I’m a Happier Person, Thanks to My Mac

mac-pcNo, seriously. I can honestly say that I’m a happier human being because of my MacBook Pro. My entire life I’ve been very into art, music, and especially the digital forms of those things. So I guess in some respects I’ve always been somewhat of a closet artist, but hadn’t really found my medium yet. With a knack for computers and technology those two things (computers and art) never converged for me. Why? Now I know. Because I was stuck in Microsoft land. And let’s face it  – there’s nothing artistic or creative about being a Windows user. Being a Windows user does not inspire creativity. And lets face something else  – something that took me years to admit – doing visual arts or music on a Windows computer is extremely difficult.

Case and point: A good friend of mine, Aaron, is a brilliant musician. He’s not only multi-instrumental, but he’s a brilliant song writer. In the 1990s he and I used to dabble with MIDI instruments, synths and a variety of other music technologies, all at his house or in one of his studios. All the while he had a Windows computer. Yet he’d always complain about how difficult Windows made things for him. He’d frequently ponder getting a Mac, and for some ignorant reason I’d convince him not to bother with a Mac. I look back now and I regret being so stinking ignorant!

There’s so many other stories I could tell similar to that one. One about a friend Liz who was a talented graphic designer. She used a Mac and I used to pick on her for it. Why? Cuz I was an ignorant Windows guy.

For enterprise purposes, a Windows machine is a great machine, always has been. But once Apple stopped building their own processors and finally started using Intel processors, all that changed. That’s when I got myself a Mac, well, a little later.

I got my MacBook Pro after having a fit of rage (a silent one) on a train to/from NY in March of ’08 years ago (read this for the story). I’ve never looked back! I feel like some once-pious Christian missionary who’d preach all about the ways of Christianity, to only find himself miserable and converting to, I don’t know, Buddhism. What I mean by that is, I regret being so ignorant for so long. I’m sorry to all those Mac people who I dissed so many times! I’m sorry to any Windows people who I steared wrong.

Today, I find myself a healthier person – and I mean that. I’m healthier because I have those creative mediums at my fingertips like never before. I have a small home studio that I use to make music. I have a synth (thanks Aaron!), and some killer studio monitors, a crappy little electric guitar, and dual monitors – and I use a bunch of professional grade studio software apps for this. I’m learning, and I’m having a blast. I’m learning to use Final Cut Pro. Holy crap that’s a beast. But I’m lovin it! I’m also a semi-pro photographer using Lightroom and Photoshop and a bunch of plugins. For the first time in a long long time I’m once again a closet artist. I have a bunch of little projects I’m working on and I’ve never felt more inspired and creative. And I would not be doing any of these things if it weren’t for that fateful day on the Acella Express when I finally had enough of Windows and made the switch.

If you’re like I once was, an ignorant Windows jerk who for some stubborn reason would “never” switch to a Mac – well, good luck to you. You don’t have to be ignorant, or a jerk either. But if you are looking to really have fun with technology, fun with a computer, and create and inspired – get yourself a Mac.

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I am now MacBen

How come no one ever told me how cool Mac’s were before now? I kid! I’m already getting “I told you so!” emails, and I’m not embarassed to say, “you were right!” After being extremely frightened about making “the switch” as they call it, I jumped in head first and did it. Thankfully I had help from Michael LeBarron, one of our web developers. He totally helped me get up speed. (thank you Michael!)

Less than 48 hours after buying my MacBook Pro I am now 100% converted and holy crap am I happy! I’m flying around the OS like I’ve been using it for years. I’m learning the nuances and I’ve customized it to my liking. I’m taking full advantage of Spaces too. I do need a couple Windows programs, specifically MS Money, Expensable, and Quickbooks and I just used Parallels to install XP, and with Parallels’ Coherence I can actually run any and all Microsoft programs within OS X as if it belonged there. They even put themselves in the dock. That’s just so brilliant!

But most importantly, I’m back to work. I’m moving around quickly, I’m not waiting for programs to open, close, files to save, etc, and I’m not fighting my computer – it plays nice, it works – it simply works. I got a ton done today. Heck, I had to do a little work in Illustrator and I was in and out in less than 4 minutes! On my Windows machine it would take 4 minutes just to open Illustrator – and that’s no exaggeration.

