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October 26, 2005

The Mac's Back

macback1026.jpg

The Mac is back, after a certain amount of time of inactivity, much of it brought on by my own sloth in getting it off to the repair shop. There are three places to get your Mac repaired in the Dayton area, and all three of them are on the other side of Dayton from me. I finally roused myself to drop the thing off over the weekend; on Monday I got a phone call from the service department telling me that my power supply and motherboard had been fried, and that this was actually a known issue -- apparently iMac G5s are frying in their own juices all across this great land of ours, so many, in fact, that the service shop expect it might be a four week wait for parts. Then they called back today, said the parts were in and been installed, and everything was working great and i could come and pick it up.

Part of me wonders if the "it'll take a month" thing was just a ruse to appear to be providing excellent service. On the other hand, they did fix my computer in three days, which does count as excellent service, particularly as they did have to order a new power supply and motherboard from Apple. So no matter how you slice it, a fine job by the technicians. Assuming nothing else goes wrong. The best news: it's all under the warranty, so it didn't cost me anything. And there was much rejoicing.

The bad news for Mac lovers is that I didn't really miss it all that much while it was gone. The thing I missed most about it was the mail client, which is both way smarter than any PC mail client in terms of spotting spam, but which also (naturally enough) had all my e-mail in it. Since I use my e-mail as my back-up brain (which is to say it's where I store phone number addresses, etc, all easily accessible through Spotlight), not having all that at my fingertips was a bit aggravating. Otherwise: eh. I use the Mac primarily for writing books and for e-mail, and I wasn't writing a book at any point when it was down. All the other major functions transferred easily back to my PC without a hiccup (and of course some functions never left: I do all my image manipulation on the PC because that's where my Photoshop is).

This would bother me more if I wasn't already clear on the fact that my Mac is something of an affectation, something I got in the "want" category rather than the "need" category. I will say that it's definitely an argument for having more than one computer in the house (and for having most non-system files on a networked archive drive). So all things considered I was and am pretty mellow about the whole "iMac iMploding" incident. Although now that it's back I guess I should start another book or something. You know, to keep it busy.

Posted by john at October 26, 2005 01:16 AM

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Comments

Burns! | October 26, 2005 03:24 AM

I just don't understand the Cult of Mac. Everyone I know has trouble with their machines. I know they're supposed to be easier to use, sexier, all that. What good is it if the damn thing is in the shop all the time?

I've always used PCs, and never (not once) had a meltdown that required service from someone more technically savvy that I (read: tech-retarded.)

Chris Byrne | October 26, 2005 04:56 AM

So how long before the faithful haul you up before the macquisition to answer for your heresy...

Running Photoshop on a PC... HOW DARE YOU!

Sorry, can't stop giggling at the thought of the apopleptic Mac hordes...

Of course I still really want one

Martin Wagner | October 26, 2005 05:47 AM

Yo Burns,

My Mac isn't in the shop all the time. In fact the only time I ever had to send one in for repairs (my previous one), it was back in two days and Apple paid the FedEx shipping both ways.

Meanwhile I hear my PC pals bitch about all the viruses and spyware they have to keep fighting off, and I've got a buddy whose spiffy PC is failing on him right now.

Bottom line: computers are computers. Doesn't matter about the brand. Any one of them can break down, and eventually will. Get one that serves your needs and does what you need it to do. All this brand-slavishness on both sides is like 12-year-olds arguing about PS2-vs-XBox. Lame.

kat | October 26, 2005 07:46 AM

I suspect it's a matter of first impressions. Our current Windows box is no more or less stable on the Mac, but my lasting memory of Windows will always be from our first (Windows 3.1: lasted for 3 unstable, data-loosing months before dying entirely, taking all data with it) while my love for Macs was solidified by the LC, which we got at the same time as the PC and lasted for, I think, five years before being retired as too slow, and which never lost a thing. Fair, to judge current products by ten-year-old predecessors? Hardly. But I never claimed to be a *fair* consumer.

