Anyone that’s been following my Twitter account knows that I’ve been agonizing over a computer purchase since my desktop computer died about three weeks ago. I’ve been getting along OK with the laptops I’ve had available, but it has been inconvenient for trying to print out photos or do some of the video work I wanted to do. Well, the wait is over. My new iMac arrived on Friday, so I’ve spent all weekend setting it up and getting used to it.
Laura says that I agonized more over this purchase than when I bought my new car. She’s right. However, when I was making the car decision, I didn’t have to consider between a way of driving that was completely different from how I had ever driven before, or with sticking with the familiar. That was my PC vs Mac dilemma.
And I got some, but not an awful lot of help from my social networking friends. Those who had Macs were firmly entrenched in the cult of Mac. Talking with them was like discussing detergent with an Amway salesman. There was no acknowledgement of the Mac’s downsides (and believe me, there are downsides.) Similarly, my PC friends tended to be entrenched. Macs are expensive and over-rated. However, I finally decided on a compromise – a Mac running Windows XP in a virtual environment.
The order was placed about a week and a half ago. I ordered a 24″ iMac with 4 GB RAM and 1 TB drive. For a week and a half I waited with marginal patience, checking the FedEx tracking system more frequently than was prudent to see where the computer might be. Estimated delivery was for Friday, May 15.
By 3:00 pm on Friday I was getting nervous. It hadn’t arrived yet, so I sent out a quick Tweet to that effect. Here’s the exchange that took place…
Wondering why my new Mac hasn’t shown up yet. Fedex says “Estimated delivery May 15” and “On FedEx vehicle for delivery, Greenville”
@FedexDolores Thanks for checking on me, Dolores. The package arrived about 10 minutes after I sent that last Tweet, so all is well!
I was impressed. Apparently FedEx monitors Twitter for any reference to their name, and responds appropriately. Who say’s Twitter isn’t useful?
So the computer arrived, and immediately I set about configuring it. Laura documented the activities.
The first thing I thought was, “My God, this thing is huge!” I watched a bit of a DVD and felt like I was on the front row of a theater. The display is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m able to see details (for better or worse) that I’ve never been able to see in my photographs before.
The initial setup was easy – just plug it in and go. Configuring it for my needs was not the simple plug-n-play that all of the Mac cultists would have you believe. I’ve spent the better part of the weekend getting drivers for my three printers, my scanner, and my musical keyboards. Everything seems to be talking to each other correctly now, though, so things are starting to look OK.
The biggest problem came with trying to install the virtual Windows XP environment. I first tried Sun Microsystem’s Virtual Box, which is free. I should have known better. First, it wouldn’t read the XP CD I had. I borrowed files from Chip, and was finally able to get the system installed. However, it would only load in a 640X480 box which wouldn’t resize. That was useless. I broke down and bought Parallels for Mac, and am in the process of installing it even as I type this.
If someone has no experience with computers and is just starting out, a Mac is probably easier than a PC. However, I’ve discover that it can be frustrating for control freaks like me. It tends to put things where and behave in a manner which IT believes to be best. I find myself having to disable lots of automated goodies because it’s not how I would like it.
I’m getting used to it, though. I think that I will like this new computer, once we reach a compromise on how it is to behave.