The Switch

by Jin, 06-04-09 // 40 comments

After I turned the power back on, I decided to finish my morning online reading on my Dell desktop instead. A bad feeling sunk in after I pressed the power button. Nothing happened. I pressed again, still nothing. Yep, my Dell died. I suddenly had a flash back of how my previous PCs died. My last Dell died in a in a similar fashion, except for instead of the cats, it was my then one year old son playing “on, off, on, off” game with the red switch on the power-strip. The PC before that, I had to retire due to slow performance over time.

I was pretty upset, because I just got this Dell last year. I normally don’t expect much from Dell. They’re cheap, but I had hoped it’d last for least another couple years or so. There I was, fuming. I had planned to do quite a bit of work on the computer that day. Also I was just so fed up having to repair/replace computers. My wife and kids gathered around and tried to comfort me. Then suddenly, like a scene from A Christmas Story, I said “Everyone go upstairs get dressed, we’re going out!”

A Christmas Story

I was on my way to get a Mac.

I couldn’t believe I was doing it. Over the years, I had numerous PC vs. Mac conversations with my Mac using friends. Being a long time PC user since early 90s, I always defended my hardware and OS of choice. I had many fond memories of PC. I remember configuring the config.sys and autoexec.bat files to load different games and applications; playing games, lots ‘n lots of games; learning Photoshop 2.0 and eventually web development. I never bought the argument that designers should use Mac as my friends told me. To me, Mac, PCs are just tools. Photoshop is Photoshop, regardless what OS they’re on.

However, I don’t use computer the same way I used to. I no longer play games, or care about hardware, software optimization. I just want to use a tool that works, and works well. I don’t want to spend time fixing the tool, I just want to use it. Maybe that’s why I decided to get a Mac.

iMac Box

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the Apple store. Ten minutes after that, I walked out with an 24″ iMac.


When I got home, I encountered the most pleasant computer un-boxing experience I’ve ever had. Inside of the box, there was the display, a soft power cord and a tiny box containing the keyboard and mouse. That was it. No panflits, no thick instruction books, no heavy duty cables. Everything was so clean. The whole set up took no more than 2 minutes until I saw the welcome video (But I did clean my office for about an hour before that). The user experience starts with packaging.


It’s been a week since I’ve had my first Mac. So far I love everything about it. I love the fact that many details are put in the UI. It’s not just how pretty things look, but also how they function. The learning curve switching from PC to Mac wasn’t as high as I expected. After all, most software I use are the same on both systems. There are things I’m still getting used to, such as I have to hit cmd+Q to truly quit an app. I’m also learning all the keyboard shortcuts as well.


I’m not ready to call myself a “Mac” yet. I don’t think I’ll ever be since there’s always a place in my heart for PC. There’s just too much nostalgia to let go completely. Having said that, I’m thoroughly enjoying the transition. Apple products aren’t just about software or hardware, it’s the whole user experience package. I can clearly see that now.


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Jarrod 06-04-09

You need a 24″ cinema display to complement that – get rid of that 19 (gasp, 4:3 ratio)!

But it’s a very nice setup, unless you lose that tiny keyboard :)

And a left-handed mouse; where will your deviant behavior end!

Ida 06-04-09

Thanks for sharing your story.
I got my first mac two months ago. It was a macbook. Two days after I encountered my first big problem. My macbook freezed and ten seconds later lines started to appear on the screen and then everything went black. I went to the mac store and explained my problems. But didn’t get no answers. The guy I talked to just kept saying: Things like that has never happened with a new macbook. (Well now it has! I wanted to scream to him. )
This annoying thing with the screen still happens occasionally. That is once every two weeks or so. I know I should put it in for support but I’m afraid that if I haven’t pinned down the problem myself first support won’t change a thing.
The worst thing I experienced after starting to use a mac is the lack of understanding from people using mac. I mean almost every single time I have a problem and ask for help they start by saying I’m wrong and my mac is right. It’s getting on my nerves and it’s probably one of the biggest reasons that I still use my (very) old PC 90% of the time. To me Mac is not magic, it’s not “just working” as everyone says, it’s just a another computer.

