Why I Sold My Mac mini


Well, it's been a journey.  When I was 12 years old, there was a new member of our household: an Apple //e.  Boy was I addicted to that thing.  I spent hours and hours playing with it, exploring it, writing programs for it.  But then the winds of change started blowing, and I was swept into the world of IBM PC compatibles.  I've been there for many years, and still am.  But I never forgot my roots.

When I realized that it wasn't so much a particular platform that was most important, but rather, just tech in general that fueled my excitement and interest, it dawned on me that there was nothing stopping me from still using Apple on the side.  Why not both?  After all, how else could I develop an informed opinion, and improve my I.T. skills?

So in the early 2000s I purchased an iMac.  You know the kind -- the rounded, curvy sexy kind that still used the old CRT display technology.  But at that point I don't think I could even choose a color.  Mine was just plain white ... or gray, or platinum, or whatever color it was.

And it was fun to explore and use.  Up until that point I had never used anything that resembled UNIX before, so it was very interesting new territory as I became familiar with OS X.

But years went by, the iMac started to show its age, and with the introduction of the Mac mini, I realized that would be yet another perfect opportunity for a primarily PC guy like myself to stay connected with the new Apple world.  So in 2009 I bought one, and man was it ever slick.  OS X looked so nice on the LCD monitor I had it hooked up to, and the bundled software that came with it was extremely polished and fun to use.

Ah, but time still marches on, doesn't it?  My needs started getting more advanced as I started to use the Mac mini for music production, and I realized in 2014 that I had the perfect excuse for getting ANOTHER Mac mini, this time with a Core i5 processor.  So that's what I did, and for the past year I've been putting it through its paces and pushing it harder than I ever did with my previous two Macs.

But then something happened in my mind, a sort of realization that I thought what I was doing would eventually end up being unsustainable in the long run.  That is, trying to have the best of both worlds: a great PC running Windows (which I have; it's an AMD-powered system), and also having a Mac in my life.

Because, to be honest, budget has always been an issue with me to an extent, and I think right now it's become even more important.  So it occurred to me that I needed to start making some choices.

And with that decision, I found a great site that makes it easy to sell used Macs.  I signed up, got a quote, packed it all up, and shipped it.  (I was paid a few days later.)

So an era, for me, has somewhat ended.  I still have my AMD-powered gaming rig running Windows 10, an ASUS hybrid tablet/notebook (also running 10), and a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  I am no longer running any Apple hardware, but I actually do have iTunes running on my PC due to the fact that I bought a couple of things there.  iPhone?  No.  I just use a TracFone.

I'm sure there are people that probably don't take this stuff as seriously as that, but hey, if you're reading this, you're probably a tech enthusiast like me.  And I think that's why I wanted to write this article.  I wanted to be transparent about what I did, why I did it, and to reach out to anybody who I may have crossed paths with before in cyberspace as I tried to juggle the two major PC ecosystems in my own life.

You might think I'm "glad" I "got rid" of my Mac mini.  I wouldn't put it that way.  I can say with total honesty that I am VERY glad I got to own a few Macs in my day so that I could experience what they're like and the joy of having one.  I wanted to learn about them, and to see what the difference is like on the software side of things.  To compare and contrast.

I used my Macs for quite a few things, the biggest probably being multimedia and music.  I even hosted my first website on my iMac.  I used my original iMac for MIDI sequencing.  Then with my more powerful Mac minis, I got into iDVD and iMovie, and then music production with programs like Logic and GarageBand.  Eventually I started purchasing other Digital Audio Workstations and installed them on my Mini, like Propellerhead Reason and MASCHINE.

I even did some software development.  So I got my money's worth.  But then it occurred to me that life was becoming too difficult.  It became too much of a hassle to manage two main desktop PCs, and to go back and forth between the two in an almost arbitrary manner.  I needed cross-platform software.  Well, that does exist, so it's not much of a problem.  Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.  But why have two machines to run the same program?  Just so that I can say I'm neither a rabid Apple fanboy nor a rabid Microsoft fanboy?  What am I trying to prove again, and to whom?

