*The Mac iBook as a Survival Computer*
By: TrainedMonkey
14 September 2006

Although the PC seems to be the preferred computer, both around here and in the world at large, I'd like to make a case for the Mac, specifically the Mac laptop, as a survival computer.

Before we go any further - As you read this you're probably saying "but Macs aren't compatible with my applications!". That may not be true. Stop and think about what you really use your computer for.

Common applications that are available for Mac OS X:
-MS Office: files are completely portable between Wintel/Mac
-Music / Video: I've yet to find a format without a codec for the Mac
-...and there are a host of other applications available. See what you use, and see if there's a comparable option with the Mac

Now, having determined whether or not it's an option for you, why would you switch to a Mac?

1) Stability. My iBook has been going strong for three and a half years. I've never had to reboot for 'technical difficulties'. It's never lost data. I've never seen a blue screen. We wouldn't accept that kind of behaviour in a car, a fridge, or a firearm, why would we forgive it when it's a computer?

2) Lifespan. My computer is three and a half years old. It still works as well now as it did when I got it. I don't have to upgrade the hardware to install the new version of OS X. In fact, every OS release I;ve installed (so far) has made better use of resources and actually ran *faster* that the previous version. I expect to continue using this computer until the end of the decade.

3) Security. Viruses are not an issue. Although I still take precautions (holdover from my PC days, and good SOP, as far as I'm concerned)

4) Ease of use. No drivers to install, no kernel hacking required, it just works. The commercials are right about this one.

5) *ix core. Since OS X is based on elements of BSD/Step/GNU/Mach, you can really get in and get dirty if you want, and most Linux packages can be tweaked to run on OS X (if you're so inclined)

6) 12V Input power (iBook). Wouldn't take much to splice a 12V car battery into the power cord without worrying overly about voltage conversion. (please check your individual model before you attempt to do this. I will not be replacing any of your property or person that may decide to combust should you try this.)

7) Support. Apple stands behind their products. We had a logic board problem shortly after purchase - they took back the computer and replaced it with an upgraded model (would have been a few hundred dollars more, and they paid shipping to boot)

That being said, there are a few drawbacks:
- Hardware compatibility. When shopping for a printer or other peripheral, you need to make sure it runs with Macs.
- Up front cost. More expensive initially than comparable PCs, but I'd wager that TCO (total cost of ownership) is similar or less over the lifetime of the computer.
- Specialized applications may not have Mac counterparts. I'm thinking specialized scientific or engineering applications that run only on the PC. And not as much in the way of games as the PC.

I guess I bought the Mac because I was tired of upgrading, reinstalling, fixing, and swearing at my computer. When TSHTF, I want to be able to get that recipe, or look at the generator schematics on CD, or do whatever I need to do without worrying about what "Error 54X000FFE: Illegal Function Call" means and where my boot disks are.


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