2 adults + 6 children * (stimulus package) = 1 iMac

April 26, 2008

Our venerable ol’ x86 machine croaked last weekend so we bought an iMac. I’ve been playing around with it all week and, frankly, it’s every bit as good as I remember from my time in college when I first fell in love with Apples. All of the writing labs in the J-school were full of Macs – in fact, if I remember correctly, you had to search high and low for the PC room, and the only folks who used those were B-school pukes and other assorted oddities.

We used them, obviously, for completing our writing assignments, but also for layout and internet access. “Internet access” at this time meant e-mail and usenet, and at that it was all command-line. I do remember someone downloading Mosaic and showing it off, but we didn’t think it looked any better than gopher, archie or veronica. Am I dating myself? But I digress.

To me, Macs were computers and that was about it. Apple would show up every so often at the student center with their display tables and student discounts and the hardware was still light years beyond what I could afford. So we parted ways, and I entered into a fifteen-year relationship with Windows, Intel and eventually Unix in its myriad forms: Linux, *BSD, Irix, HP-UX, and all the others. Lately I’d settled for Ubuntu Linux because, as Linuxes go, it basically just worked. 

All of them are dead to me now. Leopard is as beautiful a desktop environment as Ubuntu could ever hope to be. What’s more, the internals of OSX are…BSD. All of my little friends are still around, just hidden under the beautiful trappings: python, apache, perl, and so on. I didn’t have to shoehorn them in, make allowances for shell weirdness or run them in a VM. They’re just in there, ready to go.

We love it. Everything just works. Installing and removing software is a snap, we’ve migrated all of our pictures, documents and music over and everyone has their own profile. The kids actually share a single, locked-down account. We’ll probably never buy a Windows machine again, which is fine by just about everyone. Not that I have anything in particular against it, but why bother? None of us are hardcore gamers, but not even that is much of a problem. If it were, I’d be exploring BootCamp. 

Anyway, it’s been a hoot and half. I was geared up to spend considerable time learning the ins and outs of this thing but it’s really so simple, that most of us are up to speed after only a few days. I’m sure there’s more to learn, but for now, we’re at least productive with the thing.



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