I’ve never been a fan of Apple. Despite making a living off SQL Server, I don’t consider myself to be a Windows fanboy by any stretch of the imagination either, but I never imagined that I would buy a Mac.
One of the easiest arguing points back in the day was the availability of software. Games on a mac? There was that sliding apple puzzle thing, that’s about it. (Ok, there were more than that, but if I couldn’t play Doom II on it I wasn’t interested!) Then they switched to Intel processors and OSX got better and better. The software reason disappeared, and Mac hardware seemed every bit as capable as any PC I could buy or build, but it was still way more expensive than comparable PC hardware. I also couldn’t stand the condescending attitude that Apple was breeding. Those “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” commercials really irked me. For what little it’s worth to me, the hardware was starting to look really good, but aesthetics are pretty low on the list of things I’d consider while buying a computer.
My 6 year old Dell laptop has been dying a slow death for the past few months. After some experimentation, I determined that the memory controller was going bad, and repairing it (i.e. a new motherboard) wouldn’t be very cost-effective for a machine of that age.
I bought myself a new laptop from Dell, and it arrived a few days later. It was fast and did everything I wanted, so I was happy. About a week after I got it I decided to start doing all the available system updates, one of which was a “Dell Rcommended” BIOS update. I downloaded the updater and ran it. After about 2 minutes, it froze at about 31%. Knowing that your computer is a paperweight if you interrupt a BIOS flash, I took the patient approach. An hour later it was still at 31%. I decided to let it sit overnight just to be sure, and the next morning nothing had changed. I tried forcing a shutdown by holding down the power button, but that didn’t do anything. I ended up disconnecting the AC power and removing the battery to finally get it to turn off. As was to be expected, it was now a brick and would do nothing for me. After talking with Dell tech support, they determined I needed a new motherboard and overnighted one to a technician to install it.
The technician came out 2 days later and had a new motherboard installed in about 30 minutes. Within another 30 minutes I had the same update frozen at 31% again. Having bricked this computer twice within 10 days of receiving it, I decided that keeping it wasn’t the greatest idea. I had either gotten faulty hardware twice, or the update was bad – shouldn’t they heavily test these things? I returned it to Dell for a full refund.
After much thought, I decided to get a 15″ MacBook Pro. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mac hardware lately, the software seems extremely capable, and they’re pretty good looking too! If I have to pay a premium for something that isn’t going to brick during a BIOS flash, than so be it. (Yes, I did pay a lot more – it cost more than twice what the Dell did.) I also view this as an excellent opportunity to really learn how to use a Mac. Anyone can click on Safari while messing around in an Apple store, but I’m very interested in learning everything else there is to know about OSX.
Three weeks later, I’m still quite happy with my purchase. The best thing I’ve learned so far is all the gestures for the trackpad – it makes things incredibly fast. Yes, I have installed Windows 7 (in Parallels) though I really haven’t used it for much other than installing SQL Server Management Studio at this point. My goal is to use Mac alternatives as much as possible on this machine. I’ll be sure to report back on my progress.