How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

Summary: Remember that old Joan Jett song, "I Hate Myself for Loving You"? That about sums up my relationship with my new Mac.

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I thought about calling this post "How a FOSS advocate ended up loving a Mac with Windows 7 running in a virtual machine and a thousand bucks worth of proprietary software cranking alongside it," but it was longer than headlines should generally be, so I figured I'd just steal from Browning for a title. She wouldn't mind, although her classic sonnet doesn't manage to capture the mixture of love and self-loathing that my Mac manages to conjure up.

A bit of back story: I just scored myself a new MacBook Pro this week, courtesy of a sweet lease deal and my oldest son's need for a Mac for college. I've had Macs before and they've been perfectly fine computers, but it wasn't until Apple gave me a long-term loaner that I started seeing that they might actually be worth their inflated prices.

The MacBook Pro I'm using (a 15" Core i5 with their high-resolution, non-glare display) came in around $2100 with their business discount. My son's, with a Core i7, upgraded graphics card, and the full-glass high-res display topped out at over $2400. Not pocket change. Nor was Adobe CS5. Or Windows 7. Or Office 2010. I didn't spring for the $39 to get VMWare Fusion, instead opting to run Windows 7 in VirtualBox, but running VirtualBox, Chrome, and Firefox hardly put me in Richard Stallman territory. It wasn't all that long ago that I raised the open source software flag daily and ran Ubuntu as my primary server and desktop operating systems. They were free and worked brilliantly. Why pay for software? Or for expensive hardware, for that matter, when commodity hardware will do the trick?

Because, when it comes down to it, I need to be hyper-productive. I have work coming out my ears (I'm not complaining in this economy, but I believe a deliverable for one of my clients actually did just go straight past its deadline and right out my left ear) and, increasingly, my work involves creating both written and visual content for a variety of platforms. I make my living in front of a computer and that computer better be able to do everything I ask of it, even if that's editing photos in Photoshop, producing audio podcasts, creating the PowerPoint deck to end all PowerPoint decks, or just let me type effortlessly for hours. The Mac does all of that wonderfully in a tough package that I'll have trouble breaking.

I did mention a healthy dose of self-loathing, though. Why? Because Steve Jobs is evil, the Mac ecosystem is closed in ways that offend every open source sensibility I've ever embraced, because the very core of the Apple profit machine is so closely related to Linux whose developers donate their time for the good of IT-kind, and because the very system I love is one that I can't recommend to the cash-strapped schools for whom I consult. And because the back-lit keyboard is so good that I can't help but write flowing run-ons like that one.

Even Apple's announcement surrounding whatever new Apple TV coolness they're unleashing today is cause for this little internal conflict of mine. Yay! I have a MacBook running Snow Leopard, so I can watch their announcement streaming live! Boo! They're requiring that everyone who wants to watch the announcement have an updated Apple product while still claiming to be using open standards. Yay! Their new streaming technology is going to improve video quality and bandwidth consumption! Boo! It's a closed implementation. Ugh.

And yet you don't see me not buying the Mac on principle, do you? No, her siren song is too strong. And I'm getting too much work done on the only platform where I can legally run OS X, with its fully integrated suites of iLife and iWork applications and snappy performance, alongside Windows 7 and Office 2010, seamlessly integrated through virtual machines, alongside Ubuntu running as a test and development environment for web applications, alongside the best graphics and content creation software that Adobe has to offer. And where I can compose run-on sentences that just never seem to end.

This video probably says it all better than I can. And Joan Jett is way better looking than Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Virtualization, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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113 comments
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  • There. Sometimes writing can be good therapy.

    I hope it helped and, seriously, good luck with your new equipment.

    Much success.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

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      lincc263
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    • Macs are the most versatile platforms

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      I am about to buy my third Mac, this time for my wife. I won't be buying a MacBook Pro to replace her aging Sony laptop that runs ubuntu 7.04. She'll get an inexpensive 13" MacBook ($849 after rebate with 2GB RAM that I will upgrade to 4 GB from the DDR3 RAM sticks I have after upgrading this MBP to 8 GB) but it will run Snow Leopard and ubuntu (or maybe Mint) in a boot camp.

