Switching to Mac: impressions after a week

(Originally posted Feb. 3)

My career was built on a Mac. I used them faithfully and enthusiastically for 10 years. When Excite bought my company, Go Media, in 1996 I had to switch to PCs. I’ve been using them ever since. When my primary desktop PC crapped out a couple of weeks ago I decided that, between the pain of (probably) starting over on a new PC, and (probably) upgrading to Vista, thus (probably) having to upgrade 2 other PCs, it was maybe time to switch to a Mac. After all, the dual core machines let me run Windows, and I’d still have my other PCs there if I need them. Most of the work I do these days is on the Web or uses
open source software.

I did a bit of Googling in search of switching horror stories. The worst I found was evidence that Quicken
doesn’t export well from PC to Mac. It’s a known problem, but a non-issue for me. I don’t use quicken.

We’ve got an Apple Store here in Austin, so off I went to test drive some Macs. I was pretty sure I’d be coming home with one, but I felt good creating the illusion of doing research. I assumed I’d need a big bad Mac Pro – I didn’t realize how powerful the iMacs are. I secretly wanted the biggest baddest box anyway, but I just couldn’t justify the extra money. I came
home with a 24″ iMac with a 1 Gb of RAM (I almost immediately upgraded to 2 Gb), and a 250 Gb LaCie external HD. I paid maybe $200-$300 more than I would’ve paid for a PC with similar specs.

The short summary: I love love love it. It’s beautiful. For the most part, things just work as they should.

On the other hand, it hasn’t been entirely painless. The first problem I encountered was simply getting online. Unpacking and setting up the Mac was a breeze, as expected. Unfortunately, it wasn’t seeing my wireless network. When I used a network cable to wire the Mac directly to the cable modem, it saw my network, including my laptop online wirelessly,
but I couldn’t get online.

I have Time Warner Business Class, with 14 static IP numbers. Apparently this setup was the culprit. The
solution: in the System Preferences > Network dialog box, there’s a “Configure IPv4” popup menu. I had to change to Using DHCP with Manual Address, attempt (and fail at) a logon, then set it back to Manual and put in all my standard info. That did it.

Weird. And very un-Mac-like. Kudos to the support guy at Time Warner Austin for solving this.

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