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Succumbing to a Mac attack

By Renay San Miguel
CNN Headline News

Apple's PowerBook G4
Apple's PowerBook G4

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(CNN) -- I'm not entirely sure, but my conversion to becoming a Mac person may have started with Tom Clancy.

The best-selling author was in the Headline News studio this year to promote his latest book. Being a big fan of his thrillers, I introduced myself as he was leaving. I told him I was a technology anchor.

"What kind of computer do you have at home?" he asked.

"Well, I have a Sony Vaio."

Judging from the look on his face, you'd have thought I had said that his fictional hero, Jack Ryan, was a liberal wimp.

"You gotta get a Mac," he said, just before he whipped out his cell phone and called in an airstrike on my apartment.

OK, so I made up the airstrike bit. And maybe Clancy wasn't solely responsible for my recent purchase of a PowerBook G4. But his answer did get me thinking once again about Apple's computer products and the near cultlike devotion they inspire in Mac enthusiasts.

I've been covering technology since 1997, which was shortly after Steve Jobs returned to lead the company he originally founded in the 1970s.

I was at a Macworld convention where Jobs brought back style and elegance to the desktop computer with the iMac, those candy-colored, retro, all-in-one computers that got all the other PC companies thinking outside the "beige box."

There was no doubt that Apple had an impressive focus on design, but what about the computer itself?

I had been previously scared off buying an Apple because of the lack of application software and the prices, which were higher than many PCs. And how intuitive indeed was the famously intuitive Mac operating system?

Sure, I had had issues with Microsoft since Windows 3.1, but I was happy with the new Windows XP operating system when it came to boot-up time and managing digital music.

Recent events helped me make a decision. Apple found itself cutting prices, with the softening of the computer market; more software companies, including Microsoft, are writing for Macs; the company opened up an Apple store in Atlanta, Georgia, and my Sony Vaio notebook decided to do its impression of the 2002-2003 Cincinnati Bengals.

Apple's PowerBook G4
Apple's PowerBook G4

The Apple store where I bought my PowerBook G4 Titanium laptop looks like all the other Apple stores: You expect the late director Stanley Kubrick to pop in and yell, "Action!"

The clerk couldn't have been nicer as he showed off the Titanium's features, including the new Mac OS 10.2 "Jaguar" operating system, complete with iCal, a cool application that will fetch items off the Internet and stick them in your calendar. The new Jaguar also supports my Internet service provider.

So I walked out with the Titanium, thinking I had the new Jaguar happily purring under my arm. But it wasn't.

My Titanium was loaded with Mac OS 10.1.4. Apple says all Macs in their stores should have Jaguar. If not, you can pay $19.95 for shipping and handling and Apple will send a Jaguar update to you. But I would recommend you make sure Jaguar is in the Mac you're buying before you walk out of the store.

Otherwise, I am thrilled with my Titanium, especially the light weight, the slimness, the ultra-wide screen, the ease with which I can custom-burn CDs with iTunes.

After 10 years as a Windows person, the new Mac operating system does take some adjustment, but not much. I even love the iPod, Apple's portable music player, and not just for its ease of use. When you open the iPod box and take out the player, there's a cellophane note stuck to the front that says, "Don't Steal Music," in three languages.

Nice touch, Steve. I'm sure both Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan would approve.

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