Kris 06-04-09

I love the Leopard default wallpaper as the background for this post. A couple of things I suggest for Mac users, if you haven’t already heard. 1. Quicksilver. I so rarely have to take my hands off the keyboard, sometimes I forget I even have a mouse. 2. Coda. I love this program for writing code. Fast, simple, wonderful. There are a few flaws, but mostly I love it. 3. Espresso. I’m still getting used to this one, but I like it as a quick code editor when I have to make fast changes. I actually have this set as my default program to open .js, .html, .php, etc.

@ida, I have heard of this problem with the new macbooks. I recently purchased a new macbook myself, and haven’t had the problem but you can bet that if I did, I would be on support’s ass about it. I know you had a bad experience with the Apple Store people, but I would recommend taking it back in. There’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t check it in immediately and get to fixing the problem, and perhaps even give you a loaner to use while they’re fixing it. My experience with Apple support has been nothing short of phenomenal. I would say give them another shot. If you can’t reproduce the problem in front of them, insist that they take it in to check it and fix it. If it keeps happening, take it in. Good luck!

John Pitchers 06-04-09

I’ve teetered on the edge of purchasing a Mac for quite a while now. The sexy, uncluttered IMac just screems “Buy Me! I’ll make your life easy!!” I can fully understand why designers love Mac but as a web designer, 95% of the audience I design for are on PC. And that’s the platform that websites need to be tested on.

The same versions of Firefox on Mac and PC behave differently enough to cause problems. I’ve come across it on more than one occasion.

Yeah, I know you can install windows on a Mac. But, I already got a virtual Machine set up on Windows so I can test IE6. Not sure that Mac running Windows running a virtual machine is going to work. But, I might be wrong.

Somehow, I just see myself building a perfect website, uploading it and clients complaining because it doesn’t work properly on Windows. Then it’s back to the old machine to test and debug.

Jeff 06-04-09

Totally have to agree with Kris about the post background. And congratulations. There’s no turning back now. :)

Bryan Chain 06-04-09

I bought a MacBook Pro a few years ago as my primary laptop, but being a gamer, I was never able to fully let go of my PC. Recently, I sold my brand new i7 based gaming machine in favor of…a Mac Mini.

I have never been happier with my computing experience.

Aaron 06-04-09


A few app suggestions: Coda, Textmate, & Transmit are the mac trinity of web design.

teeth 06-04-09

apple products are far from perfect either; macbooks and ipods have died too early on my friends which made me wary to make the switch but of course they still swear by them. I’ve used Macs at work and didn’t find it so intuitive so my learning curve has been long and frustrating… and I’m not sure I want to buy into the whole apple economy either.

But glad you’re enjoying it so far; I am interested to see how your mac experience continues.

Jin 06-04-09

@Jarrod, please send $899 and I’ll get on it! :)

@Ida, I’d definitely take it back since your Macbook is still new. Speak to a different support person. My experience of purchasing my iPhone and iMac have been very good. The floor people are helpful.

@Kris, I DLed Quicksilver right away. It was suggested to me by some other people too. I read this helpful link: It seems quite powerful.

@Jeff, thanks!

@Bryan, yeah gaming was what kept me on PC for the longest time. Even though I don’t play games nearly as much as I used to, I still hope they’ll port more games to OSX later.

@Aaron, I got Transmit, it’s great. I’ll have to try out Coda, Textmate. It’s a whole new world to me.

@teeth, I’m sure no system is flawless. I haven’t used enough of my Mac to draw any criticisms yet. We’ll see what happens when honeymoon is over :)

Janko 06-04-09

Sorry about your Dell, but congratulations on Mac!!

