why I am not a Mac user, but maybe you should be

Let's get something straight first off - I'm not looking for a saint. I don't care about the politics of the company that makes my hardware or my software (or both). Yes, Microsoft is evil. Bill Gates is the Borg. Steve Jobs distills Kool Aid moonshine and spins the Reality Distortion Field. Linus Torvalds is a megalomaniac. I've heard it all before.

The decision that I make regarding my computing platform is solely built on one thing - my personal usage. I use my computer(s) for many things but there are certain things that I cannot do on a Mac. For example, I use MATLAB for my research. I like to dabble in building my own computers and do incremental upgrades. I am not rich - $3000 for a desktop machine is about 4 times what I am willing to pay. All the networks that I use at school or VPN to at home are Windows-sharing. And, once in a blue moon, I like to play my favorite flight-sim Star Wars games, X-Wing Alliance and Tie Fighter.

I also am conservative in that I don't have any particular desire to adopt a learning curve for a new OS. To make a Switch compelling, I'd have to be able to do significantly more with a Mac in addition to doing everything I presently (need to) do. And I'm just not really into the video-editing scene (and don't want to spring for an $800 FireWire camcorder either - my trusty old Hi8 works just fine). Ultimately there are lots of cool things that you can do in Mac OS (and Brian has been a really good advocate - inspiring real geek envy at times. Just not practical geek envy.)

Do I think Macs are worthless machines? absolutely not, and if you read my posts about the Mac you'll see that I respect the platform very highly. However, most Apple partisans are unable to read my posts with the objectivity required to distinguish between a respectful disagreement of need assessment, and a flat-out assault on the integrity of their belief system. I usually have to terminate Apple discussions with the "agree to disagree" escape hatch, even with dear and close friends, because communication is simply impossible with someone who has a religious conviction that everyone would be better served by a single OS and hardware combination (which is ironically exactly what Apple partisans accuse PC users of believing)[1]

Tacitus wants to be convinced to Switch. I think that asking Apple users to make a case is wasting your time. The best way to find out if Apple is for you is to 1. sit down and make a list of your essential computing activities, and 2. go to the nearest Apple Retail Store and sit down on a Mac (and be sure to AVOID the "Genius" bar - they're as interested in helping you make the Right Decision for your Computing Needs as Catholic missionaries are for your spiritual ones). Play with it, wander the software aisles, and demo all the whiz-bang stuff. And then if you have the funds (wince), and you like what you see, I'd recommend going the laptop (specifically, an iBook) route first. Apple's laptops are superb and cheap, and it's a better way to take an initial plunge than to mortgage your house for a G5.

[1]The analogies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are numerous, but that's another post. I've had enough of playing the Target for the time being.

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