Something strange happened last year. I gave up my Mac. I started a new job at MIT. Picked the very best computer money could buy, a Retina MacBook Pro, and gave it away the first chance I got. My boss said I could buy a new one, but instead I just started using a spare PC laptop lying around the office. Something must be wrong with me.
When I graduated from high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, all I knew is that I wanted to do it on my Mac. I went to graphic design school because it guaranteed me Mac compatible employment, but when I came across the opportunity to work for Apple I took that road instead. Since leaving Apple I have been hired as a Mac expert at multiple jobs, but quickly learned the skills needed to become excel in a PC dominated world. At MIT I was hired to manage all of the technology for a single department, and have since been exposed to more command line, more Windows Server, and more Linux than ever before. Having a Mac on my desk is not nearly as important as it once was, and I find myself rising to the challenge of accepting any computer platform put in front of me.
Computers have always been a great equalizer for me. Being legally blind means I can’t do everything a normal sighter person can do. I can’t drive, have a hard time catching a ball, and often fail to identify people from more than just a few feet away. With a computer in front of me none of that matters, I can play the latest racing, sports, or shooting games with the best of them1. I can succeed in the virtual world where distance vision doesn’t matter and having a good memory for commands and hierarchy gives me an advantage. Macs were a great way to become accustom to computing when I was young, but now that I have been doing this for over ten years, I have seen the best and worst of most operating systems and have learned to appreciate all of their strengths and weaknesses.
I never thought I would say this, but running Windows isn’t that bad. You just have to know how to perform a clean install and stay in control. As soon as you get infected, or install too many programs it is time to perform a clean install and gain some of your control back. Windows might not have access to the best software anymore, but it is still the default standard for PC hardware compatibility.
Linux is an interesting opportunity to try out alternative user interfaces and applications. It gives you the freedom to install a limited set of open source software on almost any platform, but its hacked together nature is impossibly frustrating whenever difficult to diagnose bugs are discovered. My limited experience with Linux often leaves me reinstalling my operating system when difficult to diagnose software conflicts emerge.
Isn’t it funny how Macs now run the world’s best software, and are more compatible than Windows due to their UNIX underpinnings and ability to run virtualized operating systems? Back when I was a Mac user we had less choice, but valued the great Mac software that was available to us. Now the App Store is jammed packed with Mac compatible programs spanning every category. With new great software arriving every day. I still recommend Macs to my family and friends for their ease of use and invulnerability to malware. I wonder how long until the iPad replaces the Mac for future recommendations.
I am not leaving the Mac behind, in fact I plan on returning to it full time very soon. I just value my choice more now due to the experiences I have had. It is hard to know something is Insanely great unless you have tried out the competition, and continue to try out the competition in the future. Otherwise you are just a blind believer, and no one likes a “Mac Fanboy” especially if they are uninformed about alternative options.
Written on VIM from my Mac, PC, and iPad.)
Just ask Stephen Hackett how I play GoldenEye. ↩