I don’t have anything clever to share about Mac since I don’t have one, but I can share a plenty of tricks on how to do your work normally on your laptop when you spill juice over it :)

Kris 06-04-09

One more suggestion re: quicksilver: Change the activation to cmd-space and disable spotlight. Spotlight is good, but Quicksilver is better, IMO.

Dmitry 06-04-09

Congrats on the switch, you won’t regret it :)

Best way to discover OS X applications is through this site: — it’s basically a big database of all OS X apps, ranked by how many people use it. So you can just run a search or browse by tags when you need a particular app, and it will generally come up with what you need.

I recommend Textmate for coding. It’s one of the more popular editors, very minimalist and comes with a lot of shortcuts to get things done fast. Also comes with bundles for specific languages, which give you extra shortcuts, coloring and features for those languages. Good choice with Transmit for FTP ;)

Jin 06-04-09

@Kris, I’ve already made cm_space the short cut. it’s quite handy! Sooo many shortcuts to remember lol.

@Janko & Dmitry, thanks!

One thing I’m not sure I like: In Windows when I try to save a document, I can tell which folder I want to save it to e.g. c:\jin\design\porject1\ etc. But the only options I get in OSX is the document folder? I can’t even select its subfolders since it’s presented as a dropdown menu. Also during the save window, I can’t create/rename folders ad hoc. This bothers me. There’s probably a way, I just don’t know yet.

I have a bunch noob questions, I’ll start digging the net.

Jin 06-04-09

@John, I’m going to install Vista via VMWare soon. I can let you know how the browsers behave. But I have a feeling they should look the same. You can also do some research around the net on that subject.

I plan to repair my Dell, and use it as my tester box.

Alan Bristow 06-04-09

Hey Jin, congrats on the switch. I did it in ’07 and have never once regretted it.

My tips:

# Install QuickSilver
## Aside from instant key-combo launch of anything (the main benefit), the Clipboard History is a must. I also just discovered a module to link RTM into it too if you’re into RTM
# Time Machine really works. I also use SuperDuper. It seems to be THE backup software. The two compliment each other.
# WireTap Studio is pretty cool. If you can hear it, you can record it…
# If you get hunched working and need to stretch, MacBreakz is good
# Mindmapper, Novamind Express is not too expensive and good.
# Pages ’09 is lovely for writing (makes Word look like vomit w/o the bucket).
# Mailplane for all Gmail. Mm
# Xyle scope nice CSS dissector
# xScope nice tool for screen measurements etc
# 1Password is a MUST have.
# Adium is a good mutli IM aggregator client
# HandBrake is good for DVD – > iPod
# LittleSnapper is good for browser or screen-grabs
# MAMP + MAMP Pro us lovely for local web dev. A must have for me.
# OmniDazzle is free and fun and useful for doing screencasts
# TaskPaper is a nice GTD/task managing app

I have rarely found trying then removing an app to be a problem under OS X (no registery clogging like I used to get under Win). But I do use the app sometimes


Dmitry 06-04-09

Jin: The file save dialogs have two modes: simple and advanced. It starts off as simple, so to get the full file browser in the dialog you have to click on the down arrow on the right hand side of the file path bar you have right at the top. It will remain in the last mode used the next time you use it so you won’t have to do it again. Also, I suggest switching to column view in the file browser (using those little view-mode icons in the toolbar, that look like squares, lines and tables) — it will give you a lot more control.

N 06-04-09

I agree — 24″ Apple Cinema display post haste.

I just got a macbook last summer but it really does not compete with my first Apple IIc :)

One of the coolest apps I found for the mac is Bookpedia:

You can use the iSight camera to scan in a book’s bar code and it will automatically grab the title, author, and artwork for you. How super duper is that?

Jin 06-04-09

@Alan, that’s a great list!

@Dmitry, thanks for the tip!

@N, I’ll check it out.

Steven Clark 06-05-09

Looks nice Jin… ah nostalgia for the PC. What amazes me is how clean your office is, if you saw mine you’d understand my chaos. Litter, piles of stuff… I’m a student so the floor is just raked in tutorial papers and piles of work accumulated over the semester (currently in exam time).

