I Think Therefore iMac
I remember this was the first mac ad I saw at the tender age of twelve or so. I also remember that at the time I was more concerned with the philosophical implications of it than the technological even though at the time Descartes was not yet known to me. Since starting university, however, I’m in the process of completing a philosophy major so now I know all about Descartes and his meditations and I’ve also expanded my knowledge of the other focus of the ad – Macintosh computers. After much prodding and pushing from a close friend and an Uncle I am, dear readers, a mac user and have been since January. It is possibly the best decision I ever made and I could not recommend “the switch” more highly to other academic users. Here’s five reasons why I prefer a mac for uni:
1. The academic discount – about 10% off for all university/college students (see the online store of your country for more information). This means that macs which are admittedly quite expensive become more affordable.
2. The safety issues – if you’re connecting your computer to a university network it’s always a bit of a risk. I’m not a big file-sharer nor do I understand the ins-and-outs of FTP, HTTP and the like but I know that my risk of getting viruses, spyware and other network and internet nasties is severely reduced by using MacOSX than Windows. Before I was a mac user I used Windows and then Linux so I haven’t had to deal with anti-virus software or spybot for about a year now and I cannot explain how much I don’t miss having to regularily update it and deal with the hassle of scans. Just for the record though I do use OSX’s built in firewall since not all bad things on the internet are platform-specific.
3. The fantastic software available – whilst I will admit to using Microsoft Word most of the otehr software I use is mac-specific. A quick browse of my applications folder reveals such gems as Camino, Flock, iStumbler, Handbrake, iProcrastinate, LibraryBooks, MediaCentral, OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle, SilverKeeper, Quicksilver and SubEthaEdit. I’ll post later about some of my favourite software but all of the programs listed are fantastic (and not just for academic work either).
4. Size and convenience – as I’ve already admitted macs are expensive especially for the larger versions however when I began my investigation into a small computer which I could carry to and from uni when I need to I found that a mac was actually quite a cost-effective solution (at least in Australia). Most of the cheap Dell options involve monster machines with 15.4″ widescreens and whilst I do see some at uni with such laptops I can’t help but notice how cute and practical the many 12″ iBooks and PowerBooks look next to them. If you think size is an issue then try using one – I don’t actually notice how small my PowerBook is until I see someone else using one and they look so tiny or when I use another computer and then I wonder what on earth to do with all my new screen real-estate! I speak here as someone who doesn’t do any graphics work or video editing in which case the scenario would be vastly different.
5. Included software – when I bought my PowerBook I got quite a bit of “free” (included) software with it. As well as the operating system I also recieved a trial of iWork (not particularily useful in the long-term) and the iLife suite – iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, iWeb and GarageBand as well as OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner. Some of these I don’t use terribly often but OmniOutliner is something I have learned to love and as someone who has an almost fanatical obsession with lists it provides a perfect structured system for me.
I know I only said that there were five reasons but this last one doesn’t seem to be a ‘reason’ so much as a way of life. Using a mac is just so unbelievably easy. Windows XP drove me barmy as I tried to do things to make it just that little bit more intuitive but failed time and time again, Linux was fantastic but I was running it on quite an old laptop which slowed it down quite a bit and I never could get printing or DVD’s to work but OSX, to use a much overused phrase, “just works”. It’s a cliche but it does.