jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

That One Mac Guy

I bought my first Mac in 2004, a white plastic iBook G4. It was slow, the screen resolution was terrible, but wow did I love Mac OS X. After several years of loading every Linux and BSD variant I could find on the PC I bought in ‘99, I finally found a stable Unix-based operating system with a logical and beautiful user interface. The Mac was exactly what I wanted in a computer. I desperately wanted to use it at work, but working in a secure military environment, that wasn’t going to happen.

After I got out of the Navy in ‘06 I got my first civilian job on a six-month contract in Iowa. I was issued another PC, but after poking around a bit I found an old Mac that wasn’t being used, so I adopted it made it work for me. One of the lead engineers saw it once and made the off-hand comment that I should “get that piece of crap off my desk”. I ignored him and carried on. My coworkers were having a LAN party one day after work, and invited me along to play some networked game. I brought my personal MacBook with me, and quickly realized that everyone else had custom built gaming PCs, and that my little laptop couldn’t keep up.

When I found stable employment in Des Moines, I was, again, issued a PC. A Dell laptop this time. Again I found an unused Mac in a closet somewhere, a PowerMac G4, booted it up and used it as my main workstation. After a few years, and knowing my boundaries, I found it possible to work under the radar and bring my personal Mac to work, by now a MacBook Pro, and typically just dropped the Dell in a drawer. From time to time there’d be something I’d need to do with the Dell, and it’d wind up back on my desk for a bit. I remember once a coworker, who would eventually be promoted to my manager, walking by my cubicle and mocking me loudly saying “typical Mac user, Mac in front of him, PC on the side to get real work done.” I didn’t like that guy.

Over the years Macs have become more mainstream and I’ve noticed that they’ve become more accepted at the different places I’ve worked. One thing seems to not change though, whoever is in charge of taking care of employee’s computers always wants Windows PCs. I imagine because they are easier to manage en masse. Even at my latest company meeting, the team was discussing some feature rollout to the PCs, and it came up that I used a Mac1. I quipped that I was pretty sure that by now my using a Mac is a condition of my continued employment. (It’s not.) I further quipped that they could have my Mac… when they pried it from my cold, dead hand.

For my entire working life outside the military, I’ve been the outlier who uses a Mac. By now I’ve been using it exclusively for so many years that I’d be completely lost in Windows. The Mac has a carefully chosen set of tools that mold perfectly to how my mind works. Things are where I expect them to be, they do what I expect them to do. As an information worker, I care deeply about the tools I use. I spend so much of my life using it, I want the experience to at least be somewhat enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere that forced me to use a PC, if they did, I’d use it to start sending out my resume immediately.

  1. My whole team uses Macs, but my team is three people, so 🤷🏻‍♂️.