They thought it was a goner, but the Mac came back; it just wouldn’t stay away.

Carole brought home a shiny new MacBook Pro from school the other day. Apparently they just give 'em away to teachers. Students too -- the older ones -- from what I can gather. It's all in French, of course -- even the keyboard -- but it's extrêmement slick.

(In my school days, we weren't even allowed to use the mimeograph machine unattended. Uncap a fresh dry-erase marker under your nose for a reasonable approximation of the full Mimeo Experience.)

I've wanted a Mac ever since the 1984 "hello" screenshot. I couldn't afford one until graduating a decade later, and by then had fallen lockstep behind the Microsoft Standard-Issue banner: "Windows is all you'll ever see on the corporate desktop and, as far as you'll ever know, it's the best thing ever."

Of course, Apple was having a tough go of it in those days. Run by a sugar-water executive, Macs were rendered into expensive soulless beige blocks.

By the time Jobs reappeared at the helm with his "crazy good" designs, I was neck deep in Linux, and not interested in anything that cost that many clams and didn't have a UNIX-style command prompt.

But then Mac got a command prompt. And a BSD UNIX one at that.

The switch to Intel chips, accompanied by various emulation techniques, meant that Mac could also dress up as Linux and Windows when called upon.

Still pricey, though. But good design commands a certain cost. My current laptop has the feeling of having been assembled in the cargo hold as it was shipped. It works well enough, but awash in the glow of the MacBook's illuminated keyboard, its awkward plastic mouldings and intentionally-rough edges are evident.

It'll be a while yet before I can justify retiring one of my current computers and shelling out for whatever gee-whiz gizmo Cupertino has got in stock. It'll have an English keyboard though -- I need that slash key back where it belongs.

Two mouse buttons wouldn't hurt either.

For those wondering about the title of this post, I present the following purely wonderful NFB animated short, The Cat Came Back:

Archived Comments

  1. Geof Harries on 20080921.Sunday:
    The MBPs are very nice. I think Apple is releasing new versions at the end of October. Surely there's a method for you to weasel your way into an educational discount?
  2. Dave on 20080921.Sunday:
    Ooh, good one; I hadn't thought about a discount. Of course, Macs are verboten at the College, but Apple don't know that.
  3. Geof Harries on 20080922.Monday:
    Actually, I know a few people who bring their Apple laptops into government jobs and simply plug into the network, then go about their daily business. In your case, simply run OS X but use Parallels for any Windows software.
  4. Dave on 20080922.Monday:
    I believe the College network has been designed specifically to prevent that. Now, I think it should be possible to use the wireless in the building, but the computing staff say it's never been tried with a Mac Linux (to use the wireless, the Cisco equipment must first scan you computer to make sure your antivirus is up-to-date). It seems simple enough with Linux Mac though, so there's hope. Correction: Turns out I had it backward. The College wifi supports Macs just fine. W00t!