Friday, March 07, 2008

Is it Just Me?

So, anyway, I went into Bournemouth yesterday to finally buy a Macbook, something I've been promising myself (and needed) for a while but had been holding off because of cost and doubts over PC cross-over. I was still feeling slight unease about the transition, mainly because of the hefty price (£699) and moving files over from PC (I know this is easy and everything, but have heard of some weird format conversions).

Nevertheless, after much gazing and gnashing at the figures in my bank account, I pretty much convinced myself to buy the Mac, and I let the guy in the shop do his spiel in order to wipe away any niggling doubts. All was going fine (yes Macbook Pro would be better, especially for Final Cut Pro, but whoa nelly, let's not go there yet, £13000 & the rest!). Wireless set-up, check, shouldn't be a problem. Burn CDs, watch DVDs, fine.

Then, the final hesitancy. The price tag. Quite a hefty chunk of change for me. So I asked what he could throw in for me (some sort of extra incentive) to which he practically laughed in my face. Said that was the price (I wasn't asking for a discount), and that he makes more money on the extras than he does on the computers themselves. This was all fair enough but it was his smug attitude that ruined the potential sale. I was immediately demoralised and disconcerted, and left the shop. If he had tried to reassure or empathise with me about handing over a large wedge of cash, I might have hung around. He wasn't even an official Apple store. When I went to one of those a couple of months ago, I was completely overwhelmed (& intimidated) by the staff, and the way the price tags for everything (from ipods to iphone to the computers) were just shrugged aside as if they were no problem.

Now, maybe it's a sign of my age. This is what things cost, Danny, get over them. And I am willing to stump up and buy the sodding Mac but I need to be coaxed and reassured along the way. I just get a bit overwhelmed sometimes by the consumer culture, and I seem to be about two steps behind the current spending trends, and how people can be so casual about buying stuff that can cost a lot of wonga. Oscar Wilde was on to something when he said that we know the price of everything but the value of nothing. Interestingly, he was actually describing a cynic. Is that what we are, cynical consumers? Gee, I really am getting old.


Lucy said...

Tossers don't deserve sales, simple as. Too bad you didn't give him a swift punch as well, but with jail and everything the seconds of satisfaction versus several weeks in the shower with scary bastards probably doesn't justify it.

Tesco do laptops now. Mine was £299, does everything I want/need it too, it's v slimline and lightweight, attractive-ish (well it is a sodding computer) and I got points on my clubcard. Result.

People say Tesco are fascists but they're responding to consumer demand and we're all consumers and we all demand stuff, whether we realise it or not: we just have to temper these demands with what we can afford and justify. I don't buy various products because they trouble me ethically, but also I have no time to cock about looking at stuff that doesn't interest me, plus I'm always broke, so I bought the laptop in-between buying food and clothes for the kidz. I got a laptop bag too for a tenner, it fits a stack of scripts in as well as the laptop. Cooo-el.

Piers said...

Why are you still going to shops? I mean, unless you need something right now...

Try pricing up a laptop at the Apple store, save it in your shopping basket, but don't buy it.

When I did that I got a phone call the next day asking if they could cut me a deal... Couldn't hurt to try.

Piers said...

Thinking about it, it was an iMac rather than a laptop. They might not do it for laptops.

But, hey, worth a shot.

William Gallagher said...

You will like the MacBook. I've learnt recently that friends of mine thought I was an impossible anorak for how long I spend on my PowerBook, how automatic it is that I think of it when I want to do something.

And I learnt this because those friends swapped from PCs to Macs and are now using theirs as much. "It just works," they keep saying. "I know," I tell them.

I'm glad they're so happy but couldn't we have had this discussion years ago? A decade of thinking I'm an anorak, they're not going to shed that quickly.


Lucy said...