I stay with Apple for three reasons. One, I never have to worry about viruses and adware. Two, it's pretty. Silly? Maybe - but I stare at this damned thing for several hours a day, so it'd damn well better be a pretty box with nice graphics. And three, my main criterion for computer choice is that I turn it on and it works, and 99% of the time, my Mac does that. I work on the computer. I don't have time to play with printer drivers that don't, graphic display cards that won't, and software that requires constant attention, and my (unfair) impression of Windows is that it requires that. If I have to pay a premium to have my computer's OS hum along prettily in the background not distracting me, then so be it.

Kevin Q | October 26, 2005 08:07 AM

John, I had the opposite repair time estimation experience as you. My PowerBook had a small problem, and the people at the Apple Store told me "Oh, you'll get it back in 5-7 business days." 3.5 weeks later, I got it back in the mail. Apparently, their repair center for PowerBooks is in Houston, and I had the misfortune of sending it in right before Hurricane Rita. It spent several weeks sitting waiting in the repair center for deliveries to pick back up and a new motherboard to be delivered. Once the motherboard got there, I got my laptop back within 24 hours (repair, and ship Texas to Ohio, less than 24 hours...not too bad).

But most people's experience is getting it back quick.

K

John Scalzi | October 26, 2005 08:08 AM

Well, I've had both PCs and Apples blow out on me, so they're equal on that score. I use the Mac to get e-mail and web browse for the afrementioned security (no viruses, etc), and the PC to do heavy lifting applications and to play games and music not available on the Mac. Having two computers is really actually very useful. Although if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd have to go with a PC.

Paul | October 26, 2005 08:25 AM

That would be the Scotty Principle of repair time estimates: "how do you expect to get a reputation as a miracle worker if you tell the captain the real time it's going to take?"

Jim Winter | October 26, 2005 09:23 AM

I never bought into the myth that Macs were perfect or smooth running, partly because I've had to fix too many of them. I have, however, seen where you have to suffer some sort of brain damage to repeatedly screw up using an iMac.

The idea of Mac superiority comes from the days when Windows was just a pretty face slapped on DOS. (And in the Windows 3.1 days, not even pretty.)

The last couple of iterations of Windows - 2000 and XP - have been stable for the most part, but Microsoft insisted on shipping Windows with all these ports open, making it a bigger target for hackers than it already is.

The new Windows, due out next year, looks suspiciously like Unix (read: Linux) with a Start button, and has a version of IE that could be accused of being a Firefox clone.

John, your Mac problem sounds like it's one of the reasons Apple is ditching the PowerPC chip for Intel.

Now, here's something Steve Jobs doesn't want you to know: With a little minor tweaking and some help from Linux, OSX will run on a PC. One of my coworkers used a VMWare box to put the build together. I just haven't had the nerve to put it on my home PC.

$50 says Dell will have a Mac clone, with Steve Jobs' blessing, out within two years of the first Intel Macs.

Emily | October 26, 2005 09:49 AM

Another part of the "smug superiority" that people see in Mac owners is that it's really just more pleasant, to me anyway, to be in front of something that is nice to look at.

I mean, I spend upwards of 10 hours a day in front of the thing. I might as well have something pretty to look at while I'm doing it.

(And the fact that things tend to, in my experience, just fucking WORK, well, that's even BETTER.)

Cookie Monster | October 26, 2005 11:00 AM

Well, I'm pretty platform agnostic, but since we've switched to all Macs at home I spend far less time being the IT guy. My SO can just write her damn PhD thesis, do email, play games and so on without it crashing and burning.

Before we switched, I would get regular calls while at work to, oh, get the printer to work, diagnose why it wouldn't start, figure out why it was bursting into flames when you hit the right shift key. The usual. This no longer happens. This was 3-4 years ago, and I'm still running the OS the PowerMac came pre-installed with, only stopping to "upgrade" as new release &etc. are released. That is, no "wipe and reininstall" once, which is unheard of in my experience with other consumer platforms.

