Confessions of a Mac Evangelist

Mac x86 pirated

Disclaimer: This will be an unusually personal post so be prepared.

I’m a Mac user, and at one point a hardcore Mac evangelist who was responsible for converting many of my Windows friends by channeling them to “see the light”. Though I felt powerful showing off all my deep knowledge of Apple and the Mac OS, I quickly realized that switching wasn’t a one time thing… there was the responsibility of taking time to support my new Mac friends. I guess I did it because it felt like I was doing a good deed by making their life easier. An eventual advantage was that I would be introducing them a computer to them that requires less mantainance. I know this for a fact because even though I freelance fixing Macs, most of the calls I get are for Windows-related problems, namely spyware, malware, and viruses.

Once in a while, you do get users who don’t get Macs or are so used to how Windows works that they prefer to switch back. I had one such friend who saved up enough money just to buy one of cheaper eMacs. He had accidentally dragged thousands of files on his Mac desktop and into the dock, filling it into an unusable state. Back then I was so busy that I couldn’t help him much, so he had to drag files out of the dock one by one (ouch!). He ended up being so frustrated, he smashed the Apple keyboard into pieces, with letter caps flying all over his bedroom. Now we know that you could simply trash the Dock preferences to fix that.

When someone switches back to a PC, I don’t get so religious about it anymore. I believe that at the end of the day, screw brand loyalty and use whatever works best for you… Apple doesn’t pay me to evangelize, or offer me any discounts, but neither do most brands name companies, which is really stupid. This brings me to my confessional:

Lately, I felt like I have gone over to the dark side. Most of you know of my interest in the Mac x86 development scene. Ever since my friend Peter showed me how easy it was to configure and install, I’ve been using a Sony Vaio TR3A that dual-boots Mac OS and Windows XP. Heck, I even started to appreciate Windows a lot more now… so much so that my girlfriend was worried it would be a sign that I was succumbing to flirtation (damn those sexy Sony Vaios!). Sure, Windows isn’t user-friendly (user interface quirks), but if you’re an experienced computer user who understands what’s really going on in the system, sacrificing some form for function (e.g. speed) would be a welcoming challenge. I must say that compared to my 1.5Ghz 12″ Powerbook, this 1Ghz 10″ Vaio feel so much snappier and quieter. I’m quite sick of my 12″ frankly speaking, with all the irritating spinning beachballs, Safari crashes, boiling heat and fan noise. If Apple doesn’t improve their subnotebook line fast, I might just switch to a PC for good. Sure, there are some Mac apps that are irreplaceable in the PC world, but if you can live a day without making movies or DVDs, you’ll do fine using a PC laptop, especially for college where you would do heavy web surfing (including blogging), emailing (Gmail rocks!), and word processing.

Confessional aside, the manufacturing of my own freedom of choice manifests itself everywhere else too. I learnt from HardMac that the hacked Mac x86 OS is now being pirated in Bangkok. Always on the edge of piracy, the Bangkok market already sells a totally illegal version of Mac OS X 10.4 for PC. Pirates of course took advantage of the osx86project community discoveries, in order to sell versions they dare to call “Retail Edition”. They pointed out that this version is for experimental users, who won’t mind buying an unfinished product. While this is a questionable practice, certainly for the hacking community, doesn’t this show you how we’ve been so used to companies regulating our use of their products?

What the market wants, capitalism creates artificial demand though micro-channels which regulates things we use through specific file formats, PowerPC or Intel processors, type of flash media, and so on. What’s interesting is that the market fights back by hacking or modding products and services to do thy bidding. Everyone’s guilty of it: From storing illegally downloaded music on your iPod, to using GreaseMonkey to add a delete button or remove ads in Gmail, to the more complex hacking of Mac x86 to run on any PC (not just Apple issued ones).

This is the philosophy of our generation, the makers, the prosumers, produsers, and so on. Thanks to the Internet, we know how to circumvent regulatory technology to free the full potential of things we use. So, what would you like to hack today?

