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Episode 3 – Can a PC Guy Become a Mac Guy?

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I'm finally a Mac guy. It took an extra week, and because of the delay, I've used the computer for about two hours when I started this story. That means there's not a whole lot of being a Mac guy I can talk about yet.

The reason for the delay – I wanted more RAM. Due to the way I planned to use the MacBook, I decided on 2 GB of RAM, but only the 80 GB hard drive. (Actually, I'm old enough that there is a certain amount of irony in typing "only 80 GB".) With a business trip rapidly approaching, I headed to the Apple Store last Wednesday, ready to spend. This time, I even dressed as the Mac guy — cargo pants and a black turtleneck, my homage to Steve Jobs.

That meant, of course, that I looked almost identical to the sales guys working in the store – except most of them had black t-shirts rather than turtlenecks. As I went up to the pristine, glass-topped table that held the MacBooks, one of the younger ones approached me. Since this whole process had already taken longer than I expected, I went straight to the point. "I'd like to buy a MacBook today — white, 80 gig hard drive, and 2 gigs of RAM."

At the last spec, his face fell. He explained that all the MacBooks they had came with 1 GB of RAM, configured as two 512 MB chips in the two available slots. The only way that the store could sell me the machine I wanted was by selling me the RAM in two additional 1 GB chips. I would have to take out, and keep, the RAM that came with the machine. In other words, I would have to buy 3 gigs of RAM in order to have 2. (As he said this, I began to think that Apple's small market share was no accident.) However, he went on, if I went back home and ordered online, I would get the machine configured the way I want, without the additional expense. He consulted a price list and told me that I would save over $300 by ordering online, and shipping would be free. While they are giving an estimate of one to three days before shipping, he said, it's probably going to be closer to one day. I guess Apple wants you to "Think Different" but "Order the Same".

For that amount of savings, I gave up on instant gratification. Not wanting to make the trip to the store a total waste, I decided to ask a few technical questions about networking, firewalls, and the like. That's when I discovered this sales person was a Clueless Fanboy. He knew next to nothing about networking or security, and anyway, you don't need security because "No one targets the Mac."

So I went home and ordered the MacBook online. It was Wednesday, around noon, when I hit the Submit button. I sprung for an extra $18 for two-day shipping. The confirmation email gave me a link to check my order status, and I began checking every four hours or so. It began to feel like waiting for Christmas, only you don't know what day Christmas would actually come.

Some time between going to sleep on Friday night and waking up on Saturday morning, the email arrived to say my MacBook had left the factory, and the estimated delivery date would be Monday. There was a link to FedEx that would let me know exactly where my order was. I clicked, looked at the details, and saw that yes, my computer had just left the factory. And the factory was in Suzhou, China.

China! Well, that made the estimated delivery date of Monday unrealistic. Then again, if the computer was already in the belly of a FedEx 747 winging its way across the Pacific, maybe they will be right. All it has to do is make it to Memphis by Sunday night ("Memphis By Sunday Night" almost sounds like it could be an Elvis song) so that it could be sorted onto the Cleveland plane, and maybe it could make it here by Monday.

More checking on Saturday and Sunday showed no progress – my computer was still in Suzhou. Google Earth located Suzhou as a suburb of Shanghai, although it may be a suburb of about a million people. I pictured it in a truck, stuck in a massive Chinese traffic jam. Monday morning finally showed progress. FedEx showed that the MacBook had been in and out of Anchorage, Alaska overnight and the projected delivery date was now Wednesday by 10:30 am. Well, that would be a week after ordering, but I was going to be working from home all day Wednesday, so I would be there to sign for the shipment.

By this time, I had settled on a name for the computer. We don't go for the commonplace here – the computer network does not go by Microsoft's suggested name of "My Network". Instead, the computer network is called Deadrock, and the computers, instead of being called Desktop1 or Laptop2, are all named after dead rock stars. The new MacBook was going to replace Morrison, and an even older laptop was called Janis. My current desktop computer is Otis, and my last desktop, now used by my daughter, is called Elvis. (I've already told her she can take Elvis to college next year.) There's also a Garcia, but he's temporarily offline. Since Apple the computer company and Apple the music company had recently kissed and made up, I figured the new computer should be called George.

By Monday afternoon George was in Indianapolis, and two hours later he was bound for Cleveland. That meant he may be here a day early. And Tuesday I was scheduled to work at a client's. First thing Tuesday morning I checked FedEx, and George had left the Cleveland airport for the FedEx facility. By 7:30 he was on the truck and out for delivery by 10:30. I told the client I would be running a little late, and at 9:30 in the morning, dressed as a PC guy, I was on the front porch signing for George. I only had time to take the white Apple box (almost like the White Album) out of the packing case before I had to leave.

