Life With A Macbook

Is the Apple Macbook the best computer I have owned? Absolutely!

Apple and coffee

Like most people, I grew up using PC computers. And for most of my life, those computers were Microsoft based systems. Although, in my 20s I did own an Apple IIGS that I bought personally but used for work as well. At that time, the Apple was pretty amazing compared to PCs but there were some things that really put me off the Apple.

First, they were expensive and the peripherals were all proprietary so they tended to be very expensive.

Second, there was not much software available for them and the software that was available, was pretty expensive

Third, Apple was not popular in the business world as that market was pretty much ruled by Microsoft at the time.

Over the years I really railed against Apple products because they were based on a closed operating system. So I used PC computers and put up with all the problems they had. Things like the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”, where the computer had a major crash and just displayed a blue screen with error codes. Then there was the bogging down of the system with use. PC’s would become painfully slow as the operating systems got used. I found that the only solution was to completely reinstall the operating system so the system was essentually factory fresh. This of course took many hours as all the data had to be copied, the operating system installed and then all of your programs reloaded. At first, this was not that bad of a task. Every year or two a few hours spent to keep the computer running fast was not a bad tradeoff. But, around 2009 I found I had to do this about every 6 months and it was becoming a real annoyance. Still, the PC was the preferred platform for getting work done.

In 2011 I returned to the corporate world, the company issued a nice new Lenovo laptop and an Apple iPad. I thought it was great to have a nice new high powered machine on which to work. But almost immediately the flaws of the PC showed up. The first was the refusal of the machine to sleep when the cover was closed or wake up when the cover was opened. Kind of a key feature of a laptop when you are constantly running around attending meetings or working at different locations throughout a building. Waking up the computer would take several minutes and sometimes a reboot was required, painfully slow when you were trying to get work done. Sometimes the computer would just lock up and refuse to function, requiring me to unplug the laptop and remove the battery. Frustrating! These issues continued over time even when I got a new computer. from the IT department.

The other issue that really ended my love for PCs was the horrendous battery life. It got to the point where my laptop could not last 2 hours on a charge. I know I was not unique in this. When I went to meetings everyone scrambled for the few outlets close enough to where they sere sitting to plug their laptops in. So it was always a race to get the available outlets before the other guy. If it was a long meeting, it was almost comical to see people negotiating to get plug time!

In early 2014 I finally decided to buy an Apple Macbook. I was traveling through Shanghai and stopped by one of the Apple stores. I was certain I wanted a Macbook but I was not sure what model I wanted. I had purchased an iPad mini the year before and had tried to use that as a main computer platform.  I really enjoyed the small size and the ability to carry it wherever I went. It was extremely convenient but it just could not be used for real work most of the time. It was more suited to consuming material, like reading documents or reviewing spreadsheets. So the decision was down to getting a laptop that was small and light or something more powerful like the Macbook Pro.

After 2 hours in the store I finally decided on the Apple Macbook Air with an upgraded Flash drive. I have to admit, at first I did not like the Mac. The operating system was not like a PC. I was not familiar with where files were stored. I did not understand how to load programs. I did not understand how to start a program. For the first few days I actually regretted the purchase. It just felt like I was not going to be productive on this computer. But slowly I began to understand how OS X, the Apple operating system, worked. I also began to realize all the little things that Apple designed into the computer to make it easier to use.

So what do I like about this computer?

  1. It just works! After two years of use the computer is still fast, and it doesn’t crash. Day in and day out it works.
  2. The battery life after more than a year is still very good. I can get through a day without plugging in.
  3. It sleeps and wakes! Always! Close the cover it sleeps, open the cover and it is instantly on and right where I left off. Amazing!
  4. It boots up very quickly. When I do turn off the computer it boots up very very quickly!
  5. The file system. OS X has file tagging built in. This means that you are not constrained to having to put files in directories to find them. When you save a file you can add tags so later you can find the files using tags. Of course the Spotlight search system works great as well, so it is much easier to find files in the operating system. Fantastic!
  6. Design. The Macbook is a beautifully designed product. It makes me feel good every time I touch it. But more importantly for me, the Mac Air is small and light. I take it everywhere and it is thin enough that I can slip it into my belt at the small of my back and walk around. Small is Convenient!
  7. Apple products are expensive! There is no denying that. And purchasing this computer was a hard decision due to the cost. However, except for the first few days of use as mentioned above, I have never once regretted the money spent on this computer. And to this day I feel it is worth every dollar spent on it. This is due to the 6 points above.

So what do I not like about the Macbook?

  1. The lack of ports! Only two USB ports, and a thunderbolt connector. And worst of all, no video port to plug into a standard monitor. So I always have to get an adapter if I want to use an external monitor or use a projector.
  2. The keyboard, I still cannot get used to the chiclet style of the keyboard.

We spend a lot of time on our computers and the computer should not get in the way of getting work done. With this Apple computer I never find myself worrying about whether it is going to function properly, it just does, day in and day out. I could list a lot of other things I love about this computer, but the above items are the main ones for me. Its a tool to help me be productive and I think that there is some fundamental rule that applies here that I learned when I was a Carpenter. When purchasing a tool for woodworking I found that it was almost always better to spend a little more money to buy a quality tool. A good tool helped me work with less effort and produce a better quality product. I think the same applies to computers.

One last positive feature of the Apple. I did not mention it above because I have only needed to use it once. But it was such a life saver that it bears mentioning. At one point I had cleaned out a bunch of files that I no longer needed on my hard drive. Unfortunately, a few days later I realized I had deleted a file that was very very important. Of course, I had emptied the trash can so the file was gone. I was panic stricken. Then I discovered Apples Time Machine. Time Machine is essentially Apples solution to backing up. In literally a few clicks, I was able to recover the file.  No technical knowledge needed, no plugging in external hard drives. It was very easy and the best part was that Time Machine had been working all along to make sure my data was backed up and it took less than a minute to recover the file. Pure brilliance!

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