Mac Attack

So I was in the datacenter one day, the week that the Macbook Air debuted, when a tech from EMC was working with us on DiskXtender for UNIX for our Centera cluster pair. He needed to get some PDFs for reference so he pulls out an older Macbook Pro called Wakko decked out with an Animaniacs background. I made the simple comment, “Mac, huh? So how do you like it?” His reply was like a lightswitch in my mind: “Oh I love it, especially since I’m a UNIX geek.” *Ding*

Ignoring the C128 GEOS that I used as a glorified word processor, the first GUI desktop system that I used at Penn State was a Mac Plus. The only PC systems around were in a few buildings like Hammond Engineering lab, which, being an Electrical Engineer, I spent surprisingly little time in. The university was replete with dumb terminals but later the PCs would grow more numerous on campus as something called The World Wide Web and Gopher began to gain popularity. My son, at the time about two years old, would play a coloring book program on the color mac on days when his mom would bring him by the lab I was working for PSU CACOPS.

When I took my first real job at Mentor Graphics, they were heavily into Macs, so I knew how to work with the systems, which were really simple at the time. About the time the powerpc versions began to come out, the company started to turn towards PCs, which carried more of the software necessary for the company. At one point I brought home some sort of Mac II with a ginormous black and white monitor that was being thrown out at work. Because it was so slow, no one wanted to use it and I soon took back into the office to be thrown out with the rest of the stuff. That was really my last contact with Apple products until the ipod Nano came along.

Flash forward to my day in the computer room. All along, Apple’s promotions had me thinking in terms versus the PC. Apple just doesn’t have the number of games available that my PC does. And that’s always been a big negative for me, with no real room for positive when the PC does everything else that the Mac does. I just don’t buy the lines that Apple tries to push in the Mac ads. The Mac, like Linux and Windows, has its share of security holes if you care to look at security bulletins every month like I do. I have no attraction to the Mac interface when they advertise it as virtually a “for dummies” product. But the idea that it’s UNIX underneath, at its very core, attracts me because at my core, I’m a UNIX/Linux professional. It is really the holy grail of computing that the UNIX world has been shooting for all these years and consistently failed to grasp with its long series of amateurish and unprofessonal looking interfaces. Large companies like Red Hat, HP, and Sun have been unable to produce an interface worth loving. Gnome and KDE/CDE are not my interface of choice. To this day I would use OpenWindows on the Sun and mwm on Red Hat because of their light weight and simplicity.

I have recently admired Apple’s slick and genius accessory products like Apple TV, Time Capsule, and the Airport Express. Flagship products like the iPhone, iPods touch and nano, and the Macbook Air are very shiny! The PC world is comparatively very fractured and does not offer such coordinated and aesthetically pleasing products. My dad recently got an iPhone and I’ll likely get a 32GB iPod touch as I pass my trusty 4gb iPod nano to my daughter. Now, someone has cracked Leopard and presented us with an “EFI fix” version that allows us to run it on virtually any PC. The laptops that we got on Black Friday happened to be the perfect candidate. Here is a video my son made detailing how he blew away Windows XP after having just tried this version of the OS on another spare hard drive for just a couple of days. Being into graphic arts, he seems to be preparing for the day when he will likely have to use a Mac in college or in the professional world. Having played with the Leopard interface for a bit, I’m convinced that I will likely get one for myself in the next couple of years, possibly even picking up another Compaq C717NR some day soon to get a cheap first version. With products like Bootcamp and VMWare Fusion, I can even still have my games! Here is a peek at how the “EFI fix” install goes.

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