When I got back later that afternoon, I unpacked George, plugged him into Deadrock and turned him on. After registration, he immediately called back home and downloaded seven updates, including the two security updates of 2007 and the Daylight Savings Time update. After one more reboot, I was finally ready to be a Mac guy. After an hour or two of exploring, I finally started looking for something that would let me write this story. Skipping the Microsoft Office trial for now (I didn't want my first real task on a MacBook to be done using Microsoft software), I found an application called TextEdit that was actually more like a mini word processor than a text editor, since it can check spelling and format text. So that's what I used to write this story – it even lets you save the file as HTML.

To keep this story entirely on an "eating your own dogfood" level, I'll use Safari to log onto the Blogcritics site to upload it too. Beginning next week, start looking for a review of the MacBook itself, along with the apps that come with it. Actually, here's the first review – there doesn't seem to be a backspace key, only a delete key. And the delete key acts as a backspace.

(Sigh)

I guess I'm going to have to think different.

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About Bruce Kratofil

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Well I want to be the first here to congratulate you Bruce!

  • http://www.istherefood.com Daniel Woolstencroft

    I’ll be the second then!

    The joy of owning a new piece of Apple hardware kind of makes me want one again…must…resist…

  • http://nukapai.typepad.com Nukapai

    Just got to say: I love your style of writing. Really engaging, informative and entertaining.

    As for the MAC versus PC… I’m not convinced yet. I’m a PC girl all the way, but I do now own an iPod.

    Still, let’s see how you get on with your new toy. Looking forward to the next installment.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Good read, and congratulations to ya.

    Did you ever find out if you would get a free upgrade to OSX 10.5 (Leopard)? I asked a CompUSA guy that last night and he told me Apple typcially goes back about 6-7 months for free upgrades.

    I know, consider the source…which is why I’m asking you ;)

  • Misfit

    I also switched to the Mac, although I have to use a PC for the majority of my work for the company I work for, but to answer your dilemma, the delete key has two functions. Backspace and Delete. If you use the fn+delete you get delete. if you use delete by itself you get backspace. Drove me crazy at first. This is only for the laptops. The desktops have two, yes two, delete keys, but one is a backspace and one is delete.

  • Bruce Kratofil

    Thanks for all the congrats, people.

    Daniel- don’t want to add to your Mac lust, but my wife says it almost has a new car smell.

    Pico – the sales people at the Apple Store haven’t been told; they said previously, Apple never announces the upgrade policy till they announce the actual shipping date.

    Misfit — thanks for the tip. I’ve been trying to figure out the little things on my own, but I just picked up the Mac OS X Missing Manual book to try to accelerate the learning.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Hi, Bruce–

    I’ve since phoned two Apple people and they’ve both said the same. Another thing they added is that in the past, the upgrade policy has applied only to those puchasing Macs about two weeks to a month prior. Everyone else will pay $129 to upgrade.

  • http://www.kevinhatfield.org Kevin Hatfield

    Congrats! I don’t think you will be let down. The new Macbook’s are amazing.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    I seriously doubt there will be a free upgrade to 10.5, unless it is bought within a *slim* window of the release of 10.5.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Bruce, I hope to read of your adventures with your new Mac here on BC! You know I started my personal blog in the same way – I got a PC and decided to write about my trials and tribulations (and let me tell you, there were trials and tribulations!).

    I ended up just plain frustrated, getting more work done on my old Titanium PowerBook, so I sold the PC.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    I nearly decided to get an iMac today, but I’m gonna wait a few more weeks instead. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check back in periodically to tell us more about your conversion.

  • reggie von woic

    No right click button–No thanks…

  • Bruce Kratofil

    Reggie –

    I just plugged in a USB mouse that I had lying around, and the right click button works, as does the scroll wheel (the scroll wheel works within Firefox, at least)

    I’ll need to check how the right button works in some of the iLife programs.

  • http://bacalar.blogspot.com Howard Dratch

    Congratulations! You will end up a happy Mac guy always dressed for artistic works and able to delete whole pages at a single bound.

    I, too, bit the bullet and replaced my G3 iBook with a Macbook Pro which I have been working at for a few weeks — very happily. After playing with dozens of pc’s with Vista, it is wonderful to have Tiger (Leopard is now said to be waiting for the summer, I heard) and very happy with the quality of the hardware.

    An employee here bought an HP for his son through Telmex’s contract (computer, broadband, credit and added to the monthly bill). It arrived DOA. The phone company refused to listen to complaints – not their computer and HP screwed around 4 months before actually giving him a new machine.

    I would have bought the more appropriately priced Macbook if only they had offered a 15″ screen (I was in the States to have one eye repaired of cataracts, the other next trip) rather than going down to 13″.

    Suggestion: try NeoOffice freeware for a Word-styled app (and/or Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets) and stick with Firefox and Camino for browsers. Safari is better than it was but still Safari. Onyx and Applejack also work well at cleaning the Mac, running maintenance chores, etc. and MenuMeters puts a lot of useful information on the Menu Bar. Xpad also lives happily on the Mac and gives you a really sophisticated alternative to Stickies — and is freeware.

    Welcome to the land of Mac and may all your dreams arrive on time and be user-friendly, even sexy.

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