I (Heart) Macs

At some point, I completely forgot how cool Macs were. The first Macs I ever used were in my high school journalism lab and we used them to lay out the newspaper. That's when I first learned how to use PageMaker. From there, I used them at my college paper, programmed on them some in college, and used them for more desktop publishing when we started The Sound Observer in 1994. But I never owned a Mac before last week.

I gave myself a Christmas present after seeing the Mac Minis. I bought it from the Apple Store at the Walt Whitman Mall on Long Island. Of course, the sales guy tried to upsell me to a $3,000 G5 Power Mac, but I resisted.

Instead, I got a mid-range Mac Mini and a ton of add-ons. First, I decided that the acrylic keyboard with the white keys was too cool to pass up. I also got the mouse, too. (No sense having some shitty USB scroll mouse for a computer as cool-looking as the Mini.)

Then I decided I needed some things to make GarageBand a lot more fun, so I got a 61-key MIDI controller, an external interface for GarageBand, a USB sound card and a USB hub to have something to plug everything into. I also got two JamPacks for GarageBand so I'd have plenty of sounds and loops. I plan on dicking around with this stuff in my basement for the next several months.

What surprised me was how easy it all was to set up and use. 5 minutes after I had it out of the box, the Mini was up and running. I hooked it up to a Sony 19" LCD I had lying around.

What also surprised me is how easy USB can be. Plug a USB device into a Mac and there's no detection, driver downloading, conflicts or any of that nonsense. The device just starts working. I didn't have a single problem hooking up a USB keyboard, mouse, MIDI controller, external interface, USB hub and sound card.

The software seems more intuitive, too. GarageBand is a breeze compared to CakeWalk, ProTools and any of the other crap I've used. Nothing has stumped me yet, although I need to sit down and go through some tutorials so I get used to MacOS again. I can't get over how it feels like Suse Linux...

I'll take a pic in the next couple days of what my home studio looks like and post it.

It's quiet, it's reliable (so far), it's cool looking and it does everything I want it to. What's not to love?