      My MBP runs Windows XP Pro in Boot Camp (production), Windows 7 Pro with Office 2010 (test and eval) and ubuntu (code devel) as VMs and of course Snow Leopard (graphics). That's pretty much all the OS choices anyone could want. And yes, they all are used and sometimes simultaneously.

      Some one on this thread suggested buy an HP i7 for $1800. I have to ask, why? You're getting much less hardware features from a company trying to squeeze every last bit of margin in their all out war with Dell that is preloaded with piles of crapware. What a great deal - NOT! You can buy a very capable MBP for the same price. But I guess if your bound to Windows apps and need Windows, you'll still have to buy it too but keep in mind that you're buying it from HP anyway and in either case you will need to buy Office as well.

      Since all of my work is done on a computer, I don't see the additional cost as anything more than an investment (that you can write off in most cases) in increased productivity, which enhances the bottom line and pays for the investment rather quickly. People that whine about $2300 (new MBP) versus $1800 (HP i7) really can't afford the $1800 in the first place and should perhaps stick with that POS Vista machine they invested in a few years back.

      Fortunately, I didn't waste a penny on Vista (saving more than the difference in costs) and didn't buy Office 2007 until MS introduced the Tech Guarantee which got me the upgrade to Office 2010 for free. Oh and BTW, the Ribbon does stink. Thanks for asking...
      jacarter3
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @jacarter3
        If you are happy. Good.
        P.S. I don't have anything good to say about HP. Avoid like 'the plague'.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • Is it any wonder why people think Mac users are arrogant?

        @jacarter3: [i]People that whine about $2300 (new MBP) versus $1800 (HP i7) really can't afford the $1800 in the first place and should perhaps stick with that POS Vista machine they invested in a few years back.[/i]

        Here's a prime example why.

        [i]My MBP runs Windows XP Pro in Boot Camp (production), Windows 7 Pro with Office 2010 (test and eval) and ubuntu (code devel) as VMs and of course Snow Leopard (graphics). That's pretty much all the OS choices anyone could want. And yes, they all are used and sometimes simultaneously.[/i]

        If the Mac is so wonderful why the need to run XP?
        ye
      • @ye

        because most of the world is married to mediocrity, and the rest of us have to accommodate it from time to time.
        frgough
      • Then I suggest it is the Mac that's mediocre.

        @frgough: [i]because most of the world is married to mediocrity, and the rest of us have to accommodate it from time to time.[/i]
        ye
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @ye
        Ahh flame wars :) Why are you hung up about his need or desire to use XP? Sounds like he's a developer and needs to develop for it, or perhaps run certain Windows-only software he needs, like Visual Studio, and is giving Vista a wide berth. I have a Mac and a Dell Inspiron E521 with Vista; the Dell is all but unusable now, as Vista grinds my AMD64 to a near standstill, even with a fresh profile. Windows 7 would be nice on it, but I am not about to pay for it now I have a Mac, the best damn PC I ever owned, both in terms of hardware and software, even if it is enclosed and only the RAM can be easily upgraded. OSX is a joy to work with in every way that XP, Vista or Ubuntu (and numerous other Linux distros) never was, at least for me. The keyboard is the best keyboard I've ever used even. I could use another mouse, though.
        msandersen
      • Because he said "Production" for XP.

        @jmsandersen: [i]Why are you hung up about his need or desire to use XP?[/i]

        Which implies he's doing more than development on/for it (given he said test/evaluation/development for the other alternative OSes).

        [i]OSX is a joy to work with in every way that XP, Vista or Ubuntu (and numerous other Linux distros) never was, at least for me.[/i]

        Yet almost everyone who says this has some version of Windows installed. Go figure.
        ye
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @jacarter3 I would suggest you are simply ignorant of how to buy decently priced equipment. There is no Mac laptop that has better hardware than a readly available laptop from several manufacturers for around $700 max.

