Switched Again (Part I)

Written by: scottmc

Categories: Editorial

Hey, I realize that switcher stories are getting so common these days, we’re all at risk of fatigue from the influx of new Mac fans and fanatics among us. Forgive me then for adding a few words more in the rising tide of Mac market share. When I quite literally blew up my home-built PC a few weeks back—with a dramatic flameout of the PSU and a roomful of acrid smoke–I was driven to make my “second-tier” switcher commitment. I am now officially a “switched-again” Mac user.

I got my 2Ghz MacBook as my first Mac in May, but in truth I’ve primarily used this machine as a desktop, KVM’d next to my home-built XP machine. Real multi-taskers use separate machines. Despite (or perhaps because of) over a decade of masochistic personal Windows malaise, I was struggling to get myself even to attempt Microsoft OS on my Mac. I’d upgraded to a 100gb 7200rpm drive, but I couldn’t convince myself that Parallels or Boot Camp would beat the sheer convenience of hitting the scroll lock key and moving over the to other box. My original plan was not to deepen my Mac ties until Leopard came out, then think about a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro, and let Windows run in its own isolated tier.

That was all fine until the IDE controller on my PC motherboard failed. I spent an ungodly amount of time swapping cables, PCI IDE controllers, and drives in this machine—to no avail—until I left a power cable a bit too loose, turned it on, and sent the soul of my old machine to that great clustered network in the sky. So I had no PC – my main server in my home – and I had a laptop I was using as a desktop. At first, I figured the choice was between these options:

  1. Gearhead mode. Rebuild the PC and beef it up a bit with a dual core processor, new graphics, faster RAM. Cost with parts recycling would be, say, $1200 US for a very fast machine. Time was also an issue, as work is busy, and a death in the family had complicated life a bit.
  2. Resistance is futile mode. Admit defeat, and cover the need with a commodity Wintel machine for about the same or fewer dollars.

Then, a third option presented itself: Mac geek mode. I could sell my MacBook (several buyers instantly presented themselves as soon as I thought of this), and trade up to a Mac Pro which would be the Windows server of my dreams and the Mac of my dreams. So for my second switch, I picked up a 2.66Ghz Mac Pro tower.

As Keanu would say, “whooooooaaaaaaaaaguhhhhhhhhhh.” I’ve had it about 2 weeks so far, and it is plain and simple the most astonishingly wonderful machine I’ve ever used. I know a lot of home builder enthusiasts who think Macs are the Antichrist’s own computer and would consider it a ridiculous compromise to buy a machine like this. I even priced the parts for a dual dual-core Xeon, but it was either a wash or actually cheaper to buy the Mac Pro with all hardware being equal.

My argument is that the Mac Pro’s sophisticated design is a fine salute to the selfsame craft that motivates the DIY’er and commands the respect of anyone who values the elegant fusion of design and technology. For me, the Intel Mac platform is a computing hobbyist’s dream platform. The big deal for me is that this high end Mac has rekindled my enthusiasm for computing like nothing else has been able to do for years and years. It’s a rebirth, and I am switched-again.

There are 7 comments on Switched Again (Part I):

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  1. Dale | Nov 01 2006 - 04:06

    Excellent switch story!!!!

    I never get tird of reading them. I actually chonically upgrade my Macs every 6 months or so just to hav that ‘New Mac love affair’ again.

    Of course, this occurs much to my partner’s chagrin. I appease her with an upgrade too, and all is well : )

  2. Scott Johnson | Nov 02 2006 - 06:12


    As someone who has been listening to the Maccast and reading the website for over a year, and who still uses Windows – while I save up for a beast of a MacPro, which I probably won’t be able to afford until the end of next year, I find all kinds of switcher stories very interesting, and can never get fed up with them.

    I have also been subscribed to Macworld magazine here in the UK for over a year and a half, and read everything I can about Mac. Most people think that I’ve already switched because of the amount of Mac stuff that I read – I wish – I can’t wait to start learning all things Mac, and crossing over from “the dark side”.


  3. Ronnie | Nov 02 2006 - 10:30

    Same here. My brother in law who is a biochemist introduced me to the Mac about 2 years ago, but I still haven’t bought one.
    I’d love to have one, but I like to weigh everything before I make the decision. I read/listen a lot about macs, and my friends too think that I’ve switched, but the truth is that I haven’t, because the applications that I most rely on (Adobe photoshop, fireworks, dreamweaver and flash), are not universal yet. I decided to buy an iMac 24 inch next year with the new intel chip, Leopard and iLife 07, and also hopefully buy the adobe products…

  4. Greg Fitzgerald | Nov 02 2006 - 06:37

    Nice story. I’m a recent ‘switcher’ myself. I had an Apple IIe in highschool (early to mid 80’s), but have used windows machines since then. I bought an iMac this summer, more as a family computer for the kids. I now find myself spending 90% of my computer activity on the Mac, and only use my windows machine when I have to, or when the kids are on the iMac. I can’t believe how great OS X is. I know Vista is coming out soon, but I can’t imagine it comparing to OS X, especially with Leopard coming out.

  5. Rob | Nov 03 2006 - 06:04

    So did you end up selling your MacBook? Just curious what percentage of the original price you ended up selling it for. I was going to get rid of my old G4 Tower and iMac when I got my MacBook but the funny thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I figured that I was just adding to my “collection”. :)

  6. scottmc | Nov 03 2006 - 06:17


    Well, the rather extravagant nature of my new purchase pretty much ensured that I had to try to, um, cover my assets with the Macbook. A friend is buying it for his son, and I just showed him my receipts (I had sprung for Applecare, I did the RAM upgrade to 2gb myself, and I restored the original 60gb drive and will sell or keep the 100gb 7200 drive separately)… I added it all up, showed him the configured price that day, and we agreed that something like $200-300 below what I paid seemed reasonable. I also gave him the original ram, etc.

    Since it’s sat on my desk most of the time, it was in pretty pristine condition for a laptop, so everyone seems to feel their needs were served.

    Folks waiting to switch…I too spent a number of months reading (and saving) up, watching boards, and listening to the Maccast, Mac Geek Gab, and other podcasts before deciding. I think it’s a good way to go in with eyes open AND with a sense of anticipation. If or when you guys do make the switch, I hope you like OS/X. As Samuel Jackson says, it’s the little differences…

  7. scottmc | Nov 03 2006 - 06:59

    (Of course, it’s John Travolta who says that, isn’t it.)