What I don't get - and I'm not being facetious, HONESTLY - is why anyone would want a fancy computer or other bit of kit when they can have a less fancy one for literally a third of the price. Even if I was well off, I would sooner do other things with my money than buy electronics. Yet people slaver with glee over what specs a laptop has, even stuff like white goods... A friend of mine came over the other day and WANTED TO SEE MY NEW FRIDGE FREEZER!!! I mean, what's up with that? It's a fridge and a freezer, it works, it was a good deal - that's all that concerns me. But him? He says, "Oh, it hasn't got an ice cube maker, what a shame."

Danny Stack said...

Apple also do refurbished models, which is interesting and appealing... I fall between two stools of 'not being bothered about techy stuff' to 'actually, that's quite exciting'. I watched Apple's online video presentation of Leopard yesterday and actually said 'wow', out loud, by myself.

Piers said...

Lucy: because the more expensive ones are better.

It's like buying cheap shoes. Yeah, they're a third of the price - but they don't last as long, and they're uncomfortable to use.

PS - I, too, want a fridge-freezer with an ice-cube maker.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain - smug resellers can all go to hell. But I am a lifelong Mac advocate, and you really will be too once you try it. In addition to just having a better OS experience, an extra few hundred quid will save you time and heartache with everything from networking to printer configuration, and you don't need expensive virus protection.

Try Jigsaw - an online Mac retailer at

A friend just bought a 17" MacBookPro and they did him a better deal on an extra 2gigs of RAM (to a total of 4) than Apple would have done, and other bits and pieces like some software was cheaper I think.

And once you're a proud Mac owner you can use Scrivener - the best writing software on the market in my opinion. It doesn't do final page layout but it allows you to write in full screenplay format and output to Final Draft for printing etc.

OK I'm outta here before anyone thinks I work for these guys.

Robin Kershaw

Carlo Conda said...

Yeah. You really need a high end computer to use final draft, email friends, and blog.


Phill Barron said...

Apple = smug bastard

It's a fairly simple equation.

To paraphrase Bill Hicks: I'd probably buy one if I didn't think I'd turn into one of you fuckers.

I already follow people around trying to show them what my phone can do, I don't need to lose the rest of my friends by banging on about Apple all the time.

Speaking as a person who's never used one, and shouldn't really be expressing his opinion in public, macbooks and PCs seem to do all the same stuff - just macs are slightly prettier.

And chock full of smug-git-ness.

I think Piers is probably right though, just order it online.

Lee said...

A £699 Macbook is not a high end computer, but it is a bloody good one. And I'm always online if you need help setting anything up, although I'm pretty sure you'll find Leopard extremely easy to use.

Carlo Conda said...

Don't get me wrong, I'd get a mac if I had the money. Just don't get caught up in RAM this and CPU that. It doesn't matter past a certain point, unless you're going to be gaming, editing, or whatnot.

Remember, though, it's just electronics. Is paying top dollar for a mac really necessary? The things you do on it will still be the same, so make sure you aren't just getting a Macbook because you think it's some godly productivity-enhancer. It's a good laptop, but you're very right for taking the price into consideration.
I wouldn't pay that much for a mac, personally. The benefits just aren't there, unless your laptop broke for some strange reason and you need a new one asap, and have a few hundred quid to get rid of.

mark g said...

I second Phill. Show me a Mac zealot and I'll show you a handy walking definition of bourgeois. "It just works" - most stuff just works these days. Some just has more curves and has more expensive.

I also second Phill (is he matching me on Facebook likes/dislikes...?) on the online option - nothing quite like the thrill of a comparison site that lets you hunt down a tenner off.

Anyhow, all the "check out the pointless speed of my uber-laptop" stuff is about to die (apart from those who view laptops in the same way that Patrick Bateman views business cards) - witness the shape of the future, friends...

Lucy said...

Piers, the show analogy doesn't necessarily follow I think.

I walk literally hundreds of miles a year as a non-driver and as someone who in the very least does the school run FOUR times a day (the journey there and bk x 2) working out as 80 minutes of solid walking per day in the very least. On this basis then, a pair of expensive, sturdy shoes in justified I reckon.

