OS (Sabre Toothed Polecat or something) a few other things click into place.
So, aside from keeping an old Windows 7 (or perhaps 8) on a Bootcamp partition for backup, I have no real reason to remain in the Windows world. It’s going to take some getting used to…. but perhaps not as long as I think.
I’m going Mac.