Paul McAleer

Switching Teams

Paul McAleer

It has begun. I am coming over to the Mac side.

If you told me just one year ago - heck, even just six months ago! - that I'd be totally geeking over a Mac, I would have laughed you out of the state. Come on, me? Using a Mac? Macs have traditionally been at the opposite end of my spectrum. They are artistic, don't run Windows, and aren't cheap. They look different. They act different. They feel different, and I've been able to crash them with ease.

The thing is, my computing needs have changed. While I used to keep myself on a strict upgrade schedule I've decided that it's no longer necessary. Come on, do I need a 700MHz Athlon (which is a relative slug anyway) to do some of the things I do? Of course not. I know what I need in a computer and I'm totally sure that a Mac with OS X is going to give me far more satisfaction.

[An aside: For those of you interested in my experience with computers, well, I'll suffice it to say I've been using PCs since 91, and computers since 83. The very first computer I ever used was an Apple ][, but the first I ever had was a Commodore VIC-20.]

So the transition has begun. I purchased the new printer, and today received the 512MB memory (for $109, wow) and an external CD-RW. My 17" studio display is on order from Apple. The final piece, the G4 Cube, will be ordered within a week or so.

I'm actually excited about this. With upgrades on my PC, I had no reason to really get excited. Word would open faster. I could blow the dust off of Quake and see it run at 60fps or what have you. But the Cube is something to really get excited about. I don't think I've been this giddy about a computer since my Commodore days.

Update 6.19.01: I must say, ordering straight from Apple is nice. My new studio display is officially on its way! Now all I need is the computer....

Update 6.22.01: It looks like next week is the official changeover week. I put in the order for a Cube today after trying, in vain, to locate one locally. Cubes are allegedly being discontinued and new ones are near impossible to find. So I went back to the Apple Store and got a nice deal on a refurbished one there (saving me about $200).

The final thing to purchase will be a larger hard drive; instead of the 20GB in the Cube, I'm looking to get a good deal on a 60GB or 80GB. Once it's over, I'll be very pleased, and my wallet will be able to float on its own power.

Update 6.25.01: We're rollin'. The display is in, and you can see it above.

6.29.01: Day one with the Cube? Awful. Just not good. There's something wrong with either the unit (I'm suspecting it's the ballyhooed power switch sensitivity problem) or the power flow from my apartment's outlet (wouldn't surprise me.) In any case, I spent all of last night trying to get something going, only to have the system shut down or sleep on its own power when it felt like it. The real problem? It took the original 20GB drive with it! The WD simply died last night, and ended up being a clicker. So that's dead, in any case. The Cube? I haven't given up yet. There are fixes I'm going to attempt tonight but, if they don't work, I have to send it back. Grr!

6.30.01: Well, days two and three have been much better. As it turns out, my Cube was one exhibiting the infamous power button gasket irregularity. Things are quite swell right now, and I'm in the process of getting used to the machine. I'm also in the process of adding the majority of my music collection to the Cube - so far, I've got 17 hours of music and that itself takes up 1GB. Good thing I've got 76GB to kill, eh? 

As expected, site updates and the like will be limited while I get used to these new digs.

7.4.01: Amazingly, this happened yesterday. For those of you new to the site, please, poke around. Send feedback. Let me know what you think. In the meantime.... 

Things have been going swimmingly with the Cube. I've been spending much of my days recording CDs onto the hard drive, and I now have a day and a half's worth of tunes to listen to at will. Right now the only things I'm missing are the big boys: Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator... but that'll be taken care of soon. 

OS X feels very, very natural to me. The biggest bugaboos have been with IE 5.1.1 (not surprising); it likes to open Classic versions of Stuffit Expander instead of the X version. A little tinkering took care of that. 

Despite my initial problems and the discontinuation of the Cube, I still think it's a rather fantastic computer. The display is also very gorgeous.

7.5.01: This page has been picked up at Low End MacAccelerate Your Mac!, and AppleSurf. Thanks, all! 

One of the idiosyncracies in X I think it's going to take time to get used to... the obvious split between the individual's account and the whole system in the hard drive's hierarchy. For instance, by default, iTunes stashes its MP3s down in a Documents directory... yet sitting on my personal folder is one clearly labeled Music. Sure, I can reconfigure that, but out of the box I feel that has a lot of confusion potential. 

Software installs will be tonight.

7.6.01: Getting comfortable. I now have Photoshop 6 running under Classic, and the drivers for my SanDisk SmartMedia USB Reader (nice name) are working fine in Classic. The entire process of updating things like the phlog seems easier; dunno if this is an illusion or not. 

I really must take a moment to applaud the display, again. Photographs are crisp and bright; colors are spot-on. DVDs come through fine and, while the speakers are not nearly as loud as my old PC set was, they do put out a very good amount of volume with no distortion. 

I still find that some downloaded files are defaulting to their Classic associations. For instance, bringing up a few different types of text files causes BBEdit to run, instead of BBEdit for OS X... and, yes, starting Classic to do text editing is silly. I have yet to determine why this is.

7.17.01: Things have been relatively smooth with the Mac. The biggest problems I've had? Well, my install of Flash won't work in Classic... and Photoshop 6 under Classic has a strange problem. If I don't ensure that Pshop is the active application at the time of execution, it'll show up with no menus on the top of the screen. It's a consistent behavior. 

IE 5.1 Preview Edition is, now obviously, beta software. (I know, I know!) It occasionally freezes. The nice thing? Killing off the app is easy. 

My USB SmartMedia reader has no X drivers, but it works under Classic, which is fine for now. 

Yes, yes, this entry is negative. But overall I have been very pleased with the whole experience. I've been very impressed with the fact that Apache and PHP are built-in, so I now have a web server on my desk. Aqua is a fine interface, although it needs to be just a touch faster - 10.1 will take care of this, allegedly. My first couple of weeks with the Mac are encouraging and positive. I really dislike using NT at work, now.