My old laptop, Caecilia, had served me well in the last seven years (yes, I name my favorite gadgets; let’s talk about that some other time). The machine I’d won through a writing contest towards the end of my high school career carried me through all four years of college and two and a half years of grad school. In those seven years Caecilia helped me compose my first published pieces, edited a handful of project films, and even ran the simulations that netted me the hundred-thousand-peso grand prize at Accenture’s last Big Data Challenge.
As Caecilia entered her seventh year, it was clear that I was going to have get a new laptop quite soon. Now that I had my first job and was earning quite well from it, I decided this time I could splurge a little bit more on myself, though at first I had my sights on a slightly higher-priced Asus laptop, particularly something from the ZenBook line. For most of my work I depended on my company laptop, but I also wanted something with power to boast, as I’m the type who’s always chasing after some personal project here and there, not to mention I occasionally took in clients freelancing as a consulting statistician.
I held off on the purchase for as long as I could squeeze some more use out of Caecilia’s aging hardware. I had to switch from Windows to a lightweight Linux distro just so I could lessen the burden of everyday tasks. But when even that started to lead to performance hiccups, I took a look at the funds I had saved so far for a new laptop and thought – wait a minute, why not buy a Mac?
Right now it sounds as though my decision to get a Mac was fueled primarily by having the money to burn, and for the most part that may accurately characterize a sizable percentage of the MacBook user base. For the same money, you can easily score a Windows-based laptop for better performance. The same day I made my purchase, my mother went to Gilmore and got herself a 15 inch Lenovo Thinkpad: larger screen real estate, more than four times the storage (HDD, but with an accompanying 128 Gb SSD for the boot drive), a faster DDR4 RAM, and a 6-core AMD Ryzen 7 processor – on paper dwarfing every item on the base model MacBook Pro’s spec sheet, and for half the price!
Believe it or not there was some reasoning beyond wanting to burn through funds like I’m hosting a fireworks show. After spending some time using Linux on Caecilia, I’d gotten quite comfortable with using the Unix terminal. For someone who dabbles in full-stack web development, the flexibility afforded by being able to communicate with servers, code, and compile all from the same window is a godsend. A lot of the tools I was using, particularly Heroku and Docker, provided a number of strong functionalities from the terminal. On Windows, however, the command line interface is just broken. I found out that Windows 10 now has a subsystem for Linux, providing users with a similar experience to the terminal, but so far it doesn’t compare to having the terminal as part of the core system.
MacOS, being Unix-based, has a number of similarities with Linux. In particular, most terminal commands on Linux are the same as on MacOS’s terminal. Which means a lot of the skills I’d picked up working with bash commands carries over naturally. And because MacOS has a strong reputation in the creative industries, this comes with the additional benefit of having access to a suite of creative tools: for writing (Scrivener, Ulysses), photo and video editing (Adobe creative suite), and productivity (Evernote, Notion), a lot of which aren’t available on Linux. Not to mention MacOS has access to the full Microsoft Office, which meant I didn’t have to settle for low-powered open source alternatives (and that my Office 365 subscription didn’t have to go to waste).
And, finally, there was my overpowering curiosity. I’d been on the Windows platform for pretty much my entire lifetime with computers. Of MacOS, I’d only been exposed through clients and a very close college friend whom I’d helped (somehow) install Windows on her MacBook Pro through Bootcamp. I loved Windows and have pretty much all its shortcuts, tools, and easter eggs memorized. But with this new laptop, I figured it was time I tried something new.
I got the base model MacBook Pro, and right now it’s my favorite thing in the world. On paper it’s specs would probably be nothing close to mind-blowing especially when one considered the price, but a number of things about MacOS and the laptop build itself that just make sense. The trackpad and screen quality, for one, are second to none. Though the 13 inch model doesn’t come with discrete graphics, performance on lightweight titles like Minecraft and CS:GO is buttery, even enjoyable, but then again this is coming from someone who’d owned a laptop with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce card for seven years and never once dabbled into some serious gaming except for maybe an accumulated two hours of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, so take that judgment with a grain of salt.
All things considered, I could not have been any happier with my purchase. My new MacBook has easily become my favorite thing in the world, so much so that in the past week since purchasing it, I haven’t gone a day without at least an hour on it. And, in keeping with my tradition of naming my electronics, I’ve decided to name this one Rosalind, Zelda’s stand-in character in Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise. It’s interesting (for me, at least) to note that Rosalind in the novel has a sister named Cecilia. I’d originally wanted to name her Daisy, after the lead female in The Great Gatsby, but the whole point of Daisy’s character is that money more often than not leads to destruction rather than fulfillment, and I felt it didn’t bode well for me. (I take metaphor quite seriously, folks!)