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In love, and in denial

In love, and in denial

In a shameless display of plagiarism, I will now cheerfully steal 10 CC’s immortal line and declare “I’m not in love”. Nope, not me, not even slightly.

In a shameless display of plagiarism, I will now cheerfully steal 10 CC’s immortal line and declare “I’m not in love”. Nope, not me, not even slightly.

On the other hand, the number of people who have “dropped by” my office to ooh and aah over the new iMac on my desk would appear to be suffering emotionally. Usually sensible people stand in my office, drooling over the iMac and make public declarations like “Isn’t is gorgeous”? or “What a great screen”, or “I love the look of it”. Personally, I struggle to see the appeal. When it first arrived and I unpacked it, it took all of three minutes to have it up and running — once I sorted out a couple of delays.

The two delays were in getting it powered up and on to the IDG network — the former because I’d run out of spare power points and the latter because there were no free network ports in the office. A quick trip to Dick Smith’s for an extension cable and a call to Kaon Technologies to borrow a 3Com hub and everything was hunky-dory.

The iMac had arrived with OS X 10.1 and having just received 10.2, I immediately upgraded the OS and watched in gob-smacked amazement as OS X 10.2 went out and found all the devices and shares on the network — with zero input from yours truly. Too easy!

Surely this is the sort of behaviour that gives computers a bad name — or maybe it just shows up how clunky a lot of other technology is?

I don’t have the room to detail all the specs of the iMac but with its eye-catching design, small footprint, stunning LCD screen (with that delightful, amazingly flexible strut support), 800MHz PowerPC G4 processor, Nvidia GeForce2 MX graphics processor and Superdrive (DVD-R/CD R-W), you have a system that is powerful yet deceptively simple to use.

In recent CIO magazine surveys regarding Open Source software, Microsoft Office suite is more often than not cited as a key reason why an organisation would have trouble migrating from the Windows world. Not a worry — if the Appleworks suite which ships as standard doesn’t suit, then Microsoft Office for Mac OS X is stunning — and completely file-compatible with the Windows version, except that it lacks the Access database. (Which database professionals might argue is a blessing.)

It’s been a while since I used MS Office on a Mac and I was so impressed I rang Microsoft NZ and suggested that they ask Seattle to put the Mac Office team in charge of developing the next Windows version.

Of course, if you are an Open Source fan, then OS X should appeal given that it is based on BSD Unix — an Open Source variation of Unix. BSD has been around in various guises since before Linux was a twinkle in Torvalds’ eye. Regularly maintained and enhanced, it’s just never had the same high public profile as Linux.

In choosing BSD, Apple made what I believe to be a strategically smart long-term decision and it is already attracting plenty of support from the Open Source community. Besides, I enjoy the perversity of being able to run a command-line terminal on top of the Mac GUI.

Despite my opening claim that I’m not in love, truth to tell I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s machines, even if I didn’t always think its marketing was too smart.

The point to all this raving about the iMac? The overall design — both hardware and software — helps remove barriers to productivity brought about by systems that are still too complex for many average non-technical users. It is stable, mature and easy to use.

OS X is impressively smart and in the six weeks I’ve been using the iMac I’ve only had one tiny crash — when Word unexpectedly quit as I tried to email a document from within the application. It had never happened before nor since, so go figure.

At $4499 ex GST it’s more expensive than a bog-standard PC upfront but I’ll bet that the savings in support and gains in user pleasure far outweigh the higher initial cost over a three-year tax cycle. For many branch organisations or medium-sized companies without in-house technical gurus, the iMac, coupled with Apple’s new servers and disk storage solutions, means the company is now a real contender in the general business sector and in my opinion well worth a look.

PS: If anybody from Apple happens to read this I have two things to say. 1: You need to get out more. 2: I deny all knowledge of an iMac that is allegedly on my desk — it is just a particularly lifelike cardboard cut-out.

When he’s not mourning the loss of his PowerMac (Get over it — it was years ago, Ed.), Casement is the business manager of CIO magazine. He can be contacted at doug_casement@idg.co.nz

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