My apostasy worsens

October 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm
filed under Technology
Tagged , ,

All right, so let me get this out of the way: I am a sucker for new and shiny things.

That might lead you to peg me as a Mac guy. You’d be half right. I like anything that’s new and shiny. Here’s what I am excited about right now.

iMac pls

Let’s get this out of the way: my apostasy is worsening.

Back in 2006, Tycho/Jerry of Penny Arcade went into the PC vs. Mac thing (here and here). Like Jerry, I didn’t like Apple’s marketing campaigns, and it cast a pall over pretty much everything they’d do. Once I read his pieces on this, though, I had to think twice. I started to let go of my grudge. From there, it became just a matter of time: I had to use a Mac Mini; I chose a MacBook Pro over a PC for my work laptop; I bought a unibody MacBook this past March; and I got Snow Leopard.

At any rate, I’ve coveted a Mac on my desktop ever since my Mac Mini experience. I’m glad I waited! It’s likely I’ll spring for one in November, and the 27″ Intel Core i5 seems like a really, really solid choice. The new mouse looks pretty cool, too, although I have some misgivings as to whether or not it’s practical.

My reasons for Mac lust? In short, I feel it’s the best trade-off between usability and power. Windows isn’t powerful or transparent enough for me, and Linux is often too transparent and fairly clunky. OS X is running freaking BSD under the hood, and has really solid UI design.

Windows 7

So, um, I also like Windows 7. In fact, I’m typing all of this on a Windows 7 machine right now. It’s shiny! It’s new! Granted, I play video games, so I can’t avoid Windows and I’m sick of running an OS that was showing its age a few years ago. But it helps to be, you know, excited about the whole thing, and I am.

For instance, I like how you can search the start menu. I like how you can search the control panel for settings. The Dock new taskbar is solid, what with Aero Peek and all. In general, I enjoy the sort of cognitive dissonance or brain shock that comes from seeing and learning a new user interface, and given that I never used Vista for very long, I’m quite happy to use it.

Of course, it’s still Windows, which means they cripple parts of the OS so they can charge more. I’m a bit peeved that Home Premium doesn’t include a Remote Desktop server. Whereas I’d prefer RDP over VNC, I don’t $80-like RDP and [TightVNC] is $0.

The method for looking at logs and whatnot is absurd— I was trying to troubleshoot a problem where my machine would go to sleep (good) and wake up 30s later (bad). It would do this all night and all day (really bad). I fired up Event Viewer or whatever it’s called and, of course, all of the logs are in XML, so they must be parsed! That’s ~3s where I sit there trying not to twitch.

Karmic Koala!

Aaand I’m also excited about Ubuntu 9.10. Maybe I just have a thing about operating systems? I use Ubuntu at work, and I really appreciate it in that context. I even took the step of using a fairly minimalist tiling window manager to maximize screen space and performance.

If this seems at odds with my affinity for Mac OS, you’re right. It doesn’t make sense to me, either.

I think I’m just fascinated with the idea of an OS that’s completely transparent. Everything is designed to be poked and prodded or used, from /proc to everything in /etc. The command line tools revolve around and interoperate using a simple building block: plain text! I think what it comes down to is that when there’s a real problem with my system, I want any fancy features to get out of my way— I want to get as close to the bottom as I can. Linux is good at that, which is part of the problem with it, of course.

I’m not sure when I’ll find time to install and use it. This is actually kind of a problem: I don’t have nearly enough monitors to install and run simultaneously some four-odd operating systems. Plus I’ve got to do the whole clean install thing for Win7 to do. And I figure in a month or two, I might be running an iMac as my main machine, meaning I’ll need to transfer over various media and miscellanea. Whee!

That’s all for now

I’m done geeking out now. Have a good night!

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