Dana Stevens

Ruminations of a software developer.
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I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

First, a brief historical interlude.  My first paying job in the computer industry was at a computer retailer in Tampa, Florida.  It was a small company with eleven employees, two store locations, and we built and sold clones, set up small networks, and enjoyed the high margins that a hardware retailer could get (20% and up!) back in the early 1990s.  Like at many small companies, we all did it all, and wore every hat there was to wear.  It was a fabulous time in the industry, and I developed an affinity for hardware tech.  I never got tired of building machines and troubleshooting hardware issues.  And even after many years now, I still love the hardware and still build my own rigs. 

I’ve gone through a number of notebook computers, and for me, the first question to consider when buying a notebook is: Do I want a smaller notebook with long battery life, or do I want big screen and horsepower (with the understanding that battery life might equal 25 minutes)?

My last notebook was a big Sony Vaio.  I made the decision that I wanted something in the 'desktop replacement' class, and it was heavy, large, and battery life was around 30 minutes.  and while I really liked the Sony hardware, the overall experience I had with the notebook was miserable.  The notebook came with no disks at all, and so I had to burn my own driver-backup disks.  Yuk.  Plus, when I actually needed them, months later, the disks didn’t work, and I had to call up Sony, where they cheerfully told me that I could order a set of disks for $99.  Nice.  Anyway, I used that notebook for a year and a half, sold it, and was 'without notebook' for a while.

Last week, I decided it was time to get portable again. I wanted something smaller this time, but still with enough juice for Visual Studio.  I had heard from quite a few developers that really liked the MacBook Pro, running Boot Camp/VM Fusion/Parallels in order to load Vista and (the all-important aforementioned) Visual Studio).  The machines certainly look cool, but is that enough to justify the premium?  To check it out, I went to Best Buy and tinkered with all the notebooks . . . which is an enjoyable afternoon all unto itself.  Then I plunked down my two large on the MacBook Pro 15.4" model. (My path to the dark side was complete!)

I must report that I really like this machine.  Not to get existential, but Apple just gets it.  After messing around with OS X, which is nifty, I partitioned the drive for Vista, installed that OS, and wondered how bad the driver situation would be.  After installing Vista, I inserted the Apple CD, and Vista immediately recognized setup.exe, ran it, which installed the Boot Camp software on Vista, along with all the drivers - - - even the ones that control the keyboard backlighting.  That’s just cool.  Wifi works, Bluetooth works . . . it all just works.  Dang, just like the slogan.  Credit where credit is due: the boys from Cupertino design a good notebook.

For a mouse, I picked up the Logitech VX Nano.  I use the MX Revolution when I code, and I just love the heavy, metal scroll wheel.  That’s the best feature I’ve found yet on a mouse, and the VX Nano has a scroll wheel just like his big brother.

All in all, I am one extremely satisfied customer. Now I’m wondering if I’ll ever buy anything except an Intel-based Apple notebook.  They rule. 

And as a historical observation, the camps of Apple Fanboys and the camps of Microsoft Fanboys were once clearly delineated.  It’s interesting that in recent years the lines of demarcation have blurred . . . to the point where Windows developers buy Apple notebooks to run Visual Studio on a Windows OS inside OS X to build code that gets deployed to Windows Server machines.

Print | posted on Monday, September 22, 2008 1:40 AM |

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# re: I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

Welcome to the club - I did it back in June, and have not looked back.

Let's face it, a LOT of us are doing our development in VMs anyway, so who really cares what the host machine is? And lets face it, there is some pretty slick stuff in OS-X (there is also a lot of slick stuff in Vista - each has it's good and bad - Apple printer support stinks)

I'll make this offer - don't be afraid to email me if you have questions

73 de KG2V
Charlie
9/22/2008 8:48 AM | KG2V
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# re: I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

I have a Dell, it just works. The thing's nearly 3 years old now and runs Vista and VS.NET 2008 and everything just fine. For the love of all that is rational in the world, when you guys write these articles about the Mac and talk about all the hoops you run through to get work done. Could you please give more detail on exactly why you think it's so great? Saying it just works is lazy.
9/22/2008 1:54 PM | The Other Steve
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# re: I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

No real hoops to jumpt through - I could have wiped OS-X, but I setup Bootcamp (which does the drive repartition - think non distructive Fdisk), and installed Vista64, installed the driver disk, and I have a dual boot PC - Vista/Mac.

Why then, did I go Mac? Simple - I had seen some reviews saying "best Vista laptop out there", and I saw a few running vista, and it worked

I decided to buy a refurbished Mac, and it cost me about what a Dell would have cost, and I get to test on Mono. So I have a Vista PC where I can test Mac software
9/22/2008 8:48 PM | KG2V
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# re: I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

Seems like you're enjoying buying these gadgets without even minding if it's too pricey or not. As long that you can use it wisely, then spending too much will not be an issue on your part.
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# re: I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

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