April 07, 2008

Growing into a ripe Apple

I bought my iMac on March 21, 2008. I took delivery on March 24, 2008. That means I have only had it for two weeks. Fourteen days, and that’s it! Already I have learned how to edit photos, upload them into a gallery, create a web site, and then add the gallery to the web site. I was getting pretty good at doing that very thing under Win95, but then Microsoft changed to WindowsXP, all my software had to be upgraded, and suddenly I was as powerless as a newborn baby. I spent six months trying to learn how to use all the new features of my WindowsXP system before finally giving up and devoting myself to playing Lineage II. Six months and I could not reacquire skills I had developed over half a decade of computer use. This is one of the main reasons I had no desire at all to buy a Vista system. The learning curve for Windows related products has become too steep for me. The conventions of Vista might be intuitive for some people, but they are not even close to being intuitive for me.

So I bought the iMac and look what I have achieved in only two weeks! I have not one, but six online galleries and the newest one, Venice 2007, has seventy-one beautiful photos in it! As you go through those photos (easily accessed from the My Albums page at my new website) keep in mind that when I took them I was using minimal quality settings on my Nikon D-80. The D-80 is an excellent system, but there is a great difference between a RAW format photo, a Large High Quality JPEG photo, and worst of all, a Small Basic Quality JPEG photo (which is the level I used for the Venice shots because I was desperate to conserve memory). Most of the original Venice shots were soft from JPEG compression (blurry) and the colors were badly washed out. I used iPhoto to clean them all up and in one case (I won’t tell you which one, try to guess!) I used iPhoto’s “Retouch” tool to transform a badly weathered brick wall into a seamless sheet of plaster top-coat!

I could have done a lot more with these photos if I had used Aperture 2. The new Dodge and Burn plug-in, for example, would have been a life saver on nearly all of them. Nonetheless, I am quite pleased with how they turned out and quite proud to have the gallery up and ready for visitors! Given only two weeks it would have been impossible for me to learn Vista, the Vista-compatible version of Adobe Photoshop, the Vista-compatible version of Dreamweaver, find an ISP, buy a domain, set up the domain, create this website, and then find some way to upload the whole thing!

In short, buying an iMac is proving to be the wisest computer decision I have ever made. Granted, there are a number of factors at work here that were not true when I bought my WindowsXP system. At that time Leopard was not available, iLife (which includes iPhoto and iWeb) was not available, and .Mac was an awkward, barely functional system that Macintosh cared little about and was not really happy about creating. I have made the jump from Windows to Apple at what is no doubt the perfect time in the history of personal computing. If there was ever a time to switch to Apple, that time is now.

I hope to high heaven this is also a good indication of the future of personal computing. For better or worse, I am tied into Apple now for the foreseeable future. As far as I can tell, this is the best place to be. I must point out, however, that predicting the future has never been my strong point.

My new website is here: Greyhawk Manor
And the freshly polished Venice 2007 Gallery is here: Venice 2007

Oh, and for the curious, the photo above was quickly and badly edited in Preview. Oh, for you Windows folks, "Preview" is the Macintosh file viewer that views nearly every possible file imaginable, and also allows you to edit, annotate, and print them. Once you master the free, included with the Leopard OS mini-program that is "Preview", you will of course point out that any number of third-party add-ons provides Windows Vista with the same level of functionality. Do I really need to point out how completely and totally "third-party add-on" differs from "included in the OS"?