        Just a note to the author tho, thank god you aren't Andrew or my faith in ZDNet would be totally shaken beyond repair haha. Since it's not Andrew, I can take this silly post with a grain of salt.
        mlbslugger
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @jacarter3 Yep, you're Stevie's dream customer; thrilled you didn't "waste" a penny on an MS product, and using a way overpriced HP for comparsion. Nice job of rationalization, Steve would be proud.
        garyleroy@...
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @jacarter3 Can't see the difference between the i5 and i7. Can barely see a difference between the i3 and the i5. Otherwise, you're right on the mark.
        Socratesfoot
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @Socratesfoot

        Can anyone see the difference between 4 CPUs and 8 CPUs under Task Manager? Eight simultaneous running independent threads?

        Both the i3 and i5 do not implement hyperthreading whereas the i7 does.

        A good synopsis and read here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5,2410-5.html
        WinTard
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @ye

        ?Yet almost everyone who says this has some version of Windows installed. Go figure.?

        There are a few small things that are only working in Windows like some (usually business related?) websites that require ActiveX and Internet Explorer.

        But limitations are there with Windows too, like when you want to connect to an AFP server with a Windows machine...
        star-affinity
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @ye Don't hate, appreciate... The Mac is a great computer- and when developing websites, web apps, etc, you need to make sure they run in Windows...
        www.dfwsupergeek.com
        unclefixer@...
      • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

        @jacarter3 Oh... fanboyism us strong in you... XD
        Master Skywalker
      • @ all the usual MS shills

        Yes, I still use Win XP for everyday tasks as I am forced to because of highly expensive and specialized software that won't run on a Mac (and I wish sooo very much that this was not the case and I could leave the windows debacle of patches, updates and DLL vulnerabilities completely behind). I am still very anxious about Win 7 especially the visibility of folders that are not shared and no one should be able to see or access from another computer (this is a documented "feature"). So I run it sand boxed as a VM until I am done assessing software compatibility and security (test and eval - get it?).

        I make well over 6 figures using my computer. It is absolutely the most important asset in my work so I am not interested in cheap, zero margin PCs ever, especially from Dell or HP. I used the HP as an example, because as I mentioned before, some one else brought that model up. And the number of CPU cores (between i5 and i7) is not very relevant as most of the Windows software that I use does not support even 2 cores and I rarely have ever fully utilized more than 90% of the CPU cycles. But I can tell you that the $700 puters mentioned by mlbslugger will never be purchased by me when I can buy a MacBook for $850. I have been forced to use those zero margin POS puters at clients sites and know very well how much value they have (none except as boat anchors).

        Anyone that rates any computer solely by its CPU speed and number of cores is purely an idiot. There is much more to a robust and comprehensive platform than the processor. That's the main difference between machines and my research has yet to find a notebook/laptop that came even close to the number of peripheral devices and ports that my MBP has which alone is worth the difference in cost.

        Do I have fanboyism because I can think independently of the shills? No. Actually I am someone that has used Windows since 1985 and version 1.03, beta tested NT for the first 3 versions including NT on an Alpha processor and still use Windows today. I am also someone that is completely over the lack of quality and innovation in Windows and wish nothing more than the chance to never have see it again. I am not alone. This is why I have multiple laptops that used to run Windows that now only run ubuntu. So if I am a fanboy, just what do you believe I am a fan of?

        Hint: it's not Windows or anything else - I am a fan of getting my work done and every OS has its uses and strong points. Of these, Windows is the weakest but has that great feature called lock-in. Ye, that's why I still run it - not because I like it or so far like Win 7 (which just crashed and burned with the Explorer process error and required a cold reboot) any better.

        Have a nice day and flame on. Apparently you all like hearing each other flame anyone that is not a Windows fanboy. Have fun and keep in mind your opinions are irrelevant.
        jacarter3
    • RE: How do I love my new Mac? Let me count the ways...

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      Good comment and once again I add my "Different strokes for different folks" as a user at one time or another of several OS.
      Still have a 17" Hp laptop with pretty good gear but personally use mostly an iMac. Not a fan of some of the Apple "principles, either .. but that could be said for a lot of things these days.

      Good wishes to all in what ever boat floats.

      If we let
      781lc