If your JOB is as some sort of IT guy like my bro-in-law, then the situation is the same as the shoe thing is for me. It wouldn't make sense to not have a high end PC - it would be like trying to do your work on a typewriter when everything's moved on since then.

But your average person doesn't NEED all that techy stuff. You can send email, write scripts, do accounts, write letters, novels and all sorts on a £299 PC. In fact, for nearly all that [except email] one could use a typewriter; we just prefer not to, we've bought hook, line and sinker into the whole Frankfurt School of FALSE NEEDS.

Danny Stack said...

Thanks for all the links. I'm finding that the difference between a basic PC/laptop that will see you through and a Mac is simply huge (remember, I haven't bought the thing yet). You don't need anti-virus software on a Mac for a start, so that's around £50 a year saved already. I can see the light. Generally more reliable, dependable and yes, pretty... (although their pricing is slightly questionable).

Lucy said...

Fair enough, though don't forget there's AVAST Home edition and Crap Cleaner and Registry Rescue and Spybot or whatever's called, all available for free on the 'net. Apparently my computer's brain or whatever it has is very clean and not infected with anything nasty according to techy spook bro-in-law.

Carlo Conda said...

Ah, viruses. The things that Limewire users and unreliable porn site visitors get.
I haven't gotten a virus in 3 years. But I guess my pc is actually a mac in disguise.
I'm not saying pcs are better than macs. Macs are very good, but they aren't more reliable. The only reason you don't get viruses on a mac or linux computer is because nobody bothers making viruses for them because of their small userbase.
But that still means there's a less chance for you to get a virus on a mac, so it's still a good aspect of having a mac.

However, free virus scanning software is fine for the off chance you'll download stuff from sketchy websites.

Also, windows is much bulkier than leopard and definately a bit slower, but only if you're doing a lot of crap at once. Windows still 'works' and checking email, writing scripts, and so forth aren't any slower on a pc compared to a mac. It's like slicing bread nowadays for computers.

Macs are also very toy-like, and the fact that everything is intergrated and first-party does get frusterating. i-this, i-that. It works like a toy and, when I use one, my productivity goes down due to the awkward window behaviour that emphasises 'looks' over the simplistic ability to have an internet window fill the screen. God forbid.
But if you like seeing all of your windows without being able to oconcentrate on one thing, aling with always looking at whatever pretty background picture you have, then a mac may suit you.
When using a mac, your windows all floating around freely, and each program usually has multiple windows that overlap eachother and make things look 'cool'.
Macs can get annoying if you like having a simple work environment. However, if you don't care about having one window in view while everything else is tucked away, then you won't mind using a mac.

I still like macs, and vista isn't amazing either, but I don't multitask, and mac's unorganized window behaviour is something that ontinues to bother me.

Windows XP is still pretty nifty. Faster than vista and leopard. Hehe

Carlo Conda said...

Yeesh, talk about typos. Sorry about that.

thegirlinthecafe said...

Yes Mac's are expensive. And the Mac salesman you met was a tosser, obviously.

However I bought a Macbook myself 1 month ago (I had never ever used a Mac before) and I haven't regret it a single second. Final Draft runs fine, and I have had no problems whatsover using it.

Don't know if that is of any help to you, but I am truly in love with my Mac Book. Yeah I know what you are saying, I should get a life in stead.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself, what do you need a MACBOOK for? No point spending that kind of money if you're just gonna surf and write.

Kevin Lehane said...

I adore my black macbook. I will never use a PC again. You will too if you make the change. Macs are sooooo much better.

Anonymous said...

I've used Macs since the beginning and would never swap to a PC. Danny, you spend all day writing....why not tap your fingers on a thing of beauty as opposed to a clunky old PC. It's the difference between driving a Trabant and a Porsche. I use an iMac and have a PowerBook G4 although I have been salivating over the Mac Air of late. The great thing about Macs is, an idiot can plug one in and understand the thing in minutes...I am living proof of this.
Once you go Mac, you'll never go back....