Macs do suit the tidier among us. :)

Jin 06-05-09

@Steven, I did clean my office quite a bit before I took the photos :) normally it’s quite messy.

Aja 06-05-09

Beautiful isn’t it? I switched four years ago, with an iBook. After that I got my first iMac, which has to be my favorite thus far. To go with it I got a 12″ PowerBook, which was the best laptop I’ve ever had. Now I have a 15″ MacBook Pro and it’s ok, but once they come out with another 12″ or smaller model… Suffice to say, my switch to Apple is lifelong and satisfying.

Aja 06-05-09

BTW, my biggest comment about Mac has been that since I started using them, I learned 10 times more about the operation of computing than I did in the 10 years I was PC. Because I spend my time operating it, instead of fixing it.

ken 06-06-09

Glad to hear you have yourself a mac. I was thinking to get a mac too. I am pc now. :)

Rob Chant 06-06-09

It always seems unbelievable to me that someone would throw away a PC or get a new computer just because one component failed. PCs are modular! This happened to me a while ago on my custom built PC, and I just bought a new (much more energy efficient) PSU for it. Even that might not have been necessary — the problem you describe could just have been a blown fuse. What a waste of money and resources.

Jin 06-06-09

@Aja, I have a feeling you’ll be Mac for life? :)

@Ken, you’ll love how iPhoto imports photos off your D90. I’m really impressed with the organization system it has.

@Rob, I don’t plan to throw my Dell away. It will be repaired and put to a good use. The point is, I want to use the tool, and not having to worry about fixing/maintaining it. I have replaced, upgraded PC parts a lot in the past. Not just mine, my parents’ too(you know how that goes). Honestly, I’m tired of it. People like you, and most who read this blog have the technical knowledge of fixing a computer. But at this point, I just want to be a “user” and not to have to worry about it.

It’s like buying a car. I don’t want to have any mechanics’ know-how to operate it. I just want something reliable and long lasting.

This isn’t to say, my iMac will never break, or don’t have the same problems I’ve had with my PCs. Only time will tell. But I’m trusting my Mac friends on this one.

Evan Byrne 06-09-09

Well I’m glad you are enjoying your new Mac, but really their components are no more immune to sudden power loss than PC components. Sounds more like an excuse to splurge to me! ;-)

Jin 06-09-09

@Evan, well, I don’t deny that. :) I think having used an iPhone really gave me a great impression on Apple products. I’ve been a long fan of their design and UI. You’re right about the hardware. With PC, my problem is more about the software and OS. But understandably, PC vs Mac is never a fair comparison. Mac has the advantage of being streamed line by ONE company only.

Winnie Lim 06-16-09

Am a little late reading this post but would just like to offer my congrats anyway for the switch! :)

I made the switch 5 yrs back and never looked back, the Apple experience is just on a different level.

Jin 06-17-09

Thanks Winnie. I’m still loving it.

John Pitchers 06-17-09

Are there limitation to Mac running Windows via bootcamp? I’ve got a heap of games I play regularly on Windows like COD4 and GTAIV. Will these still work on a Mac?

Bryan Chain 06-18-09

John –

When you install Windows VIA bootcamp it runs just as fast as it would be if windows were installed on a non-mac with similar hardware. One thing to watch out for though, is that most Mac’s that aren’t Mac Pro’s come with pretty low-end graphics cards since gaming isn’t the main focus.

I have happily installed many games via bootcamp and they run just great. It is a native install of windows.

Trying to run a game inside of VMWare, from inside of OSX, is a bit of a different story.

Jin 06-18-09

@John, see what Bryan wrote above. I haven’t installed any PC games yet, so I can’t give you any first hand advice.

John Pitchers 06-18-09

I think I’m nearly almost convinced.