8 thoughts on “Confessions of a Mac Evangelist

  1. Hey kev,

    i guess you can call it a burn out. that’s why fans sometimes get together to make magazines so that instead of other people earning from their “fun” they get to earn it back.

    however, you won’t be able to stop yourself for introducing something great to your friend. look at your blog, you have been telling everyone about the greatest things you think there are. or at least the semblance of great stuff.

    when you are in love with something, there’s no need to pay you, you probably won’t feel like you need it, just the smiles on your friend’s face and them playing with satisfaction makes you happy.

    i guess, what i am saying is that, you will encounter burn out. you will even want to switch back. no one’s going to stop you, but don’t get frustrated over them either 🙂

    i knwo i cant handle apple 24 7… i need games, and more than 60% of the games i play aren’t apple compatible. after i got my ibook, i kept my pc… it’s something i know i will have to live with. sadly i had to part with it, no matter how much i loved it.

    there’s a thing for everything in life. 🙂

    cheryl

  2. Major confession dude!!

    U were the one that introduced me to Macs and even HTML and that was like 9 years ago or something!! And yes I’m also wondering why the hell am I so loyal to Apple when practically all the other people I know refuse to touch a mac…exceptions are design folks but even the tide for them is turning.

    The only main thing thats good now for us Mac users is the almost zero virus attacks on the platform. I have been using Macs for the last 9 yrs without ever installing anti-virus and getting whacked big time whereas on a PC the moment u login to the internet you get adware and spyware jamming up your machine and its almost impossible to rectify unless you have good knowledge on the OS.

    I guess the moment the hackers and other evil dudes turn their attention to the Mac platform and create as much havoc as they have with PCs, I’ll gladly switch. I guess its the only thing that is worth paying a premium for all these years. Peace of mind. And yeh, it does look better!

    GrEg

  3. Panda (Cheryl):
    Perhaps you’re right… about the burnout. Eitherway, isn’t Safari pissing you off too? Mine stalls and crashes all the time now. I want to use it, but I want it to work too!

    GrEg: At least you’re making big bucks now. I’m still a lowly student still wondering about my career path. Apple still rule in terms of their holistic approach to designing their goods, it’s just that for the first time I’m complaining about something that really needs fixing. My Powerbook gets way too hot, Safari crashes and everything feels slow. Apple’s concentrating on Intel development, but they still need to take care of us in meantime. Where’s the LOVE Steve!?!

    Heather: If you get a chance, try out a Mac. At least you’ll know which is better for you after that. I’d still recommend Macs for general computer users as it’s definitely low mantainance and spyware/virus free. Do you own comparison to know. 🙂

  4. Dear Kev:
    i never really got started on safari. i was too used to firefox, so i downloaded and installed firefox instead. if there’s one gripe i do have, it is how slow it takes to start firefox.

    and since i am still new to both firefox and the mac, there’s no other way i know of to increase the speed then learning how to hack the program itself.

    safari wise, when i do use it, the main gripe is that i prefer multi tabs than multi windows 🙂 but like i said, i never got round to playing with it before finally getting firefox.

    Cheryl/panda

  5. Dear Cheryl, Safari came out before Firefox and it has had tabbed browsing all along. For some reason it not turned on by default so you simply need to enable it from the Safari preferences. Kinda dumb that Apple didn’t make it default. FireFox is cool, but Safari is elegant on the Mac. That said, at this point Safari is like driving a beautiful Jaguar but with engine stall problems. Firefox to me is like driving a Honda… looks good, drives great, allows for modifications, nothing super incredible. I wish Safari worked better, in the mean time, I’m driving a Honda.

  6. Kevin, I throughly enjoyed this post & the conversations. Some weeks back, I considered getting a Mac to dabble in graphics work but it was waaay too expensive so in the end I bought more RAM and stayed with a PC. I can honestly say reading your posts did influence me to consider a Mac in the first place. Well, now I’m getting the bigger picture too, thanks to you. (Know what? Wish Apple would loan me a Mac to test-drive for a few days. I might get hooked that way. If not, the cost and other limiting factors like software availability aren’t helping them sell a Mac to me at least).

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