So in the end I decided I had to simplify.  My main AMD-powered Windows gaming rig is now my main PC, and it does it all.  I use it for productivity, for gaming, for music production.  I might no longer have Logic or GarageBand, but the other DAWs I was using having Windows counterparts, and there are also a few that are Windows only, such as Cakewalk SONAR and Acoustica Mixcraft, which I own and would not want to be without.

But let me just say out loud to everyone: I enjoyed it while it lasted, and this is not being done out of spite.  What it amounts to is that reality eventually sets in.  Windows does what I want at what I believe to be a slightly lower cost of entry, as is the case with the Google ecosystem as well, which is why I have a Nexus 7 tablet.  Heck, I bought it refurbished!  (Don't get me wrong -- I know that over the past few years, Apple has made attempts at pricing things a little more reasonably here and there.)

But if there's one thing I don't think I'll miss, is the burden of thinking there is an ethical purpose to all this, or that one platform makes you special or "hip" whereas another does not.  To give you an example, there were times when I bought into the Apple ... well, let's just call it "Kool Aid" ... so much that I thought I would be a better person if I was accepted in certain circles, such as the comp.sys.mac.advocacy Internet newsgroup.

This newsgroup was -- and as far as I know, still is -- occupied by some very vocal people on both sides of the PC/Mac fence who spend an AWFUL lot of time attacking each other over their chosen personal computer platforms.  And of course, it had a tendency to spill over into general political matters as well.

Amusingly, I actually was treated pretty well by many of the regulars, because I usually was upfront about my intent not to really pick one side or the other, but rather to look at things more objectively.  And the intelligent ones in the newsgroup usually picked up on that.

And sure, everywhere on the Internet where people with a common interest gather to promote something, you're going to have some troublemakers.  The "trolls" in this newsgroup were easy to spot, surprise surprise.  And it's too bad, because some of them really make Windows users look bad.

One of them in particular attacked me when I mentioned how "cool" I thought my Mac mini looked and completely misunderstood my reasoning behind owning one, as well as the fact that I already had the peripherals (he thought it was ridiculous that you had to provide your own).

Another troll started SUPER-nit-picking a claim I once made and said I looked like a fool, and I tried explaining myself, and ... well ... sigh.  Don't know why I bothered, because it didn't help.

But you know what, damn me for saying this, but there was evidence of the usual Apple ego in that newsgroup as well.  I remember one regular who was a prolific contributor and usually seemed highly intelligent most of the time, but then here and there would sneak in the usual elitist attitude.  I'll never forget the remark he made about how great the resale value of Macs were and how they're practically impossible to dispose of, but eww, with an old Windows box on the other hand...  Um, yeah.  But when you try to point out the possibility that their self-esteem is pathologically tied to the resale value of a box of switches, and that, hey, maybe PC users are just trying to get work done and not worry about making their computers look like furniture or artwork, well.  They sometimes don't want to accept that.

And one poster even had the audacity to point out how so many Windows advocates had the tendency to flock to the Mac newsgroups, as if they were drawn in by their jealousy.  Sure -- like there are no examples at all of people coming out of the woodwork all over the web to spread Microsoft FUD and/or prejudice every time Microsoft does anything.

So that crap I'm not going to miss.

But in the end I can say with pride I have great memories to look back on of my Apple //e, I learned a few things with the Macs I owned, and I got to experience life on the other side.  So I'm not speaking from ignorance.  Really, these companies are in business to provide products for us in exchange for our hard-earned money.  They're not all good or all bad, or all benevolent or all evil.  I don't think any of them are maliciously spying on us.  (Well, I hope.)  I am prioritizing and using what works best for me.

So thanks, Apple.  Keep up the good work, and most of all, play nice with Microsoft.  You need each other.

And thanks for reading.

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