PS It's a toss up between your weekend course or money towards the new Air Mac....mmmmmm.
And no, I don't work for Apple Mac, mind you, the staff at my local Kingston branch are very friendly. Did you know, for £79 you can buy an hour's one to one Mac training every week for a month.....

Anonymous said...

Sorry - that should have read 'one-to-one training for a year.'

Danny Stack said...

I went and bought a refurbished Mac (120gb, superdrive one) for £649, saving meself £50 on a normal Macbook and £180 on the computer I actually bought. Here's the Apple page. Thanks for all the tips!

Anonymous said...

Whichever one you choose, you're faced with a dispiriting decision: which bastard gets your money, Microsoft or Apple?

I feel I would fractionally go for Apple, but I also prefer the somewhat elusive thrill of making a minor fashion statement by refusing to get a Mac, so I'm still on a PC (Dell, as you're asking, had it five years, dropped it five times in the last month, it's as slow as a mule with a limp, but it still does stuff like this and emails and hammering out masterpieces just fine).

What I should really do is summon up the courage to go for Linux on a PC and keep my cash away from the grasp of either monster. But I haven't, obviously.


Piers said...

Last time I installed Linux the User Interface sucked donkey balls.

Having said that, it did keep my rubbish old computer running for another eighteen months after windows refused to run on it any more.

I hear Ubuntu is the distro of choice these days.

Carlo Conda said...

Stay away from Linux. It's a waste of time.

Also, to the people who say 'using a mac is easy', how 'hard' is using a pc? Having trouble finding the microsoft word button and the internet explorer button?
And do people actually do the one-on-one service thing? It's the 21st century.

Helen said...

Hello, from one writer to another...

I'm Helen and I really feel for you.

I bought a three year package of on line support when I bought mine. The only time I called it up a German man shouted at me for my lack of computer/apple knowledge. He had never talked to anyone so apple illiterate. So maybe rudeness is onbrand.

The other tip is don't get it out on trains - it's like being the masons people will start nodding at you if they have the same one.

Oh and give your free stickers to a PC user - they seem to love sticking them on their viaos.

Lee said...

Just checked the Refurbished page - flippin' 'eck there's some bargains on there! Just got the credit card out for a new MacBook to replace my five year old Powerbook - it was reduced by £300. Hurrah!

Frances Lynn said...

I got a refurbished MacBook (the new one) from the Apple Store on line site. It came with one year Apple Care warranty AND an extra gig of RAM!

Frances Lynn said...

The correct Apple Store link is: Apple Store on line site.

Lee said...

Well, it arrived yesterday, and I'm impressed. First time I've used the refurbished store, and there's no way I can tell this is anything other than a brand new machine.

I looked all over for finger prints and smudges, but it was pristine, and all the packaging was mint. Plus, the build quality is superb - so much cooler and quieter than my old Powerbook.

These refurbished deals must be one of computing's best kept secrets.

Hope you're happy with your machine, Danny.

robgrant said...

Interestingly enough, I have a big-ass Macbook Pro and it is a beautiful machine, just works etc. etc. blah blah blah, but I hate having to take it anywhere. It weighs almost as much as the scooter I ride around on, the catches on the lids break and the keyboards are badly designed so that they push into the screen when it is closed. I know this because I have replaced the screen twice for the same reason and the guy at Apple told me it was known issue.

The kicker though, is that I just started a new job and they gave a me a new Dell laptop. It's tiny, good looking, weighs nothing and does all the usual things you'd expect,'s not a Mac....and I find myself wishing it was at least half a dozen times a day despite myself.

So I guess my next purchase will be a Macbook Air........

Lee said...

Just make sure you don't throw it out with the Sunday papers.

Danny Stack said...

Loving my new Mac. My refurbished one too looks as good as new, can't find any signs of previous useage. Like, totally awse.