Mac Switchback, Act III 11

My initial reaction to my new Powerbook was euphoria, followed by annoyance as many things didn’t work as well as I’d expected.

I’ve now settled into a state somewhere in the middle. I haven’t had another hard crash requiring a battery removal and restart. And the USB hard drives that mysteriously refused to load before are mysteriously working again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m still not happy about how long it takes for applications to load, and that it’s usually a 2-3 second wait for the Apple menu to drop down, but most things are acceptably fast.

Nonetheless, I’m still getting the kind of inexplicable problems I assumed were more common on Windows. For example, OS X suddenly decided to change my default browser to Opera, which I didn’t even realize was installed on the machine. Several attempts to change the setting to Firefox in the Safari preferences didn’t work — it just switched back as soon as I closed Safari. Reinstalling Firefox finally did the trick. About 75% of the comments I’ve gotten say, in essence, “that doesn’t happen on a Mac. You must be smoking something.” The other 25% say, “yes, OS X isn’t really as stable as everyone thinks, but it still has many advantages.”

The good news is that, as I get used to the particularities of OS X, I’m enjoying it more. I’m gradually fixing my biggest annoyances and replacing features I miss from Windows through 3rd-party utilities. I’m feeling more as though I made the right choice — it’s just a matter of time to adapt.

My sense is that the Mac is clearly a better computer for the majority of users, who run a limited number of standard application, and for the ubergeek types who enjoy hacking into the Unix underbelly of OS X. For the in the middle, the “power users” like myself, the difference isn’t quite so clear. I probably use 10 applications on a daily basis, and 20 on a weekly basis, and I do all sorts of things to optimize the efficiency of my computing experience. The idea of tweaking the Windows Registry didn’t terrify me, so the advantages of the Mac don’t feel quite so stark. But they are still there.