Fanny-Min Becker 06-24-09

All sooooo tempting … Probably saves loads of time on patching and repairs? But could an old dog learn new tricks? FM:)

Jin 06-24-09

Fanny, it’s actually really easy to make the switch. It’s not like you have to relearn everything. Most stuff on OSX is very intuitive. Try to play around with one in the Apple store. The clerks there are helpful.

Fanny-Min Becker 06-24-09

I was actually doing everything on my little sis’ MAC in LA some ten years ago and found no difference at all.

But then I was only emailing and doing nothing more than writing a few poems and compiling teaching material.

Today, apart from doing doc, I am running a (one-woman) ‘business’ with (primitive but functioning) excel tables I have learnt to create, ppts for presentation, Paint plus gimp in lieu of Photoshop for artwork, a web log with quite a bit of content, soft tools for downloading, imputing Chinese, creating labels, bar codes and other such, and xillions of business emails saved in folders of Outlook Express …

My PC and my laptops may have frozen thousands of times and Outlook Express may have eaten up a few hundred emails while compacting, but I still dread moving the whole e-office to Apple!!! I do not have a day off and I am the only IT person around. [sigh]

Jin 06-24-09

@FM, for the MS Office related work, you can do all that in iWork, the OSX equivalent(and it’s only $79 for the whole thing!). It can edit .xls, ppt files. Also you can run Windows Vista(/w Office) on top of OSX too!

And all the work that’s done within browser (web site maintenance, blogging etc) are the same.

Speaking of Chinese input, OSX is very impressive. On my PC, I had to download third party input software(NJStar etc). OSX has built in support for many languages. It has multiple input methods for both Traditional and Simplified Chinese. I use PinYin. It only takes a keyboard shortcut to toggle between languages.

Kim H 06-24-09

Congratulations on your new Mac!

As far as cmd + Q goes, I usually just right-click on the dock simply because I usually have my tablet’s pen in hand anyway (other than when I’m coding).

The 24″ is awesome! That’s the one I have; how many gigs of ram did you get for it? I think the 24″ comes with a min of 2 gigs, but if not it’d probably be best to upgrade to at least 2 gigs. I run on 4 simply because I used to design and play games at the same time (yes, Macs can run games), which ate up tons of memory, but you should be able to function just fine on just 2 gigs.

On another note, I am jealous of your office and how clean it is. Mine is filled with books, CDs, and plants, and at one point toy panda bears. You make me desire a much larger desk than my small laptop table!

Jin 06-24-09

Kim, thanks. I got the 2.66ghz, 4g ram and 640g HD one($1499).

I’m a big fan of huge desk surface. In fact, I bought a new table after the photos were taken. It’s a huge glass table from Ikea. I’m in the process of revamping my office. I may blog about it in a month. P.S. my office is normally really messy. I cleaned it just for the photo opp. :)

Fanny-Min Becker 06-24-09

Dear Jin, thanks for highlighting the Chinese imput system in OSX.

Office does not really bother me that much. I was anyway insisting on Open Office for sometime. I only don’t know what to do with my heap of email files, which is my real office. Don’t suppose there is any way to let them be exported to anything in OSX …

But the Chinese imput system! I have almost forgotten this curse.

The ‘Double Bridge’ I am using is supposed to be for XP as well but it does not really tolerate Outlook Express. Not only is it full of temperament and striking at will, time and again I would lose my unfinished emails if I should forget to first close the software before reading new emails.

Plus, the software may have many smart pinyin shortcuts such as ‘jdmd’ for ‘Kathmandu’ or ‘qwwq’ for ‘yummy yummy’, but it also features some stupid character priority settings. The character ‘ten’, e.g., takes the 12th place, after ‘arrow’, ‘to be’, ‘to die’, ‘time’, ‘to use’, ‘firm’, ‘style’, ‘fact’, ‘wet’, in the first batch & after ‘poetry’ in the second.

Your prompting really helps. Just wondering what is available over here. HK is a PC world. ;-(