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Switched... then switched back... and then switched again

Posted by bmclaugh on October 15, 2003 at 10:00 AM PDT

OK, I admit it. I'm a bit of a trend-happy person, at least in the computer world. When all the buzz around Mac OS X took off last year, I got pretty excited and jumped in full-steam. It helped that I was editing the first Java and Mac OS X title for O'Reilly (Mac OS X for Java Geeks), and so I took off for bluer... er... grayer... skies.

This was all pretty good; however, for the record, I was spending almost all my time on editing, adminstrative tasks, and the like. I point that out because it meant that I wasn't spending a ton of time in the command-line, and I was writing myself. Additionally, I wasn't using what turns out to be one my key applications - Logos, a pretty heavy-duty Bible software that I'm in for at least several hours a week. Further, I was playing with my audio toys (I run a ProTools rig), and graphics stuff like Photoshop and InDesign. So, to be fair, I was an ideal Mac user.

This all sounds good, until I started to return to some of those more common usage patterns. I began to be annoyed at having to use my poor lone PC desktop just to do Bible study, and suddenly ProTools took a backseat to programming and writing, tasks that I just wasn't comfortable on the Mac with. So, about 4 months ago, I got annoyed at the Option key, tired of missing my Alt+Tab, and generally fed up with the pulsing blue of Aqua. For reasons that are still odd to me, I decided to go with the other blue--Bill Gates' variety, often found with white text and an offending memory address on it.

For awhile, I was happy again; my old keyboard shortcuts worked, I could work with editors and authors with ease, and even found some nice spam and related hacks to avoid Inbox clogs; thanks to the authors of Windows XP Hacks for almost all of this. The occasional work in InDesign or Photoshop was done on my Mac OS X desktop, and generally, life seemed good.

Then, last week, I went out to California to an O'Reilly editors meeting. Nothing big there, right? Well, that's what I thought. Halfway through the week, I got a call from a buddy I did some freelance design for, and he needed some documents changed pronto. Of course, they were in InDesign, which I didn't have on my PC laptop, and of course I hadn't bothered to pack up my OS X desktop for an editors meeting (sic). That quickly got annoying... at the same time, I was needing to use secure FTP to throw some files on an O'Reilly server. Of course, you can't simply type 'sftp' in a Windows command prompt (or 'ssh', or 'ls', or... well, you get the idea). So now, I'm really steamed. Then, I spent over an hour trying to get a 1.4.x JDK working on my laptop, because the stupid installer didn't want to cooperate with my anti-spam program. UGGHHH!

In short, I had to have everything on one machine, had to have back my Unix-style command-line, and didn't care what it took to get there. As I weighed PC vs. Mac, Mac vs. PC, it didn't hurt to see that it cost well over $1000 to get my Mac OS X Adobe programs in a PC version... when I'd already paid for them on the Mac last year. Add to that the fact that you can't run Mac programs on a PC well, but that VirtualPC lets you easily run PC programs on a Mac, and I was sold.

Endgame: Three days later, I'm back on my TiBook, complete with tons of slick toys (thanks again to the Hacks guys: Mac OS X Hacks. I'm installing Windows XP on Virtual PC now, have already done work on a new book, edited old books, gotten my mail to show up color-coded again, and even took out my Unix tools for dinner and a movie. Needless to say, I can't imagine why I ever went to Windows in the first place. We'll see what I'm doing in six months, but it looks like the biggest change for me right now is upgrading to Panther, and the OS can stay put :-)

Happy in Waco, Brett ;-)

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