Thursday, 26 March 2009

If I wanted an Apple Mac...

... where would I start?

I've used a PC for my entire work career. My only experience of Macs was at university, 20 years ago. I'm thinking that Macs have probably moved on a bit since then? So I look at the Mac range and have no idea where to start!

I'm kind of tempted, because the Mac is closer to my idea of what a well-designed IT system should be - i.e. that I don't need to be a geek in order to be able to use it. It happens that I don't think that I should know how my PC works in order to persuade it to do stuff. I've kind of acquired all the knowledge I seem to need over a decade of managing my firm's IT needs, but there is a nagging doubt that there is a whole load of stuff that I don't know about, which would therefore fall into the category of stuff that I don't know that I don't know - the most dangerous of the four categories. My experience of an iPod Touch has been revalatory; it is precisely how I imagined computing devices would work when I was a kid, except that I thought we would be wearing spacesuits and talking to aliens by the time they were that good.

But where to start? I don't even know basic stuff, like could I restore my PC files to a Mac?


  1. Just buy the box size and shape you like the best and wing the rest.

  2. Ahh! My kind of topic! Sorry for the length of this comment...

    Apple basically split their computer lineup into two sections - consumers and professionals. If you're a consumer, there's the Mac Mini, which is reasonably cheap but not very good value (you also have to buy a screen, keyboard and mouse - or use the ones from your PC), the iMac, which is an all-in-one computer (the whole computer, DVD drive and all, is built into the back of the monitor) and is AWESOME, and the MacBook, which is similarly awesome and (since it's a laptop) also portable - although it only has a fairly small screen.

    I have an iMac, and an old MacBook from a few years ago. Both are great, but unless you really really need a portable computer, it's tough to recommend the MacBook over the iMac. The 24" iMac is an incredible piece of hardware.

    Mac OS X is very different to Windows, that's for sure, and not just because the close button for windows is on the left instead of the right. The thing is, pretty much everything is just easier - and I don't mean that in an 'I find it easy because I've used them for so long' way, I mean that it takes care of most things for you. When you first turn it on, it will automatically detect available connections to the internet, like a wireless network, and use them straight away with no fuss. Your printer will work as soon as you connect it without installing a bunch of drivers or software. Digital cameras connect without hassle and will transfer pictures into iPhoto (the photo management app which comes with all Macs). There's a webcam built into the area above the screen on all Macs which will let you make video calls over iChat or Skype with no set up.

    Best of all, when you plug something into it, it doesn't leap out at you with bubbles saying 'you've added new hardware' or 'would you like to search for Unknown Driver for Unknown Device on the internet?' It really is the way computers are supposed to be.

    As for getting started, the REALLY swishy way to shop for a Mac is at an Apple Store. The Apple Stores are like Mac-Mecca. They're like paradises filled with all things Mac. And best of all, they have staff members call 'Apple Geniuses' who do tech support for anybody for free. You can even take your old PC in when you buy a Mac and the staff will transfer all your old files over and get you up and running, and show you the basics. Tis exceptionally impressive. It's shopping the Apple way - in some of the stores they don't even have checkouts: you just find a member of staff and they'll scan your items and take credit card payments while stood out on the shop floor, then you walk out with your purchases. Feels just a tiny bit like shoplifting.

    If you can't get to an Apple Store it's not hideously complex anyway. The online Apple Store does free delivery, and is sometimes extremely quick (my Dad once ordered a computer in an afternoon which arrived the following morning - but equally I've had to wait nearly a fortnight before now, too). If you know your way around a PC it's not hard to shift your files across and get set up on a Mac, and there's very little that isn't compatible nowadays. What's more, any Mac can also run Windows if you want it to, so if there's some applications you can't live without on the PC (Microsoft Money is a typical example) then you can still run them on the Mac - it just requires that you restart the computer to switch between OS X and Windows.

    Anyway, I hope all that helped a bit. I'm a fairly devoted Mac fan, but I think that's for all the right reasons. If you do live near an Apple Store it's really worth wondering down and seeing for yourself.

    ...OR, do what Blue Eyes said. Come to think of it, that's probably a better idea...

  3. 'would you like to search for Unknown Driver for Unknown Device on the internet?'

    ROFL! (yet, somehow, disturbingly familiar!)

    Thanks, both. Will have a think and a read when time permits.