BJK Research

Episode 3 - Can a PC Guy Become a Mac Guy?

Episode 1 and Episode 2

(An earlier version of this story had a bug -- as MB crawled in where GB should have been.)

I'm finally a Mac guy. It took an extra week, and because of the delay, I've used the computer for about two hours when I started this story.� That means there's not a whole lot of being a Mac guy I can talk about yet.

The reason for the delay - I wanted more RAM. Due to the way I planned to use the MacBook,� I decided on 2 GB of RAM, but only the 80 GB hard drive. (Actually, I'm old enough that there is a certain amount of irony in typing "only 80 GB".) With a business trip rapidly approaching, I headed to the Apple Store last Wednesday, ready to spend. This time, I even dressed as the Mac guy -- cargo pants and a black turtleneck, my homag� to Steve Jobs.

That meant, of course, that I looked almost identical to the sales guys working in the store - except most of them had black t-shirts rather than turtlenecks. As I went up to the pristine, glass-topped table that held the MacBooks, one of the younger ones approached me. Since this whole process had already taken longer than I expected, I went straight to the point. "I'd like to buy a MacBook today -- white, 80 gig hard drive, and 2 gigs of RAM."

At the last spec, his face fell. He explained that all the MacBooks they had came with 1 GB of RAM, configured as two 512 MB chips in the two available slots. The only way that the store could sell me the machine I wanted was by selling me the RAM in two additional 1 GB chips. I would have to take out, AND KEEP, the RAM that came with the machine. In other words, I would have to buy 3 GBs of RAM in order to have 2. � (As he said this, I began to think that Apple's small market share was no accident.) However, he went on, if I went back home and ordered online, I would get the machine configured the way I want, without the additional expense. He consulted a price list and told me that I would save over $300 by ordering online, and shipping would be free.� While they are giving an estimate of one to three days before shipping, he said, it's probably going to be closer to one day. I guess Apple wants you to "Think Different" but "Order the Same".

For that amount of savings, I gave up on instant gratification. Not wanting to make the trip to the store a total waste, I decided to ask a few technical questions about networking, firewalls, and the like. That's when I discovered this sales person was a Clueless Fanboy. He knew next to nothing about networking or security, and anyway, you don't need security because "No one targets the Mac."

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So I went home and ordered the MacBook online. It was Wednesday, around noon, when I hit the Submit button. I sprung for an extra $18 for two-day shipping. The confirmation email gave me a link where I could check my order status, and I began checking every four hours or so. It began to feel like waiting for Christmas, only you don't know what day Christmas would actually come.

Some time between going to sleep Friday night and waking up on Saturday morning, the email arrived to say my MacBook had left the factory, and the estimated delivery date would be Monday. There was a link to FedEx that would let me know exactly where my order was. I clicked, looked at the details, and saw that yes, my computer had just left the factory. And the factory was in Suzhou, China.

China! Well, that made the estimated delivery date of Monday unrealistic. Then again, if the computer was already in the belly of a FedEx 747 winging its way across the Pacific, maybe they will be right. All it has to do is make it to Memphis by Sunday night ("Memphis By Sunday Night" almost sounds like it could be an Elvis song) so that it could be sorted onto the Cleveland plane, and maybe it could make it here by Monday.

More checking on Saturday and Sunday showed no progress - my computer was still in Suzhou. Google Earth located Suzhou as a suburb of Shanghai, although it may be a suburb of about a million people. I pictured it in a truck, stuck in a massive Chinese traffic jam. Monday morning finally showed progress. FedEx showed that the MacBook had been in and out of Anchorage, Alaska overnight and the projected delivery date was now Wednesday by 10:30 am. Well, that would be a week after ordering, but I was going to be working from home all day Wednesday, so I would be there to sign for the shipment.�

By this time, I had settled on a name for the computer. We don't go for the commonplace here - the computer network does not go by Microsoft's suggested name of "My Network". Instead, the computer network� is called Deadrock, and the computers, instead of being called Desktop1 or Laptop2, are all named after dead rock stars. The new MacBook was going to replace Morrison, and an even older laptop was called Janis. My current desktop computer is Otis, and my last desktop, now used by my daughter, is called Elvis. (I've already told her she can take Elvis to college next year.) There's also a Garcia, but he's temporarily offline. Since Apple the computer company and Apple the music company had recently kissed and made up, I figured the new computer should be called George.

By Monday afternoon George was in Indianapolis, and two hours later he was bound for Cleveland. That meant he may be here a day early. And Tuesday I was scheduled to work at a client's. First thing Tuesday morning I checked FedEx, and George had left the Cleveland airport for the FedEx facility. By 7:30 he was on the truck and out for delivery by 10:30. I told the client I would be running a little late, and at 9:30 in the morning, dressed as a PC guy, I was on the front porch signing for George. I only had time to take the white Apple box (almost like the White Album) out of the packing case before I had to leave.

When I got back later that afternoon, I unpacked George, plugged him into Deadrock and turned him on. After registration, he immediately called back home and downloaded seven updates, including the two security updates of 2007 and the Daylight Savings Time update. After one more reboot, I was finally ready to be a Mac guy. After an hour or two of exploring, I finally started looking for something that would let me write this story. Skipping the Microsoft Office trial for now (I didn't want my first real task on a MacBook to be done using Microsoft software), I found an application called TextEdit that was actually more like a mini word processor than a text editor, since it can check spelling and format text. So that's what I used to write this story - it even lets you save the file as HTML.

Since I don't have Dreamweaver installed on the Mac yet, and I haven't figured out the correct permissions for the Mac and Windows computers to exchange files yet, I had to use a Flash drive to move the file onto the desktop machine before publishing it here. So networking between the Mac and Windows may be the first real technical challenge to master. Starting next week, start looking for  a review of the MacBook itself, along with the apps that come with it. Actually, here's the first review - there doesn't seem to be a backspace key, only a delete key. And the delete key acts as a backspace. (Sigh) I guess I'm going to have to think different.

Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4


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