I can proudly say that I love Mac and I can honestly admit that this is long overdue for me. However, I will not be getting any tattoos, or face piercings, and I won’t be putting any stickers on my lid.

I’m Converting to Mac… I Think

(Not long after posting the below post, I wrote this one after converting to Mac. Check it out when you’re done reading this.)

So, I think I can say I’m ready to convert to a Mac. I’m not 100% convinced because frankly I’m just frightened about it. But I think I’m going to talk myself into it in this blog entry. Here we go…

I’ve been using computers since the days of, well, since before there was a Windows, thanks to my Dad and his entry into the computer industry in the early 80’s. First I was using VMS on a DEC Rainbow and PDP 11. I was using MS-DOS, then I was using Windows 3.51, then Windows 95, then Windows 98. I was an MSCE in Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server, then Windows 2000 and Active Directory. I upgraded to Windows XP, and now, I have Windows Vista.

I currently run Vista on a ThinkPad T60p. Vista is slightly sexier than XP – which isn’t saying much at all! All along the way over the past few years, especially the past 2 years, I’ve been growing more and more impatient with Windows and more and more intrigued and impressed by Mac OS and its flexibility to work with Windows, even in parallel. Most especially over the past couple years as Apple has clearly been doing some very new and impressive stuff, slowly encroaching on Microsoft’s enterprise market share – albeit totally puny. And I’ve always stuck to the same message of “but I need Windows for business – I just couldn’t convert.” Today, however, I had such a terrible and ironic meltdown that I think the Gods, as well as the stranger next to me on this train ride, are telling me it’s time to convert. Check this out…

Being that I run Vista on a ThinkPad T60p, I naturally have to reboot often. And it’s only been getting worse. But, being the Windows guy that I am, I tolerate it. I tolerate it like I tolerate back pain – I just accept it. It comes with the territory! So at 7:30 this morning I’m at Penn Station waiting for my train back to Boston, trying to get online. No go, and Outlook is freezing for some unknown reason, along with other apps like Winamp, for no apparent reason. So, whatever, I close the lid and stuff it into my bag and go back to my BlackBerry where I can actually be more productive. Imagine that – I’m more productive on my BlackBerry than I am on a $2000 laptop running Windows Vista. When I boarded the train and sat down at a table diagonal to another gentleman, I saw him reach into a manilla envelope and pull out his Mac Air. (OK, he didn’t really pull it out of an envelope). So I break out my massive, stealth black ThinkPad (powerful as she is) and plunk her down on the table. I crack it open and notice that Windows has decided to start fresh. OH – OK. Chalk it up to not putting it to sleep properly – because apparently closing the lid is just too much for Vista to handle properly. So I wait about 6 minutes for it to start this service, that service, that app, this app, yada yada. I kill the usual processes that otherwise would require me to reboot in short time, and then I’m on my way. Hah! Take that Mac guy with your shiny white glowing apple – staring at me with it’s, it’s stem.

I proceed to plug my Verizon Wireless PC card in, run VZAccess manager and attempt to get online, which works for about 10 minutes. Outlook is trying to connect, and I proceed to Firefox where I can catch up on some reading about some of the stuff I picked up at this week’s conference. I put my headphones on, start Winamp, and crank a little Soundgarden. I’m rockin now!

Then it all came to an end. Every app froze. I couldn’t click anything. But the mouse moved so that was a good sign! I know this pattern, I just have to wait. So I go to the snack car and get a cinnamon bun. Upon my return Windows was still frozen and all my apps were pale white. But the mouse still moved, hooray! But I can’t click the start menu. OK, fuck it – hard shutdown (an activity that always frightens me because it’s just SO not good for a hard disk). BIOS posts, Windows comes up, and I login. Suddently I see Windows Vista has decided to install IE again, along with many other programs. I can’t see anything but this install process – not even my tropical golf course wallpaper. Then Vista only confirmed what I feared was happening – it was rebuilding my Windows profile. All my personal settings were gone – just, gone! My startup items, gone, my wallpaper, gone, and then I clicked to my Documents folder – empty! My Music, empty! My Pictures, empty! Holy crap! (Thankfully I use Mozy Pro and I can get it all back if it’s really really gone)

I just had to stop for a minute and laugh. I just, laughed! Here’s this Mac guy with his sexy Air working away and looking so calm and collected, even smug, but – productive. And here’s me – not able to do a single thing – no work cuz Windows doesn’t want to play nice. I take off my headphones and I engage the enemy in a discussion, a diplomatic discussion. I want to know more about his culture, the state of his nation – Mac nation.

