Time to make the big switch

Nov. 1, 2004
The real kiss of death for Windows computing came with my acquisition of a digital camcorder and the beginning of my efforts as a fledgling ­neighborhood Fellini.

The real kiss of death for Windows computing came with my acquisition of a digital camcorder and the beginning of my efforts as a fledgling ­neighborhood Fellini.

This has been a pretty momentous year for me, for reasons I won’t get into here, but well up on the list of earth-shaking events is my recent decision to switch computer operating systems. I am jettisoning my Windows machine for an Apple. And I have ordered not just any old Apple. The apple of my eye (excuse the pun) is the new iMac G5. This baby is a brilliant design that makes a Windows machine look like a Model A Ford, good of its kind but just not good enough.

Just what precipitated this wild and crazy decision, you may ask? Of course, if you are already an Apple aficionado, the question you are no doubt asking is, “What took you so long?” Sure, the iMac G5 is a devilishly seductive piece of desk decoration but I’ve been around too long to be bamboozled by a pretty display screen and a tiny footprint. If I were a card-carrying member of Windows Users Anonymous, I would have to confess that it all began with the computer week from hell at the end of August. Bear with me, if you can.

For the past several months, my Windows machine (I will not disclose the manufacturer, to spare the guilty, but you know who you are) had been performing erratically. Often, I could not log off so I was reduced to yanking the power supply cord out of its wall socket. Even worse, there were days when I could not log on and the machine began to take on an evil persona of its own. Late-night consultations with computer gurus from Boston to Bombay were often entertaining in a sadistic way but failed to produce any improvement in the patient and, needless to say, were causing a certain amount of foaming at the mouth and salty imprecations on the part of yours truly.

The general consensus seemed to be that I had a Trojan in my computer and despite the best efforts of sundry virus killers, I could not rid myself of this nasty piece of programming genius. Long story short, I decided to cut my losses and reformat the hard disk. Don’t ever try this at home unless you have an extensive support group standing by.

But the real kiss of death for Windows computing came with my acquisition of a digital camcorder and the beginning of my efforts as a fledgling neighbor­hood Fellini. If you haven’t checked out the latest ­consumer camcorders, I recommend you take a look. For less than $1000, you can equip yourself with a three-CCD Mini DV camcorder (gives you broadcast quality video), plus a carrying case, a boxful of Mini DV tapes, a sturdy tripod (avoids the “shakes” that plague amateur movie­makers), a heavy-duty battery, a lavaliere microphone (just like the big guys use on TV), a movie light, a pair of headphones (essential for good sound monitoring), and heavy-duty digital editing software. With this gear, you can match the pros, pixel for pixel.

So off I went and shot sundry events around town and duly downloaded the tapes into my Windows computer. Or, I should say, I tried to do so but my pitifully small 40-GByte hard disk drive quickly began to choke. One itsy-bitsy Mini DV tape holds about 60 minutes of videotaping but that works out to needing 13 GByte of disk space. Do the math and you’ll rush out to buy a gigunda hard drive. On top of that, digital editing programs are memory hogs so 512 kByte of RAM will barely get you off the ground.

And then there’s the software! Don’t make me laugh. Windows XP does come with something optimistically called Windows MovieMaker but it’s an apology of a program that just doesn’t hack it. By contrast, the Apple G5 comes with an integrated set of programs called iLife, which include iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD. And, guess what, they all work together pretty much flawlessly. If you have real pretensions as a movie director, you can add a powerful digital editing program called Final Cut Express to your G5 for a mere $99.

So it’s sayonara Windows chez moi, and ciao, ciao Apple. Video at 11.

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