The Mac Zeitgeist

August 3, 2007 | 2 Comments

This isn’t particularly new, but a recent event reminded me I haven’t posted about it yet. My computer usage is schizophrenic in a sense. I’ve been using Linux for over a decade now, but I abandoned it on my desktop around 2000 in favor of Windows 2000. I’ve felt for a long time that Linux is not ready for the desktop. Ubuntu is probably the best attempt I’ve seen to date, but they all the distributions suffer from the same shortcomings: fonts suck, app developers suck at UI, lack of useful applications, and even the window managers are fairly ugly. Now it’s  been improving, certainly since 2000, but at a crawl. And all along, despite the abuses suffered at the hands of Windows, I’ve stuck with it because even that was better than Linux on the desktop.

Back in 2000, or even a few years back,  I never would have guessed that I’d be running Mac OS as my desktop OS, and not even slightly begrudgingly. I’ve had a Mac now for 5 or 6 months, I actually lovingly adopted Mike’s when he left AOL. I was expecting a long adjustment period but it turned out to be ridiculously easy. The primary thing to get used to is where the hotkeys are and for what they are used. For example. in Firefox I was used to Ctrl-T now it’s Apple-T. That took less than a week to get acclimate. The lack of a second mouse button on the laptop is also fairly frustrating and I don’t really understand the resistance. Everything else was cake, which was in part due to the Unix underpinnings of the OS.

I was not a trailblazer by any means. Lots and lots of my co-workers were using Macs before me, and I was among those poking fun at them. In particular, I mocked the “Mac walk of shame” wherein you walk through the halls with the lid open because there isn’t, by default, any method to tell Mac OS not to go to sleep when you shut the lid. (This is in contrast to Windows where you can define specific behaviors for when you close the lid and when you hit the power button. This is another area in which I find the OS lacking).

Vlad in particular likes to deride Mac users and owners, and it’s not anything I take offense at, but much in the way he changed his mind about iPhone (I also thought/think it’s hype) I think with actual use he’d change his mind about Mac OS as well, but I digress.

The primary reason for writing about this is that there seems to be a clear change in preference for an interesting selection of users in favor of Mac OS. I was in an architecture council meeting and I looked around the room, all but 2 laptops were Macs. The 2 PC’s belonged to the facilities guys who manage power and space for the datacenters. Every other architect used a Mac. My last 3 bosses have used Macs. Most of our operations team uses Macs. A significant number of our developers use Macs primarily (they keep PC’s for software testing).  This is the trend that I find so encouraging, that I bring to your attention.

Finally, the event that reminded me to write this post. My brother was in the process of replacing his PC laptop and was asking me about Vista. I suggested he stick with XP for the time being. He ordered a laptop from Dell (I believe it came with Vista, no choice), and realized that he could actually buy a MacBook for less. Last I talked to him he was still deciding whether to cancel his Dell order and get a Mac instead, which was my suggestion to him. If he really hates it, he can just install XP instead.


  1. You probably know this, but you can turn on the option so that a two-fingered tap on the mousepad does a right-click, just like a one-fingered tap does a left-click. I use it all the time, almost as much as the fantastic two-fingered drag.

    You can get a pretty nice dual-core Windows/PC laptop for $450 or so these days from Compaq. I still think that a lot of Mac gear is severely overpriced, and the product line-up is slim (i.e. I wanted a mac desktop – without a built-in monitor – and my only choices were the severely limited MacMini or the way overpowered and overpriced MacPro).

    I’m absolutely loving my new MacBook though. At $999 (edu or aol or macmall price) it’s more than double what I paid for my last Windows laptop 2 years ago. But it’s so shiiiiiny and everything works so well!

    Comment by Mike — August 5, 2007 #

  2. Ok, I take that back. The two-fingered right-click is much better than a second button since it doesn’t require me to leave the trackpad area. When you mentioned this previously I got the impression it was on by default and when it didn’t work I wasn’t bothered enough to check the settings. Thanks!

    Comment by pablo — August 5, 2007 #

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