Turns out he’s a senior business consultant, and a technical one at that. He told me he was a diehard PC guy for many years – let me say that again – he was a diehard PC guy. Now, he’s using a Mac! I gave him some more airtime and let him sell me. And he just about closed the deal. We spoke for a good 15 minutes and he almost totally convinced me. He answered all sorts of my questions about dual booting, about the Intel processor, about the speed, the efficiency, the graphics, the this the that. What we concluded that there is nothing stopping me but fear. I feel like a kid who’s afraid to dive off a rock into a lake, while all my friends are there swimming and having fun, but I’m too much of a sally to jump in with them.

Then, I picked up my BlackBerry I notice my friend and advisor to CitySquares, Randy Parker (founder of Constant Contact), was on Google Talk. We get to talking about the same topics. And he too convinces me – puts all my concerns to rest, aside from just the emotional barriers. He emails me some articles about Leopard, about how fast Vista is on a Mac – how’s PC World actually says that the fastest machine they’ve ever run Windows on is a Mac!!!

After these conversations and collecting some of the data I need, on top of data points I’ve picked up on over the past couple years, I needed to just think about it all. Meanwhile I decided to reboot the laptop nice and proper like. When I did, my original profile came back, thank heavens! But some of my settings are gone and I can’t use my Aircard now. I don’t care. I’ve given up.

So here I am now, on the train, typing this entry into Windows Notepad because I’m afraid to use anything the else. And when my train pulls into South Station I think I’m doing it – I’m going to run to an Apple store and get some advice on converting from Windows, and running Windows in VMware or whatever, Parallels or something, that might even be built into Leopard (cuz you can do that on a Mac!). And if that doesn’t work – again, according to PC World Vista runs faster on a Mac!

So that’s it, I’m doing it. I’m making the plunge. And ya know, I’m excited. I’m ready to leave PC land and go to Mac land. The irony here, aside from my experience this morning with this friendly passenger and his Mac Air, is that until about a year or so ago I was a long time, loyal, passionate Windows Mobile guy (starting with my first HP iPaq). After growing frustrated with windows Mobile day after day, month after month, year after year, I converted to BlackBerry. I’ve never looked back. I love my BlackBerry Pearl!

I’ve always said, I’ll never get a Mac, yet here I am, about to get one. Ya know what’s most exciting about this folks? The most exciting thing about this is that now, I can get some work done. Apparently when you put a Mac to sleep, it goes to sleep. When you wake it up, it wakes up. When you boot it, it boots, fast. When you tell it to do something, it does it. Viruses on a Mac? Are you kidding? I am genuinely excited about getting back to work, and OK, on a very sexy Mac with it’s shiny glowing little apple.

To be continued…

Continued here.

Mossberg Likes Leopard, But I’m a Windows Guy, I think.

So Mossberg digs Leopard, and the review is pretty cool. I gotta tell you, I have an IBM ThinkPad (OK, Lenovo ThinkPad), and it came with Vista preinstalled. For the most part, Vista is OK. No real complaints, but nothing to really rave about either. I also have Office 2007, which I really love. But lately I’ve been becoming more and more intrigued by OS X, and frustrated with Windows. I’m tired of long startups, long shutdowns, long hibernations. I’m tired of freeze ups, driver problems, security alerts. I’m tired of sluggish Windows program switching, and resource allocation. Then I see Mossberg’s review in the WSJ today, and I see his video on the site, man I get so angry. OS X is so freaking elegant. I want it! But the reality for me is, it’s quite a major conversion, and I am not convinced that OS X is a business OS. It’s a great consumer OS and experience, but for an enterprise? I don’t think so. Well, maybe some day Microsoft will release a version of Windows that has the elegance and simplicity, and efficiency, that Mac OS X has. That will probably take them 5 years. Or, maybe another Linus Torvalds will appear on the scene and disrupt the whole Operating System world with something even better, and compatible for all things, hardware and software. I’m really reaching though aren’t I.