In 2005 Apple released the Mac Mini and I was one of the first to buy one. For most of 2004 I had become infatuated with OS X. The Unix underpinnings coupled with the elegance of the Aqua screamed out for me to play with it. I had run Microsoft since the DOS days. In the last 5 years I had become a modest expert with Linux, building Gentoo kernels on my HP VL-400. I played with all the major operating systems available except OS X (then 10.3). The price point was out of my range. But one day Steve Jobs stood up in front of an audience and showed off the Mac Mini and I saw an opportunity. The Mini didn’t inspire me with its capability, but it gave me an entry point I could justify in my mind. So I bought the 1.42Ghz version with 512MB of memory and an 80GB drive and set it up as my home system. Over time I upgraded the memory to a gig and replace the paltry 80GB 4200rpm drive with an external Firewire 7200rpm 200GB model. The Mac Mini served me well, easing my way into the world of Mac.
There were problems, of course. Gripes mostly, areas where Windows faired better then OS X (why the red X doesn’t quit an application or why the green plus button does different things based on the app I’ll never know), but overall I was happy with the purchase(s).
Then the DVD drive started acting up, refusing to read blank or burned DVDs. Then playback started stuttering on commercial DVDs and I was forced to stop using it. When the low-pitch hum emanated from the Mini and the fan seemed to kick in more often, I knew the abundant dust from the house had made its way into the inner workings of the aluminum box. So I opened it up and took it apart, removing each component carefully and, with a can-of-air, cleaned the dust off. But it was never the same afterwards, slowing and freezing, even occasionally throwing a kernel panic. I may have damaged something reassembling it or it might have just been its time. When the video started to cut out (turning blue for no apparent reason), I knew the Mini was heading down an inevitable path of complete failure.
It had lasted me two and a half years. I don’t own computers that long. Actually I do, I just get new ones to replace them and give the old one to my wife and then finally regulate it to the closet (I’ve really got to donate that VL-400). The Mac experience had been pleasant. Pleasant enough for me to invest in a real Mac, a machine with power.
But I wasn’t going to be limited this time. I wasn’t going to be stuck in the den while my wife was in the living room. I had at some point decided that my next main computer (a geek always has at least 2 computers running at the same time) was going to be a laptop. I had played with my fathers MacBook and decided it wasn’t powerful enough. The MacBook Pro, on the other hand offered the 256mb of graphical memory and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor that put most desktops to shame. I decided to save my pennies (and dollars and twenties) and buy myself a computer that would hopefully last me three years.
With my corporate discount in hand (in the form of my badge), I trekked to a nearby Apple store (there are three within 30 minutes). This was a week before Leopard was going to be released, so the store wasn’t packed with the Mac-Zealots that I had learned to ignore. Working with one of the clerks, I asked for the 2.4Ghz 15-inch MacBook Pro. 15 minutes later I walked out of the store with a AppleCare package in my pocket, a MacBook Pro box, and a hefty charge on my credit card (I get cash back and have already paid the charge off).
That was a week and a half ago. Since then I have cleaned my desk of the Mac Mini, Dell monitor, and monitor stand. I have re-purposed the external USB hard drive to be my Time Machine with a new 320GB , bought an update to Photoshop CS3, bought a copy of VMware Fusion (the geeks VM software), and upgraded the memory to 4GB for about $400 less then Apple wanted. Lastly I updated my OS to Leopard even though the up-to-date disk missed it’s arrival time by two days. I’ve also bolted this guy down to my desk to keep idle hands from walking aways with it.
Let’s just say I’ve joined the Mac revolution. Just don’t call me a Zealot.