I don't know how much of this is Apple and how much is just luck, but I'm not complaining. And since we have no use for a Windows machine at home I suspect we've become permanent Mac users. I know I can send my SO off to campus with her iBook and she can mostly expect to use it to do the things she needs to do.

Joining those scientologist freaks is culty; sticking with a platform that doesn't kick you in the cajones is being pragmatic, at the very least. I ain't changing my ways unless Apple decides to use the Intel hardware DRM to lock it down to some crazy US level of copyright control.

D.F. Manno | October 26, 2005 11:37 AM

Jim Winter wrote:

$50 says Dell will have a Mac clone, with Steve Jobs' blessing, out within two years of the first Intel Macs.

If you're serious about that, I'll take that bet. It'll never happen. One of the first things Jobs did on returning to Apple was to kill the Mac clones.

What most people fail to realize is that Apple is a hardware company that sells some software on the side. Everything the company does is geared toward selling Macs and iPods. There's not enough money in selling OS X for Windows to make up for the loss of sales of Macs.

D.F. Manno | October 26, 2005 11:41 AM

That should be "OS X for the PC," of course.

Stripes | October 26, 2005 12:15 PM

Burns, I think that is more along the lines of

  1. people with busted stuff are more likely to talk about it then people with non-busted stuff, and
  2. Apple has been selling more laptops in the last few years and they are more likely to get busted by dropping and whatnot.

My wife and I have 7 Macs at the moment (including the ones are work), none of which have ever been busted EXCEPT the laptops, and those either via dropping, or being run into at high speed by dogs (which we have 4 of).

On the other hand I have owned many many many more PCs over the years, and only one died young, and only one other died and I think it was after four years of service (which is only a year younger then my eldest Mac, and younger then the rest of them).

So I wouldn't say PC hardware is vastly less reliable either. Maybe a smidge, but then again maybe not, my sample size is pretty small (even if it is larger then most people's).

Personally I like Macs for the software.

Josh | October 26, 2005 03:06 PM

If you find yourself relying on a PC for email again I highly recommend Spam Bayes combined with Outlook 2003. Spam Bayes does an excellent job filtering out spam, though it takes a couple days for the rules to develop, and Outlook 2003 has proven to be an excellent email client in my estimation. Granted it is also the only email client that will sync with my phone, which I find rather useful for keeping track of tasks and appointments, so I guess it is just good fortune that I happen to like it.

Christopher Billett | October 26, 2005 03:34 PM

You'll never officially see Dell running Mac OS, but I foresee a Linux type of situation where, in short, anyone who cares enough can do it. My buddy is a network administrator at a company near London that deals closely with Apple and has a beta of the Intel-savvy Mac OS running, it's not really locked down. Very interesting, makes me nervous though.

John, you're scarily similar to me in terms of computer usage. I'm primarily a Mac Analyst by day, but I only run a Mac laptop at home, and also run Photoshop on my uber-powerful PC. Reason being? I built my stupidly high spec Wintel for less than £500, all the best components and a ton of memory etc. Just for Macromedia Studio and Photoshop. A compartive (and, yes, ideal) system on Mac would have been closer to £2000.

The laptop's handy, though, for security when sniffing around email and 'teh interwib'. I write on it for a stupid reason; I prefer the feel of Apple's keyboard. What? They flow. Love 'em.

Hope you don't mind my cyber-squatting here every now and then. I passed your blog for Subterranean reasons, and like it. I'll buy a book of yours sometime, as payment! You published in the UK?

Jim Winter | October 26, 2005 03:38 PM

DF Manno wrote:

"If you're serious about that, I'll take that bet. It'll never happen. One of the first things Jobs did on returning to Apple was to kill the Mac clones."

Think long and hard before you take that bet. A Mac-based PC sits on Michael Dell's desk.

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