I Can Admit It: I Love Macs
He circles the newsroom like a shark, seeking any opportunity to strike.
When he finds a target, he moves in. "That laptop is out of warranty -- you really should get a Mac."
CW's editor in chief is on a crusade to change the world to Macs, one discarded PC laptop at a time.
I once wrote they could take my PC away when they pried it from my cold, stiff fingers in a blog titled "I hate Macs." (And I'm still being viciously savaged by the fanboys -- more than 370 comments and climbing, for a blog almost a year and a half old.)
But the Crusader got me. I'm typing this on a ... um, a ... wait, I can say it ... on a ... give me a second ... yes, on a ... Mac.
I've been assimilated. Resistance was futile.
A sleek, slick little MacBook sits right here, with a cool aluminum unibody, fantastic trackpad and nifty little extras like keys that light up in dim light and a magnetic power cable that harmlessly pops off when tugged too hard. This MacBook review tells you all about it and has a video showing it off.
And it just works. Well, most of the time.
Certainly a lot more than a souped-up PC laptop we bought for videoediting. It was just never right. It took 11 minutes to shut down, seriously.
But what finally convinced me that the switch was the right thing to do was the day I was rendering a huge video file that literally took all night.
That's not the problem, almost any consumer machine would take that long to render a long project with different video clips, stills, transitions, special effects, etc. It's one of the most resource-intensive tasks you can ask of a personal computer.
What got me was that after more than 10 hours of rendering or so, at about 98.7% completion or something like that, it quit. It just stopped. I don't even remember the error message, I was so furious and distraught. All those hours of waiting for nothing. That's not good in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. It's death.
And the machine just gobbles up memory resources on its own. Some kind of memory leak or something. I can just turn it on and the Commit Charge -- basically the amount of physical and virtual memory being used -- will steadily grow even with no programs running. It will start out at about 344MB or so and slowly increase to the limit of about 9GB by the end of the day and finally generate a pop-up that says it's running out of virtual memory and is increasing the allocated amount of disk space to provide it. And that's with 3.5 GB of physical RAM.
Again, this happens with no programs running except Task Manager (to measure the Commit Charge). I have to keep shutting down my videoediting projects and do a hard reboot and pick up where I left off. The help desk just grabbed it minutes ago in yet another attempt to fix it.
So those issues, combined with too many Blue Screens of Death on my other, regular work laptop, tipped the scales.
I'm still feeling my way around the Mac. This pesky "work" thing keeps getting in the way of learning all its features, but it has only frozen a couple of times -- and it saved my work when that happened.
And I've already found some workarounds. For example, I like to render out .wmv video files for previews to show other staffers because they're quick and small and don't degrade too much in the compression.
And of course the Macs won't read them (the "w" in .wmv stands for Windows). But I was pointed to a free tool called Flip4Mac that allows .wmv files to be viewed. It was trivial to download, set up, launch and use.
I still miss my extremely useful collection of macros in my NoteTab text editor, but I'm told I can achieve similar functionality with Mac text editors.
And some built-in applications are certainly useful and intuitive. I was recently finishing a video -- in a hurry, as usual -- and I needed some fast-paced music for one sequence.
I usually go hunt for a free-use clip online, but I had heard of GarageBand and I fired it up and created a decent MP3 file in just a few minutes -- not knowing a thing about GarageBand or reading any of the help files. I was amazed.
So yeah, the Mac is nice. Still too expensive if it was on my dime, but as a company machine, I really like it.
There, I've said it. The Crusader -- once a leading industry Windows guru -- has been (good naturedly) razzing me for a mea culpa. So there you go.
Actually, as I've been writing this -- and this is the absolute truth -- the keyboard has been freezing. I first attributed it low batteries in my Bluetooth keyboard, but I plugged in another USB keyboard and it's still freezing.
Maybe it's time for Linux?