March 21, 2008

Taking a bite from the forbidden fruit

It does not help, you know, to talk endlessly about doing something. Until someone, somewhere sets their hand to the plow and starts work, nothing gets done.

So today I did something. I bought a new computer. An iMac, actually. For those who do not know, an iMac is a computer made by Macintosh. The iMac houses the entire computer in a case on the backside of the monitor. There is nothing on your desk but monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Best of all, there is only one power cord.

Don't assume this purchase came lightly. I have been a devoted Microsoft fanboy for over two decades. I began with DOS 2.1, grudgingly adopted Windows starting with version 3.1, and nearly fainted at the beauty of the first screenshots of Vista.

Then somebody showed me the new version of Apple's operating system. They call it Leopard. For every ten things that Vista got wrong, Leopard got one right. After awhile, Leopard begins looking like the kind of operating system Vista should have been.

Leopard includes iLife, which contains useful and easy to use programs for editing photos, videos, collecting music, editing music, creating webpages, creating a podcast, and if you spend a little more to join .Mac, then you can effortlessly upload everything to your very own website.

That's right. All those clumsy, clunky (and worthless!) editors for video, music, and html that are available free or nearly free for Vista are included in Leopard right out of the box. There is, however, one big difference: the iLife applications work well and are easy to use.

For the technically savy, Leopard also includes a real scripting language (and an editor to write scripts in!) that works well and is not too difficult to use. Automating Leopard brings back sweet memories of DOS batch files done better than DOS every could.

And if you really want to get your hands dirty, Leopard includes XCode 3.0, a complete developer's package for designing and writing your own programs!

Whether you want to upload your vacation snapshots for sharing with your family or set yourself up in business as a programmer, the basic package of Leopard includes all the tools needed to get the job done. And those tools will get the job done, too!

Consider, if you will, the As Ifs, a group of teenage girls with a fully professional start to a promising rock career, and everything they've done has been done with nothing more than the basic programs included in Leopard. More advanced programs are available, but the girls can't afford them, and from the looks of things, don't need them. Their music, their music video, their website, and everything else are all authored on Macintosh computers with just the basic software.

I've spent the past month reading up on Leopard. I've scoured websites, read magazines, bought three books (and finished reading the first). Leopard is so much more useful than Vista it is not even funny. It is, in fact, quite sad. Microsoft has fully and completely dropped the ball this time. Leopard is the perfect operating system for a home or small office computer (and is quite easy to adapt to full-fledged, high-level business use as well!).

So, faced with the necessity of buying a new computer I found myself forced into the realization that I could spend $4000 on Macintosh products and get everything I needed, everything I wanted, a new printer and a new iPod Touch all at the same time or I could spend $4000 on a Vista-based PC with the hardware I needed, $2500 on additional software, use my old printer, and forget about buying an iPod.

I went with the Macintosh package. It arrives on Monday.