Jumping Ship: Why I Ditched the PC and Bought an iMac

I’m hard on computers. I’m always pushing the limits. I replace my hardware every 12-18 months. I have to. Heck, I wear off the letters on my keyboards every 6 months. My family laughs about it and no one ever wants my “used” keyboards.

I was sick and tired of rebuilding my system. I went to Linux to avoid the rebuild of XP that happened every 6-12 months, when the OS went from “speedy” to “getting slower” to “crawling.”

The only cure was to wipe the hard drive and reinstall the OS. This process rendered me unable to earn a living (or sleep) for 2-3 days while I tried to pull everything back. It’s not like I wanted to rebuild my machine so often. I didn’t. It made me crazy.

The Move to Linux

With Linux, it was easier. Once you got it working, it usually stayed that way. And, if there was a problem, you could reload the OS and pull your data back in pretty easily. The only problem was when I started poking around in Terminal, sometimes a “tiny” change would hose my whole system.

After spending weeks “tricking out” my Linux box and making it function flawlessly to do what I needed, I took extra time to make it pretty. I like pretty.

Form IS Function!

My father fusses that I spend too much time customizing. We share technology “finds” and argue about computers/software/hardware a lot. It’s our “thing.” For him, computers are a hobby. For me, they are also a tool to get my work done. Sometimes I confuse the “hobby” portion of my work with the “income producing” portion and this causes me headaches.

My Dad swore I’d like Linux better if I’d go with the standard look and feel – and just regen in minutes (unlike Windows) if it started acting flaky.

That would certainly take less time for a new set-up, but I liked having a witch hat for my personal files, a hard drive with a lock icon for my data backups, a globe for my Internet, etc.

I like pretty — but I also like efficient. It takes me less time to glance for a visual clue and click than to read through a list of generic folders with the contents listed in text on at the bottom. As many times a day as I clicked each one, this is a substantial time savings.

Two monitors are better than one

I always worked better with two monitors in Windows, but I had real problems getting two monitors to work with Linux. I decided to fix it by going and buying two identical monitors – so there were no conflicting driver issues. I didn’t care how much it cost anymore, I was tired of poking at my machine. I wanted it to work.

I was lured over to the Apple display at my local Best Buy by the huge monitor on the back wall. It just happened. Honest! The monitors were so pretty and BIG. I wiggled the mouse on one machine and what popped up made my eyes go wide!

Then I got angry.

The layout on the iMac was amazingly close to what I’d spent days building on my Linux box. And, I’d never touched a Mac. Not EVER. I left in a huff, without my two new monitors.

Sacrifice or simplification?

In recent months, I’ve tried lots of paths to simplify my life, many of which only complicated things. I didn’t need a new computer, but I did need to get a better display. I did need something that would work for all the windows I keep open. I liked the multiple desktops of Linux, but I needed more real estate on my monitor.

My father suggested that I ditch the idea of two monitors and buy a single large widescreen. He spouted off the math on how I would gain by having a 24″ widescreen instead of two of the 19” square variety. He won. I decided to buy a single large monitor.

I went back to Best Buy. I saw the iMac again. It had a 24” widescreen monitor, and the iMac had the rest of the computer built into the back of this flat screen. It was fascinating. It also had one cord. ONE. “No more rat nests of cords trailing down the back of my desk,” I thought. It had pretty lines, it was sleek. And, if it was as enchanting on my desk as the iPhone had been in my pocket… I’d be in heaven.

I looked at the Mac Pro Box. It had more cords, I could get into that box and change things… then I realized that was not a good thing.

I returned my gaze to the iMac. I wouldn’t take it apart, because there was no upgrade – other than maybe a little RAM in the future.

I was tired of having my weekends sucked away by a computer hardware or software upgrade/crash issue. If I were really planning to focus on writing and online work, a Mac would serve as well as Linux or Windows, right? Maybe better, since it wouldn’t derail me from from my main focus to go on some hardware/software tangent.

Learning about the Mac

I had done a bit of research on the OS after my first encounter. (Late at night, so no one would catch me at it. I even cruised the computer section of the Apple site. Shhhh!)

OS X is Unix based, like Linux, only with a slicker interface and it comes “ready to plug and play.” This was becoming more appealing to me by the second.

I talked to some folks that had Macs. I ignored those who had never used a PC – those who spouted the same hatred about PCs I’d blindly spouted about Macs. I did pay particular attention to those who knew a little about Linux and who had been PC aficionados before going to the Mac. I kept hearing, “It’s bulletproof.” I kept hearing, “There’s no maintenance.”

I started to want one.

I finally decided that if I was going to buy a new monitor, I’d have to rebuild my Linux box. It’s one of those things about Linux, video stuff is tricky. And, if I had to spend the time to rebuild a Linux box, I could probably use that same amount of time to learn a new OS. A Mac OS. I justified my desires.

And that’s how I ended up buying a new iMac.

Travels with Mia

I’ve always named my computers (and my cars). They have usually been male gendered. My iMac, Mia, is a little different. Still just as strong under the hood, she’s a bit more concerned about her appearance. (She likes being pretty.) There’s room on my simple desk for more than just a computer… and there’s room under my desk for my feet! I don’t get tangled up in cords every time I try to plug or unplug something.

I’ve had her almost a month now and I’ve never regretted it. Not once. My father quit speaking to me for awhile and threatened, “Don’t say ‘Mac’ at me anymore!” But, aside from that, there have been no issues.

Having a Linux box made high-end tweaks in Mia’s Terminal much easier than they would have been if I’d only had PC experience — but most users would never even need (or want) that. I find that the tech community online for the Mac OS is strong and helpful like the Linux community. There’s even some crossover.

The time machine function does automatic backups – I really like that. Mia works beautifully with my iPhone and external drives (although I did have to reformat them initially). And the biggest payoff? I’ve had more time to handle the other areas of my business and my life that needed an overhaul.

These days, it’s more about the big picture and less about spending countless hours with the gritty little details in my life. The more “grit” I eliminate, the more clearly I can see my life and my business.

Of course, Mia’s nice big screen only improves the view.

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