Topics include: programming, Apple, Unix, gadgets, large-scale web sites and other nerdy stuff.

Why should I get a Mac?

2005-11-16 19:31:20

A friend of mine is having some hardware problems. He explicitly asked not to be told to get a Mac. So of course I wrote him this email:

I've become a huge Mac fan in the past 4 years. Well, not really a Mac fan, but a Mac OS X fan.  I could care less about their beautiful but not necessarily much different hardware.

Mac OS X is the difference.  And not because it is more beautiful or elegant or anything than Windows.  I think that is largely a matter of taste.  I think it could be objectively argued that Apple does a better job of thematic and design consistency than Microsoft, but I don't think that really matters either when you are counting your dollars spent and hours used working.

Here then, are the big wins of Mac OS X over Windows:

1. the home directory.  It is very, very difficult as a Mac OS X user to put anything anywhere on the machine EXCEPT in your home directory: documents, preferences, music, EVERYTHING is there.  If you back up your home dir, you will not lose anything important.

2. installing == copying.  To install an application on OS X, generally all you need to do is copy the   application "file" to your hard disk.  That's it. (there are a rare exceptions to this).  And (here is the important part): since your settings, including license keys, etc, are in your HOME DIRECTORY, there is no registry synch.

3. there is no registry. The registry was a monumentally idiotic idea. The person who thought it up   should be retroactively fired from every job he ever had.

Minor wins that you are sick of hearing:

1. security: I've never installed anti-virus software on any of the 6 macs I have owned since 2001.  I have never had a virus.

2. uptime: my macs at home regularly go for 30-60 days between reboots.

In your particular situation, here's why the first 3 wins should make you never want to go to Windows again.  You need a laptop to do your business, so you should have two laptops all the time.  Nobody is going to be able to fix your laptop in a timeframe that you need.  So just buy two.  Keep one as a "warm" spare.  That is, turn it on now and then, download any system updates, maybe install a snapshot of your home directory backup on it.  Once a month should be often enough to give you confidence that the warm spare is still working.

Or don't keep a warm spare.  Just drive to the Apple store and buy a powerbook if/when disaster strikes.

So if your primary Mac dies (it will happen as often as your IBM: Mac hardware is basically the same as everything else), you just take out your spare mac, copy your backup home directory to it, copy your extra apps to it, and you are back up and running in between 10 minutes and 1 hour, the time depending solely on how many gigabytes of stuff you need to copy.  SOLELY.  It would take you 6 hours to do that on any moderately customized Windows.  At least.